This article from The New Yorker is good. Well it’s almost good. It just has two big problems. For one, it falls into a certain trap of online writing, especially, and probably contemporary writing writ large when it comes to cultural criticism. See, nowadays it’s not enough that a story or work of art is merely good, it’s also gotta be “important”, it needs to be changing the world. It’s not enough that Frog and Toad are good stories about close friends who clearly care for each other, rather it was also a way for the creator to come out of the closet before he came out of the closet. See, it’s super important now!
And honestly it very well may be that. This article actually has some evidence to support that theory, and I’m even totally fine debating that, lord knows I love The Discussion. But this attitude is everywhere. In this day and age art can’t be good for goodness sake, it has to be progressive somehow. I get where that comes from, I whole-heartedly believe that art can be powerful, that it can change people in some instances, that it is valuable to us as a civilization and species. But I also believe it’s valuable for its own sake. Hamilton sounds great, to me anyway, and that’s all the justification it needs to exist. Star Wars is fun, and that’s all it needs to justify its existence. Fun Home was Allison Bechdel’s way of coming to terms with her father’s death, and it’s great and powerful precisely because of its narrow and highly personal scope. Heck, at one point Bechdel even admits that she’s trying to ascribe significance to her father’s death by trying to place him within the grander narrative of Queer History and the AIDS Crisis so that she can have some form of closure. Which is akin to what that article wants to do: give an already good and time-tested work of art even more importance by connecting it to something grander. And that doesn’t need to be done because art can exist for art’s own sake.
But there’s another trap this peice falls into: a lack of respect for the platonic. Of course Frog and Toad are gay, who would simply sneak over to another’s house and do all their yard work for them if they didn’t want to screw the other? Who would be so confused and hurt over a note asking to simply be alone other than a lover? Because, as we all know, purely platonic friendship isn’t a thing. Holmes is buggering Watson, Kirk is banging Spock, and Bert and Ernie are more than mere friends. Go ahead and ship and headcanon all you want, more power to you, but there’s value in the purely platonic, and especially in purely platonic intra – queer relationships. How many lesbian, gay, or bi people have ended up in relationships simply because there was no other option? Now there’s the gay Frog and Toad I want, two gay dudes who are simply friends, no sexual tension, no possibility of romance, they’re simply friends who are also gay. How often is that even depicted outside of specifically queer media? Heck I’m sure even queer media fails to depict that too often. But of course that’s if Frog and Toad have to be gay, and to be quite honest I think, in the end, their sexuality doesn’t matter. What matters is that they’re both friends who care very deeply for one another, and yes love another, and express that love through their actions towards one another, they’re just probably not screwing because that’s not the love they have for one another.


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