25
May
12

Why Scorpius is Awesome, part 2 of infinity: He’s one kinkoid motherfreller

Hello, readers. I’ve been bad; I haven’t posted in several weeks. Sorry about that. The blog and I have been very busy in real life (the space between computers). I got to meet Judith Heumann, a big disability rights activist who was one of the leaders of the 1977 occupation of the old Federal Building in San Francisco. We spoke a little about the blog and she asked me to link to it on her Facebook page, which was a very surreal, very early 21st century moment, you know, having this civil rights giant who won you all these rights before you were born ask to link your blog about disabled aliens on a social networking website. What’s next? Elizabeth Cady Stanton asking me to friend her on foursqaure? (I would decline; my feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.) Anywho… I spoke at two symposia about the blog, Scorpius’ sex life, and how fans know more about sci-fi/fantasy than “scholarly” writers. At my department’s graduation, I got to talk about blogging as an accessible form of activism for nerds with disabilities. And then most astonishingly, I won my department’s Special Award for Excellence in Research and Senior Honors Thesis for writing this blog. Yeah. Shocked me, too. I honestly hope my mom’s clapping covered up me saying, “Holy shit,” as I walked up to get the certificate.

Enough about me. Today, I wanna give you folks the extended, unrated, director’s cut version of what I talked about at those two symposia.

One of the more pervasive stereotypes about people with disabilities is that disabled folks are asexual. PWD have worked to dispel this myth, but most mainstream efforts have come off about as subtle as a disabled cisgender guy getting up on top of a table and shouting, “I HAVE MADE SEX WITH MANY WOMEN IN THE VAGINA.” In the autobiographical-musical film, Tell Them I’m a Mermaid, the women have an extended rap session about how much they want the peen a man to love them. This display of heterosexual desire is particularly egregious given that many of those women are lesbians. Have you heard about The Surrogate starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt? It’s the second film about Berkeley poet Mark O’Brien to portray him as 100% heterosexual 100% cisgender dudebro (at least, base on the buzz surrounding the film). Apparently, when looking through O’Brien’s work at Bancroft Library, the director of The Surrogate skipped over the poems about O’Brien’s gender dysphoria and preference for Black men. My point: attempts to portray disabled sexuality have far too often been portrayals of disabled heterosexuality that do little to challenge heteronormativity, i.e. the way that “traditional” man-woman relationships are highly valued and understood as the building block of society.

Enter Scorpius.

Trigger Warning: ableism, violence against people with disabilities, sexual assault, BDSM roleplay

Scorpius is a sexual person not in spite of disability, but in collaboration with his disability. His impairment isn’t an obstacle to him having a really good time. There are no awkward scenes of him navigating his adaptive technology to insert tab a into slot b. Instead, well, you get something like this.

[Video description snurched from the Terra Firma Farscape Transcript Archive: Meanwhile, back at the shadow depository Natira and Scorpius are indulging in some alien nasty. Both are fully clothed – well Scorpius is anyway since we can’t really tell if Natira wears clothing or not… He’s on top and both grimace horribly, grunting, growling and gritting their teeth. Natira makes little wailing sounds like someone having hair electrolysized one follicle at a time from their nether regions. Interestingly enough – her gums are blue. Also – the stingered, finger-like structures on her head wave and stretch spasmodically towards Scorpius’ face, giving her a Medusa-like appearance. Scorpius catches the stinger tip of one in his teeth. Then – at the moment of climax – Scorpius’ cooling apparatus POPS OUT OF HIS HEAD LIKE A JACK-IN-THE-BOX! Steaming and sizzling…

Scorpius: (as they both sigh with satisfaction) Well – that brings back memories. (and creates a few as well)

Natira: (she gets up to fetch a fresh coolant rod for loverboy who lays back on the couch they were making woo-woo on) Does it hurt as much as it used to?

Scorpius: The sensation is, ah – well – more complicated than pain.]

Yeah, when Scorpy orgasms, he ejaculates a cooling rod in what might be the first alien cum shot on American television. Adaptive technology becomes a source of pleasure and pornographically valuable—that’s why it’s called a money shot. (Note: I was very nervous about including this video in my presentation, particularly because my dad was going to attend one of the symposia. On the train ride back from the symposium he told me, “I really like the orgasm part. It was really phallic.” Aww, Dad. My mom, however, has not stopped dogging me for saying “cum shot” in the hallowed halls of Berkeley.)

The sex appeal of Scorpius’ adaptive technology extends to his thermoregulation suit which he must wear at all times. The suit resembles a gimp suit—a skin tight black suit typically constructed out of leather or latex used in BDSM culture to denote sex slaves, like the character from Pulp Fiction. Rather than signify asexuality, this adaptive technology is a walking invitation for sex. To use Farscape slang, Scorpius is down to frell.

While somewhat of a libertine, Scorpius displays the ability to form meaningful, long-term sexual relationships based on loyalty and common goals—no more so than with his second in command, Braca. In this clip, Braca and Scorpius are reunited after nearly a year of being separated. Up until this point, the audience has been led to believe that Braca has betrayed Scorpius, but as you will see, Braca is still very much loyal to Scorpius.

[Video description: Braca stands with his back pressed up against one of Moya’s bulkheads. Scorpius watches him from around the corner.

BRACA: 30 Peacekeepers. And Grayza.

SCORPIUS: Will they follow you down here?

BRACA: No

Scorpius approaches Braca, breathing heavily

SCORPIUS: Lieuten–I mean, Captain.

Scorpius forcefully grabs Braca’s skull, pulling it towards himself, and then kisses Braca on the forehead.

SCORPIUS: Well done.

Braca holds Scorpius face in his hands.

BRACA: It’s good to see you, sir.

They stare into each others’ eyes as the scene fades to black.]

Notice how the scene fades to black after the kiss—in television, that’s visual shorthand for characters going off to have sex at the conclusion of the scene. In light of this scene and the subsequent revelation that Braca has been working as Scorpius’ spy, scenes between the two earlier in the season seem even kinkier–if such a thing is even possible. In “What Was Lost” parts 1 and 2, Scorpius faces punishment for allowing John Crichton and co. to blow up a command carrier (apparently, this was the last straw after Scorpius allowed John Crichton and co. to blow up a Gammak base and a Shadow Depository). Stripped of his command, Scorpius spends his days being tortured and humiliated by Grayza and the newly-promoted Captain Braca, who has seemingly betrayed Scorpius. Grayza, like Crichton two seasons earlier, gets to Scorpius through his adaptive technology, switching out his normal cooling rod with a rod filled with a milky liquid that makes Scorpy incoherent, drooling, and physical weak to the point that he cannot stand. When Grayza and Braca have to run evil, Peacekeeper errands, they take Scorpius along on a leash held by Braca. So, picture if you will, Scorpius in his gimp/thermoregulation suit on all fours being led around on a leash by Braca. Yeah, that actually happened. Let’s take a gander at one of Braca and Scorpius’ more heated scenes in “What Was Lost, part 1.”

[Video description snurched from Terra Firma:

A soldier appears and hands {Grayza} another yellow rod like the one she’d inserted into Scorpius’ coolant device before. She eyes the half-Scarran, who isn’t drooling as much now.

GRAYZA: He’s regaining motor stimulus. Change him.

She hands Braca the yellow rod and under her watchful eye, he goes to Scorpius and spins open the coolant receptacle. But the half-Scarran is able to lash out at his former second and grab his face.

SCORPIUS: (whispering) No more Braca!

But he apparently hasn’t the strength to prevent Braca – and the man smiles back at him and whispers.

BRACA: This is for all the times I’ve had to say yes.

Braca reaches to place the rod into the chamber and in a snakelike movement – Scorpius bites his wrist. Braca grimaces but makes barely a sound as he finishes the job and rises, giving the newly agonized Scorpius a vicious kick as he goes.]

The first time I viewed this scene, I thought, “Wow, the creative staff at Farscape are really getting their kink on.” The second time I viewed this scene, knowing that Braca and Scorpius are just pretending to be enemies, I thought, “Wow, Braca and Scorpy are really getting their kink on.” Let’s not forget that earlier in the episode, Scorpius told Grayza, “I find your amateur attempts at torture to be quite pleasurable.” That, of course, was before Grayza whipped out her torture rods which really frell with Scorpius, but it seems Braca and Scorpy have found a way to make torture fun again. Most Farscapers I talk to seem pretty convinced that Scorpy and Braca enjoyed the leash. As one fan said, “Heck, I’m not sure that that was the first time he had been lead around on a leash by Braca.” I can imagine Grayza asking, “Braca, where did you find that leash so quickly?” “Um,” Braca stammers, “the Internet?”

The sexual possibilities provided by Scorpius’ adaptive technology and his relationship with Braca come together to create a high stakes roleplay scenario that allows Scorpius and Braca to pull one over on Grayza. By subverting her torture into Scorpy and Braca’s Roleplay Fun Time, they get revenge–Scorpius for her ableist attack on his adaptive technology and dignity as a person with a disability, and Braca for her drugging, sexually harassing, and possibly raping him for the next cycle or so.

In the cycle following his little roleplay game with Braca on Arnessk, Scorpius grows close to Sikozu after saving her life and bonding over their mutual hatred of the Scarrans. Eventually, Scorpius and Sikozu become lovers. This doesn’t mean it’s over between Scorpius and Braca. Although he was injected with translator microbes and can speak multiple languages, Scorpius doesn’t know what “monogamy” means much less how to commit to it. As a consummate Peacekeeper, Braca is likewise unfamiliar with the concept. (“Monogamy. Is that some type of infection?”) As for Sikozu, we don’t know much about Kalish sexual politics, but Sputnik doesn’t seem to have a problem with sharing. Indeed, once Scorpy returns to his rightful place in the PK with Sikozu in tow (“Honey, I’m home! And look what I found!”), Sikozu is seen making eyes at Braca while suggestively mouthing a spoon. Later in that episode, in the trio’s final scene in the television series, Sikozu and Scorpy put on a little show for Braca.

[Video description: Sikozu, a young alien woman with long, curly orange hair wearing a leather halter and skirt, walks over and sits on the lap of Scorpius, an older alien man wearing an all-black cooling suit that covers all of his body save parts of his face. Sikozu carries a studded whip in her left hand.

SIKOZU: To victory over Scarran domination.

The camera shifts to Braca, an adult Sebacean male. From a room above Sikozu and Scorpius, he watches them and their images are reflected onto Braca’s face through the glass window.

SCORPIUS: To you…

Scene shifts back down to Sikozu and Scorpius. Scorpius dips Sikozu’s finger in a cup of liquid.

SCORPIUS: Your bravery.

Scorpius lifts Sikozu’s finger to her mouth. She licks the finger luridly.

SIKOZU: To resisting the enemy.

SCORPIUS: For not resisting your friends.

Scorpius sucks on Sikozu’s finger as she leans back into him, sighing. He removes her finger and pulls the studded whip back, taut against Sikozu’s throat. Braca watches this from above, flinching in shock and moving his head back as if he were the one being choked.]

As I said earlier, attempts to render people with disabilities sexual beings in public consciousness through film have been largely heteronormative, focusing on things like disabled men “getting” the Girl at the end of the film. Scorpius takes a third option, going with neither heteronormativity nor asexuality. Scorpius “gets” the Girl by the throat while the Boy watches.

Scorpius is a radical character who models how impairment, disability, and adaptive technology can be integrated into sexuality. As a very powerful person with a disability, he shows how disability can be sexy without being turned into a fetish object based on perceptions of helplessness. In addition, Scorpius scores major brownie points for not falling into the same “look how heterosexual my penis is” trap that so many other fictional characters with disabilities fall into.

However, there is one small problem. As one of my professors pointed out in a question following my presentation, Scorpius is a villain. How can I argue that Farscape is giving a positive portrayal of non-normative disabled sexuality when the character doing the portraying is the series’ biggest villain? Well, okay, I get what you’re saying, but… Two things. First thing: good and evil are very shaky concepts on Farscape. All the main characters on that show have done terrible, awful, indefensible things–usually to each other, but for the most part they’re still friends and consider themselves family. A really, really messed up family, but a family nonetheless. In season four, Scorpius is very reluctantly welcomed into that family when he joins Moya’s crew. As a character, he doesn’t get any less manipulative or self-serving, but he’s on the side of the protagonist this time around. By the end of the miniseries, Scorpius has seen the error of his vengeful ways. We don’t know if he’s given up revenge entirely or just figured out a better way to do it, but we know he’s forsaken vengeance by wormhole. Scorpius is a villain, but by the end of Farscape, he’s highly decayed villain. Second thing: Scapers love this guy. He killed one half of the show’s main couple, but the sheer force of his badassery keeps him near and dear to fans’ hearts. Scorpy’s villainy doesn’t result in fans booing the queer, disabled guy. They’re cheering along with the Magnificent Bastard. As they should be.

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Space Crip

People with disabilities? In my sci-fi? It's more likely than you think.

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