How queerbaiting came to be

By: Annika Getz

Many people in the LGBTQ+ community are familiar with the term “queerbating”, but most that I’ve spoken to aren’t aware of the history behind it.

For readers who don’t know, queerbaiting is the practice of implying certain characters in movies or television programs to be LGBTQ+ through subtext, without ever outright saying it. This is often meant to appeal to queer audiences without off-putting straight ones.

Studios try to draw in queer audiences through the promise of representation, without ever confirming it, lest they upset their homophobic audiences. This is a common practice, which has been going on since the beginning of LGBTQ+ representation.

Some popular examples of queerbaiting include: ‘Voltron’ (2016-2018), ‘Supernatural’ (2005-2020), ‘Sherlock’ (2010-present), ‘Merlin’, (2008-2012), ‘Star Wars’ 7, 8, and 9, ‘Teen Wolf’ (2011-2017), ‘Supergirl’ (2015-2020), and many many more. And while I have not seen all of these shows, the general consensus is that they each hint at queer characters/relationships, without any follow through.

But where did this practice come from? Who first had the idea to trick queer viewers into
watching purely heterosexual programs?

The answer is an entirely different, and much less harmful practice called queercoding. Queercoding is very similar to queerbaiting, the main – and most important – difference between the two, is intent and reasoning.

Queercoding began back in the mid 1900’s, and is, much like queerbaiting, the act of hinting at characters being LGBTQ+, without confirming it. The difference however, is that when characters were queercoded, it was because prohibitions of the day stopped them from being openly queer. There are, of course, no rules, present day, stopping companies from adding gay characters.

The beginning of queer representation was in the early 1900’s. Gay characters were used for comedic affect in silent films. Men dressed in more feminine outfits were used for quick, cheap jokes. Some examples of this type of portrayal include ‘Algie the Miner’ (1914) and ‘The Soiler’ (1923). This evolved into what we now call the Sissy stereotype. Gay men are portrayed as feminine, weak. This was, and is, used to enforce straight men’s masculinities.

I think Quentin Crisp, English writer and actor, said it best “There’s no sin like being a woman. When a man dresses as a woman, the audience laughs. When a woman dresses as a man, nobody laughs.” This type of portrayal was but a preview of what was to come though.

One detail which will become relevant involves the 1915 Supreme Court case of Mutual Film Corporation vs. the Industrial Commission of Ohio. It was there that it was decided that free speech did not apply to film. They said that “Because film can be used for evil, we cannot regard censorship as beyond the power of the government.”

In 1922, Hollywood was reeling over movies recently released, portraying, sex, violence, orgies, and other indecencies (there had also been some real-life scandals with many popular stars at the time). It was then that studio heads hired William H. Hays, former postmaster general, to rehabilitate the film industry.

In 1924, Hays released “The Formula”, a list of recommendations for studios to follow regarding what should and shouldn’t be their films.

In 1927, Hays suggested that studio heads get together to discuss censorship. Both MGM and Fox agreed to meet. It was from this meeting that the Hays Code (released in 1930) was born. The Hays Code was a list of do’s and don’ts that studios had to follow, in order for their movies to be screened. This list included things such as profanity, nudity, drugs, white slavery (though unsurprisingly, black slavery was left out), miscegenation, childbirth, sex perversion etc. The Code essentially put a ban on gay characters. Some groups, mainly the Federation of Women’s club, wanted theaters to be raided by the police if they screened films which did not adhere to the Code.

Films were to go through the Code Office before release, and if they should have any indecent material, the script, characters, camera angles or anything necessary would be changed before its release, examples include ‘The Lost Weekend’ (1945) which was originally about an alcoholic coming to terms with his sexuality, that was altered to be about an alcoholic struggling with writer’s block. And ‘Crossfire’ (1947) originally about homophobia, but rewritten to be about anti-semitism instead.

Many studio heads, some of them gay themselves, were upset by the censorship, which had stopped progress of gay representation in its tracks. It was from their desire to portray gay characters on screen, and their inability to do so, that queercoding was born. Screenwriters knew that LGBTQ+ audiences would be able to recognize a coded gay character, while they flew under the radar of straight ones.

Some good examples of queercoding include, ‘The Maltese Falcon’ (1941), ‘Young Man With a Horn’ (1950), ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ (1955), ‘Ben Hur’ (1959), and ‘Suddenly Last Summer’ (1959). I could continue listing films, but I fear this article would be too long for anyone to read, so we’ll move on.

The only other way for gay characters to be portrayed in more obvious ways, was through villains, or death.

The villain trope is shown well through the popular 50’s and 60’s cliché that was lesbian prison movies, which portrayed lesbians as big and scary antagonists, who were often authority figures amongst the inmates (though never guards of course). This made many young lesbians fear their queerness, and often try to deny it, lest they end up in prison. It also made straight people afraid of lesbians, and was overall just pretty harmful.

Joel Cario, from ‘The Maltese Falcon’ (1941) is another good example of a queer coded antagonist. Like many male antagonists of the time, he was more feminine, and fit the sissy stereotype as much as a villain can. He was even confirmed to be gay in the book on which the movie was based.

This is a trope which has wormed its way into the modern day. Many antagonists, particularly in children’s movies, are coded to be either queer or genderqueer (or just defy gender norms).

This subconsciously instills a distrust of LGBTQ+ people in the youth. Some examples include Scar from ‘The Lion King’, Governor Ratcliffe from ‘Pocahontas’, Hades from ‘Hercules’, and Ursula from ‘The Little Mermaid’. This coding is even more obvious when you compare the villains to their hero counterparts. The male protagonists are usually hyper-masculine, and the female ones are incredibly feminine.

Another popular trope of the time which has made its way into film today, is the trope known as “Bury your gays” which is just what it sounds like. Gay characters being killed off while their straight counterparts get to live.

In the 50’s and 60’s, whenever characters were a bit too obviously queer, too at risk of being picked up on by straight audiences, the screenwriters killed them off, so the movie could pass the code, and be released.

One good example of this is the 1955 film, ‘Rebel Without a Cause’. Both boys in this movie are pretty heavily coded to be queer, though the one who’s more obviously gay of the two (the one without a female love interest), Plato, dies at the end of the film.

After around 30 years, the code was beginning to weaken, and characters were becoming a bit more obvious with their queerness. Movies like ‘Ben Hur’, and ‘Suddenly Last Summer’, which were both more heavily coded (both were written in 1959, and by Gore Vidal, who would later confirm certain characters to be gay), were being released, and put real strain on the code.

‘Some Like it Hot’ (1959) is considered by many to be the final nail in the coffin, though the code would technically stay in effect until 1968. The film was about two men dressing in drag as a disguise, to escape the mafia bosses trying to kill them. It plays with the idea of gender identity and norms, without fitting the sissy stereotype. It’s more than the one off joke of “man dresses up as woman and it’s the funniest thing to ever happen,” trope from the 10’s and 20’s.

In 1961, the film ‘The Children’s Hour’ was released. In the film, two women, Martha and Karen, run a school for girls. One of these girls, angry after being punished for misbehaving, falsely accuses the women of being lovers. After the accusation, a string of unfortunate events ensues, including a lawsuit. Martha then admits her romantic love for the unambiguously straight Karen, who obviously, does not reciprocate Martha’s feelings. The film ends with Martha committing suicide. The message was that yes, queer people existed, but they were immoral, filthy, and not something discussed or tolerated by decent folk.

However, also in 1961, the movie ‘Victim’ was released, depicting the first gay protagonist. While it was banned from U.S. cinemas, and given an X rating in the UK (it was later given a rating of PG-13), it was still major progress.

In 1968, the code was finally taken out of effect, and two years later, the first real LGBTQ+ movie was released: ‘The Boys in The Band’. No one dies, and everyone’s out. This sadly wasn’t the end of homophobia in cinema though.

‘Brokeback Mountain’ (2005), though wildly popular, faced serious criticism from a baptist church upon its release. The film was picketed, and when one of the actors, Heath Ledger, passed away, a religious hate group even protested his funeral. They claimed he had died for his portrayal of a gay character onscreen.

It’s this type of protest that scared studios into queerbaiting, and while their concern is understandable, it’s also incredibly harmful. Queer people have a hard enough time finding representation without being tricked into watching shows and movies without it.

There’s also something worth saying about the possible profit off of actual LGBTQ+ films. The movie ‘Love, Simon’ (2018), grossed 66.3 million dollars worldwide (40.8 million in the U.S. and Canada) against a $10-17 million production budget, making it one of the most domestically successful teen movies to be released recently. Many moviegoers even saw it several times in one day, according to social media posts made shortly after the film’s release.

To summarize: queercoding was one thing, but what it’s turned into is a complete – much more harmful – other. While much progress has been made with queer representation in the media, there’s still a long ways to go. And if I ever had a chance to talk to a major studio head, I’d ask them which side of LGBTQ+ history they’d like to be on, one which benefits the community, or continues to marginalize it?

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7 tips for staying on top of school work

By: Mary Koch & Ella Sutherland

School can be stressful, and it’s even worse when you’re falling behind in your work.

Here are some tips to stay organized this year.

1. Get a planner:
A great way to stay organized is by getting a planner. You can write down your assignments, plan your day, and add notes.

They make your life so much calmer because you won’t forget to do things, and you can make sure you’ll have the time you need throughout the day.

2. Prioritize:
It’s important to have fun, but school’s important too. Try to plan your day so you have time to get your work done first before moving on to the things you want to do.

If you’re able to finish your work, or at least get a good start, you’ll be able to have fun and not worry about when you’ll get things done. Your day can be stress free if you can make the decision to do the boring parts first.

3. Plan Ahead:
Going along with prioritizing and getting a planner, you should always plan when you want to get things done. If you don’t wait until the last minute you won’t be rushed, so you can do your best work.

Instead of planning on finishing assignments right before the due date, you could make your own due date, so you can make sure everything is turned in on time.

Making sure to study for tests early is a good way to get better grades. Don’t try to learn everything the night before when all you’ll really do is stress yourself out. Instead you could find time to study days before, so you really understand the topic.

4. Stay Focused:
Not everybody can focus in the same environment. Some people need complete silence, and some people do best when they’re listening to music.

Find out what works best for you, and try to use those things to your advantage. If you know you can get a better grade on a test while you have music playing, you can ask a teacher, so you can do what’s best for you.

If you’re not able to focus when you have people talking around you, move somewhere you won’t be as easily distracted.

5. Make Your Work Fun:
Not all school work has to be boring. You can make it fun by doing things like doing homework or studying with your friends. You can talk and help each other while still doing your work.

Another way to make homework fun is by eating a piece of candy for every assignment you finish. You can also decorate your notes and use fun colors.

6. Ask Questions:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t understand something, your teacher will be happy to help out. You can ask in, before, or after class, or you could email your teacher privately and set up a time to meet.

Classes are so much easier when you actually understand the material, so speak up because teachers are there to help.

7. Organize:
If you’re able to keep your work and life organized, you’ll have a better chance of staying on top of your work. Whether you rely on a planner, or you just write things down anywhere, there are always ways to stay more organized.

Sticking to schedules or routines helps with knowing what you need to do and when. Having a designated spot to write down any homework or upcoming tests makes it easier to plan ahead and do things on time.

Those were just a few ways to keep your schoolwork stress free, and there are many other ways. Not everything works for everyone, but hopefully these will help keep this year organized.

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The four day school week: Innovation or insanity?

By: Marcus Lund

Let’s be real. School can sometimes feel way too long. Especially after returning from online learning and 4 period days; students are getting burnt out. A four day school week would be an amazing way to take off some of the pressure and offer an additional 24 hours of rest.

Or would it?

The four day school week is starting to be implemented in different school districts across the nation, with both positive and negative results. Four day school weeks would probably mean longer school days to make up for lost hours, which was shown to be difficult for some students, especially younger ones.

The transition to a four day system has also caused a temporary decrease in test scores and grades as students get used to the system. One study even showed the four day school week leading to an increase in juvenile crime.

However, the four day school week also offers numerous positives that I, as a high school student, am tempted to favor. The four day school system reliably attracted new teacher hiring in almost all schools it was implemented in. It also caused some minor, but visible cost cuts.

Additionally, the four day week also decreased student absences. Stress relief and mental health have also shown positive improvement with the implementation. Students can spend more time with their families and friends, and both teachers and students can have a more even work-life balance.

Reliable academic benefits for the system have not been studied deeply yet, and conflicting information has been surfacing on the topic for some time.

The four day school week is becoming more and more popular across the U.S., and with
good reason. With around 560 school districts in 25 states containing schools testing the four
day school week, could Highland Park be next? Let’s wait and see.

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New Texas law restricting womens’ rights

On September 1, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abort signed a law that would ban Texans from having an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. He said, “Our creator endowed us with the right to life, and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion. In Texas, we work to save those lives.”

The six-week limit is before some women are even aware they are pregnant. The law also allows private citizens to sue doctors who provide abortions to women, and women who get an abortion. Despite that it is a constitutional right for women to have an abortion, the Supreme Court refused to block the abortion law; the vote was a 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the liberals.

People for abortion have promised to challenge the new law, they have considered this law one of the most extreme nationwide since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. The Roe v. Wade decision is a 1973 law that the Supreme Court agreed on to protect the rights of a pregnant woman to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

The President said the Texas abortion law is “[A]lmost un-American.” He specifically pointed out the fact that private citizens get to sue any doctor who helps a woman get an abortion. He also said that “[T]he most pernicious thing about the Texas law, it sort of creates a vigilante system.”

After the Supreme Court’s decision on the law, he said it was an “[U]nprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade, which has been the law of the land for almost fifty years.”

Young people have used social media to also protest against this law, by sharing short videos and guides on how to flood the Texas Right to Life website with misinformation, memes, and pranks.

I talked to some of my peers at school about what they have heard about the new Texas law, and this is what they had to say:

“I heard that private citizens can sue people who get an abortion and the doctors who give the abortion.”

“I’ve heard if you get an abortion after the six weeks limit, the father of the child can sue the mother

“I’ve heard a lot of people are angry about it and I know that it is a very controversial subject so a large sum of people will be mad either way. I don’t think many other states will do the same just because of the potential riots or protests it may cause.” 

“I heard that a lot of people are saying it’s unconstitutional.”

“I’ve heard that Texas is banning abortions after a woman is six weeks along, and the doctors who perform abortions in Texas can be sent to jail. Also, that if someone knows of someone who went out of state or somehow got an abortion, they can report it, and sue anyone who aided the abortion.”

Overall, I would say that the high school students I talked to were aware of the new law, and seemed informed about it. They also seemed to have opinions that were in line with other young people across the country.

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False start for the Minnesota Vikings

Image taken from: thevikingage.com

By: Abby Altman

With a fantastic draft, a great off season, and most injured players returning ready to work, the Vikings 2021 season was highly anticipated. 

Many Vikings fans expected a comeback from the less than average season last year, but week 1 made most fans lose hope. At halftime, the Vikings were down 7-14. That doesn’t seem bad, but fans watching knew things weren’t looking good. The offense in the first half was abysmal. They received 12 penalties for a total loss of 116 yards, including 3 false starts in the opening drive, and 4 penalties in the first 8 snaps. 

“We shot ourselves in the foot, especially in the first half, way too many times,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer stated.

 The offensive line gave up 3 sacks, and the offense scored just 1 touchdown in the first half. 

Kirk Cousins, possibly the most hated player on the Vikings in recent years, played well but was seemingly overshadowed by the loss. Cousins went for 36/49, with 351 yards, and 2 touchdowns. 

The defense was another story, and not a much better one. The Bengals offense, Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, and the rest of the offensive stars, picked up 366 total yards, and 2 touchdowns in the first half, and 1 in the second.

Erik Kendricks looked like he was ready to be back, with 15 tackles, to lead the league after 1 week. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stop Cincinnati from scoring 

But for many, the main story of the game was neither team. It was the refs. 

With 10:00 left in the 4th quarter, WR Justin Jefferson caught a 20 yard pass from QB Kirk Cousins, and proceeded to run the final 20 yards to land in the end zone. The refs didn’t call the touchdown, stating that he was down before he landed in the end zone, and called third down. Further replays clearly showed an image of Jefferson hanging over the end zone, his body clearly still off the ground. The call was not overturned. 

After a horrendous first half, the Vikings managed to pull it together, and came back to tie the game with a 53 yard kick made by Greg Joseph with 3 seconds on the clock. The game went into overtime, and both defenses looked strong forcing each team to punt at least once. 

With less than 2 minutes on the clock in overtime, the Vikings were sitting roughly on the 40 yard line. Getting very close to field goal range, the Vikings called 1 more play. With a handoff to star RB Dalvin Cook, his run ended on the bottom of a pileup with a group of Cincinnati defenders. The refs called a fumble, recovered by Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt. The Vikings challenged the call, and after several minutes were spent reviewing the play, the ruling on the field stayed a fumble, allowing the Bengals to set up their game winning field goal drive. 

Online comment sections since then have been flooded with fans, some Vikings, some not, stating that “Dalvin didn’t fumble”. Many fans were outraged that the ruling on the field was not overturned. 

In a post game conference, Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen spoke out about the game and the offensive mistakes. Thielen stated that the Vikings felt “[R]eally confident coming into this game”. Obviously, that confidence was shot down by mistakes. Thielen made a comment saying that he believes this is a good team and will bounce back in week 2. From the interview on Minnesota Vikings YouTube, Thielen says, “You gotta play clean football, because that’s (penalties) what loses games”. 

Sports schedule for: 9/27-10/2

MONDAYDATE:  SEPTEMBER 27TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
5:15pm / 7:00pm Girls JV/Varsity Soccer vs. Simleyat Simley High School
5:30pm JV Football vs. JohnsonHOME
5:30pm / 7:00pm JV/Varsity Volleyball vs. Como ParkHOME
TUESDAYDATE: SEPTEMBER 28TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
4:00pm / 4:00pm JV/Varsity Tennis vs. HardingJV: HOME Varsity: at Harding High School
4:15pm / 7:00pm JV/Varsity Boys Soccer vs. WashingtonHOME
7:00pm Varsity Girls Soccer vs. Washingtonat Washington
WEDNESDAYDATE:  SEPTEMBER 29TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
4:00pm Varsity Tennis vs. VisitationHOME  
5:30pm / 5:30pm 7:00pm4:30pm / 8:30pmC-Squad / JV / Varsity Volleyball vs. Centralat Central High School
THURSDAYDATE: SEPTEMBER 30TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
4:15pm / 7:00pm JV/Varsity Boys Soccer vs. CentralHOME
7:00pm Girls Varsity Soccer vs. Centralat Central High School
FRIDAYDATE: OCTOBER 1ST
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
TBD Tennis Twin Cities Matchat Minneapolis Site
5:30pm / 5:30pm 7:00pm C-Squad / JV / Volleyball vs. WashingtonHOME
SATURDAYDATE:  OCTOBER 2ND
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
8:00am Varsity Volleyball Invitationalat Blaine High School
1:00pm Football vs. Como ParkHOME
2:30pm / 4:00pm JV/Varsity Boys Soccer vs. SPAat St. Paul Academy

Sports schedule for: 9/20-9/25

MONDAYDATE:  SEPTEMBER 20TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
4:00pm  Varsity Tennis vs. VisitationHOME
5:30pm4:45pm / 7:30pmJV Football vs. Johnsonat Johnson High School
TUESDAYDATE: SEPTEMBER 21ST
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
4:00pm Varsity Tennis vs. Washingtonat Washington
4:15pm JV/Varsity Boys Soccer vs. Humboldtat Humboldt High School
5:00pm / 7:00pm JV Girls Soccer vs. Central Varsity Girls Soccer vs. HumboldtHOME
WEDNESDAYDATE:  SEPTEMBER 22ND
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
5:00pm / 7:00pm JV/Varsity Boys Soccer vs. JohnsonHOME  
5:30pm / 5:30pm 7:00pm4:30pm / 8:30pmC-Squad / JV / Varsity Volleyball vs. Hardingat Harding High School
THURSDAYDATE: SEPTEMBER 23RD
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
4:00pm / 4:00pm JV/ Varsity Tennis vs. CentralJV: HOME Varsity: at Central High School
5:00pm Football vs. CentralHOME
5:00pm Swimming & Diving vs. Humboldt/Washingtonat Humboldt High School
FRIDAYDATE: SEPTEMBER 24TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
3:45pm1:45pm / 5:15pmBoys and Girls Cross Country Roy Griak Invitationalat Les Bolstad Golf Course
SATURDAYDATE:  SEPTEMBER 25TH
TIMEBUS DEPART/RETURNEVENTDETAILS
12:00pm Varsity Girls Soccer vs. WashingtonHOME
1:00pm12:00pm / 2:30pmBoys JV Soccer vs. DeLaSalleat DeLaSalle High School
1:00pm Swimming & Diving vs. MPLS Southwestat St. Catherine University
6:00pm Varsity Boys Soccer vs. MPLS RooseveltHOME

Sports schedule for: 9/13-9/18

MONDAYDATE:  SEPTEMBER 13TH
TIMEEVENTDETAILS
4:00pm Tennis Scrimmage vs. North St. PaulJohn Glenn Junior High School
4:30pmJV Football vs. Kennedyat Bloomington Stadium
5:00pm / 7:00pmJV/Varsity Girls Soccer vs. Two RiversHOME
5:30pm / 5:30pm 7:00pmC-Squad / JV / Varsity Volleyball vs. HumboldtHOME
TUESDAYDATE: SEPTEMBER 14TH
TIMEEVENTDETAILS
4:30pm / 5:00pmJV/Varsity Boys Soccer vs. DeLaSalleJV: at Neiman Sports Complex V: at DeLaSalle High School
5:00pm / 7:00pmJV/Varsity Girls Soccer vs. VisitationHOME
6:00pmSwimming & Diving vs. Rosemountat Rosemount Middle School
WEDNESDAYDATE:  SEPTEMBER 15TH
TIMEEVENTDETAILS
4:00pmJV Tennis vs. South St. PaulJV: HOME  
THURSDAYDATE: SEPTEMBER 16TH
TIMEEVENTDETAILS
   
FRIDAYDATE: SEPTEMBER 17TH
TIMEEVENTDETAILS
4:00pmVarsity Tennis vs. HumboldtHOME
4:15pmSwimming & Diving vs. Como/Johnsonat Humboldt High School
4:45pmVarsity Girls Soccer vs. Johnsonat Johnson High School
5:00pm / 7:00pmJV/Varsity Boys Soccer vs. MPLS EdisonHOME
5:30pm / 5:30pm 7:00pmC-Squad / JV / Varsity Volleyball vs. JohnsonHOME
SATURDAYDATE:  SEPTEMBER 18TH
TIMEEVENTDETAILS
9:30am7:45am / 12:45pm Boys and Girls Cross Country Metro Invitationalat Eden Prairie High School
10:00am Swimming and Diving Maroon and Gold Invitationalat University of Minnesota Aquatic Center
12:00pm10:30am / 1:45pm Football vs. Johnsonat Johnson High School
5:00pm / 7:00pmJV/Varsity Boys Soccer vs. St. Anthony VillageHOME