Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett looks at SheZow, Doctor Who, and more.
As you might have heard The Hub has a new cartoon series called SheZow about Guy, a twelve year old boy who through the agency of a magic ring gains the powers and costume of a preteen girl hero. Guy does not "transform" into a girl or in any way attempt to "act like" one. Clearly this is just cross-dressing, placing the show in the rich comic tradition of getting cheap laughs from men trying to pass for woman. It's been practiced by everyone from Huck Finn to Bugs Bunny. And, speaking of Bugs, after decades of being deemed objectionable, cross-dressing can once again be seen on episodes of The Looney Tunes Show where both Bugs and Daffy Duck are shown using womenswear. Both use it as a "disguise" though sometimes it seems Daffy is really kind of into it.
But The Usual Suspects (One Million Moms, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, Focus on the Family, Breitbart News, etc.) have condemned SheZow for causing "gender confusion." There's been a spate of stories and opinion pieces on the Internet and even the positive ones invariably, interchangeably and incorrectly have used the terms "transsexual," "transgender" and "transvestite." Strangely enough these pundits had nothing to say when the Disney Channel dabbled in actual gender bending. It happened recently during a "Freaky Freakend" themed event where characters on their tween shows swapped bodies Freaky Friday style, sometimes crossing gender lines. The most egregious example of which being an episode of Gravity Falls where it happened between preteen twins Dipper and Mabel Pines. Ewww.
If you're at all interested in seeing it for yourself the first episode, "SheZow Happens" is currently up on The Hub's Website, which is where I learned that like Warner Bros. (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Prelude To A Kiss") the network was also having a contest where you can win a trip to Comic-Con. SheZow isn't altogether awful but me, I'm looking forward to seeing new episodes of The Aquabats Super Show.
In vaguely related news there was a piece on the Salon website by Renee Davidson, "Why Are There No Gay Disney Characters?" It refers to Archie Comics' Kevin Keller as an example of how kid-friendly media can reflect the visibility of gays in American society, though it ignores the fact Archie pretty had to do something due to the fact that between 2007 and 2009 sales of Archie Comics dropped as much as 40% (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Next Stop India"). By reflecting reality, sales of Archie Comics have increased, but this would be too big a gamble for Disney to take. If the bastion of wholesome family entertainment suddenly "went gay" (as the headlines would undoubtedly put it), there would be a total global freakout. They just don't need the heat.
Oh, I think it'll happen, eventually, if not for the next generation of kids then the one after that, not because it’s "progressive" or part of some kind of sinister agenda but because there’s so much money to be made, something Disney already knows. Once a year during "Gay Days" thousands of LGBT people go to Disneyworld and while Disney doesn't officially sanction the event they sure know how to profit from it; throughout the park there can be found such gay themed merchandise as red tank tops with rainbow-colored Mickey Mouse heads.
And with the news Matt Smith will be ending his run as The Doctor (see "Matt Smith exiting 'Doctor Who'") there came the usual speculation when the character regenerates this time he would become a woman. It's been going on for decades and while traditionally it's been the province of UK newspapers (this year is no different: The Guardian is all for it, The Daily Mail is horrified by the idea) sites as varied as Variety, Think Progress and Slate have taken up the issue.
Steven Moffat, the show's chief writer and executive producer has said it's a possibility and I think it's definitely an idea whose time has come (Helen Mirren is supposedly interested in the role but personally I'd love to see Emma Thompson). If nothing else, making The Doctor a woman might actually put a stop to the distressing modern trend of having all of his perky young female companions develop some kind of never quite requited "feelings" for him. And with a female Doctor we might actually get some male companions again; I'd love to see Nick Frost (the schlubby British actor best known as Simon Pegg's sidekick from Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) take up residence on the Tardis. So I'm all for it, but I don't think it's really going to happen (but I’ve been wrong before).
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.
Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by ICv2 on June 5, 2013 @ 12:18 am CT
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