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 answers the title question with looks at Spider-Woman, Legend of Korra, Big Hero 6, and the next big thing coming from Japan.
I've written about The Legend of Korra before (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Follow The Stream"). For the record, I've been a big fan of both that series and its predecessor Avatar: The Last Airbender so I was watching on December 19th when it finished its fourth and last season. In the final two minutes, there was a scene I did not see coming; which seemed to establish Korra and her long-time friend Asami were now a couple.
And on his, Konietzko wrote: "We did it for all our queer friends, family, and colleagues. It is long overdue that our media (including children's media) stops treating non-heterosexual people as nonexistent, or as something merely to be mocked. I'm only sorry it took us so long to have this kind of representation in one of our stories."
Back in 2013 I wrote about a piece that appeared on the Salon website by Renee Davidson that asked "Why Are There No Gay Disney Characters?" (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Gender Norm Panic Meltdown"). I concluded there probably would be gay animated characters, eventually, like maybe for the next generation of kids. So, clearly, I did not see this coming. Specifically I didn't see Korra and Asami as a couple. Perhaps because, as someone suggested on Tumblr, I had been looking at the show through a "hetero lens." Which is a possibility, because… that whole "Princess Bubblegum and Marceline used to date" thing on Adventure Time? That went entirely over my head too. But to be fair let's not forget just how oblivious I am in general. If it counts for anything, I couldn't be happier to have been wrong.
The Japan Times by Kaori Shoji, "Disney's 'Big Hero 6' reassembles Japan without the 'cultural cringe.'"
As to whether they actually like the movie, the closest I could find to a Japanese review online was "'Big Hero 6' ads in Japan leave out the action, moviegoers surprised to find awesome robot flick," by Casey Baseel, which appears on the Rocket News 24 website. The piece focused on how the advertising in Japan stressed the film’s "feels;" in their trailer on-screen text asks, "Can Kindness Save The World?" But after seeing it, Japanese moviegoers were reported as saying "I thought it was going to be a sweet cartoon, but it's more like (anime mecha series) Gurren Lagann!," and "The action scenes are the kind of thing you can only get from American comics, and they're just too cool! If you're on the fence about seeing Baymax, you should try to check out the overseas commercial first."
For the record, the movie's hero received some professional respect in a piece on the NPR website, "Why Does It Take a Movie Robot to Show What Nurses Really Do?" It was written by Kelli Dunham, a nurse who has some serious issues about the way nurses are depicted in the media, who had this to say:
"So when the Baymax, the nurse/robot in the hit movie Big Hero 6 turned out to be reasonable, competent and not dressed in fishnet stockings, I was thrilled. You know your profession has an image problem when you point to a balloonish animated robot doll and say, 'Yes, that's good. That accurately reflects what I do on a daily basis. More representations like that, please.'"
But to answer the question this column asks, "Can Kindness Save the World," it's a nice sentiment at Christmas, especially when things don't just appear darker than you think, they’re darker than you can think. Even though I should know better I'm going to go with a tentative "yes," so this coming year let's start small. Stop making people feel bad for liking what they like, stop excluding the other, make an honest effort to understand and start focusing more on what you love and less on what you hate. If it helps I'll start.
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 December 23, 2014 @ 10:34 pm CT
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