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Media did not represent people with diversity or the LGBTQA+ community fairly at the first place but nowadays the media started to change…

What is the factor that makes them change? Awareness? Or the whole media industry just did new marketing called Queerbaiting? In this blog we are going to go through the uses of Queerbaiting by the media profoundly.

Before dragging to the climax like the impact of Queerbaiting or how audiences react to it, we should know the definition of “Queerbaiting” first. Obviously, this word was just created to describe one action of media which it combined two words together including “Queer” and “Clickbaiting”. At this point, you might be able to come up with the rough concept of it and yes, it is as simple as that. Queerbaiting is the action of hinting the same-sex relationships to attract or grab attention in entertainment media but, it actually is not depicting the LGBTQA+ representation. It is a problematic marketing these days that media and content creators still choose and use it. But why and how it became more and more popular today we will talk about it now.

For the past years, there are more LGBTQA+ and people who supporting them came out and called for their rights and an appropriate actions or attitude toward them resulting in, the media grabbed this opportunity publishing the story about same-sex romance to sell to these people and saying that they are doing this because they wanted to be a voice for them which is a good excuse unless they used it overwelhmingly and also put too much stright eyes to their works. To illustrate, the media started to produce more and more “Boys-Love ” series to the public than usual whether western media or asian media. Taking a close look at asian media like Thailand and China, Boys-Love series can be considered as the most successful business in the media industry. For example, 2gether the series got 0.506% rating, Korean artists used the plot and made it a cartoon on Webtoon, also the producer released the movie version after it got good feedback from the audiences and the opening income of the movie is 2.11 million dollars and the series got many fans so they had a chance to do many fan-meetings in both Thailand and aboard which made them profit even the series had ended for almost a year. 

the most expensive price of fan-meeting ticket is over 7000 Thai baht

Moving on to China, have you ever heard about Word of Honour, a Chinese period series that gained attention from LGBTQA+ and straight women audiences. This chinese series had a similar marketing plan as 2gether the series. They also had fan meetings and goods selling to the fans, however, the Word of Honour is not a boys-love series but it just depicts the friendship and brotherly love between two male protagonists. Reading until now you might think “what is the problem of being successful?” The problem is these series did not represent same-sex relationship realistically or even used the actors that really are LGBTQA+ for the accurate acting. It is just entertaining, attracting and responding to the needs of straight women who love to ship, imagining one and one another have romantic relationships, two boys protagonists together. Plus, the series makers add romantic scenes of the two protagonists such as one protagonist carrying another one on his back or the protagonists look into each other’s eyes just to say that these two men are only brothers or friends at the end.

A photo captured from one of a scene in Word of Honour

In other word, the audiences did not receiving any key messages about the same-sex relationships except satisfied.

It cannot be denied that the two examples that mentioned before are only two of thousands media that used queerbaiting marketing. We are going to put more examples in this article for you to be more clear about queerbaiting. 

Starting with the company that you might not have expected, it is Disney! The company released Pixar‘s latest animation film in June 2020 named Luca which is a story of two adolescent sea monsters, Luca and Alberto quickly form a passionate friendship, building a makeshift Vespa and dreaming of traveling the world together. The themes and storylines also talk about common LGBTQIA+ experiences but never clearly expressed  LGBTQIA+ relationships. The filmmakers, at last, add heteronormativity by bringing a girl named Guilia and split Luca and Alberto from living together by making Luca move along with Guilia at the end. Disney intentionally made Luca and Alberto to be in queer relationship but do not want to lose their conservative image and conservative fans so they not let the story end up as queer as it would be. 

Alberto and Luca were created to be different in shape because it can generate the sense of Bro-Mance

 Another animation from Disney that can be considered as queer-baiting is Raya and the Last Dragon. In their first meeting, Namaari and Raya catch each other’s eye and smile across the arguing clans, Namaari tucking her hair behind her ear. The relationship between Raya and Namaari, princesses in the movie, is more than best friend because this is a plot of enemy-to-lover since even Kelly Marie Tran who is a voice actress of Raya stated that there are “some romantic feelings going on there” between them. When Raya goes to fight Namaari at Spine, we get a fight scene filled with romantic tension, remarks and passionate looks.  and the LGBTQA+ fans eager to see themselves finally fully represented in a Disney film but the company never confirms anything that the fans think with the same reason as Luca. Even though the company never sent the messages obviously, we, the fans, still watch and need more content like this since this is queerbaiting marketing. 

Namaari and Raya in the first scene they have met each other

The last example of queerbaiting in the media is that we cannot let it go without talking about it. It is queerbaiting in the K-pop industry. I will provide you some photos first for you to consider. 

These are photo from Monster by Irene and Suelgi’s music video that are criticized as queerbaiting
OnlyOneOf’s “Libido”

Also this one OnlyOneOf’s “Libido” is lowkey a topic on Tiktok and other social platforms about how the music video is being queer-baiting perpetrator

These gestures are all in K-pop’s music videos which are 3-4 length long per each video. It means that putting these actions in video cannot represent anything for LGBTQA+ and yes, the fans have to guess if they are gay or not  as content creators push the physical limits as far as they can, without ever having to admit their characters are actually gay.

Let’s look at the comments and opinions about it

Comments on Twitter about Luca

Aria Blooms, an account on Twitter, tweeted that she tired of Disney and Pixar doing queerbaiting 

Also another account on Twitter, millie tweeted that luca is not representing gay people but it is just a queerbaiting movie.

For Raya and the last dragon,

There is a YouTube video discussing it  and the comment below the video stated about many topics and issues about Disney and queerbaiting.

Raya’s Queerbaiting of Southeast Asians – The Importance of Cultural Context to Queerness

Meanwhile, queer fans of Disney and Pixar are arguing and complaining about queerbaiting marketing, K-pop fans seeing it as a normal action of their artist cuddling or skinship each other and some are knowing that the artists and companis tries to queerbait them but they are willing to consume those contents because they like it and it satisfies them. 

https://twitter.com/faeiry_/status/1486027481849204749?s=20&t=GI1PqilpLnMPcvGBVeN65A

But there are some k-pop fans that complaining about the queerbaiting

https://twitter.com/dreamyejis/status/1463426920125587466?s=20&t=GI1PqilpLnMPcvGBVeN65A

That is it for the comments and opinions’ part what about you all? After reading all of the information and thoughts from this article, what can you crystallize or realize about queerbaiting? Do you think the big companies are doing such a bad thing and you cannot torreate it or do you think it is just one of the marketing and the company can do this because there is a demand of queerbaiting in the market so they just do it to meet the needs of the consumers? 

Here’s some take away from us… 

Queerbaiting exploits the LGBTQA+ people and community, moreover, the media that use this kind of marketing are also ignoring the professional standards of the media. However, representing the proper roles and attitudes of this group of people is required and the media should do their best to do it because it is their job to be the voice, to express and explain it. 

Did you think the media will be able to get rid of this queerbaiting market and properly represent the community? If you have any opinion towards queerbaiting or this first blog of mine you can comment below. I will appreciate it.

3 Comments

  • Nabhopp BJM says:

    I completely agree on the fact that Queerbaiting exploits the LGBTQIA+ community. What we see in the examples aren’t “representation” but more of a reenactment of fetishized homoerotic themes. This seems to be a much bigger problem in the Asian media industry. A lot of new Western media have better and more realistic representations of the community. I’m currently watching “New Amsterdam” an American medical series on Netflix and it has gay characters and features a case of a transgender patient. It’s a fresh breath of air to see realistic representations of people from the community and their struggles instead of two men playing husband and wife or an extremely colorful character who makes being gay their entire personality. To be honest, I don’t think we’ll be able to get rid of queerbaiting entirely. So many cultures are still against the community, fetishize, or stereotype it. However, I’m optimistic that as people become more educated on these matters, media producers in the future generations will provide better representations of the community.

  • Krittaporn says:

    I really appreciate the point of this great article. I’ve never heard the word Queerbaiting before, after read this article it really help to improve my understanding a lot. However, I have watched some Boy Love series or Queerbaiting in media quite often, I found out the same point that media just using Queerbaiting to grab our attention and to make money, while did not try to represent LGBTQ+ Community or explain facts to create understanding and acceptance in society for them. I think if this point is spread to Boy Love or LGBTQ fans, they may help to convey this issue to more people, and will allow to discuss that have arisen to develop in media industry.

  • Pichamonch says:

    Thank you for this interesting article. I also agree with your points that nowadays some group of people in media try to seek benefits from Queer baiting to receive fame and money by attracting attention from the audiences without a proper understanding about LGBTQ+ community at all. For the question, I think we can get rid of this kind of marketing in the future because producers are more rely on audiences’ feedback and care more about problems in the society as you can see, Thai Boy Love series has developed so much compare to the past, so I hope that one day Queer baiting will get rid of the entire media industry.