Charlize Theron’s kick-ass “Atomic Blonde” has elicited high praise for the 41-year-old actress, thanks to her visceral stunts and the film’s neon spin on the spy genre.
But a plot point that kills a supporting character has the internet crying foul, and accusing the Focus Features release of using the dreaded “Bury Your Gays” trope often seen in films and television.
The trope says that LGBT characters included in any given scripted story are never allowed happy endings — especially lesbians — and are often brutalized and murdered as a result.
Warning: the rest of this post contains spoilers from “Atomic Blonde.”
Theron’s love interest in “Atomic,” directed by David Leitch, is newcomer Sofia Boutella. The pair share a brief but steamy (and widely discussed) love scene as spies from rival countries during the final days of the Cold War.
In an attempt to assist her new flame, Boutella tangles with double-crosser Jams McAvoy who strangles her with a wire cable. The discovery of Boutella by her lover Theron triggers an emotional reaction and significantly ups the stakes.
Though some said it was plain ol’ killing lesbians for exposition.
atomic blonde is a queerbaiting mess tending to the male gaze that masquerades as 'progressive representation' when using the byg trope
— commander kink (@thisyearsgirls) July 28, 2017
i was SO excited for atomic blonde but they really went out and used the byg trope by killing delphine (sofia boutellas character) pic.twitter.com/LbnBZvOOcc
— infinity gabi (@harleivy) July 28, 2017
#AtomicBlonde pulled a byg trope so if you wanted to check it out because of the queerness, don't
— nat 🏳️🌈 (@lgbtDemetria) July 28, 2017
So i'm not watching Atomic Blonde cause i don't wanna support a byg trope, fuck them
— jav (@xdredikx) July 28, 2017
NO ONE WATCH ATOMIC BLONDE. ANOTHER BYG. ANOTHER PLOT JIST TO GET YOU TO WATCH THE MOVIE
— 🌹CL_Straya™ (@CL_Straya) July 28, 2017
It is, of course, relevant to underscore that Theron is not only involved in the same-sex relationship, she’s the hero of the film who takes out men and women alike with nary a superhero cape or, mostly, weapons other than her two fists.
TV shows like “The 100” and “The Walking Dead” have come under fire for similar representations of LGBT characters. TheWrap counted 27 LGBT characters killed off in 2016.
At this year’s Sundance. award-winning director Eliza Hittman’s “Beach Rats” featured a devastating deployment of the trope against a young, out gay man.
“Atomic Blonde” is currently in theaters and expected to earn nearly $19 million in its first weekend of release.