Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Welcome to the Conversation
Column by Steve Bennett
Published: 06/28/2012 12:46am
In last week's column I shared an email from a lapsed comic book reader giving seven reasons why she didn't regularly read them anymore (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Seven Ways To Save Comic Books!"). I also commented on Ed West's response to a previous column (see "Ed West on Big Two's Current Direction") which, coincidentally enough, had a seven point list of its own. And, me being me, I reposted Ed's seventh point:
7) I'm certain I'm not the only one who has noticed an agenda creeping into comic books, including, especially, the big two. I'll get my politics and indoctrination elsewhere. And people really resent that.
My response was:
Believe it or not, I understand there are people who feel alienated by the inclusion of gay characters and storylines in comics who shouldn’t automatically be dismissed as religious zealots and bigots.
A couple of things resulted. First, Crocker got her seventh point confused with West's (see "Jim Crocker of Modern Myths on Why 'People' Don't Read Comics"). My default position is to automatically blame myself (it has been pointed out using either quotes or italics would have made things clearer), but the truth is if Crocker had given my column more than a cursory look this should have been obvious. Although my friend remains anonymous she really didn’t appreciate having someone elses view attributed to her.
Second after a snide remark, "Where do you find these guys?", Crocker proceeded to paint me as a apologist for homophobes which is... I swear I had to go to an online thesaurus to find a word that would accurately convey the exact level of wrong this was. The best I could find was counterfactual. I really shouldn't have to present my pro-diversity bona fides to anyone but to read my actual opinions on the subject just go to the ICv2 search engine and type "Steve Bennett" and "gay." I really don’t mind someone disagreeing with something I wrote, as long as it is, in fact, something I wrote.
I still can't quite see what exactly was so outrageous about stating the obvious; there are people who, for various reasons, remain profoundly uncomfortable with depictions of homosexual themes and characters. Most of you probably know (or are related to) someone like that, they may even shop at your stories, people who are, demonstratively, neither monsters nor bullies. And literally demonizing them as such isn’t exactly helpful if we want a civil society.
Case in point, Michael Tierney's recent comment (see "Michael Tierney of Collector's on Giving Customers What they Want"). I have to confess I hadn’t considered the hay that talk radio would make of the whole "Green Lantern is gay" thing, though it seems obvious in retrospect. But Michael seems to have particularly taken to heart how the story became the fodder for late night comedians when of course mocking whatever is in the news is kind of their job.
I have no intention of telling Michael how he should run his shops, or which comics "should" sell for him; if he says Earth 2 or Kevin Keller doesn't sell I won't question his abilities as a retailer or ascribe dark motives to his customers. Every shop is as different as the community it serves, however (and you just knew one was coming along, didn't you?) I would like to take issue with that word we all seem to be using; political.
It's a code word, a way of not saying gay and making the issue seem like any other hot button partisan subject where it's important to get both "sides." But it's not "political" to want to be visible in society or for a marginalized group to have (in the words of Donald Trump) the bad manners to want to exercise their rights. Coincidentally enough the cover feature of this week's Entertainment Weekly is an article by writer Mark Harris called "The New Art of Coming Out." It shows just how much has charged in the (can it really be?) fifteen years since Ellen DeGeneres came out back when there was an actual closet.
It's just another indicator that American society has fundamentally charged and this particular battle in the culture wars is essentially over; everything from this point is just heel dragging. And as someone who lived through something similar in the 60's and 70's let me tell you, those who insist on being sore losers are going to be in for a painful period of adjustment.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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