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Why Can’t Good Guys Be Into Autoerotic Asphyxiation?

I was recently watching Mr. Robot for the first time, and the one thing that really bugged me was that the villain is into bondage and is bisexual (or something else entirely).

It’s not that I’m a spokesperson “Americans into S&M,” but that it has become a tiresome Hollywood trope to depict antagonists as being into what most people would consider — and I’m going to use a technical term here — “freaky” sex, and having a sexuality that cannot be easily defined.

Heroes, on the other hand, whether straight or gay, are into boring “normal” sex.

These details usually don’t provide us any insight into the villains, such as what it is that drives their wicked motivations.

Martin Wallström as Mr. Robot‘s Tyrell Wellick

Instead they characterize them someone who is an “other,” not like you or me, and certainly not like the hero.

We’ve seen this play out on shows ranging from House of Cards — Frank and Doug — to Boardwalk Empire where Bobby Cannavale’s psychopathic character was into autoerotic asphyxiation just because.

Cannavale’s Gyp Rosetti on Boardwalk Empire

Or go all the way back to The Sopranos.

Ralph, arguably the most vicious character on the show, “bottoms from the top.” Or to put it another way: even when he has consensual sex he’s in to some pretty strange stuff. Whereas Tony, who himself is a major league sociopath, is pretty old-school when it comes to what he does in bed.

Thus, he’s not as bad as Ralph.

Another example: Consider Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones. He may have a an unparalleled libido and a fondness for prostitutes, but his sexual proclivities are pretty tame.

Conversely, his sister’s monstrousness is largely defined by her incestuous relationships, and nephew Joffrey gets sexual pleasure from torturing women.

Now to be clear, I’m not saying that Game of Thrones is being unfairly harsh to people who engage in incest. What I’m saying is that good guys have “normal” sex, and the wickedness of villains is described through their abnormal sexual habits.

Simply put: you would never have a hero who is into autoerotic asphyxiation and bondage.

What I find perplexing about this, is that we are in an era when TV shows and movies are a lot more open to talking about sexuality, and in shows like Girls and Transparent some of these desires a bit outside the norm are talked about and acted on.

But then in dramas we continue to take this puritanical view to sexual pleasure, using what is perceived to be normal and abnormal as a way to define who is good and who is evil.

Parting thought: So that I can say I’ve used the term autoerotic asphyxiation four times, diehard X-Files fan will remember that this how Agent Fox Mulder will die. 

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