Klainers – Poaching Representation
To be frank, Glee has exhausted its welcome in my headspace. In trying to be a healthy person after a bad relationship, I tabled finishing two posts about Klaine almost a year ago. While some of the references are out of date and I have no desire to spend any more time thinking about Klaine and the insipid behavior of Klainers (read: no, not all Klainers). But when tweets showing Klainers complaining about Brittana came across my Tumblr dash, along with comments borrowing text from our Brittana post, I realized outdated or not, things haven’t really changed at all.
So here it is, the Klaine post, down and dirty. We’ll start with the more serious problem in this first installment, poaching representation.
The Klainers within the Glee fandom have a reputation of so enthusiastically shipping their couple, they at times defy logic and don’t care who they trample to see their couple on screen. While this is perhaps a series of traits common to many die-hard shippers, the problem with Klainers is using the argument of LGBT representation.
This argument is made by Klainers selectively—usually ignoring the female faction of the LGBT community—to manipulate the show into giving their favorite couple screen time, and then turning around and attacking real LGBT people to achieve this same goal. Klaine is increasingly for straight fangirls and has little to do with LGBT representation anymore.
I want to make something very clear up front. First of all, I will always support the right of anyone to ship whichever couples they want; people of all sexual orientations can enjoy shipping couples of any combination of genders. What I do object to; however, is the appropriation of LGBT representation of gay men by a predominantly straight female audience for their own personal gain.
As I am not a gay man, and I am big on allowing people to speak for themselves, the purpose here is to point out the dangerous way Klainers falsely commandeer LGBT representation for their own gains, which often leads to harm directed towards the LGBT community, the very people Klainers claim they are supporting by rallying for more screen time for Klaine.
As a final note before getting to the good stuff, by necessity, this post relies on a generalization based on an overwhelming amount of feedback across all social media platforms and other research about the majority of the Klaine fandom. Allies are very important, and for those who truly care about and actively support the entire LGBT community, thank you. So, time now to pull the lid of the Klainers and their LGBT representation farce.
False Claims of Representation: The majority of the Klaine fandom identifies as straight and female—not the demographic Klaine represents (gay men.)
A phenomenal study by Gilnitz statistically sampled information about the identity of Glee shippers. What they found was that the Klaine fandom is comprised of mostly females, 62% of whom identify as straight. Klaine’s demographic looks a lot like the straight ships, and as a matter of fact, Klaine has more straight shippers than Tike (Tina and Mike). Straight women have no business telling the entirety of the LGBT community what an LGBT couple means to LGBT people, re:Klaine. In fact, Brittana has the largest and most diverse LGBT and fan following, perhaps suggesting that LGBT people see Brittana as the couple with the most meaning for LGBT people who watch Glee.
Reasons for straight women shipping gay men are more complicated than we can get into, but the reasons aren’t always about representation, which is fine. Again, the problem is trying to get more Klaine by falsely claiming ‘LGBT representation’ or stealing the narrative and agency of LGBT people to speak for themselves about what characters best represent them. All this just for more screen time for two specific characters for their specific, personal interests–not LGBT representation.
Klainers are more likely to hold Blaine and Darren Criss on a pedestal, as opposed to Kurt and Chris Colfer. (See People’s Choice Awards voting for some evidence.) This is significant, because as a primarily straight, female fan base, the straight actor is championed over the out gay actor. Some suggest that perhaps female fans of Klaine see themselves as Kurt, with Blaine as their fantasy object.
These straight girls in the Klaine fandom go right ahead and appropriate the meaning of Klaine to the gay community, without asking gay men. Meanwhile, here are some LGBT responses to Klaine, which doesn’t seem to matter to many Klainers:
“I’m tired of Klainers claiming to want more LGBT* equality and representation just so they can get more screentime for their ship… In fact, they actively campaigned for [Dave Karofsky’s] character TO DIE just so he wouldn’t get in the way of Klaine… When you COMPLAIN about the idea of a new character being LGBT*, then you aren’t allowed to say that you want more LGBT* equality and representation on Glee. You just don’t get to do that because it’s shitty. And it’s so far away from the concept of wanting LGBT* equality and representation that your entire argument becomes laughable.” – ObsessiveCompulsiveReadr
Hostile to the rest of the LGBT community: Klainers are actively hostile towards Brittana and the Brittana fandom and other LGBT characters or actors, a large part of the LGBT community Klainers say they are all about. Clearly this is false.
Brittana has always had a double standard problem on Glee, with less screen time than Klaine. This is well documented. Santana was stripped of her agency coming out, Brittany was muted, the couple didn’t have any intimate scenes together until the 100th episode, and let’s not forget about “Swan Song” in season 4, and the list goes on.
Sure, Klaine has some intimacy problems compared to Finchel or other straight ships, but if LGBT representation is important to Klainers as they claim, they should also be advocating for Brittana and their fans too.
Here’s a Klainer version of support for real double standards Brittana fans experienced before, after and around “Swan Song.”
Instead, Klainers whine and actively campaign against Brittana screen time. Most recently:
Lots of things like this:
Or, the best demonstration Klainer support for other LGBT people:
In the real world, gay men and gay women both need equality. Representation on TV shows affects cultural acceptance and political policies that essentially determine what rights the LGBT community has in our world. Sure this could include Klaine, if Glee didn’t actively mold them to their primarily straight, female audience. But more importantly, this includes Brittana and the other LGBT characters on Glee. All of these characters are important.
This point perhaps misses its mark on a primarily straight audience, who have the right to get married or don’t need to worry if they will be thrown out on the streets because they love someone of the same gender or are trans*. This is why TV representation is so important to the LGBT community; it doesn’t end with how many times that gay couples kisses on a TV show or a straight female fantasy—it affects the entire life of real people. Kurt and Blaine by themselves can’t accomplish this, which is why those who truly care about LGBT representation on Glee also welcome Dave Karosfy, Adam, Sebastian, Elliot, Santana, Brittany, Dani, Unique, Kurt’s “tadpole” gays—because the sum of all these characters are what makes a difference for representation.
This could go on, with examples of Klainers attacking real life LGBT actors and their friends or partners–
The actors who played any of these other LGBT characters–
Brittana shippers, shippers of LGBT couples who are not Klaine–
Members of the media–
And other really offensive appropriation of ‘LGBT representation” for their own gain—to see ‘their boys’ or even more offensive, ‘their gays’ on screen more, but I’m tired. News flash straight women Klainers (and Johnlockers and others, I see you), gay men are not for you, and if you want to support LGBT representation and rights, that extends to the entire community.
So in conclusion, ship who you want, but keep LGBT representation out of it unless you mean it. Klainers take away focus from the real issue of LGBT representation with their blindness to and ignorance of what it really means to be LGBT or to truly support the LGBT community. Klainers who wish more than anything for new LGBT male characters to be gone from the show, ignoring, complaining or attacking the queer women on the show and worst of all, attacking real life LGBT people are truly damaging to the LGBT community. They want to see more Klaine on their screens—which might be fine—but to do so at the expense of the LGBT community is deplorable. It needs to stop.