As this happens to be another news item combining topics that I generally have no real investment in, I’ll attempt to put aside my usual initial reaction to stories like this – that of a nearly-audible shrug and a mouse scroll to the next RSS item – and tackle it from a more intellectual perspective, if a rather detached and fairly cynical one.
Quoth KOMO for due diligence:
Green Lantern, one of DC Comics’ oldest and most enduring heroes, is serving as a beacon for the publisher again, this time as a proud, mighty and openly gay hero.
The change is revealed in the pages of the second issue of “Earth 2” out next week, and comes on the heels of what has been an expansive year for gay and lesbian characters in the pages of comic books from Archie to Marvel and others.
So, that’s great, right? No real reason not to do this and considering that the number on my calendar says “2012”, maybe a tad surprising that DC hasn’t already done it. Hats off to y’all! It’s a good thing to see more of. There are few caveats, however.
First, it’s a multiverse thing, which lessens the impact somewhat once you realize that this particular Green Lantern ain’t Hal Jordan but, uh, the other guy, James Robinson, whose name I wouldn’t even know off-hand without reading the article. Hey, I’m only a casual fan of comics, mostly Marvel stuff, so when I do dabble in DC it’s usually just to see whatever cameos Ambush Bug has been making lately.
So, while it’s better than making one of the random-ass alien Green Lanterns gay, it’s not the breakthrough that outing Hal would’ve been. Even Star Trek, which for all its Big Serious Social Commentary Episodes™ with the racism and the religious wars and the flaaaavin’, still tends to be oddly gutless in area of sexual preference, will manage to roll an LGBT character eventually if it’s an evil-goatee’d mirror universe thing that doesn’t matter at all to the prime universe.
Besides all that, not making Hal Jordan gay specifically means that in the event of a Green Lantern movie sequel (ha!), you’re losing out on a little extra niché revenue from the folks who’d show up just for the novelty factor of Ryan Reynolds playing a gay dude. You know they exist. The slash fanfiction is probably already out there.
Next up… seriously guys, you were beaten to the punch by Archie? That’s a slow clap moment right there. Everyone expects DC to be years behind Marvel in most of the ways that matter, but this takes their history of reactionary, bandwagon-jumping, “look at us, guys!” PR moves to a whole new level. I’m not saying that it diminishes the accomplishment, but I still can’t help but take it as another example of desperation in the face of ever-lessening relevance, Nolan-era Batman notwithstanding.
Besides, Chasing Amy should’ve clued you into the subtext of Archie well over a decade ago.
I also sense a missed opportunity here. I’ll just say it: Superman should’ve been the gay one, if only because it would’ve made the last sixty years of Lois Lane stories pretty fucking hilarious in retrospect. Alternatively, make Clark Kent the gay character and Superman straight, in a bizarre (and still hilarious) case of split-personality disorder. That could be the only plot twist capable of making me care at all about Superman.
Finally, Mitch Clem’s Nothing Nice to Say has this knowledge to impart, kinda-sorta still on-topic (but more regarding comments I’ve read on other sites; speaking as a straight dude who has heard this before, it’s still easily on the top five list of the most frustrating things you can ever say to a guy):
Props to friend-of-the-site Felicia Moore for the tip!