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The lights are on for sure...
...but baby the occupants have flown
Meet Samantha T Anders 
12th-Jul-2010 09:42 am
(life)- gay things
This is something I'm sure I have talked about before, but for the life of me if I've made a post about it I can't find it. One of ivanolix 's porn battle entries (or three of them really) reminded me of a conviction that I have about Sam.

I believe that Sam/Kara would have been a better pairing and overall plotline if Samuel T Anders was replaced with Samantha T Anders.

Oh Ray, you might say, you and your femslashy ways. Seriously, hear me out on this one. I will list here my main reasons and potential problems with this scenario.

Reason #1- Oh look, some canon queer!

Let's count the queer characters guys!! Cain. Evil and dead. Gina. Cylon and dead. Gaeta. Mutinous and dead. Hoshi. Who? Also apparently there was some stuff going down between D'Anna and Caprica Six but was only expressed via Gaius Baltar.

The world of BSG is different from our own in the way they handle gender. At least that was the ideal behind the world--a world that has no gender roles, people are clearly gendered but it does not define their role in life or how they are supposed to act. Granted, occasionally the writers would frak this one up, but what can I say? The writers live, unfortunately, in our world. Our world has a system and internalized sexism that a lot of people aren't even aware of. The fact that they went for it at all is brilliant and has my undying appreciation.

This is one of the things that is brilliant about the punch between Kara and Lee in KLG, she punches him and he punches back, but it has no connotation of "Oh my god! He hit a girl! That's wrong!" I had a friend who didn't really watch the show go "It's okay because Starbuck is one of the guys." To which, all my BSG inclined friends roared a simultaneous "No!" She's not one of the guys. That implies a male standard for which women need to reach. She's his equal and he is hers.

Extrapolating from "Yes, there is gender, but it does not define one's place in the world," it is reasonable to assume that the dynamics of relationships change as well. In a world without women's roles and men's roles, one should be able to assume that there is not a prescribed "woman/man" relationship. Given the assumption that relationships are not formed along the lines of gender, a romantic and sexual relationship among two (or more!) consenting adults ought to be considered the norm.

Yet with the exception of two gay relationships in side stories, there was no queer. While the show Caprica is handling this better in my opinion, BSG really dropped the ball. Automatically, a Kara/Samantha plot line fixes the fact that within the main part of the show there are no gay relationships.

(I shall not get into how BSG's perception of gender plays into trans themes because I do not feel as though I am qualified to talk about this in depth. One gripe at a time please.)

Reason #2- BSG Makes You Question Your World View (At least it tried. Most of the time.) 

So two chicks meet, play sports, get physical, and fuck. No questions asked. You're either watching a porno or The L Word in which everyone is a lesbian... just everyone.

Someone I know once complained that she hated how lesbian relationships in the media, when portrayed at all, are generally a friends first thing. That's because a lot of the time, that's how it works in real life. In most places, most of the time, you need to figure out if a potential love interest of the same gender is inclined the same way as you. How do you do that? You get close, get friendly, figure them out. Asking out someone of the opposite gender is easy in comparison to asking someone out of the same gender. You have a pretty good chance that they will not be repulsed at your implications about their sexual orientation at the very least.

But let's say it's Samantha that Kara meets in Resistance. They play the same game of Pyramid with the same sort of sexual energy. Next episode they're in bed together. A bunch of people in the audience go "Wait. What!?" Because we've seen Kara with men. We've seen her sleep with Baltar, we know she was engaged to Zak, and we know she has sexual tension that could fill up the vacuum of space with Lee. And now she's with a woman? And the show isn't talking at us about it? It's just there??? Oh, and hip hip hooray it's no more exploitative of any of the male/female relationships.

The end result? Sure, some people are gonna get pissed off, but some people are going to get an education, and others are going to go "hip hip hooray! Gay visibility that isn't a gimmick!" 

Reason #3- Sure, BSG passes the Bechdel Test, quite a bit, we could give it some more though

Kara doesn't get too much female interaction. We see her rivalry with Kat and every once in a while she'll have something to discuss with Madame President, but the majority of her interactions are with Adama, Lee, and Helo--her father figure, her... complicated, and her best friend.

Guys, let's face it. She doesn't actually that much on screen interaction with Sam. Not when you compare it to other characters. Making the Samuel/Samantha switch, wouldn't necessarily give Kara more interaction with Sam, but it would give her more interaction with women. Also how much awesome would it be to see some more Women in Charge--Samantha the resistance leader.

Perhaps it is my real world gender bias coming into play here, thinking that female-female would be a different kind of bond than male-female. But we've already given the concession that the gender neutrality in their world is offset by the gendered perceptions of our world and system.

Reason #4- The Farm and Scar would make WAY more sense

Even if you want to side-step the potentially problematic "two women would bond differently than a man and a woman in a gender neutral world" statement, I have one very, very good reason that would change the basics of the Kara/Sam relationship. The real moment that K/S seems to be sealed is the end of The Farm, in which Kara flies back to The Fleet leaving Sam behind on Caprica. A moment that I feel is rather forced. Okay. You've known the guy for a week. Kara barely gets weepy when she confesses to Zak's death. Unless Sam is a total Zak fill in, I cannot understand that level of emotion.

At the end of the episode, Kara's just escaped from the hospital where she was held prisoner, operated on, and killed a bunch of women forced to get pregnant to Cylon spawn. The very fact that Samuel T Anders is a guy means he does not have to worry about this ever happening to him. Sure, there's a million ways the cylons could get him, but there's a million ways the cylons could get anyone at this point.

Samantha, on the other hand, is very much in danger of going through the exact same trauma that Kara just went through. It's something very specific (not a general "she could die") and we know that Kara views this as a fate worse than death. Leaving Samantha behind in a place where she might be forced to go through exactly what Kara had just gone through, would be much harder for Kara, a much better send off for the relationship in terms of a plotline, and, as the show would go on, more fuel for all of Kara's late season two problems.

I'm not quiet about the fact that I hate Scar. I like Black Market more than I like Scar. Yeah. That's how much I dislike it. I think it's a terribly constructed episode that keeps missing the point. The point is not that Kara needs to stop showing off and pulling crazy stunts, more than anything the rivalry with Kat undermines how much this episode is about how Kara internalizes letting people down and her past coming back to get her. Coming back, very literally, with the Raider that she killed in Act of Contrition. I wish they could've nailed that fact a little bit harder, and possibly given us fewer flashbacks to Anders thrown in and around the episode. Really. There were four. That's a little bit excessive, don't you think? (And how do you do an episode about Kara's angst and trauma without one mention of Zak!)

How does the Samuel/Samantha switch change this? Well, the episode IS called Scar. What's on Kara's hip from The Farm? Scars. Who could possibly be going through the same pain right now? Samantha. Hello, angst central.

Am I giving the writers a little too much credit to assume this would have been the follow through from a gender swap on one character? Possibly. But I maintain that it forms a more solid plotline and followed through on that trauma, instead of "Hey, we haven't talked about Anders for almost ten episodes. HAVE SOME FLASHBACKS THAT COME OUT OF NOWHERE."

*takes a deep breath*

I did mention earlier that I like Black Market more than I like Scar, right?

Reason #5- It Changes Who Kara and Sam are to Each Other

I haven't done much in depth thinking about how Kara and Sam's relationship would change in season 3 and 4. But given that there has been a change to the beginning of their relationship with the trauma link, I think that the plot line might deviate from what we know. How would the reunion change in LDYB with the Samuel/Samantha switch? The reunion as it stands is extremely sexually charged. With a brief interlude with Lee. Kara calls Sam her personal property. Drunken good times--unless you are Lee.

I think, given the specific trauma of The Farm maintained in Scar, there would be another level to this reunion--one of gratitude and safety perhaps? I'm not saying that it would be less sexual by any means, but possibly more intimate and less drunken good times.

This scene, for me, defines the Kara/Sam relationship. It's the good times simplicity of it all that seems to be the fandom appeal to this relationship, and that is what I see in it as well. However, it seems to lack a deeper connection, especially when Kara calls Sam her personal property. Throughout the series, Sam proves to be the man that Kara cannot drive away. She can be flatout disrespectful, violent, neglectful of him, and he won't leave her.

On some level, I think this can be healing. Much like the kids I work with, many of whom make Kara's upbringing look like a walk in the park, they're used to people leaving them. That is their norm. So when they feel emotionally compromised, they provoke, they insult, they injure, they drive people away. The therapy comes from staying and working it out. I don't feel like Kara/Sam ever reaches that therapeutic level of working it out, but it has to be a positive force for Kara having The Man Who Stays And Loves Her No Matter What. At the same time, though, it does a disservice to Sam to be that man. It makes him read like a plot device because we never see that level of love reciprocated. It's uneven. Especially after New Caprica. 

Would Kara/Samantha be an even relationship? I don't know. But if there was more intimate indication of safety and gratitude linked to the Farm trauma in LDYB, I think that the relationship itself would be a little more intimate with a stronger connection between the two of them.

Potential Problem- It Could Play in to Queer Stereotypes and Tropes

Kara is revealed to be openly bisexual. Kara is also reputed to be the kind of person who sleeps around, and has this crazy "will they, won't they" with Lee. Welcome to the stereotype of the bisexual slut who can't make up her mind.

Oh, and her relationship with Lee becomes problematic. Because even though Kara has a relationship with a woman, her strongest emotional tie and soulmate is a man, thus making the lesbian relationship seem less worthy than a heterosexual relationship. (Edited in after ivanolix  reminded me of this one... why did I forget to put this in earlier? Freudian slip? Me? What? )

Also, all things kept the same, Sam still ends up with a bullet in the head in a comatose state. Hello, more dead lesbians.

Yeah, this section isn't long at all because I think it speaks for itself.

Thoughts to End On

I haven't really thought out how Kara/Samantha would change things after New Caprica, how it would affect the Quad of Doom, how it would affect Sam's cylonness. I don't even know how it would affect my OTP of Kara/Lee. I think I would actually fall into the category of multishipping these pairings, because I'd understand that K/S relationship a little more, and it would feel to me like less of a plot device and more of a real pairing.

Perhaps I am the one being sexist to say I would get Kara/Samantha better, that I think Kara/Samantha would have a stronger bond which would sustain it better, that I think Kara/Samantha would have improved the show and it's themes. However, that is my opinion and I'm sticking to it.  
Comments 
12th-Jul-2010 02:10 pm (UTC)
Samantha, on the other hand, is very much in danger of going through the exact same trauma that Kara just went through. It's something very specific (not a general "she could die") and we know that Kara views this as a fate worse than death. Leaving Samantha behind in a place where she might be forced to through exactly what Kara had just gone through, would be much harder for Kara, a much better send off for the relationship in terms of a plotline, and, as the show would go on, more fuel for all of Kara's late season two problems.

This whole meta is made of win, but especially this portion. Brilliance! The end of the Farm is a bit quick as it is, and I like how this fixes that. Really, though, I'd like to flail all over the awesomeness of this idea, and I WANT FIC SO BAD. Even threesome/Quad of Less Doom fic. Anything with epic bisexual Kara, because I so needed that and only got it in subtext.

Also, with regards to Scar, the rivalry with Kat becomes a little more interesting if it can relate back to Samantha and Kara's banter with her.

It's sad that the potential problems you mention are true, and another one, when thinking about Season 3, would be the stereotype that bisexuals' "soulmate" is still the man in their life no matter how many relationships with women they have. Unless you're more invested in Kara/Samantha as being meant to be. ;-)
12th-Jul-2010 02:15 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, I did mean to mention that whole Lee being her soulmate thing. Also problematic. I dunno why I forgot to put that in. I'm going to go ETA that in.

I want fic REALLY badly too. I'd write it but I have a million things going on in my head and I'm just burnt out on writing apparently. Other than PB stuff, I'm not getting any fic done. ARGH.

But I'm glad you liked the meta!

ETA: This is ridiculous but I'm kinda hung up now on who would play Samantha.

Edited at 2010-07-12 02:50 pm (UTC)
12th-Jul-2010 03:03 pm (UTC)
I think my Kara/Jean fic has sort of taken all my inspiration when it comes to that kind of AU, at least for now. Also...I know the burnt out feeling. I'm surprised I'm managing anything for the pornbattle.

This is ridiculous but I'm kinda hung up now on who would play Samantha.

Oh dear, now so am I. No one's coming to mind as an obvious choice, hmm. Bridget Regan's a bit young, but she would have (have had?) the right vibe if she had shorter hair. Or maybe Anna Torv?
12th-Jul-2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
I've got like 3 fics right now, all in different fandoms, and they're all stuck. Bah humbug.

I can't really think of anyone?
13th-Jul-2010 01:41 am (UTC)
How about Missy Peregrym?
12th-Jul-2010 02:25 pm (UTC)
You make a really good argument, especially about it being more serious for Samantha to be stranded on New Cap when Kara leaves because of The Farm possibility.

Now let me tell you why I would hate that as a Kara/Lee shipper. ;)

It would give Kara/Samantha an importance that the relationship cannot have if Kara has the feelings she seems to have for Lee. I mean, I think the reason why Kara/Sam works at all in canon is because it's totally different in both tone and execution from her relationship with Lee. If Kara/Samantha was angsty and tortured and had this serious love also...what of Kara/Lee? Then you'd have trouble believing (or I would anyway) in either relationship, no? And from a dramatic/storytelling point of view, the relationships would not be foils of each other but mirrors...that could get...tiresome.

But maybe I'm just too conventional. I don't believe you can love two people romantically to the same depth. I really believe someone's always gonna get hurt in that scenario because one will always win out. I think the natural instinct is to make a choice, to value one higher, to love one deeper.

Oh also: sure she misses and he lands it
She doesn't miss does she? He touches his lip/mouth to check if it's bleeding right after he punches her. I assume they both landed it.
12th-Jul-2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
Well, I did mention Kara loving Lee more as one of the potential problems of the Kara/Samantha pairing. It reads as heterosexual > queer. Because I don't see how Kara could love Lee any less.

And this argument was never about "loving Sam more" it's about loving Sam differently. Her relationship with Sam, while it might have a stronger basis, would still be her relationship with Sam. It would still probably live on that easier, fun, sexual level... but they might actually have something in common, and might actually create a real sense of internal conflict during UB other than "Kara's just scared of her own happiness convinced that she's going to frak everything up."

They're still completely different relationships, and I think possibly even more different (visibly!) because one partner is female.

ETA:
This argument is pretty much just about making things more well rounded in terms of a story and less plot device-y (with particular emphasis with The Farm and Scar... I haven't thought about it much in terms of S3 and S4). I don't think that giving a little bit of oomph! to Kara/Samantha necessarily makes it the same level of angst and complication that K/L does or detracts from K/L in any way.

Edited at 2010-07-12 02:44 pm (UTC)
12th-Jul-2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
But if you change the LYDB 2 scene to something serious and more mature about gratitude and deep feelings... I don't know, that's exactly where it wouldn't work for me I think. I love that Kara introduces Sam as her personal property and some hot young thing she's screwing because I think that totally somes up how she sees him until the big retcon of 4.5. If it was Samantha and that scene was all about how glad she was that Sam(i?) was safe, even if she was crowing that she belonged to her, was her personal property...I'm just not sure you could meld the two that well. Either she's seriously relieved and glad that Sami is safe and it's a sweeter, more romantic reunion, or it's playful and drunken a la canon. If it was the first way, wouldn't we be even more confused that she had such deep feelings in light of how she feels about Lee? I think I would be.

But don't mind me, I'm just K/L OTP all the way I guess. I don't really care to see either of them with other partners--man, woman, god, creepy cylon, shrubbery, etc.
12th-Jul-2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
But don't mind me, I'm just K/L OTP all the way I guess. I don't really care to see either of them with other partners--man, woman, god, creepy cylon, shrubbery, etc.

*pets* I know OneTrack, and we love you for it :)
12th-Jul-2010 02:27 pm (UTC)
In a word, Yes!
12th-Jul-2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
12th-Jul-2010 02:28 pm (UTC)
You know, I do believe you have a point. Especially regarding The Farm. Damn, that would so have worked.

On the other hand, of course, Sam would end up a dead cylon lesbian.
12th-Jul-2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
She could go hang out with Gina. LOL.
12th-Jul-2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
Actually, I was thinking more of it being a case of discount lesbians - ie some people would claim that it doesn't really count since Sam's not human anyway. (Then again, coming up with a wankproof queer couple is pretty impossible...)
12th-Jul-2010 02:53 pm (UTC)
Oh right. Well if it doesn't "count" then do we sidestep Lesbian Death Syndrome or do we find our way into an endless wank paradox?
12th-Jul-2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Interesting!

I'm not completely sold, simply because I do like Sam as he is. (See my deep reasoning there?) I do really like your point about the Farm- the only reason I can accept that is because Kara/Sam was meant to be fraught with problems and I had the impression we weren't supposed to think it was ever really going to work. (Same reasons I love Cally/Galen.) That said, I do agree it would have been nice to have more queer presence on the show- I'm just not sure Kara's the character I would pick for it personally.

I'm trying to think which character I would, and you know which one I think I'd gender swap? Billy. Billie/Dee could be a lot of fun, and maybe Billie's actress wouldn't leave to be on a crappy show and Billie/Dee could have played out more :)
12th-Jul-2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
I pointed out, Kara/Samantha still reads as really problematic. This is mostly about me needing to make The Farm and Scar a little bit more sensemaking as episodes, I don't know how well it would work as time went on. But Sam reads so much as plot device that I have issues embracing his relationship with Kara.

If we could avoid Billie death, I'd be all over Billie/Dee. Young, adorkable lesbians after the end of the world.

Edited at 2010-07-12 02:45 pm (UTC)
12th-Jul-2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
The thing is, on BSG, everything's going to eventually read as problematic, because EVERYTHING is problematic on BSG, and a lot of it is by design. (A lot of it wasn't by design, but still.) How do you present queer relationships positively on a show where everyone is fucked up? (Granted, they could have done better than two sidestories.) But I've also seen complaints that Helena and Felix were stereotypes, which I sort of see, but I can make arguments that aspects about their characters fit their roles outside their sexuality. (Like Helena had to be a ball breaker, no matter which gender she was interested in, because she was an Admiral. And Felix being a bit beta and very cerebral fit because he was a computer geek.)

Billy vs. Billie, however, is one where I think we could have avoided the death (and even the Lee relationship), because those came out of Paul Campbell leaving the show, rather than the writers. They did have to kill Billy, really- he was too major a character not to when he left. But they had other plans playing into Dee's military and Billy's civilian careers, so that would have been far more interesting. ::is now debating who she'd like to see play Billie. Maybe the girl who played Natalie on Sports Night. or Jewel Straite.::

12th-Jul-2010 03:02 pm (UTC)
The thing is, on BSG, everything's going to eventually read as problematic, because EVERYTHING is problematic on BSG,
Ain't that the truth? All we can really do is love it despite its flaws... and write fix-it fic. (*tries to plant plot bunny seeds*)

Jewel Staite would have been a wonderful Billie.
12th-Jul-2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
Jewel Staite as Billie? Okay, now I'm all on board for that too...
12th-Jul-2010 03:59 pm (UTC)
I APPROVE OF THIS POST.

From skimming your comments, it looks like maybe some other people have also brought up the solution to the potentially problematic bisexual slut & dead lesbian that would result from Kara/Samantha, which is, of course, moar queers. Although having, say, clearly visible Six/D'Anna, or Dee/Billie, or more on-screen Gaeta/Hoshi, or maybe giving Tori actual things to do and having her be in love with Roslin, or, hell, keeping Billy a man and then making Dee a man too, later to awkwardly marry Lee, would not result in any functional queers at all, I think that might be okay, because each of these people are differently screwed-up, and once there's that much visibility it's a lot more difficult to just sit there and go "Fail everywhere!"

Mind you, after all that I didn't actually fix the Happy Het Couple-ness of still-intact Tigh/Ellen, Helo/Athena, and Six/Gaius at the end, but I suspect we could fix that with a careful application of not killing Gaeta and then having him and Admiral Hoshi walk off into the sunset together too.

ANYWAY THOSE R MY THOUGHTS.
12th-Jul-2010 09:34 pm (UTC)
I think you're dead on about the difference it would have made with the Farm/Scar storyline (I'm still perplexed that in the episode called 'Scar' there was not a single reference to, you know, that scar). And I would totally (multi-)ship Kara/Samantha.
13th-Jul-2010 12:57 am (UTC)
Really? I have to say I'm sorta surprised because of your post a few weeks ago about shipping Kara/Lee because that's clearly who Kara loves more.
What would be the difference if Sam was Samantha?

(Not judging, just curious. :)
13th-Jul-2010 01:08 am (UTC)
I was talking mostly about what Ray said about how Sam becoming Samantha would alter their responses to the farms, and sort of...validate Scar a bit more. Although I don't think anything really merits that many flashbacks of the same two scenes...

Assuming Samantha followed the same trajectory as Sam, I highly doubt it would overcome my K/L-loving ways, but I think the heightened angst in Scar would work a little better (not that I hate Scar as is...I'm fond of it, but with a selective memory).
13th-Jul-2010 01:18 am (UTC)
Well having it actually be about her Scar and the experience in the farms was bandied about in the writers room but then they decided it'd be better to pile on the Sam angst instead of Farm/cylon angst, inexplicably.
13th-Jul-2010 01:27 am (UTC)
Sometimes I wonder what went on in that room.
13th-Jul-2010 01:36 am (UTC)
The idea that badly written romance trumps sealing with trauma says horrific things.
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