Voltron: Legendary Defenders Showrunner Apologizes For Mishandling Of Gay Characters
WARNING: This article includes spoilers for Season 7 of Dreamworks's and Netflix's Voltron: Legendary Defender.
Last month, we shared with you the news that the popular animation Voltron: Legendary Defender would reveal one of its lead characters was gay.
The announcement came at San Diego Comic Con and shared that not only would team leader Shiro be gay, but the character’s background would be filled out and include a former romance.
Unfortunately, fan and media excitement from that announcement became uncontrollable to the series creators and staff. Expectations rose and Netflix’s marketing of the romance by including posters of Shiro in rainbow colors and standing near his ex-boyfriend Adam didn’t help.
Then this past weekend, the seventh season in the series appeared and fans were disappointed.
The storyline between Shiro and his past lover Adam was revealed (in a minute and a half long scene) only to quickly end with the death of Adam.
Even if you take away the fact that it was another killed off gay character, the death of a romantic interest in order to further the development of a superhero is a known and despised trope called fridging.
Then afterwards, that storyline was never brought up again for the rest of the season.
Voltron fans and LGBTQ people quickly shared their distaste for the storyline’s delivery on social media. Unfortunately, that soon got out of control as the series creators and staff were soon swarmed with hate and even received some death threats.
In response to all this, series showrunner Joaquim Dos Santos recently wrote a letter and posted it on Twitter to apologize to fans for the delivery of Shiro’s backstory, according to GayStarNews.
“First, I’d like to say that we created this version of Voltron with the intent of being as inclusive as possible within the boundaries,” he wrote.
Dos Santos then included an apology for how the storyline played out and its reception from fans.
“With regards to season 7 itself, if anyone for any reason took away from this season that our intention was to queerbait the VLD fandom I’d like to personally apologize. I can only speak to our intent and I can truly say we did not intend to bait anyone. I know that is not any consolation but it is the truth.”
“We were aware of the ‘bury your gays’ trope,” he added. “But hoped against hope that our struggle to confirm Shiro’s orientation would take center stage here.”
In terms of the struggle to confirm Shiro’s sexuality, Inverse wrote an article that the creators and staff had fought with Dreamworks executives to present the character as gay.
“All of us were really clamoring for it,” said voice actor Josh Keaton who plays Shiro. “We were like, this is important, we can’t just water it down. I was really upset about it. Bex [Taylor-Klaus] was really upset about it.”
“Everybody came together because it was something all of us felt was important to see and to have. Even the PR people at DreamWorks helped a lot. Everybody was on the same page.”
Back to Dos Santos’s Twitter letter, he shared that their focus was on presenting Shiro as gay. As such, he and his team did not consider the backlash at using Adam as a plotpoint and the resulting miscommunication in announcing the development.
“We had not intended Adam to be interpreted as a recurring character or someone that would come back into Shiro’s life.”
“That is not me attempting to turn this around and place the burden of expectation on anyone. This is not an excuse. We crafted this entire series around the themes of sacrifice and loss and at the end of the day we have to take responsibility for our creative decisions. We knew people would be affected by the loss of Adam we just could not have predicted how profound that loss would be.”
Many Voltron fans who responded to the tweet thanked Dos Santos for his apology and for listening to their complaints. Though, many also stated that they’re still hurting.
Will this apology heal the wounds of upset fans? Probably not. But as Dos Santos says, it’s a start towards moving on.
h/t: GayStarnews, Inverse