Words || Jay Muir
I’m stranded. Lost in the milieu that is popular culture. My only salvation, the sweet nectar of positive bi representation, is nowhere to be seen. I perish hoping that my bones serve as a signal. A signal that says: “MAKE SOME DAMN BI CHARACTERS YOU COWARDS”, to the media gods above. But for now I suppose we will have to make do with the scarce representation we have. But hey lets throw this strained metaphor aside and get down to real talk, bi representation in media needs to step the heck up. I’m sitting here, with the Wikipedia article for bi characters open and just doling out yikes left and right. Why do 99% of these bi folk gotta be laden with these awful, stereotypical tropes? Returning to my excellent metaphor, lets dive into these salt flats and explore these tropes, cause if there’s one thing my media degree taught me, its how to complain about how shitty things are.
Y’all ever notice how in the rare occasions when content creators deign to give us bi characters, they’re always mondo-horny? Its as if in the minds of the straight cis that bisexual somehow equates to double sexual. That all bi people have an innate x2 multiplier on their libido. We need not look further than to Glee and Doctor Who (the dual godheads of 2012 television) with Brittany and Captain Jack Harkness going above and beyond mondo-horny to turbo-horny. Its disappointing when you hear a movie, say Atomic Blonde, has got some bi elements to it but then when you see the film its all solely sex stuff.
Even my favourite film Scott Pilgrim vs The World falls to this. In the film the eponymous protagonist must defeat his girlfriend’s evil exes, one of whom is a woman from those classic bi-curious college years(™). Why does this fight have to be the one with all the double entendres? Why is it this one that ends orgasmicly and not the one with Chris Evans? For shame Scott Pilgrim (though it did give us the line “Well honey, I’m a little bi-furious” so all is forgiven?), for shame. Okay sex stuff is all well and good but boy is it exhausting when all bi characters are plastered with the slick veneer of being a sex fiend. Its lazy and flat characterisation. You can tell stories with bi people that don’t feature swim-suit parts you know. Where is our street smart detective who takes no guff and solves crimes like its nobody’s business who also happens to be bi (in Brooklyn Nine-Nine duh).
Lets dig further into this stratum to examine what I like to call Schrödinger’s Bi. These characters are at once both clearly bi yet never canonically stated to be so. They will be flirting with various genders but it never really goes anywhere. Remember on Degrassi when Paige started dating the goth girl but then breaks up with her over being scared of being queer. Remember thinking oh I’m sure this plot will be resolved somehow. And then it didn’t. Paige just graduated and left in a way that seems like she just willed herself straight (and did the goth girl ever show up again or did she just waste away with the other abandoned tertiary characters?). As much as we were all collectively sprouting good vibes after Korrasami was made cannon it sure would’ve been nice if it was explicitly mentioned on the show rather than in the commentary tracks and detached comics. Imagine the impact that two women directly saying lets go have a date in the spirit realm would’ve had on the little bi kids back home who are still just figuring it all out. That would’ve been cool. Thanks Nickelodeon execs!
I’d like to turn to everyone’s favourite medium, video games! Yes, I know, ew, but bare with me this is where the really Schrôdinger-y part comes in. Games these days often have romance options in them and sometimes even GAY romance options ( O: ). Often what this will actually mean is that a given character, lets say Corporal Shootguns, can be romantically engaged by players playing as a man or a woman (games are still stuck in that whole binary phase). Whilst this always lets you pursue your top tier waifu or husbando, I don’t like this. This erases bi identities. Give me characters who are in universe bi not these dang Schrödingers (Schrödangers). Give me a canonically bi Corporal Vincent “Mayhem” Shootguns who loves sappy romcoms and ironclad justice, especially when it comes to protecting our LGBTQI+ youths (please email me Nintendo).
And whilst we happen to be on the highly esteemed topic of waifus and husbandos, where are the bi men? Hey pop culture, where the bi men? Like I get it, straight dudes just looOOOoove bi women because straight dudes want threesomes. It just be nice if us bi men could be in things too. Especially in video games, come on Sony let me live out my fantasies of being able to punch through the sternum of a demon and be bi. The only bi man this seasoned ga(y)mer can think of is Axton from Borderlands 2 whose only bi cause of a programming error that has him flirt with both male and female teammates and the developers just ran with it.
So there, our delve into the depths is over and we’ve come up empty handed. Farewell, good luck on your journeys. I’ll just be here, writin