You may recall from previous posts that last year there was a gay-off taking place between the two dominant comic book publishing companies. Basically, Marvel and DC were competing to prove who was the most homosexual-friendly comic book publisher. (I would have said that they were trying to “out-gay” each other, but I have to be careful with the terminology.) It seemed like most of the characters in the Marvel universe showed up for the wedding of Northstar, a long-standing member of the gay super hero community. And DC re-introduced Alan Scott, the classic golden-age Green Lantern, as a Homosexual in their new Earth2 series. So, it really wasn’t much of a gay-off, but it got media attention.
One would think that in this climate of diversity and inclusiveness, the peace and good-will would persist for a while, at least until the next reboot of a super hero movie franchise (Man of Steel, June 14, 2013.) But no. And now Superman has been pulled into a controversy that has made the fruits loopy.
Hello, and welcome back to Comical Musings, your source for random thoughts that span all aspects of the comics kingdom. We try to be family friendly, and respectful of everyone’s viewpoints. SPOILER ALERT: this post deals with topics of sexual orientation that some parents may deem inappropriate for the youngest among our readers. So, I would like to address any youths reading this post without parental consent: You probably want to stop reading now; this post does not contain the “adult-oriented” discussion you are hoping for. I use the word “sex” in the nerdy academic way. If you read the whole thing, you will probably be disappointed and think to yourself, “That post was gay.”
For those of you still with us, again welcome. I am your chronologically displaced social reporter, Hal, and I’ve been following the gay goings-on in the DC universe since they began to make headlines last year. You may be wondering if I’m gay? Well, in the words of Manti Te’o: “Far from it. Faaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrr from it.” But our corporate diversity officer has given me full authorization to write about this subject because my wife is gay.
On February 11, 2013 DC announced that they had commissioned Orson Scott Card to write an upcoming Adventures of Superman digital comic series. Outrage ensued…
In case you are unfamiliar, Orson Scott Card is a prolific writer, best known for the Ender’s Game series of novels. And somehow he became a popular sci-fi author despite being a bigot and a rabid homophobe, at least according to some gay-rights activists.
Card strongly believes that same-sex marriage should not be legalized or recognized, and he has been willing to put his money where his mouth is by becoming an active member of organizations that oppose its legalization, such as the National Organization for Marriage. He has also made some questionable statements about the effect that same-sex marriage will have on society. But for this, expressing his opinions and acting on his beliefs in a civil manner, he has earned the detestation of gay-rights activists and has been branded a bigot and an enemy of civil rights.
The announcement of Card’s hiring led to an initial furor, with a flurry of editorials and open letters to DC. An online petition was started, demanding that DC drop Card, but after a week it had gathered less than 14,000 signatures. This story is shaping up to be a tempest in a teapot, because the intersection of people who are legitimately offended by Card’s views and the people who care about Superman comics is rather small. And while those few may be rather vocal, the majority of the Facebook generation has moved-on to other internet spectacles, such as Father Humberto Alvarez wearing super-hero vestments to perform Catholic mass.
Many people seemed to have jumped on board because marriage-equality is a currently a popular social cause, and Card is easy to portray as a hate-monger. The owner of Zeus Comics in Dallas had declared that his store will not stock the Adventures of Superman series when print copies of the digital comics are published in May. But all the back issues of Ultimate Iron Man volumes 1 and 2 are available for sale on Zeus Comics’ website, even though they were also authored by Card.
You might expect that DC’s homosexual-friendly credentials would be unassailable, considering that Batwoman is a lesbian, Earth 2 Green Lantern is gay, and the New Guardians are, quite literally, a rainbow coalition. In fact, so far they have done a great job incorporating that aspect of Alan Scott’s character. Alan Scott has appeared or been mentioned in eight of the first ten issues of Earth 2. His homosexuality has been referenced in five issues. So, they’re not afraid to talk about it (especially when establishing that he was affected by the death of his fiancé), yet it is not brought up every time you see him. But hiring Card has become a major setback in DC’s race to corner the gay-comic-reader market, and ironically, it was caused by their tolerance for people with differing viewpoints.
And that is what makes this whole controversy so ridiculous. In order to promote diversity and inclusion people are calling for Card to be ostracized. They are advocating job discrimination in the name of civil rights. Card’s beliefs don’t agree with theirs, so tolerance dictates that he must be silenced. Dial ‘H’ for Hypocrisy.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Card, demanding that someone be denied work as a comic book author based on their views about same-sex marriage is nonsense. Based on the sales of his books, including previous work on other comic books, Card is able to write stories that people want to read. And it is unlikely that Superman’s adventures will take him anywhere near the subject of same-sex marriage. It is DC’s decision whether or not to employ Card, and for now they think that his stories will help them sell more comics.
It remains to be seen whether this hullabaloo will have any effect on comic purchases, but there is a chance that it might backfire and actually increase sales. It has already attracted a lot of media attention to a comic title that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. And as Jim Mroczkowski from iFanboy.com noted, the same people who waited in line for an hour to buy a Chik-fil-a sandwich last year might start buying issues as a means to express their political opinions, even if they have zero interest in Superman comics.
And if you think that Superman’s virtue will be tainted by having been authored by someone opposed to same-sex marriage, then you should probably look into the political views of everyone who has ever written a Superman story. If a character’s integrity is tied to the political viewpoint of all its previous authors, then Superman may not be as virtuous as you imagine.
Orson Scott Card has the right to express his views. And the people who are offended by Card’s views have the right to call on DC to fire him; it’s just that doing so makes them look foolish. If you don’t like Card’s opinions then don’t buy his comics.
Many people seem to think it is their right to never have to be offended, and they don’t realize that being confronted with differing views makes you stronger because addressing them requires you to think. Most people would rather just shout them down and move on. Feel free to share your thoughts (or your shouts) in the comment section below. If this post offended you, you’re welcome.
I wish that the title of this post was accurate, but alas I suspect that this will not be the final chapter. Even if this uproar fades into the noise of internet memes, there will be other disputes about comic characters’ sexual orientations. Stay tuned to Comical Musings and we’ll keep you posted.
~ Hal ~