For the past three weeks, I have been watching the STARZ adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. They have remained faithful to the book thus far. A few minor changes, but STARZ kept the raw story; sexy, brutal, and esoteric.
This last episode had a scene played out that I was not sure would make it to the small screen. It features a passionate and violent sex scene between a Muslim man and a djinn. The djinn (a wish granter) is portrayed as a Muslim man too. As a result, stories like this one from Breitbart are popping up.
I have a few things to say about that.
Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. American Gods is my favorite book by him. I have read it at least 4 times. The story is so compelling and complex, it can be enjoyed through multiple readings. My point in telling you this is to show that I am well versed with this book.
The human in this scene has a backstory that is touched on, but not expanded on. He is a failure at everything in his life. He works for his brother in law as a salesman for souvenir trinkets. He is ignored, told no, and made to wait all day for an appointment that is eventually cancelled. To make him feel more invisible, the receptionist is genuinely surprised every time he speaks. It’s as if she had no idea he was sitting in the same room as her.
It’s at this moment that he encounters the djinn. Disguised as a taxi driver, the djinn begins talking to the salesman about the old country, the old customs, the artifacts lost. Their connection is made almost immediately. Then the salesman recognizes the driver as a djinn. He pursues a flirtation until the moment they arrive at his hotel.
A decision is made for them to go to the hotel room.
It is here that Neil Gaiman himself realized he was going to have to write a gay sex scene. The scene in the book is far more carnal and forceful than the show, but both describe a full and intimate connection between the man and the djinn. They literally become one!
So the sex isn’t about sexuality. It’s not about love. It’s not about desire. It is about being consumed; having one life changed by taking it over. While the rest of the world is seeing hot, gay, nude, Muslim, sex, I am seeing the complete takeover of a man who wants to be seen. As a result, I get perturbed when people focus on the luridness of the scene and reject the hopelessness and desperation pervasive throughout the intimate act.
I implore people to read the book!!! It is so much deeper than a few sex scenes. It is a great work of fiction that explores our beliefs and worship throughout time. The djinn is merely one story of so many within the text.
Personally, I’d rather focus on the simple brilliance of Mr. Wednesday’s bank robbery scheme. That was far more ingenious, and worthy of discussion, than any sex scene.