Torchwood and queer stuff: the problem of immortality-AIDS

Spoiler warning: This post contains massive spoilers for the finale of the most recent season of Torchwood. It’s not really worth watching as it’s utter bollocks, but if you are planning on doing so and are spoiler averse, look away now. Also, be careful with clicking links. Some are TV Tropes links. 

Yesterday, I got round to watching the season finale of Torchwood. And I was absolutely flabbergasted by the unfortunate implications.

In a remarkably convoluted bid to fix the world, what needed to happen was for the blood of a mortal to hit the magical plot device on both ends of the earth at exactly the same time. For those in China, this was dead easy, as Captain Jack had veins swimming with the stuff. For those on the other side of the world, it was equally easy as due to some kind of improbably contrived bollocks, Rex had filled himself up with Captain Jack’s blood. Hooray! World saved! Everyone is mortal except Captain Jack. But wait–there’s still seven minutes left of the episode!

And in those seven minutes, Rex, who had been previously mortal, is shown to have become immortal, like Captain Jack. Now, aside from the fact that Rex is one of the most egregious Scrappies that has shat all over my screen in a long time, and I’m a little annoyed that he won’t be killed off any time soon, there is a problem with this plotline.

Rex “caught” immortality off of a blood transfusion. Immortality has always been seen in-show as something of a curse, something unpleasant, something that causes an undue amount of angst and is generally a blessing of suck. When The Doctor found out about Captain Jack’s immortality, he was disgusted by it and wanted nothing more to do with him. Even The Doctor is a little bit grossed out by immortality! Rex himself is absolutely furious about the development–he doesn’t want to be like Captain Jack. Oh, and did I mention that Captain Jack is a bisexual man?

Catching something shown to be terrible off of a blood transfusion from a bisexual man kind of smacks a lot of the AIDS scare in the eighties. At least Rex caught what Chris Morris delightfully calls “the good AIDS“. At least he didn’t catch immortality from bumming. Which, actually, raises an interesting point, and I hope Captain Jack is very safe during sex. Otherwise, who knows how many immortals there are wandering around?

Perhaps I am reading too much into this, as I have been reading rather a lot recently about the “gay plague” propaganda which was used to drive homophobia. The thing is, the latest series of Torchwood has already abundantly demonstrated that it is not the queer-friendly show it once was. I would not be surprised at all if they picked up this unfortunate implication and ran with it; Rex has already shown himself to be homophobic and highly hostile to Jack.

I miss proper Torchwood. I really do. It used to be my weekly fix of queer fun. Now it is homophobia, couched in plausible deniability.


3 responses to “Torchwood and queer stuff: the problem of immortality-AIDS

  • Alex

    Didn’t he give that Italian bloke Immortal by bumming him?

  • Rick

    I thought similar things, though I blamed myself for having such thoughts, as the connection seemed to be made in my mind – presumably as a result of being a child of the 80s and remembering the AIDS scares. I felt it was my sub-concious being homophobic and linking gay blood to AIDS, rather than the writing.

    For me, it’s the fact that Jack seems now to be exclusively gay which bothers me the most – the character worked better when he was a lascivious omniexual from the future. The character is pretty dull and human now.

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