Death of The Author (the author is Neil Gaiman)

Guess who’s got free time, a bunch of knowledge about literary theory she isn’t gonna need for a while and a lot of emotions about Good Omens.

Me. It’s me. What were you expecting?

Now before anyone thinks I am talking about the literal death of Neil Gaiman FEAR NOT I am talking about the literary concept of Death of The Author. Mr. Gaiman is perfectly fine, as far as I know. He is posting to Tumblr at least. Death of The Author is the idea that an author’s intentions should not be regarded in an analysis of their work. Only the text itself matters.

Different authors have different opinions on this. J. K. Rowling is obviously not on board with the concept, John Green is and I could talk at length about both of them but Lindsay Ellis did it better, so just check her out.

No, as I said I am having a lot of emotions about Good Omens right now. So I want to talk about Neil Gaiman.

The thing with Good Omens is that a lot of people have interpreted the relationship between the two lead characters (an angel called Aziraphale and a demon called Crowley) as romantic despite it not being explicitly stated in the text (both the book and the show). People are quite invested in the idea. “Ineffable Husbands” (great Shipname btw) is the number one trending ship on Tumblr right now. And honestly… I am people. I am invested.

Now you might be saying: “Wait Kade. This reminds me of another TV-Show, best described as bible fanfiction, where people are interpreting a romantic relationship that is not explicitly in the text and that you were really invested in it. Pray tell oh Goddess of Unhealthy Obsessions how is this not you falling for queerbaiting again?” Well dear hypothetical reader, the difference between Good Omens/Ineffable Husbands and Supernatural/Destiel is…Neil Gaiman.

The marketing team, actors and writers for Supernatural have always hinted at a romantic relationship between Dean (human/demon but only for like five episodes) and Castiel (angel) but also made it clear that there will never be on-screen confirmation. Neil Gaiman states (and I am quoting): “anything that happens on screen is canon, and anything that happens offscreen is valid headcanon”. All there is to Good Omens is the text and any interpretation of the text is valid. And quite honestly the interpretation of Good Omens as a love story is not far fetched. If you have not seen the show then go now and watch the first twenty minutes of episode three. Crowley and Aziraphale’s relationship can easily be interpreted either way and there is nothing in the text that encourages or decourages a particular reading. Now I of course love me some explicit queer representation but what Good Omens is doing right now is just as fantastic. Because straight people, cis people, homophobic people ARE INTERPRETING GOOD OMENS AS QUEER. Because the writing and queer coding is so well done that this show is being interpreted as a positive queer story by people who aren’t trained to notice the signs. And Neil Gaiman is doing his part by not discouraging anyone’s queer headcanons and instead calling them all valid which is not a thing creators usually do and which I respect him for immensely. Now he does make a clarifying statement here or there but always points back at what is in the text.

the pitsnake said gay rights

I also really love how he always reminds everyone that angels and demons don’t have ganders, because yes, thank you.

In conclusion: Neil Gaiman is using Death of The Author to allow his work to be interpreted in a very queer way and that is a very good and subtle way to help out queer representation in general.

Also David Tennant is fantastic in Good Omens and I can not believe that I have written 600 words without mentioning him once.

Kade out. Happy Pride Month everyone.

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One thought on “Death of The Author (the author is Neil Gaiman)

  1. The thing about Death of the Author (which, as a concept, THIS author absolutely supports) is, imho, that it allows any interpretation, as long as it is supportet by the text (aka the work of art) itself. So authors who support the concept, like Neil and me (sorry, I HAD to say that, makes my night) encourage any such interpretation. The author can not so much allow or forbid anything, but only explain if an interpretation is – in their oppinion – supported by the text. And as they should be the prime authority regarding their work of art, their opinion weighs heavy – nothing more, nothing less.

    So I would say, if Neil Gaiman states, that Crowley and Aziraphel absolutely love each other, this isn’t “the truth” but the intepretation of the best expert on the subject, who ist very sure about it.

    So, yes, if Neil Gaiman would allow his work to be interpreted in a very queer way, that would be a very good and subtle way to help out queer representation in general. But I think, Death of an Author does even more. It seems quite obvious, that Crowley and Aziraphel love each other. And it is only reasonable and logical, that the supreme expert supports this point of view, thus encouraging it and supporting this intepretation. But even if he would not – the author is dead, insofar he can’t forbid any interpretation, supported by the text. The Work of Art stands for itself, IT allows and forbids interpretations. The author has to step back. So, I would say, it is not so much Neil Gaiman, who supports queer representation, but Good Omens itself. Or, you might say, Crowley and Aziraphel. This is what true art does. Isn’t that beautiful? And in a way ineffable?

    Liked by 1 person

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