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(SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ANY FANS OF THE 100 AND THE WALKING DEAD)
When just a few weeks ago the US TV show ‘The 100’ killed off one of it’s most popular character’s, Lexa (portrayed by Alycia Debnam-Carey), a social media storm was sparked and an outcry from fans and the LGBT community was ignited, as it marked yet another minority character being killed off, following the same “Bury Your Gays/Lesbian Death Trope” that so many before it have unjustifiably and unnecessarily done.
This trope, for those who may be unaware, has been around for years now and is seen by the fact that gay characters in the media are continuously deprived of happy endings, and in the majority of accounts they often end up dead. In just 4 weeks, 4 lesbian characters have been killed off on TV and the death of Lexa has created what has now turned into a revolution to give LGBT fans the representation and treatment they deserve.
For more information on the trope and to see some examples you can look here.
Fans of the show and members of the community immediately took to social media in the aftermath of Lexa’s death to outsource their devastation and anger over the events of the episode, making continuous worldwide trends of statements such as “LGBT Fans Deserve Better” and “Minorities Are Not Disposable”.
Her legacy is a revolution no one saw coming
Not just LGBTQ+ but all minorities
MINORITIES ARE NOT DISPOSABLE pic.twitter.com/RvkHhpZ3JQ
— Jennie ❄ (@celestiallmj) March 13, 2016
Her legacy wasn't peace in the fake world, it was change in the real one! LexaForMe pic.twitter.com/4rVXFjYqoD
— LGBT Fans (@LGBTFans) March 18, 2016
We need those minorities, we need those role models.
Don't take them all away.
MINORITIES ARE NOT DISPOSABLE. pic.twitter.com/ESqX4bdYic
— Maryne Lahaye (@MaryneeLahaye) March 13, 2016
Another worldwide trend that received over 142K tweets was “CW STOP JASON ROTHENBERG” which was aimed at the show’s creator who’s twitter followers have fallen from 121k to 105k over these past few weeks. The death of Lexa has tried to be justified by the network by saying it was all to do with Alycia Debnam-Carey’s schedule conflicts, as she also stars in Fear the Walking Dead, however I think that it’s hard to believe that the only conclusion that could be made over this was that the character had to die.
Take Orange Is The New Black for example: when Laura Prepon, who plays one of the lead character’s (Alex Vause), had schedule conflicts the writers worked around it and came up with a plausible storyline which allowed for her to still be a part of the show when she could and then return for the next season, so why couldn’t The 100 do the same?
I AM MORE THAN CAPABLE OF BEING ON TWO SHOWS AT ONCE pic.twitter.com/ukzJ5F5Tls
— ⚜️ (@hellyesjauregui) March 14, 2016
The enormity of this campaign is truly incredible and can be seen by the fact that since the airing of the episode in which Lexa was killed, a fundraising page has been set up by fans and members of the community where $60,000 has been raised for the charity ‘The Trevor Project‘, which aims to provide support and suicide prevention services to young people in the LGBT community.
“This is an ongoing campaign that is constantly growing on the back of a shared worldwide sentiment that ‘LGBT fans deserve better.’ Precisely because our battle is just gaining momentum, the goal set is an arbitrary number that will keep being raised as long as people across the world donate in support of ending what has been perpetually unfair treatment of the LGBT community in popular media.”
— Clexa Source (@clexasources) 20 March 2016
You can donate to the charity here.
Now we all know that for a show to be successful and known, marketing is hugely important in order to keep fans invested and to bring new viewers in, and the more ratings and attention a show gets ultimately determines whether or not it will be renewed. It’s clearly evident how powerful the LGBT community is and show runners soon come to realise this on social media, so of course by promoting the LGBT characters and pairings, like The 100 did with the pairing Clexa, you’re going to keep those viewers attached and invested with your show, but queerbaiting and giving the fans hope knowing what the end result is going to be is utterly unfair, yet that’s exactly what was done.
Queer fans are fiercely loyal, and all we ask, in return, is respectful representation. Why is this so hard?
Stop Queerbaiting 2K16
— KL Hughes (@Chrmdpoet) 14 March 2016
Lexa was a truly incredible character and was outstandingly portrayed by Alycia Debnam-Carey. She was the Commander, a fierce leader who fought her battles and saved her people, who in a world of chaos and war was embarking on a new message for hope and peace. But her death now seems to somehow dimish all this. Why is it that when a strong female LGBT character stands up for themselves or tries to make a change – they’re immediately greeted by death?
Just the other day, the hit show The Walking Dead followed an all too similar path when the lesbian character, Denise, was killed by an arrow through the eye just as she was giving a speech and standing up for herself . But oddly when the straight male character is shot in the eye he miraculously survives. What’s even worse with this death is that in the Walking Dead comics it was actually Abraham who was supposed to face this death, yet his place was traded for Denise. Why? I wish I knew.
I got you fam don't worry
Can we stop burying our gays ? pic.twitter.com/WwXPMKBlVs
— Maryne Lahaye (@MaryneeLahaye) March 21, 2016
Sure, characters in TV do die, and when on shows like The 100 where the main theme is war and survival it’s almost inevitable. But when other characters have survived a spear through the chest and a bullet to the spine, it’s hard to believe that a character should so easily die of a single stray bullet to the stomach. And let’s be honest, it’s ultimately down to the writers and creators.
Characters do not have to die simply for dramatic impact and it’s high time they started to learn this. Understand how much these characters truly mean to the fans, especially to a community where representation is so limited and please come to the realisation that when you all continue to kill off the minority character for “dramatic impact”, it starts to become a lot less dramatic.
MINORITIES ARE NOT DISPOSABLE
the clexa fandom after 3x07: pic.twitter.com/hifThb8WV3
— alison™ loves alycia (@heda_clexa) March 13, 2016
And to anyone who may try and argue “but what about all the straight characters that are killed?” are clearly missing the point. According to GLAAD’s “Where We Are In TV” 2015 Report, out of approximately 881 characters on TV, only 4% identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. If this number wasn’t already small enough, 8 of these characters have already been killed off in just the first 3 months of 2016. For those who may be struggling with coming to terms with their sexuality and are simply just looking for somebody they can relate to and model themselves after, it’s so incredibly important to give them positive representation in the media because you can’t even begin to imagine how much it can change their lives.
I'm so affected by Lexa's death not because Clexa won't happen but because she was the only character who I could actually relate to.
— kat stan!jhe (@cheekydebnam) March 4, 2016
But this is not just a show. This is not just a character. This is a campaign. This is a cause. This is a message that can’t go unheard. The character’s fights may be over, but this one is just beginning.