Queer is the New Black


Straight women are swooning.

Real Lesbians ™ and Real Queer Women™ are outraged.

This week, the interwebs are all aflutter with girl crush fever.

Apparently straight-identifying women in the TV-watching world are declaring their deviant desires for Australian model/DJ/actor Ruby Rose after her appearance in the new season of the TV series, Orange is the New Black.

“OMG,” sez the allegedly straight ladies, “Ruby Rose doth make me have lascivious thoughts!”

“OMG,” allegedly sez the Lezorati, “Queer sexuality is being appropriated by straight culture. Heterosexual privilege AND same-sex desire surely cannot co-exist?”

Sigh. Welcome to the world.

Actually, I haven’t had one in-person conversation with queer women upset by Rose’s chick magnetism. I have a hunch that I’m more likely to hear, “Straight women think Ruby Rose is hot? Yeah, well, duh. Catch up.”

Ruby may be getting about in orange loose-fits now but queer women have been swooning over her tatts since she fronted up on VH1 in 2008. And posting gratuitous photos on their blogs. Like I am here. Like this one for Bonds underwear.

Ruby Rose gets chesty and boyleg for Bonds

Ruby Rose gets chesty and boyleg for Bonds

I actually only wrote this so I’d have a photo for this post.

But, seriously, I haven’t watched much of the new season of OITNB yet so cannot attest to its goodliness or shitliness … but past seasons have admirably told the not-so-black-or-white stories of incarcerated women.

This third season of OITNB arrives in the wake of some excellent television so they are lucky to have the Ruby Rose Card to play so well.

It’s actually been a very good year for television.

Television series, that is – not that mind-numbing, emotion-bating free-to-air stuff.

I rarely watch the latter and was reminded why when I caught up on an episode of Q&A on the ABC the other night. Q&A is an Australian panel-format tv show that puts politicians, ‘experts’, the opinionated and the easily-outraged in a television studio, gives them a current, controversial topic and then, under the guise of a moderated debate, lets them berate each other.

BetweenAFrock_webOn the recommendation of a friend, I watched last week’s episode discussing changes in social attitudes to sexuality and gender in Australia. This ‘special episode’ was in response to the documentary Between a Frock and a Hard Place – that looked at the story behind the making of the classic film, Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

What really had me scratching my head while watching this episode of Q&A was the inclusion of Christian minister and politician, Fred Nile, on the panel – surely his views aren’t representative of Australian attitudes now? Or is that what Q&A is about – getting people with the most extreme views to disagree on air? I can’t help but compare Q&A with SBS’s Insight – where the moderated discussion is about respectfully unpacking an issue until a wide range of voices have been heard, the issue is better understood, and some shared value (and working point) is identified – and appreciate how skilled Jenny Brockie is as a moderator.

But, I digress … back to the good television …


Okay, I finally finished watching the first season of the The Wachowski’s TV series, Sense8. I was initially impressed by the series’ queer sensibilities. (Sometimes it’s a little OTT queer but there’s nothing wrong with a little redressing …) Of the eight main characters, who discover they are telepathically connected, we have a San Fran trans woman in a relationship with another woman, a Mexican buff gay actor full of bravado and machismo, a Korean dutiful daughter who finds herself – and subjugates her rage – through kickboxing, and a Kenyan Jean-Claude Van Damme fan who will go to extraordinary lengths to access medication for his ailing mother.

The Wachowskis are hitting it out of the ballpark for character diversity. Now, throw in some group sex and crotch-cam birthing scenes and you really do have some groundbreaking television. But then … it just becomes The-Wachowskis-Do-Action/Conspiracy-TV (“let’s blow shit up!” “let’s shoot another dozen people”) which is rather disappointing. Of course, I would watch a second season … for the, um, character diversity …

Perhaps not as groundbreaking but bringing complex characters to the fore, is the new Danish drama series, The Legacy (Arvingerne).  It’s from the folks who made The Killing and Borgen and is currently screening on SBS. I’ve only watched one episode but it’s looking promising.

DukeOfBurgundy_webWhile we’re talking about Borgen … on my Films-To-Be-Watched List is Peter Strickland’s new film, The Duke of Burgundy starring Sidse Babett Knudsen (who played PM Birgitte Nyborg in Borgen). Okay, so a film with a lesbian S&M theme is so … so … 90s but I suppose in our post-50-Shades world, everything is getting a remix. Word from those who’ve seen it is that the film is SO bad that it’s good – and critic reviews have been favourable. But really, it’s all about Sidse …

Also, on the films-slightly-off-the-radar front, I’m tres excited that the Director’s Cut of the film, 54, is now in circulation. This version restores the gay sex and bisexuality cut from the original 1998 cinematic release back into this classic chronicle of disco’s heady heyday. It joins the Duke as one of my must-watch films this month.

But, back to the good television …

It has been a good year. Highlights so far include The Fall, Broadchurch, Fortitude, Looking, Cucumber/Banana/Tofu, Transparent and the final season of Mad Men (okay a few of those were released pre-2015 but have only just made it to free-to-air/streaming in Australia). Plus there’s more to come – Mr Robot and Humans are getting flagged as must-see-tee-vee. And I haven’t even got to Daredevil

I’m not sure when my regular programming of books, books and more books shall return but I am really enjoying this batch of well-made, thought-provoking visual entertainment that explore and celebrate some of the edges of our culture.

And now that I reflect on what’s really stood out in the first half of 2015, I realise it’s actually been a very good year for queer television.

Now that’s something to swoon over …


The doco, Between a Frock and a Hard Place and the special episode of Q&A are available on ABC iView until 2 July 2015

Episodes of The Legacy are available at SBS On Demand (Note: Ep 1 expires on 1 July 2015)