Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gay, dear? Who, dear? Me, dear? NO, dear!

Chuck Dixon: More brilliant than I thought. Who says conservative and comic books don't go together?

Assumptions get you every time. About a year ago, during Chuck Dixon's short-lived run on Batman and the Outsiders, he released the above preview page onto the internet before the issue's debut. Immediately many blogs began wailing about the offensive nature of it, about Dixon's (a known conservative) belittling of the lesbian relationship of Thunder and Grace by team leader Batman. In the preview it seems as if Batman's objection to Thunder being on the team has to do with her special relationship with Grace, and Thunder (the black lesbian superhero daughter of the black superhero Black Lightning...yes, that's really his name) takes offense as quickly as the internet fans.

Shortly after the posting, however, and the irate and affronted comments and discussions that it led to, Dixon posted this. Apparently, what with the predictable behavior of liberal victims everywhere, Dixon deliberately posted the misleading preview in order to benefit from the buzz and inherent promotion of their expected reaction.

"I knew so many of you would go for the homophobe bait and try to anticipate where I was going, so I plan the switched up and reversal just for you. Batman was ONLY referring to their friendship and did not know there was more to it until Thunder let him know." [sic]

The point Dixon makes is that to Batman the sexuality of his operatives, friends, enemies, etc. is irrelevant. So long as it doesn't effect his mission, like if Thunder was dating Poison Ivy and handing over team secrets, it doesn't matter in the slightest.

"If anything it was the ultimate exploration of Batman's attitude toward same-sex relationships: the man doesn't care. If you want to think that I slipped my own opinion in here, maybe I did. But only because I think Batman shares my personal views here."

Hear, hear. While being gay is a completely valid characteristic, for both superheroes and real people, it should neither define in totality a person or a hero. The seemingly pride-inducing depiction of a gay superhero, avenging hate crimes and AIDS ignorance, is a template that is itself offensive and restrictive. (What kind of character could Northstar have become if he wasn't ham-fistedly inserted into 'tolerance' issues or given a lame unrequited crush on Iceman? His intellect, arrogance, and experience are passed over in favor of using him as the token gay mutant, a species already allegorically tied to homosexuality with its inherent prejudice, not to mention the 'Legacy' Virus.)

Since the word 'gay' acquired its present meaning, it has become a sweeping description that implicitly describes a person's politics, lifestyle, and priorities. Apollo and Midnighter fight to overthrow right-wing government regimes, Rage (Gay Crusader) uses mind control to turn gay bashers against each other, and when Northstar is killed and resurrected in a quintessential Wolverine story line, gay author Perry Moore was driven to wage his "own little jihad." God forbid the invulnerable Olympic-skier French-Canadian super-speedster is used in an arc that doesn't revolve around his sexuality. (You're saving the world Mr. Moore.)

The term 'gay superhero' is like 'gay rights'. When did I, by coming out, lose my inalienable rights as an American citizen? At what moment did I suddenly start deserving different treatment, and requiring special consideration? Likewise, does Northstar fly by ordinary crime in order to get to the West Coast and beat some sense into the black Californians who passed Prop 8?

No. Superheroes don't pick their battles. They just fight them. We, however, pick our heroes. Give me the impartial Batman whose only intolerance is for evil and sloth any day, the equal opportunity lifesaver vs. the politically-correct reformer with an obvious agenda.

As for Dixon, well, that's just smart marketing.

Chuck Dixon is the renowned writer responsible for such critical Batman arcs as KnightsEnd, KnightFall, Contagion, and No Man's Land, as well as the long-running Robin, Nightwing and Birds of Prey. In June '08, a few months after the Outsiders' incident, he was let go from DC for reasons still unknown.

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