There’s nothing I enjoy more than watching right-wingers lose their shit over people NOT treating homosexuals as eeeevul deviant pre-verts, except perhaps watching an entire media’s fandom lose their shit over an idea for injecting novelty into their favourite franchise that involves, you know, actually changing it. This is one of those rare celestial alignment type coincidences that is probably pretty unlikely to happen again any time soon. We should take careful note, and savour it for all it’s worth.
Andrew Garfield, star of the current iteration of Spider-Man movies — a franchise that, full disclosure, I absolutely love, and for which I found the Sam Raimi movies underwhelming at best — has suggested to the director, then publicly, that he sees no reason that Peter Parker shouldn’t be gay, exploring his sexuality in a rebooted universe where it turns out MJ is a guy.
Right-Wing Watch reports that this has majorly rustled the jimmies of Charisma’s Jennifer LeClaire:
Really? Don’t we have enough gay comic book heroes? About this time last year, DC Comics outed the Green Lantern. When he’s not wearing his neon-green garb and accomplishing superhuman feats, the chiseled Green Lantern enjoys kissing his new boyfriend. As I noted in my column last year, perhaps DC Comics was trying to compete with its rival, Marvel Comics, which announced just days earlier that it would host the first gay wedding in the June 20 issue of Astonishing X-Men #51.
Of course, Marvel Comics has long proved more progressive on the gay superhero front. Northstar, an X-Men character, became the first openly gay superhuman in American comic book history way back in 1992. Around that same time there was also speculation that Batman was about to come out of his caved closet, which would confirm decades-old rumors that Batman and Robin are much more than friends in tights.
Garfield’s push for a gay Spider-Man weaves a wicked web that could help deceive a generation. Make no mistake, same-sex marriage is not God’s plan.
DC is nowhere near as actually progressive as Marvel, it’s true. Which Green Lantern do you figure they made gay in the mainline universe, folks? Hal Jordan, of the recent movie foray? John Stewart, the black architect and ex-marine who starred in the Justice League cartoons? Guy Gardner, the uber-macho Lantern nobody actually likes because he’s like Duke Nukem with LESS class?
No, Alan Scott, the Green Lantern of the silver age, when GL was a magical superhero instead of a sci-fi-heavy space cop. They created a new parallel universe continuity for New 52, where that Green Lantern is a gay man named Alan Scott. They didn’t have the guts to change a current iteration hero.
It’s because of all this that I’d really like to see what might happen in a situation where you flipped the sexual proclivities of an established hero, in a domain where we’ve already established that there’s a multiverse inhabited by the same sorts of heroes over and over again, with subtle variations.
I’d like to point out that the current iterations of Peter Parker in the comic book canon are:
A) In the mainline universe, brainjacked — possibly permanently — by Doctor Octopus, who pulled a Mentok the Mind Taker with him, then KILLED the Peter Parker inhabiting Otto Octavius’ body. Meaning unless the writers pull some kinda reboot-of-the-mainline, or some sorta stupid rationalization for Parker re-emerging in his own brain, Peter’s not going to be exploring life, much less sexuality, any more.
B) In the Ultimate universe, he’s outright dead — replaced by a 13-year-old half-black, half-hispanic boy, over howls of protest by the usual “stop messing with our canon” assholes.
C) In the movie universe, rebooted twice with no continuity to the other comic lines, and consigned to a fate of being played as a relatively self-assured geek with a skateboard and zero “great responsibility”.
I see absolutely no reason, to Garfield’s point, why Peter Parker’s heterosexuality is a fixed point in this multiverse. Nothing ELSE about Peter Parker is sacrosanct! Very recently, in the mainline universe, they rewrote the entirety of the relationship with Mary Jane Watson as a result of Parker’s deal with the devil, to try to keep Aunt May alive. All so they could open Peter up to the possibility of relationships besides Mary Jane — like there’s no way a person might get romantically involved with someone else after having gotten married! And that’s also ignoring the fact that Ultimate Spidey passed on Mary Jane, the undisputed love of Parker’s life, in order to pursue a relationship with Kitty Pryde, of all people. So tell me again why we can’t mix that one thing up.
Oh, right, because of entitlement. Because “how dare you make the character I love look less like me in order to give people who are underrepresented someone who looks more like them”. As though there’s some kind of dearth of straight white men in comics! And yet these entitled douchebags flip the hell out any time something is changed. As though flipping Johnny Storm’s race to black, or Starbuck’s sex to female*, or Peter Parker’s sexuality to gay, makes anything else about those beloved characters different except that they now look that little bit less like you.
Honestly, that’s where most of the pushbacks against inclusivity come from, in every domain — yes, including movement atheism and skepticism. It’s the thought — the FEAR — that you might have to make specific changes to how things are done or said to benefit people who are slightly less like you. It’s the thought that something might break your monopoly stranglehold on the ideological purity of what you believe is your vested interest in the specific thing you love so dearly. It’s that it belongs to you, and how DARE someone try to change it so someone else might enjoy it too?
And that goes double for the bible-thumpers, who are astonished that anyone would challenge the established canon of their own particular fandom. Never before has the similarity between comic-book nerds and religious folks been so clearly defined. Because MY god says it shouldn’t be, it shouldn’t be! How dare YOU defy MY god? Who believes what I believe? Who gave ME a society built the way I say it’s built, engineered by HIS hand to work exactly the way I expect it to?
This sort of ridiculous hyper-entitlement would be hilarious, if it didn’t have such wide-reaching social ramifications. It’s the single thing we honest rationalists have to fight hardest against — that entitlement that says “how dare you change something that I think belongs to me and me alone”, when that something is actually something we all share.
So, should Spider-Man be gay?
Why the fuck not?
* I know, BSG is not a comic, but sci-fi is nerd fodder nonetheless. Same deal.