Monday, February 23, 2015

If Black Sails is to be believed then the book Treasure Island is full of fascinating gay characters and gay love stories.

Black Sails is a pirate show, and if you like pirates then you should watch it. And because it's Starz (the same network that brings us the powerful and compelling story of Jaime, Claire, and Frank in Outlander) it's of course rife with violence, gore when appropriate, and sex. In other words, it's my kind of show.
It's also set roughly two decades before the events of the book Treasure Island. Just to school you a little bit because some people actually haven't read Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson created the fictional character (first name not given), and he was the captain of a pirate ship called the Walrus. The crew of the Walrus accumulated an enormous amount of treasure, Flint and six members of his crew bury the plunder on an island in the Caribbean Sea, and then Flint murdered his six assistants leaving the corpse of one Allardyce with his arms outstretched in the direction of the buried treasure.

The location of the horde is marked by Flint on a map and William "Billy" Bones becomes the keeper of the map. Later, his former quartermaster called John Silver started calling his parrot "Captain Flint." John Silver was also the only man that ever made Frint "afraid."
The guy second from the left is Captain Flint. 
I've been watching Starz Black Sails and haven't felt like there was much to report until this week's episode which suddenly made so much of everything else make sense. You see, Captain Flint is gay and that just tickled me pink. I'd assumed that the two characters of Flint and Miranda had an affair as there's obvious sexual history between them. But peeling back the layers, we find out that they actually fled England because it got out that Flint was in love with her husband Thomas (of course she knew and kept the secret as she loved them both) and let's just say...my mind was blown. Now I want to know if Thomas is still alive. He got committed to an asylum because of indecency charges (let's face it: times would not be safer for homosexuals for several hundred more years), and his chances of being alive are probably slim to none. All the characters on the show just talk about him like it's a foregone conclusion that he's dead.
I do like the liberties that the show is taking with the character of Captain Flint, and I also like how it's being meshed with actual pirate history. Charles Vane is an actual English pirate who has a major role in the show. Also, there's an artist that's essentially coming up with the "Jolly Roger" flag that's the famous logo of all things pirate. And we also have "Billy" Bones as a character too. He's fiercely loyal to Captain Flint, and it makes me think that they might be lovers. What a reveal that would be. It would so totally make sense with regard to Treasure Island because why would Flint murder the people that helped him bury the treasure he gets in a few years and then let Billy live unless he loved Billy?

Wow. Admittedly none of these revelations come from Robert Louis Stevenson so some fans of the man's work might take offense to liberties that Starz is taking with the story. But I for one LOVE IT because it makes the whole story come together in a way that it never did before and that's just fascinating. If you too are intrigued, watch this interview with Toby Stephens who talks about how this character being "gay" actually drives him to do everything that he does.

22 comments:

  1. We don't have Starz, so I've never seen it.

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  2. I will have to check this one out once it's rentable.

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  3. I think the writers did a great job with this. Instead of just throwing it out there, they did let the audience get to know Flint, and now that it's been revealed that he's gay, I think it makes all the pieces fall into place and fit quite nicely. We can all look back and say, "Yup, right there. Okay, that makes sense."

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  4. I don't have Starz, so I've been missing out on both this show and Outlander. But I want to watch them both just as soon as I figure out how.

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  5. I watched the first three episodes and while the cinematography was great I found the story muddled and the characters not engaging. Perhaps I should have stuck with it a bit longer.

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    1. I think the payoff came with the huge reveal in season two. So you'd really have to stick with it for everything to make sense. Now the show's a "must watch" for me.

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  6. WOW. What a mind-blowing plot. I haven't seen this. But it sounds great. I love adventure stuff anyway. The plot on this makes it most definitely a must watch.

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    1. Yeah "butt pirates" has been all over the internet regarding this episode.

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  8. I've never heard of it, but it sounds interesting.

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  9. I haven't seen Back Sails but I'm impressed that everything comes together with this big reveal. I can tell you (history nerd that I am) that real-life gay pirates and warriors were a lot more common than people realize.

    A very intellectual man once told me that he loved Treasure Island and that it was brilliantly written, so it's not just a book for kids. The only RL Stevenson book I've read is Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, and it was superb.

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  10. Interesting. Maybe Stevenson had this in the back of his mind, but because of the norms of the day... Well, probably not, but it does take the story and give us something new to see in it. (Haven't seen the show, but maybe if I ever get Starz I'll have to check it out.)

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  11. I think homosexuality was condemned with the working class; but prevelant and accepted in the aristocracy, the creative arts, and of course, The Church. I don't think they considered it anything more than eccentric behavior, so it would be easy to hide true homosexual love. As long as they had wives and children, or the appearance of opposite sex lovers, who cared what they did outside of public view. Personally, I can't imagine large numbers of men isolated at sea for months/years at a time and them not forming gay relationships. Like prisoners seeking the only release available.

    If I had Starz though, I'd likely be watching the show. I love literary pirates, though I disapprove of actual pirates.

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  12. We just got starz, but now i'm behind a season or two on Black Sails and Outlander

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  13. This gay reveal seems much more fleshed out than what was done with Legend of Korra.

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  14. For some reason I remember reading "The Swing" by Robert Lois Stevenson. I could have read "The Treasure Island " and have forgotten it. I might just borrow it and read it anyway.

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  15. Who knows what Stevenson meant to do, after all? I doubt that he left around a Guide To "Treasure Island" explaining all the backstory... I think if it explains a character more than otherwise, I'd accept it as truth. People rejected the idea of Dumbledore being gay, but it certainly explains some critical parts of his decisions. The difference is this time the author's still around to say "Um, yes."

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    1. That's a great comparison to make (with regard to Dumbledore). The only thing that I don't like about the timing of Black Sails' take on Treasure Island is that the gay movement has a lot of things going on right now, and it's possible that they're just trying to cash in on current events. However, given that it fits so well with Captain Flint's decisions, I have no choice but to agree with my cognitive bias and believe that Captain Flint was part of my tribe.

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  16. Concur bout a Michaell Bay produced show trying to capitalize off trends of the 21st Century
    Also I like how everyone has forgotten that "Capt.Flint/McGraw" had sex with "Mrs.Barlow/Hamilton" 2x
    And making Our Sweet Dear Capt.a gay man is out of character&turned him way too humane
    Then again,.."Capt.Flint/McGay" giving Capt.Vane a run for his money in a fight was bullshit as well
    Vane can take on the GIANT slave trader,Crazy Ned Low&WELL-MANNERED Billy Bones
    Yet,.Sweet,Sweet James gives him a whole mess of trouble in a 1-on1 fight

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