OT: Ika's Cuaron quote

Ika blake at gaudaprime.co.uk
Tue Jul 20 13:59:57 EDT 2004

[long post with quoting]


> ["He's your favorite gay uncle that does smack"]
>> > What I found interesting, while I was tracking it down, was the
>> > number of people who thought (or - bearing in mind that many of
>> > them were 'shippers of various stripes - chose to appear to think)
>> > that Cuaron meant it literally.
>> Oh, I do. I mean, not about the smack, but I liked the quote because
>> it's *always* nice to have someone associated with the 'official'
>> product recognize that there are gay characters in the Potterverse.
> Yes, like that.

<g> Okay, I'm blurring a couple of pleasures there: it's nice having
someone associated with the 'official' product' acknowledge the existence
of homosexuality *at all*, and it's particularly nice that that
acknowledgement is made in relation to the character generally fannishly
considered Most Likely To Be Queer.

> You've highlighted another interesting aspect of the phenomenon: the
> tendency to hail Cuaron's "recognition" of Remus' supposed
> homosexuality, while ignoring or discounting the bit about doing
> smack. You can't have it both ways: if Cuaron is saying that he thinks
> Remus is actually gay, then he is also saying that he thinks Remus
> actually does smack - and, for that matter, that Remus actually is
> Harry's uncle. <snip>
> (I also, by the way, read Cuaron as proposing the analogy as a tool
> for understanding and acting out Remus' interpersonal relationships,
> not as suggesting that the analogy has any real presence in the story,
> intended or otherwise.)

Ooh. *Very* nicely put, and I see what you mean, but for myself, I read
the quote as having more of a twist in the middle, I think: "He's your
favourite gay uncle... *that does smack*." That is, Cuaron was suggesting
that Lupin's relationship with the kids (particularly Harry) is avuncular
in the specific manner of a favourite gay uncle, but that relationship is
disrupted by his smack addiction/lycanthropy - so normally they have a
(gay) uncle/nephew relationship which is disrupted by Lupin having to
obtain and take unexplained substances (Snape's anti-werewolf
potion/smack) and by his sometimes being in an altered state which makes
him dangerous to be around. So "gay uncle" is a metaphor for their usual
relationship (and of course Lupin is a close friend of Harry's parents, so
he *is* an uncle in the informal "Uncle Remus" sort of way), "does smack"
is a metaphor for the effect that Lupin's lycanthropy has on that

Melissa commented on your last paragraph (quoted above):

> That's how I interpreted it.  I can envision Cuaron telling Thewlis,
> "Okay,
> you've nailed the smack part, but I'm just not seeing the gay uncle...."
> I
> don't have a gay heroin-addict uncle, but the image still conveys meaning
> to
> me on the pop-culture level.

and that helped me clarify one of the reasons I think "gay" and "smack"
aren't functioning on the same metaphorical level, which is that I don't
think "gay" modifies "smack addict" in any meaningful way - that is, I
don't have any pop-cultural pictures of a gay smack addict that are
different from a straight smack addict, whereas it's one of those things
that fall somewhere between "stereotype" and "shared experience" that
being an uncle (or an aunt) *is* different if you're queer (I was recently
aunted, so I've been asking around about this). Now - Lupin's avuncular
relationship to Harry is specifically defined as being like a *gay* uncle.
Since, on my reading, that doesn't add anything to Cuaron's explanation of
his werewolfism, it must add something to some *other* element of his
characterization: the simplest reason I can think of is that "uncle" is
modified by "gay" because Lupin is himself gay (so that, for example and
to generalize unforgivably, his relationship to younger people is coloured
by the fact that he himself isn't going to have children).

Of course, the other reason I don't think "gay" and "smack" are on the
same metaphorical level is that you don't see Lupin shooting up in the
movie, and you do see him falling happily into the arms of another man.
Which brings me back to Melissa's post.

> Given that Lupin is a secondary character in a children's book, I don't
> know
> that his sexual orientation can be definitively proven one way or the
> other.

Absolutely - in some sense, he doesn't even 'have' a sexual orientation.
As you point out, there's nothing definitive in the books one way or
another, and certainly I know straight people (male and female) in real
life who regularly demonstrate a degree of physical affection for same-sex
friends (hugging, kissing, etc) that makes Lupin and Black look like
formal acquaintances. However, all of them are quite happy to use romantic
metaphors for these kinds of friendship and don't feel that a terrible
mistake is being made if people mistake them for romantic/sexual
relationships - which is partly why I couldn't resist responding to this
(though you're right about the number of people living with Black - I had
the impression that Black and Lupin were the only two permanent residents
in Grimmault Place, and the rest came to stay for meetings, but I'm
probably misremembering):

> (3a) If two men can't live together without being labeled gay, there's
> something seriously wrong with this world.  This plays into terrible
> stereotypes about homosexuality--ones you probably know better than I do,
> Ika.

<g> In this case, I think you know them better than me: I can't see
anything wrong with assuming that two men who demonstrably love each other
and live together might be in a sexual relationship, any more than I think
there's something seriously wrong with a world where people assume I'm
straight the first time they meet me. It's slightly tiring explaining over
and over again that no, that's not my mother, it's my girlfriend, but I
don't think it's playing into a *stereotype* about intergenerational
relationships, it's just an easy mistake to make. I guess it's the
difference between 'labelling' people gay and 'recognizing' gayness: I'd
rather tip the balance a little more in favour of 'recognizing', rather
than being reluctant to 'label' - especially since (as long as no-one's
being accused of anything illegal or immoral), I don't think making a
misrecognition is particularly blameworthy. IRL it's quickly cleared up
("that's not my mother/girlfriend, it's my girlfriend/mother") and in
fiction, as you point out, there's no "there" there so there isn't really
a difference between recognizing and misrecognizing...

Sorry if I'm going on and on, by the way - again, I'm not trying to insist
that you should agree with me, or that Lupin's unambiguously gay either in
the books or in Cuaron's view (who knows what Cuaron thinks?), but Paul
said he thought it was an interesting phenomenon and I'm in a position to
flesh out, at least from my own point of view, what's going on in the
joyous recruitment of Cuaron to the Lupin/Black 'ship. So I thought I
would. :)

Love, Ika

PS: Argh! Apologies for getting your name wrong, Kyla - I've had a cold
this week, which is my excuse - and for being grumpy-making, for which I
don't really have an excuse.

"You walk into the room like a camel"
- Truly, Bob Dylan is a great poet.
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