Monday, June 25, 2012

Homosexuality and Established Characters

Oh boy, this is going to be a minefield of a post, but I still want to talk about it.  Also, sorry for the delay, but I had to wait until I had some time before I could really sit down and talk about it.  I didn't want to rush it.

Now, I'm posting this video again because it is VERY important to my reasoning in this post.

As I explained last time, the lesson here is that just because every part of a character's backstory is not detailed or explained explicitly to the reader, viewer, or gamer, this does NOT mean that a creative team can just do whatever the hell they please when making a new game/movie/comic with a character.  Using the example in the above video, some one could NOT just make a new Zelda game with Link being an obnoxious asshole, just because we have never heard him say he WASN'T an obnoxious asshole, and the fact that he is a silent character allows the designer to place any characterization he or she wants.  Any Zelda fan could tell you that Link, despite his lack of speech, does have a personality.  He is a patient, brave, heroic young man with a steadfast resolve and just an all around nice personality.  We can tell that he is sometimes naive and even disturbed by the oddness that surrounds him (such as his trek to the Gorons in OoT), but is still always willing to help.  With this in mind, one can't just add anything they wish, such as an asshole personality, or, as discussed here, homosexuality.

Now, take a look at the two links below, which I came across/referenced in a debate on Facebook with my friends (Special thanks to Jackson, Mike, and Josh).  

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2147928/Is-Batman-gay-Major-DC-Comics-character-come-closet.html

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/metroids-samus-aran-speaks-out-about-gay-marriage

The first is a Daily Mail article speculating on DC's "Major Hero coming out of the Closet" reveal we discussed last time.  In our discussion, it sparked quite the controversy on the concept of Batman being (possibly) gay.

The other is...well, I don't know what it is.  I guess we'll call it a fan fiction for now.  Whatever it is, it features an article written from Samus Aran's point of view as she discussed her life as a lesbian and her support for gay marriage.

Now, these seem like completely different articles, but they both raise the same problem I referenced before.  Both articles violated the rule of an established character by just inserting whatever characterization they damn well please into the character.  Now, I would have no problem if these characters were gay if these characterizations were done well (which we will see in the next post), but the idea of these characters in particular being gay just baffles me.

Let's start with Batman.  Now, if done well, I would actually applaud the idea of Batman being gay.  You know why?  Because he's the goddamn Batman.  He would probably play it off completely calm, leading to an ultimate badass moment where Superman or someone would ask if Batman was gay, and he would just say, "Yes, I am.  So what?"  And then he would punch Darkseid in the face.   Or something similar to that.

However, even with DC's New Universe, Batman, up to this moment, has not been established as gay. In fact, quite the opposite.  In Catwoman #1 of the DCnU, we have a moment where Batman and Catwoman have awkward, weird sex on top of a building.
The anatomy of this scene just makes me cry.  
OK, now, since I know the history behind these characters, I can't say that I really have that much of a problem with this scene.  It's stupid and out of place and mostly used to titillate teenagers and basement dwellers who haven't discovered internet porn yet, but we'll save that discussion for another time.  But, this moment lets us know something about Batman (besides the fact he can't...let's use the word "last" ): he is in love with and is sexually attracted to Cat-woman.  Now, unless they wanted to reveal he had an experimental phase much earlier in life (as suggested by another friend of mine), there is no way that they could have made Batman gay without making millions of readers scratch their heads and wonder what the point of his love for Selena Kyle or Talia al Ghul was.  Just making him gay all of a sudden would contrast years (or, in the case of DCnU, months) of evidence of Bruce Wayne's heterosexuality.  Now, a writer could have pulled the bullshit move of saying Bruce Wayne was just hiding his homosexuality really well (because he can do everything else well) just wouldn't work, for two reasons.

The first is that Bruce Wayne is never ashamed of who he is.  He only hides the fact that he is Batman because he wants to protect the people he loves.  BUT, if it came to anything else, from his sexual orientation to his political party to even his favorite sport team, Bruce Wayne would have no problem talking about it openly.  He would probably hold a big gala in support of gay and lesbian rights.  In addition, he would never second guess outing himself, because he has the resolve in everything that he believes and everything that he is that he wouldn't give two shits if someone said he was going to hell for being gay.

Second, to just say he was hiding it really well sort of ignores how homosexuality, and people in general, work.  No matter how controlled Bruce Wayne is, he would somehow show his inner workings and machinations.  There is no way Alfred or Selena would have never noticed something peculiar in him.  Somehow, in some way that would only be noticeable to those closest to him, Bruce would show signs of homosexuality.  It's like if a person was secretly colorblind.  They could go through life acting like they know what people are talking about, but sooner or later, he would be placed in a situation that would give hints to his condition.   Something like that just doesn't get hidden. Now, I know this paragraph may make me come under fire.  I am not saying homosexuality is a "condition" or anything negative.  I am simply saying that, like all personality traits, it would manifest itself in some form, and it is something that not even the goddamn Batman, could truly hide.

Now let's talk about Samus.  What do we know about her?  Well, excluding the disgraceful Metroid: Other M, which even the most devoted of Metroid fans disregard as non-canon, we don't know anything about her sexual proclivities.  Now, I would make the case she isn't sexually active, since she is so fucking badass she doesn't need a man or woman weighing her down or the fact that she is so busy kicking ass she doesn't have time to date or do the deed with anybody.  But...we could also make the case that she might be sexually attracted to the Chozo, the odd-bird people who raised her, since one could make the case that if you are raised among a group of people different from your own, you might develop a sexual attraction to them.  And you know what?  I would buy that!  In a strange way, that makes sense.  One could provide evidence to prove that.

And, that, my friends, is the central problem of this concept.  EVIDENCE.  If you want to make Samus or Batman gay, I'll be perfectly game for that if and only if there is evidence to make me believe it.  To just insert a trait like homosexuality into an established character without providing evidence to make us understand the writer's logic isn't good writing, and one should not be considered prejudiced if they cry foul.  Once again, I wouldn't give two shits if these characters were, in fact gay, but I would need some kind of hints or moments in the characters' histories that someone could point to that would justify such a change.  A character needs to gay from the moment the author conceives them.  The reader/player/viewer may find out the truth later in the story, but creator himself must have that plan in mind.  And we will see examples of these GOOD, well-crafted homosexual characters in my next post.

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