Not another dead lesbian : the Bury Your Gays trope, queer grief, and The 100
Kira M. Deshler
April 28, 2017
Department or Program
In an era of media saturation and constant technological innovation, conversations about the content and meaning of popular media are more common than ever. In recent years, these conversations have increasingly revolved around questions of “diversity” in television and film. Viewers often bemoan the lack of diverse characters on television programs, or on the other hand, criticize programs for being “too diverse.” A recent issue of media representation has complicated this simple distinction between diversity and lack thereof. Some TV fans have noted that queer women have been killed off of television programs at an alarming rate, and this phenomenon has been dubbed the “Bury Your Gays” trope by social media users. The conversation about this trope reached its apex with the death of a lesbian character on a popular show called The 100 (2014) in 2016. Much of this project is focused on the reaction of fans to this show in particular. My intention with this project is to investigate the social and theoretical implications of this phenomenon, and to understand how the consumption of these texts produces a particular queer girl subjectivity that allows these viewers to strategically navigate these fictional and real worlds. I am interested in the way a shared affect may circulate in online spaces, and how television may provide a space for queer girls to construct images of the self and build community. I have worked to answer an essential question, that is, what shared affect does this trope produce, and how have queer girl audiences deployed this affect in order to transform discourse? I have investigated these problems by exploring the discourse produced by and about queer girls on the social media sites Twitter and Tumblr. I have also utilized queer theory, such as the work of Sarah Ahmed, Judith Butler, and José Esteban Muñoz, in order to enrich my analysis of this discourse. Through my research I have found that queer girls have created their own unique worlds in these online spaces, and through their activism and public discourse, have begun to shift the balance of power between producers and viewers of media texts, making important connections between the fictional and “real” worlds that they hold dear.