It’s the Year of Our Lord 2019 and storytelling is still important. In some cases the stories are the same, like the age-old tale of good triumphing over evil, but they’re being delivered in increasingly more novel ways. Comics are drawn and fan fiction is written and YouTube sketches are filmed, and sometimes the collaborators aren’t even in the same city, let alone country. In other cases the stories, while nothing new, are finally being given the opportunity to be told. The idea of finding yourself isn’t an original one, but the narrative of coming out as gay or lesbian or transgender or any other identity has only recently found a foothold in popular media.
Storytelling and identity are crucial building blocks to our culture, and both are heavily intertwined (as are all things, these days) with the internet (it would be remiss of me not to mention that I chose to do so in a podcast I co-hosted). This is certainly as true for a multi-award-winning online first-person shooter as it is for a series of books that wrapped up a dozen years ago. The Overwatch and Harry Potter universes are like ours in that they are populated by a myriad of different characters, some straight and some LGBT+, but I want to delve into how the similarities, and ultimately the differences, of their respective coming out stories (in both cases the term “coming out” feels accurate, as none of the characters discussed were initially introduced as being anything other than straight).
“Yer a Gay Man, Dumbledore”
Before touching on her approach to revealing one of her characters’ sexual orientations, it’s worth making note of how the billionaire author has reentered our collective conversation. Two years ago a BuzzFeed writer was one of the first to report on a shocking revelation found on Pottermore, a site Rowling created for her legion of fans to learn more about the Wizarding World. Most people online will have come across this by now, but the page in question was about the Chamber of Secrets, and explained that wizards once vanished their excrement in lieu of using toilets. It resulted in one of my favourite Tumblr posts:
The user has since deleted their blog, so no direct link, sorry!
Posted in internet, lgbt, literature, relationships, video games, writing
Tagged Ana, Bastet, Blizzard, books, comics, coming out, Dumbledore, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, gay, Grindelwald, Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling, lesbian, lgbt, Michael Chu, Overwatch, Pottermore, queer, Reflections, Soldier: 76, Tracer, Twitter, video games, writing
To start with, I hope that the reference in the title is apparent.
If not, let’s flashback to September 2005 and A Concert for Hurricane Relief. It was during this live star-studded benefit concert that Kanye West very famously said:
“George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”
The following week, on The Ellen Degeneres Show, West elaborated on the incident. Given the immense loss caused by Hurricane Katrina, he explained that “[it was] the least [he] could do to go up there and say something from [his] heart, to say something that’s real.” At the risk of misrepresenting him, my takeaway was that there’s something very pure and genuine about personal emotional reactions that makes them worth expressing. While the facts may reveal otherwise, their having elicited this response speaks for itself, in a way.
It’s a sentiment that many readers of Marvel comics may strongly agree with given the fallout of Guardians of the Galaxy #18, which hit stands this past Wednesday. Continue reading
Posted in comics, internet, lgbt, relationships, writing
Tagged America Chavez, Aneka, Angela, Angela: Asgard's Assassin, Angela: Queen of Hel, Ayo, Bendis, comic books, comics, couple, Friends Forever, gay, Guardians of the Galaxy #18, lesbian, lgbt, Marvel, outrage, relationship, Sera, trans, Women's History Month
I began the first installment of this two-parter making note of the long and ultimately wearying experience it has been, starting with Doctor Strange going into pre-production and continuing on to the recent exposure of the Swinton-Cho Letters. While I spent time describing the ups and downs of casting news what I neglected to mention, and what I’m going to focus on today, is the outset and ultimate resurgence of an argument in defence of whitewashing.
That’s right, an argument defending what Wikipedia helpfully defines as “a casting practice [. . .] in which white actors are cast in historically non-white character roles.” The very faint silver lining is that the justification here does not revolve around star power and A-list draw, or the idea that “the best person for the role” was hired, the latter of which rarely ever swings the other direction. In spite of not being deeply rooted in these ways of thinking, however, the argument is remains deeply flawed.
Before we get into that, however, we should probably get to its origin story.
Like I Said Last Time, “It’s Always Podcasts”
Having to hit all of this again it’s important to be thankful for small blessings, with one being that I don’t need to hear C. Robert Cargill’s voice again due to already having done the research for another post. The person in question was one of the screenwriters for Doctor Strange, and dropped in on the Double Toasted podcast mid-April to answer a few questions about it.
Eventually, and unsurprisingly, the issue of the Ancient One’s casting was brought up. Cargill’s response, as transcribed by CINEMABLEND’s “The Blunt, Yet Difficult Reason Doctor Strange’s Ancient One Isn’t Asian”, is as follows:
“The Ancient One was a racist stereotype who comes from a region of the world that is in a very weird political place. He originates from Tibet. So if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place and that he’s Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that’s bullshit and risk the Chinese government going, ‘Hey, you know one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We’re not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.’ If we decide to go the other way and cater to China in particular and have him be in Tibet [. . .] If you think it’s a good idea to cast a Chinese actress as a Tibetan character, you are out of your damn fool mind and have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.”
In essence Cargill chalked the reasons for the casting decision up to politics and economics, implying that having the character played by a Tibetan would cause Marvel Studios to lose out on Chinese box office sales. He also suggests quite strongly that, conversely, having a Chinese actor play a Tibetan would cause a large amount of controversy. This was picked up by sites from IndieWire to ScreenRant to The Hollywood Reporter, with several using words like “reveal” in their headlines, as if a longstanding mystery had finally been solved.
The justifications he laid out were to become the go-to response for every commenter looking to defend the Swinton’s casting, and why not? After all, as one of the screenwriters of the film Cargill should be a direct and dependable source. The answer to that hypothetical starts with what happened a few short days later- Continue reading
Posted in art, Asia, bizarreness, comics, film, geography, lgbt, politics, race, writing
Tagged Ancient One, argument, Asia, box office, C. Robert Cargill, Cargill, casting, China, defence, defense, Doctor Strange, Double Toasted, film, George Takei, justification, Kathmandu, lesbian, lgbt, Nepal, Overwatch, Political, politics, Rogue One, Scott Derrickson, Tibet, Tibetan, Tilda Swinton, Tracer, Urgyen Badheytsang, whitewashing
One of the most common adages on the internet is “don’t read the comments”. While this global network that we’re all currently using [unless you somehow managed to snag a printout of this post] has given us all the ability to share and discuss everything under the sun, the unfortunate truth is that a lot of that conversation amounts to hot garbage. You could scroll down past an article to see what people are saying about it, but chances are that it won’t be a particularly uplifting experience.
As someone who spends much of his time online reading about entertainment there’s a type of comment that I’ve seen crop up time and time again. It’s existence ties directly into a lot of the recent trends in comic books, television, and film, the push towards inclusivity and the people who are actively working to make that happen. A perfect example [of a handful I’ll be referencing throughout this article] is:
I’ve been compiling these for the past few months, originally with the intent of putting together another “For Your Consideration” and allowing readers to look them over and come to their own conclusions. A general [and accurate] takeaway would be to note them as being typical of inane online comments and move on, but I’d like to spend a little time breaking down the idiocy they represent.
They Perpetuate the Default
The default person, in case you needed to be informed of who generally holds the most power and screentime across the board, is a straight able-bodied cisgendered White man. I’m painfully aware that simply listing those words in successive order like that marks me as being one of the SJWs [my thoughts on that term here], but every one is important to take note of.
Take the following:
To look at the list and mark it against the checklist of what makes a default human being, in the eyes of at least a few, we have:
- straight ≠ “gay lesbian”
- cisgendered ≠ “transgender”
- White ≠ “black Asian”
Other comments I’ll be including later on will add examples that include disabled people, but the general gist of every one capitalizes on the absurdity of a person who doesn’t match the standard cutout. A straight able-bodied cisgendered White woman? Not a terrible strain of the imagination. Once you start to tick off more items that don’t coincide with the norm, however, things apparently get a lot shakier.
I don’t even think that many of these commenters are aware of the implicit message behind the words they type. By listing these adjectives and identifiers they end up with a person who most of them share absolutely nothing in common with, which exposes the very reason we need diversity at all. Everyone should be able to relate to entertainment, and for too long the industry has catered to an audience that gets smaller every day. Continue reading
Posted in comics, film, gender, internet, lgbt, race, television
Tagged believable, black, character, comment, comments section, complaints, default, disabled, diversity, gay, internet comments, lesbian, lgbt, marginalized, minority, possibility, race, realistic, representation, straight, Transgender, transgendered, visibility, white, why not have
Just as in most forms of media LGBT representation has been lacking in comic books, both in the content created and those responsible for its creation. It’s a conversation that will last for decades until such a time that we can look to art and see that yes, it does reflect the world we live in, such as it is. In regards to all of this there are times when a person will look at their pull list and decide that the stars have aligned just right, and that it’s time to dust off a blog feature of sorts that hasn’t been used in years.
It began with “Homosexuality In Comics As Of May 20th”, a post in 2012 that shone some light on DC Comics’ announcement that they would be introducing a previously straight character as gay, having that person become “one of [their] most prominent gay characters.” One year later there was “… As of July 26th”, in which I revealed the aforementioned hero-
Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of Earth-2 [an alternate universe]
-and shared my personal opinion on how not
to introduce LGBT characters [ie. as a revelation after decades of established straightness]. That was where I left things, saying that we need more gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, etc. men and women and others in the medium that I love so dearly without offering much of a solution.
Thankfully two of this week’s titles helped a) me out in this regard and b) improve the pop culture landscape of which comic books are only a small part of. Continue reading
Posted in art, comics, lgbt, relationships, sex, writing
Tagged Alan Moore, Alan Scott, characters, Cindy Moon, comic books, comics, Dave Gibbons, DC, Elmo Bondoc, everyday, G. Willow Wilson, gay, introduction, lesbian, lgbt, Lola, Marvel, Ms. Marvel, normal, normalization, orientation, Rafferty, Robbie Thompson, sexuality, shoehorned, Silk, Stacey Lee, watchmen, writing