Tuesday, July 3, 2012

TimeTravelTuesdays: Gays on a Train

I'm not very happy to be talking about this subject because I'm not the kind of person that revels in negativity. I don't like that I'm often times the Debby-Downer who pokes and prods at media and creators to show their flaws, or to reveal the unfortunate misconceptions and implications, but here I am, still willing to do it because I don't see too many willing to voice the concerns on this topic. 

Also, I suppose this is something of a spoiler alert for those who have yet to read Earth 2.

Those of you out there who have been living a normal life free of the comic book rock are probably unaware of the differences between the Green Lantern played by Ryan Reynolds and the Green Lantern in the comics about space adventures and rainbow jewelry and also isn't black. Not to make things even more complicated for you, but there's also another Green Lantern to know about, Alan Scott, who is more Earth based and has been around for longer than all the other Green Lanterns you haven't heard of, being the Green Lantern of the Golden Age (an era of comics roughly from 1938 to 1954), he's also not black, but the one thing he is now is gay.

After about 70 years of existence, the character of Alan Scott was turned into a gay in the New 52 reboot of the Justice Society of America's home universe Earth 2, also the name of the comic. In the first issue, we're shown that Alan is still the media mogul he was originally, but more modernized with him doing stuff with iTunes and other young hip things. In the second issue, we're introduced to Sam, Alan's boyfriend, because the only way to show that someone is a gay is to show they kissing some guy, and at the end of the issue Alan proposes to Sam. In the third issue (to be released tomorrow) we'll find out that Sam died in the explosion that happened right after Alan proposed, making his entire panel count from first appearance to death: 9.

So, how am I supposed to feel about that? Well, firstly, I'm angry. Not just that Alan Scott was turned gay because James Robinson felt that someone needed to throw homosexuals a bone and that he's such a nice guy for doing it. Not just that the only indication of his sexuality was shown through a character whose sole purpose was showing Alan's sexuality and who we knew pretty much nothing about. Not just that said character was then unceremoniously killed off so cheaply for nothing more than an excuse to give Alan a 'drive of character'. Not just all those things combined. What makes me so angry is what made me angry the first time I saw all this, and what I think has honestly ruined all thoughts of James Robinson in my head like when you hear a Mel Gibson tirade and each of his films becomes 'X staring Anti-Semite'.

When asked about the negative reactions to Alan Scott's switched sexuality:
James Robinson: Well, they can’t live with the times. I can’t worry about those kind of people. I just don’t care about those people. The reality is the world is filled with fantastic gay people that contribute to society in every aspect you can imagine from medicine to arts to serving in the military. It’s nice to put one in a super team and acknowledge that there’s a gay character there too. But I want to reiterate, it’s just one aspect. He’s a gallant, heroic, green knight that would die for the Earth and its people and fight to his dying breath. There are so many other fantastic attributes to Alan Scott and I want people to see that he’s gay and he’s also everything you’d want in a hero. So anybody that has a problem with that, I just think you’ve got to grow up and stop worrying about other people and try to live a good, honorable life yourself.

The first part of that makes me think James is an arrogant and self righteous prick. I honestly dislike to say such personally insultive words to someone I do not know in a kind of public forum, but I cannot stand that kind of behaviour. James, trust me when I say that when I react negatively to Alan Scott's switched sexuality, it is not out of homophobia, but it is out of both respect for the character, and respect for homosexuals. The reason why Muhammad Ali did not play Superman in the '78 film was more than that he couldn't act, but because of the same reason Ryan Reynolds didn't portray John Stewart in the Green Lantern film, or why Russel Crowe wouldn't play Martin Luther King Jr. We don't just change someone's gender/race/sexuality just because we feel one of those is under-represented. Stories take precedent over the reality behind them, or at least they should. Oh, but that's just me getting started on this.

The second part of that is where I get really pissed, and it's why I get insultive on a personal level. That "just one aspect" thing doesn't seem to be much of a reality right now. Maybe that'll change in a few issues, maybe not. Again, all I have are the previews of issue 3, and the past two issues. So far with Alan, we see that he's a charitable person in the first issue for a few panels, and in the second issue he's something of a devoted boyfriend. That seems like a more developed character than I'm complaining against, but trust me on this one. You see, a story teller has absolute control over their story, which sounds very obvious but it's also one of the secrets to the craft, it's something you understand perfectly and then forget soon after. Robinson constructed the character of Sam for the entire purpose to be Alan's sexuality and then die. If he were a woman, he would be an instance of the comic phenomenon called 'Women in Refridgerators', named after the character of Alex DeWitt, Green Lantern/Kyle Rayner's girlfriend, who we spent 6 issues run with before she was found stuffed in a, you guessed it, refrigerator. 'Women in Refrigerators' will now in my mind forever have a sub-genre, 'Gays on a Train' for this debacle.

1 comment:

  1. Now I don't want to speak for James Robinson but I'm pretty sure his thought process was this: Man, with Obsidian gone and all of the cool modern (affirmative action) JSA characters redacted out of continuity, the JSA is pretty much a bunch of privileged white guys. Wait, I know, will make this the JSA extreme. Joan will be a bitch and Al Pratt can actually be in the military now. But we need a real minority character and Michael Holt is in the regular universe. I got it, Obsidian was gay, right?! I'll just make his dad gay. It's got to come from some where.