Just so we’re clear, the Bow business was not great. Not malicious, it would seem, but just so very Dumbass White^TM, in a way that can only go unchecked if there are no Black people in the room. Everyone concerned seems aghast in hindsight, and so on. Fine. But that’s a legitimate grievance. Everything else about the livestream, though, and the online firestorm in response? It’s in such intense bad faith, and in such a specific familiar way, that I can’t help but wonder.
There are a few things that precede these events, you see. Not long before this livestream, Noelle came out as non-binary—in some puttering, early, confused capacity, as one does. (Speaking from personal experience.) They also began to express they may be neurodiverse. And then they had a long, long interview with Rebecca Sugar, where the two of them compared notes. As it turns out, Double Trouble was… sort of, in part, a self-insert character. Stevenson had been thinking about this character for years and years, and using them as a way to work through some things before they really understood why.
Up until all of this, Stevenson was held up as some bastion of progressive showrunning. But after this series of revelations, we see baseless accusations of lesbophobia (?!?!), of ableism, and of creepy attitudes toward non-binary people.
You see how this works, right. It’s all great to talk about marginalized identities until marginalized people start doing the talking, at which point everything they say comes under the most intense scrutiny. When Noelle came off as a normal white lesbian girl, they were largely free to talk about whatever. But now that they’re exploring their gender identity and neurology, and revealing how much of this stuff was actually personal—and that they’re on good terms with, comparing their own work to, the last person to take this dark turn toward the margins of society? Oh, ew, throw them to the wolves.
The specific way that passing statements were twisted out of context with the worst possible interpretation, it’s like 2018 SU Crit territory all over again. Or just the TERf/alt-right playbook. Not that there’s any real ideological difference. Once you nail a plausible accusation, it doesn’t matter if it gets refuted; the impression remains: there’s something off with this person; it’s best to approach with caution.
Of the scurrilous accusations, lesbophobia is especially pointed and significant. Where it comes from: the host of the stream, when introducing a participant, read off the name of her podcast, which includes the word “dyke” because it’s a podcast by a queer woman about queer stuff. Right? So this gets abstracted out to, THE PRODUCTION TEAM USED THE D-SLUR. Which by metonymy gets translated into Noelle Stevenson in particular. Which is… not what happened, and just, you know, fucking hell, come on. There’s no good-faith way you could come to this reading.
What’s important is why we see this bizarre frame. It’s important because Stevenson just came out as non-binary. To emphasize this, there’s a similar kind of misrepresentation to suggest that the production team was intentionally creepy about Double Trouble, casting them as sort of a predator. Again: Double Trouble is Noelle. (Sort of, partially.) Similar story for the purported ableism, in regard to Entrapta’s neurology, etc., when Stevenson is also apparently neurodiverse.
What this framing is trying to assert without saying it directly is, okay, Noelle is creepy, deviant, and lesbophobic. And the Bow thing, which sucks and is real, comes as a convenient wedge issue so that people don’t examine the other claims too deeply. It’s a perfect storm to try to take down a gender traitor, basically.