Gomez’s latest music video is the embodiment of queerbait.
In a sort of epiphany moment, it hit me today how truly queerbaity Gomez’s music video for Bad Liar actually is.
Queerbait is when people in the media allude to a character being queer or add ‘homoerotic tension’ between two character to attract and please the queer viewers, but with the intention of never actually bringing the character together to keep the straight viewers.
The Bad Liar music video tells a tale I’m pretty sure every queer woman can relate to. It features Selena longing after a woman she can never have. In the case of this video, it’s her teacher (who also happens to be her Dad’s ‘other woman’, I feel compelled to add).
It is not okay to capitalize on the stories that are our lives
Queer audiences here are delighted because Selena Gomez is showing queer behavior by gawking at her teacher, walking wistfully down the corridors whilst thinking about her and looking at a picture of her later on. All very relatable for queers. Straight audiences are still kept around because low and behold, a slight allude to a crush is all it is.
The way the video is shot makes it all the more worse too! You’ve got the all-too stereotypical shot of a someone sat, looking wistfully out of the window as the one they yearn for is outside with someone else. You’ve also got the dramatic walking-down-the-corridor-looking-glum shot.
Perhaps this is me just being cynical as I often am, but it is not okay to use our sexuality against us in this way.
So many people are praising the video for showcasing a same-sex storyline. I’m totally here for LGBTI musicians telling LGBTI stories in their music videos, of course. However straight musicians capitalizing on the stories that are our lives? That is not okay.
Continuing on from that, using people’s sexualities to draw in an audience is basically exploiting them. If exploiting were to be done with anything other than people’s sexualities, it would not be tolerated at all. When have you heard for people to be okay with a TV show exploiting someone’s race or ethnicity or religion? Never. Because exploiting is horrific. So why’s it okay when it comes to us and our stories, our lives?
We deserve proper representation
It’s offensive because in a way it’s making a joke of us. ‘Are they? Aren’t they?’ storylines are playful and make a mockery of the LGBTI community. To us, a queer moment is so important and we’re obsessed with it. For straight people watching, it’s an extra bit to laugh at because while the character might seem gay, they’re actually not.
Then there’s the fact it’s a shining beacon of inequality. If there were two straight characters flirting for a few episodes, they’d eventually get together and everyone would be delighted that their favorite pairing were official. Queer people don’t have this liberty! When two same-sex characters flirt, dear lord the producers would never officially bring them together. The only difference between this relationship and a straight relationship is the sexualities of the people involved. Therefore making the incident discriminatory.
People allude to LGBTI+ representation with queerbait, however don’t actually ever commit to making their characters interested in the same-sex. Our representation is not treated with the respect that our community deserves. Producers and musicians are constantly teasing us with something we can never have – and all because we’re queer.
The only thing that makes me want to take the video with a pinch of salt is the circulating rumors surrounding Gomez’s own sexuality. An online gossip blog has often made accurate claims about Selena consistently provides evidence that suggests Gomez is bisexual.
In 2014, media made claims Selena Gomez was in a relationship with Cara Delevingne after they looked very comfortable on a holiday and were apparently being very affectionate with each other. The pair were even pictured showering together after going for a swim.
The following year, Gomez spoke in an interview about how she ‘loved’ those rumors and she has ‘absolutely’ questioned her sexuality.
If Gomez is bisexual, then why’s she not opening up about it? It’d be amazing for her image. It’d open so many more windows for her! We’ll move on now though because that in itself is a whole different article.
Just because it’s Selena Gomez and ‘oh my god but we love her’ and ‘it’s just a music video’, that does not make queerbaiting okay.
If you are looking for same-sex storylines in music videos by LGBT musicians, I would highly recommend the follow: Desire by Years & Years, Timebomb by Tove Lo, YOUTH by Troye Sivan, Like I Can by Sam Smith and Cliffs Edge by Hayley Kiyoko.
It’s 2017. You’d think we were done with dealing with queerbait by now.
You can reach on Charlie Mathers on Twitter.