azn_jack_fiend: (Fragments)
[personal profile] azn_jack_fiend
I've run across renewed criticism of Children of Earth in the last couple days, and one particular point strikes me as not terribly valid: that Jack was being cold to Ianto on Day One. Day Three, yes, but not Day One. I don't get it at all. The first time I saw Torchwood, I saw all the episodes in a row, S1 to Day Five, and I didn't know anything about fandom. I didn't even know who RTD was. He was just a name in the credits to me. And what I saw on Day One was a complicated relationship at a really, really complicated stage.

I went back to the transcripts and found the three crucial "couple" related interchanges:


IANTO: He thought we were together. Like a couple. He said, "You two." The way he said it, huh. "You two."
JACK: Well, we are. Does it matter?
IANTO: I dunno, it's all a bit new to me, that's all. Laser saw.
JACK: Thank you.

--

JACK: Persistent.
IANTO: Good sign.
JACK: Dogmatic.
IANTO: Always a plus.
GWEN: Oh, Christ, never work with a couple - you two talk like twins! Now tell me who he is.

--

IANTO: She's calling us a couple now.
JACK: What's your problem?
IANTO: Just saying.
JACK: I hate the word "couple". (walks off)
IANTO: Me too.

To me, that's not Jack denying that they're a couple. It's Jack being upset and snarky about Ianto's lack of comfort admitting that they're in a serious relationship! I was really confused when I saw it being read as the exact opposite.

Let's examine it in a light that's not charitable to Ianto... that shows his human flaws as much as his strengths.

Ianto doesn't like sticking out too much. He's not 100% comfortable with his sexuality (like many people aren't). He's not comfortable with the idea of being in a relationship with his immortal boss (like many people wouldn't be). Up to this point, he was coasting, because what he has with Jack is relatively private. But once he has to start relating it to the outside world, he starts to panic a little bit. Does he want more than what Jack has to offer? Or is what Jack is offering actually too much? He's not sure. It's a really hard decision.

Even without bringing in the tricky, complicated question of internalized homophobia/biophobia, it's pretty obvious Ianto has commitment issues. He could be any person, however, no matter what sexuality, and still have commitment issues. The fact that he has issues doesn't make him a weak person or a bad person. It just makes him human.

On the other hand, I don't think Jack has commitment issues. He does, however, have intercultural issues that lead to communication problems.  He sees relationships in a totally different way than the vast majority of 21st century Earth humans, and then there are the mortality differences on top of that vast cultural difference. He has to live in the present in order to stay sane. He's committed to Ianto totally... in the present. They work together, they're lovers, they're a "couple" or whatever English word-label applies, in his thinking. And he's not thinking past that.  But when Ianto starts having issues with that sort of laissez-faire approach, Jack doesn't really empathize with Ianto, or put himself in Ianto's shoes. Instead, he throws up his hands and gets angry about Ianto's issues and sort of says "well what more do you want? I give up." 

When Ianto dies on Day Four he pretty much resolves everything. He's fully decided. He says exactly what he wants to say.

Jack, on the other hand, loops back to where he was on Day One. He's committed. All the way. But he stumbles when he tries to express that. Words fail him. He tries really hard, but they still fail him, and I like to think Ianto appreciated how hard he tried.

I personally think it's a beautiful poetic pattern that got set up and fulfilled there on Day Four. But even if you hate that pattern, I don't see how people can say that Jack never believed he and Ianto were a couple.




Date: 2011-07-06 04:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neo-prodigy.livejournal.com
[SMDH]

Dear Fandom,

You know nothing about queer men, or for that matter men in general. Please stop. I can't take anymore gray hairs.

Ianto was clearly trying to get Jack to say they were a couple and wanted to broach the issue and Jack didn't want to. Why do you have to announce they're in a relationship and put a title on it was Jack's whole point? And a valid one.

When it comes to relationships men, operate on a different wavelengths. We don't express our feelings and pontificate on them. We don't have to be in relationships and we don't have to be in love to be with someone. And there's nothing wrong with that.

That doesn't mean they didn't care for each other, because they did. But they were fuck buddies who grew to care for each other. Jack needed uncomplicated with no strings attached and Ianto gave it to him. And that's why they worked.

Davies, being a queer male, understood the dynamics and that's why this portrayal is one of the most realistic I've seen on TV.

I could write tomes on what fandom doesn't get when it comes to queer males.

Date: 2011-07-06 01:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azn-jack-fiend.livejournal.com
I totally agree with your point that fandom in general has a tendency to squeeze gay or bi men into heteroromantic boxes that don't really make sense, and there's a huge amount of really inappropriate and offensive fetishizing going on.

But I do have to disagree that the ability to have no-strings relationships is something totally unique to gay men. Not that you said exactly that, but still... women are socialized to believe we're supposed to have true love and committed monogamous relationships, but that doesn't mean we always necessarily fall into line with that.

I don't agree with the idea common to some sections of Torchwood fandom that Ianto and Jack were destined for true love and picking out curtains together and RTD ruined it for nefarious reasons by making Jack act like an asshole from Day One onwards. But I do think the potential is there for a variety of different takes on the relationship.

We know that Jack's had some big committed relationships in the past. He married a woman at one point. There was Estelle. John Hart. I doubt that any of these, with men or women or other, were exactly Earth-normal heteroromantic monogamous types of relationships! That's what I love about speculating, because there's such a wide range of possibilities there.

Date: 2011-07-06 01:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neo-prodigy.livejournal.com
"But I do have to disagree that the ability to have no-strings relationships is something totally unique to gay men."

Actually I didn't say that at all.

"women are socialized to believe we're supposed to have true love and committed monogamous relationships, but that doesn't mean we always necessarily fall into line with that. "

I'm not disputing that. But many of the ones who have the biggest complaints have no clue about how queer men (or men in general operate), whether they operate the same or not, I can't comment on nor will I but they clearly have an inaccurate view of gay men.

"I don't agree with the idea common to some sections of Torchwood fandom that Ianto and Jack were destined for true love and picking out curtains together and RTD ruined it for nefarious reasons by making Jack act like an asshole from Day One onwards."

THANK YOU! That relationship was never going to last and to be honest, I'm shocked that it lasted as long as it did.

"We know that Jack's had some big committed relationships in the past. He married a woman at one point. There was Estelle. John Hart. I doubt that any of these, with men or women or other, were exactly Earth-normal heteroromantic monogamous types of relationships!"

Agreed. I think because of the way many of those ended, not to mention Jack's past, and the layers upon layers of issues, that's one of the reasons why I didn't want to get into anything heavy and messy with Ianto, especially with the pressure of leading Torchwood.


Date: 2011-07-06 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azn-jack-fiend.livejournal.com
I think that last is a huge open question because of Jack's immortality. It would make sense to not "get into anything heavy" because it's destined to end badly, and he certainly can't spend the rest of his life together with anyone... except maybe the Doctor, who's not interested :-( But he's also not a completely coldly logical person and he's not always going to do what makes the most sense. Also (highlight for spoilers):

? I don't know, and I'm dying to find out!

Date: 2011-07-06 01:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lawsontl.livejournal.com
Neo, you have a point, but you're not taking into a account that a number of male fans, some of whom are also gay males, were not pleased with the depiction either. Just saying :)

Date: 2011-07-06 01:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] neo-prodigy.livejournal.com
And we're not a hive mind. But not liking the depiction and having a clue about the dynamics at play (whether you like it or don't like it) are two separate things.

Date: 2011-07-06 04:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darthhellokitty.livejournal.com
We might also recall what happened the last time Ianto was in a relationship...

Date: 2011-07-06 01:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azn-jack-fiend.livejournal.com
Yep!

Never mind curtains. True commitment means transplanting your brain into your loved one's body.

Date: 2011-07-06 06:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jedi-harkness.livejournal.com
To be honest, when I first saw CoE (and it was the first time I saw TW ever) I thought the whole arc was about Ianto getting more and more unconfortable with how serious the relationship was getting and Jack being irritated with him not being able to go with the flow. It was not only an age gap and a culture gap, it was a time gap. I do think Jack had his own issues: Being immortal he's had to see countless loved ones die and I'm sure there were times he dreaded the day he would lose Ianto. Of course they are men and even if they are bi-sexual they would still be like most men and have problems with talking out their feelings. Ianto's death always breaks my heart because he does say what needed to be said and poor Jack can't bring himself to reciprocate, because he either didn't want Ianto to give up or just couldn't face his worst nightmare coming true. However this is all interpreted, it is a touching and ultimately heartbreaking story.

Date: 2011-07-06 01:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azn-jack-fiend.livejournal.com
Yep. For me, what Jack said was more heartbreaking and ultimately more meaningful than "I love you too."

Date: 2011-07-06 07:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] madder-rose.livejournal.com
Yeah, it seems Ianto is the one with the "issues", but mostly it's about two people (men) trying to figure out where they stand after having "dabbled" for quite some time.

They were never going to go shopping for furniture together but maybe it was more a So we're doing this now? Yeah, okay. Cool. And This, whatever it was didn't need to be rings or house or babies, because let's face it, Ianto was never going to live that long.

And Torchwood isn't really good for raising a family in (GWEN'S NOT RAISING A BABY IN TORCHWOOD. SHE'S IN HIDING Y'ALL)

Date: 2011-07-06 01:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] azn-jack-fiend.livejournal.com
So much of it is about death and mortality and whether or not there's even going to be a future. Sigh.

Poor Gwen. I can't wait until you see MD!

Date: 2011-07-06 01:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] madder-rose.livejournal.com
My biggest issue with those scenes and what makes them so great, is the unrealised potential of what could have beens. We don't know. Anything could have happened. But they didn't.

With any death, that is what truly hurts - we won't get to see these people anymore.

OOOOOHHHHH YOU TEASE. I CAN'T WAIT EITHER. Monday night bb! Monday night! Just me and my dog and pillows and biting nails.

Date: 2011-07-06 04:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] xtricks.livejournal.com
I think the problem in fandom you’re talking about is that as significant number of fans seem to have a very … simplistic view of how relationships work. If you don’t say ‘I love you’ at the drop of a hat (or pants), then you obviously don’t love that person. If you have trouble expressing your emotions, then obviously you don’t have them or secretly hate the other person. If the pretty, ‘death in a lover’s arms’ doesn’t come complete with promises of eternal devotion then obviously you never loved that person.

None of this takes into account the fact that Jack, which canonically quite demonstrative, often sidestepped individual devotion (I came back for you, all of you &etc). It also sidesteps the fact that much of what fandom believes about Jack and Ianto – to the point we think it was canon, came out of fannon -- fandom filling in the blanks about a very minor character (Ianto) and a fairly cagey major character (Jack). Extra canon materials such as radio plays seem to suggest fairly heavily that Jack and Ianto had some emotional connection – was it traditional monogamous, romantic love? Who knows.

I also think, however, that your implication about Jack’s motivations is also fanon – we really have no idea what he’s thinking the majority of the time about Ianto in CoE. Only at the end, in his very difficulty in saying he loved Ianto is there a strong (to me) suggesting that, in fact he did. The idea that he has some hugely different idea of social mores is fairly fanon, not canon. He’s been married, his reaction to Gwen was pretty typical UST, he shows signs of jealousy in regards to Rhys. He shows little sign of jealousy in regard to Ianto but he shows little sign of emotional response to Ianto in general – after Cyberwoman and a few small gestures.

Frankly, I’ve never gotten these deathbed confessions of love – you’re dying and the thing you most want to do is make the person you love feel worse by reminding them that they’re about to lose something important even more explicitly? I totally get why Jack was saying ‘don’t’; it was both … a: he didn’t want to hear this when he knew Ianto was dying, what good was it then? And b: it’s such a cliché that someone says that then they drop dead, maybe if Ianto doesn’t say it, then maybe he won’t die.

B, of course, is exactly what happened and more annoying cliché I can’t imagine.

Date: 2011-07-08 11:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bodlon.livejournal.com
I wanted to think about this a little bit, and one thing that I keep coming back to is that in addition to Ianto's transition-into-relationship issues, I think he's also kind of...giddy?

Yeah. Giddy. Because once that thing starts getting out of sneaky Torchwood makeout sessions and into his proper life, that's real. A real thing. A real thing that he, Ianto Jones, is actually, really doing.

So yes. More or less in agreement here.

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