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JohnMcMahon

Has NBC ruined 'Constantine' by straightwashing its protagonist?

  

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JohnMcMahon    562
Yawn.

 

I hear you, I've a running tab in TweetDeck (I'm an old man, I use old man social media) and I've seen more people expressing outrage at this than have ever read an actual issue of Hellblazer. Should've kept it to the other thread but that article was retweeted so many times it was doing my nut in, so everyone suffers.

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A. Heathen    1,131

Seriously, let's put all the threads together.

It must be more frequent than the monthly issue reviews.

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Christian    744

Some people in the LGBT community might be getting upset without really knowing the details. Ugly rumours. I'm sure some people are hearing, "NBC buys rights to cult bi-sexual comic book character John Constantine, and refuse to allow the character to be gay", and are all up in arms.

I'm sure all of them don't realize that bi icon John Constantine is hardly some one that most of them would consider a good representation of LGBT issues. Both because of the homophobic "Ashes and Dust" story-arc, and because John is one of them poseurs, who claims to be bi, while sleeping with more dogs than other men.

 

Sort of like when the far Right starting foaming at the mouth because they heard Aryan deity Thor was going to be portrayed by a black man in the film. A rumour that wasn't based in any actual good information.

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Christian    744

It should probably be read as meant "A man doesn't just decide to have sex with another male because he's just in the mood for sex.", as far as relates to the idea of "I'm not bi. I was just experimenting." or whatever. You must have a sexual attraction to another man if you're making the commitment to have sex with another man.

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Lou K    1,059

I've a running tab in TweetDeck (I'm an old man, I use old man social media)

 

Fuck I don't know what that is.

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Dave    267

I have got to wonder, and I think John made this point earlier, how many of these people who are up in arms over this have actually read an issue of Hellblazer? It can't have been many. John just seems like the straightest bisexual ever.

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Gwilym    330

The lesbian-shagging is another moment that really reads as a huge fuck-you to the very people upset by this. The whole reason the woman's upset and vulnerable is because her girlfriend insists on being out and proud, and campaigning for gay rights, whereas she wants to just be a 'normal' woman. Ennis portrays LGBT campaigners as abrasive harpies*, and his John reaps the benefits. Between this and Stanley Manor, it seems completely and utterly absurd to treat the character as even a friend to the LGBT community, let alone part of it. Even Delano's gay characters, darling as they are, are total stereotypes; either mincing effeminate men, or butch women. Or mystical wank fantasies, smearing fruits** on each other's tits before having sex with John.

 

(The reporter in The Fear Machine is a definite exception; his portrayal is completely positive, aside from perhaps John's hilarious comment about gays being tidy)

 

But I am aware I'm preaching to the choir here. I'm wondering if maybe I should take advantage of my smooth baritone and do a video about this; my angle would definitely be that non-heterosexuality treated as it is in the books would be a massive step back for media portrayals, not forward. I might not have the click-baiting rhetorical power of the loudest complainers, but I do have the advantage of actually having read some of the damn things. My decent-ish knowledge of Azzarello and Ennis would help too, because of how many of their own distinct foibles they brought to the series.

 

Were there any non-hetero characters in Carey's run? He's usually decent enough with writing them, but he has hinted at gayness being a reaction to sexual abuse a handful of times.

 

*he does this a lot. Remember Preacher's I WANT COCK!!! bit? (which I'm sure he cringes at now)

 

**smearing fruits = anti-gay propaganda

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slinker    893

i find the smoking ban and name mispronunciation more offensive and they hardly bother me any more. but what concerns me is the beating taken by anyone who makes a case for it not being canon. it's a legitimate case that a one issue writer can't contribute something as controversial and big as a character's sexual orientation--and the past few days it's the single biggest aspect of the character, bigger than anything Ennis, Jenkins, Delano, Carey or Milligan came up with. And pointing it out does not make you bi-phobic, it's insane how fucking rabid these people are getting on tumblr anyway.

 

Demon Chas08, if you do post that quote, post the edited version. because homeslice got a bit overwhelmed by all the hate mail. and had to clarify his stance. then the haters started bitching about clarification. he got 3 rational responses vs 40 that were "fuck you you biphobic asshole!" and variations of same. he sent me copies of some of the more outrageous ones.

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seventhcircle    582

Demon Chas08, if you do post that quote, post the edited version. because homeslice got a bit overwhelmed by all the hate mail. and had to clarify his stance. then the haters started bitching about clarification. he got 3 rational responses vs 40 that were "fuck you you biphobic asshole!" and variations of same. he sent me copies of some of the more outrageous ones.

 

What? You can't use your sexual orientation as a weapon, thats just... awful.

I think we should build a countercase here. Something along the lines of: Johns one true thing is conning people, he gets more off by it than by anything else. The more powerful and bad those poeple (and things) are the more orgasmic he feals afterwards. Thats why there was always this weird tension and mutual obsession with the First of the Fallen. There is no bigger more powerful asshole in the entire universe. Thats why none of his relationships worked and thats why manor was so easy for him to do. I am aware that it's a pile of crap, but I found the idea amusing. John Constantine, Sexual Orientation: Con Man.

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JohnMcMahon    562
I have got to wonder, and I think John made this point earlier, how many of these people who are up in arms over this have actually read an issue of Hellblazer? It can't have been many. John just seems like the straightest bisexual ever.

 

Agree with all of that, however I can totally understand those whose sexual identity (and that wording would probably cause a brutally bloody conflict across half of the internets) is not adequately represented (or even acknowledged!) in pop culture entertainment rowing in behind issues like this and joining the chorus of disgust.

 

It's not actually about John Constantine, it's a much bigger issue but the simple fact is that Hellblazer ran for 300 issues and I'm pretty sure that if you read only 298 of them you wouldn't know that he's had a few relationships with men.

 

Wouldn't it have been great if, say, seven episodes in John just happened to make an off-the-cuff comment about an old boyfriend - very much in the way that it was handled in the comics oh so long ago ? It's not a big deal, just part of who he is, nothing to see here but now it's a whole thing. Well, on the internet, anyway.

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James    38
*he does this a lot. Remember Preacher's I WANT COCK!!! bit? (which I'm sure he cringes at now)

 

If you read Ennis's Kev miniseries, it becomes apparent that Ennis had something of an epiphany regarding gay men and women and is now embarassed to hell by all that business. Doesn't change what he's already written, though, of course.

 

I think there was a lesbian couple in Jenkins's run that were just ordinary people, but he also wrote a story that had a lesbian ordering child porn from Amsterdam, so that probably cancels it out. Gaiman's one-shot had a lesbian couple who were presented as ordinary folks, too, and I think that ish also has John telling off a London cabbie for spouting homophobic bullshit.

 

But I am aware I'm preaching to the choir here. I'm wondering if maybe I should take advantage of my smooth baritone and do a video about this; my angle would definitely be that non-heterosexuality treated as it is in the books would be a massive step back for media portrayals, not forward. I might not have the click-baiting rhetorical power of the loudest complainers, but I do have the advantage of actually having read some of the damn things. My decent-ish knowledge of Azzarello and Ennis would help too, because of how many of their own distinct foibles they brought to the series.

 

Were there any non-hetero characters in Carey's run?

 

Not any prominent ones that I can recall. There was a gay couple in Red Sepulchre, but they were murdered before the story began.

 

He's usually decent enough with writing them, but he has hinted at gayness being a reaction to sexual abuse a handful of times.

 

Whuh....?

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James    38

Wouldn't it have been great if, say, seven episodes in John just happened to make an off-the-cuff comment about an old boyfriend - very much in the way that it was handled in the comics oh so long ago ?

 

Probably would only add fuel to the flames. 'Oh, so they'll pay lip service but fob us off with real relationships? THIS IS WORSE THAN DRESDEN!' It's hard not to read a lot of this fury as deeply disingenuous, and you should never underestimate the power of the rabble-rouser to find fault in anything.

 

Does Abhi still come here? He could write volumes about this.

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Gwilym    330
He's usually decent enough with writing them, but he has hinted at gayness being a reaction to sexual abuse a handful of times.

 

Whuh....?

 

Turns out I can only think of one. Sorry, the other I'd been thinking of was by Jamie Delano. And two doesn't really constitute a handful, so I shouldn't've said that.

 

It's in Crossing Midnight (which is excellent, by the way). I forget her name, but one of the Ueno Park guards. She's a huge butch lesbian; not a caricature; very well-written. But you find out she'd been repeatedly gang-raped in her home town. It's intended more as the reason she's such a hard-ass (which is problematic in its own way) rather than the reason she's gay, but it still dovetailed uncomfortably close to the idea that women who like women only like women because they don't like men and they only don't like men because they've been abused. He didn't state it outright, and he may not have even meant it. But ideas like that are so totally inculcated that without a statement to the contrary, it's the message that comes across.

 

(Just to correct myself; the act of her telling the story was completely a character moment, and I'd say that was the main intent of it (same with the Delano character too). But the two implications I mentioned are definitely there.)

 

Delano's character was pretty much the same story, just with one rapist instead of many.

 

I'll have to read Kev. That sounds quite interesting. Parts of The Boys address laddish homophobia head-on too, and while at first it comes across as Ennis being defensive, he gets better. Maybe I should piece together an Ennis And The Gays timeline.

 

It's hard not to read a lot of this fury as deeply disingenuous

 

I'm afraid I think so too. It's a damn shame, because their point is such an honourable one, but it just so often seems mired in mob mentality, which stops anything useful actually happening. Including basic discourse; in its place we just get a chorus line of jerking knees. It's a waste.

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Demon Chas08    295

He must be gay, he shagged a lesbian.

What did he win for that anyway?

A black eye and a possible kick in the balls once he got home?

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Demon Chas08    295

I have got to wonder, and I think John made this point earlier, how many of these people who are up in arms over this have actually read an issue of Hellblazer? It can't have been many. John just seems like the straightest bisexual ever.

 

One regular poster over at Oh No They Didn't! admitted to reading the Bi bit on some website that lists LGBT comic characters. Of course I pointed out the facts but homeboy wasn't hearing any of it.

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James    38
It's in Crossing Midnight (which is excellent, by the way). I forget her name, but one of the Ueno Park guards. She's a huge butch lesbian; not a caricature; very well-written. But you find out she'd been repeatedly gang-raped in her home town. It's intended more as the reason she's such a hard-ass (which is problematic in its own way) rather than the reason she's gay, but it still dovetailed uncomfortably close to the idea that women who like women only like women because they don't like men and they only don't like men because they've been abused. He didn't state it outright, and he may not have even meant it. But ideas like that are so totally inculcated that without a statement to the contrary, it's the message that comes across.

 

I don't think I read past the second trade (I left the UK and found it near impossible to find trades in the place I moved to), so I can't really comment. I think he's one of the good guys, though.

 

Delano's character was pretty much the same story, just with one rapist instead of many.

 

Which story was that? Just out of interest. Delano usually comes across as pretty right-on, but he's done some odd things in his comics before. Outlaw Nation had a bisexual character who casually went around raping people, and whose sexuality was played out as a symptom (or aspect) of his dissolute, hedonistic nature.

 

I'll have to read Kev. That sounds quite interesting. Parts of The Boys address laddish homophobia head-on too, and while at first it comes across as Ennis being defensive, he gets better. Maybe I should piece together an Ennis And The Gays timeline.

 

I don't think it's homophobia specifically, but an ingrained discomfort about anybody who diverges from sexual and gender norms, or even from the laddish standards of working-class Northern Irish life. It's all throughout his earlier works. Look at Hellblazer - the vampires are bisexual psychopaths, Nigel's a skinny geek who writes girly poetry... it's sad, really.

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Gwilym    330
It's in Crossing Midnight (which is excellent, by the way). I forget her name, but one of the Ueno Park guards. She's a huge butch lesbian; not a caricature; very well-written. But you find out she'd been repeatedly gang-raped in her home town. It's intended more as the reason she's such a hard-ass (which is problematic in its own way) rather than the reason she's gay, but it still dovetailed uncomfortably close to the idea that women who like women only like women because they don't like men and they only don't like men because they've been abused. He didn't state it outright, and he may not have even meant it. But ideas like that are so totally inculcated that without a statement to the contrary, it's the message that comes across.

 

I don't think I read past the second trade (I left the UK and found it near impossible to find trades in the place I moved to), so I can't really comment. I think he's one of the good guys, though.

 

It got cancelled, so there are actually only three trades. It ends well, though. And I absolutely agree; he's up there with Delano (and Gaiman) as far as big-hearted acceptance goes, and I suppose in some ways he's more valuable, being so much more prolific and accessible. And like Delano, the odd wee slip-ups stand out only because he's usually so good about things.

 

He's also quite self-aware; there was that Hellblazer story that I assume looked fine in writing but visually turned out as Angie running around in her underwear and screaming and falling over a lot. The very next issue opened with Gemma making some pretty trenchant comments about lazy misogyny in the guise of genre entertainment.

 

Delano's character was pretty much the same story, just with one rapist instead of many.

 

Which story was that? Just out of interest. Delano usually comes across as pretty right-on, but he's done some odd things in his comics before. Outlaw Nation had a bisexual character who casually went around raping people, and whose sexuality was played out as a symptom (or aspect) of his dissolute, hedonistic nature.

 

Yeah, that was really strange. I thought he was well-written despite that, and I found him pretty downright hilarious, but it still felt surprisingly phobic.

 

The story is his novel, Book Thirteen. Which I absolutely love, and the character I'm talking about is probably my favourite.

 

I don't think it's homophobia specifically, but an ingrained discomfort about anybody who diverges from sexual and gender norms, or even from the laddish standards of working-class Northern Irish life. It's all throughout his earlier works. Look at Hellblazer - the vampires are bisexual psychopaths, Nigel's a skinny geek who writes girly poetry... it's sad, really.

 

That's a better way to put it, yeah. It's funny; Boy's Games and Man's Work had all the subtlety of an Upworthy article, but with the background hum of casual bigotry that was only a few issues away from kicking in, I guess it had some pretty relevant messages.

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seventhcircle    582

In summary they should make Zed a bisexual in the teleovision series.

 

That would propably be not the dumbest move. But will it appeace the mob? Also writing an actual bi character into your story includes the possibility to do it wrong and offend some of the bisexual folks that care about the show, i would say at this point you take a risk no matter wich way you go.

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slinker    893

Whenever they post an image as "proof" he was bi, it's always the John and Stanley kissing pic. I just want to yell "Turn the page, John is beating the fuck out of Stanley with a whip and enjoying it because he hates Stanley. He's conning him as a revenge plot! Turn the bloody page!"

 

In fact, the only images they ever use the the laundromat image from John Smith and Stanley Manor and John kissing. That's it. there isn't anything else.

 

Think about all the fans who had no idea John Smith ever wrote one issue of hellblazer and dropped Azz's run prior to Ashes and Dust. Like it was said earlier, you could read all but less than a handful of issues and never know he was "bi." But #51 was included in Bloodlines, so I'd wager many of the John is bi fans think Ennis wrote it because he wrote all the other issues in that trade. That's where some of this comes from, confusion about who wrote the laundromat issue. Would they change their minds if they really read the Azz story AND realized the writer who wrote #51 never wrote anything else on Hellblazer? And then it depends on how you define "canon." Is canon mainly stuff from the long-term writers? or is it all encompassing? The editors didn't see fit to remove it, so that's a solid argument for it being canon.

 

I don't remember which one of you wrote it, but I agree that the issue to them is that bi-characters don't get fair representation on TV and that's really what they are upset about because John is cool, people love to identify with him. But in fairness, bisexuality is not fairly nor is it accurately represented in Hellblazer, either. By his actions in the one story in which we see him engaging in a bisexual relationship, deviant and negative are accurate terms, while positive, unique, loving all are terms you couldn't possibly use. They are mistaken, like many southern christians who go to church and hear what a preacher says the bible says but never read the bible themselves. They go by what this one person said and get all angry just as the preacher does. Approves what the preacher approves and shows hate for what the preacher hates. This is too similar to the John is bi craze. Few of them have read it, and if they post the John/Manor pics, they definitely did not read it.

 

is this straight washing or bi erasure?

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Christian    744

I don't know why you're so caught up on John Smith writing that issue. It's part of the Official Hellblazer Series. It's not as if Smith wrote an Elseworlds story called "John Shags a Dude". Smith wrote a very good Hellblazer story, he did well with John Constantine's characterization. This Forum voted that issue the best "fill-in" story of Hellblazer. I absolutely love that story, and not because it has anything to do with bi-sexuality.

Yes. It is canon. You can bring some guy in off the street who never wrote before in his life, have him write an issue of an on-going comic book series, and if he says "Batman is mentally handicapped", and the editors do not remove this, then it counts as canon. Editors have the final say of what gets included or not included in the story, and once it is published, it is part of the canon. Unless a writer later comes along and writes a story that explains why John being bi-sexual is not accurate, "John went to the Christian fundie camp and they taught him that bi-sexuality was not normal, and he realizes that he was never actually bi-sexual, and was just a sinner.", then it stands that as far as Hellblazer is concerned, John Constantine is bi-sexual.

 

I do agree that it was issue #51, so it's not as if that was a major part of John's character from the very beginning, like some people seem to be making it out to be. It was inserted discreetly 51 issues in to the series, and I don't believe it was mentioned again until the Azzarello run. And, very rarely after that.

 

As far as Ennis, he had a few Punisher stories where anti-gay people are presented in a negative light and the villains of some of the stories. So, either Ennis grew up and got over the hang-ups, or Ennis' un-PC stories shouldn't be considered as actually homophobic. I'm not sure which.

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Christian    744

Whenever they post an image as "proof" he was bi, it's always the John and Stanley kissing pic. I just want to yell "Turn the page, John is beating the fuck out of Stanley with a whip and enjoying it because he hates Stanley. He's conning him as a revenge plot! Turn the bloody page!"

 

I don't remember which one of you wrote it, but I agree that the issue to them is that bi-characters don't get fair representation on TV and that's really what they are upset about because John is cool, people love to identify with him. But in fairness, bisexuality is not fairly nor is it accurately represented in Hellblazer, either. By his actions in the one story in which we see him engaging in a bisexual relationship, deviant and negative are accurate terms, while positive, unique, loving all are terms you couldn't possibly use. They are mistaken, like many southern christians who go to church and hear what a preacher says the bible says but never read the bible themselves. They go by what this one person said and get all angry just as the preacher does. Approves what the preacher approves and shows hate for what the preacher hates. This is too similar to the John is bi craze. Few of them have read it, and if they post the John/Manor pics, they definitely did not read it.

 

is this straight washing or bi erasure?

 

I've pointed out, this happens all the time on the internet.

Put in the phrase, "Barack Obama says that all Christians will be sterilized." to Google. I bet you anything you'll get 10,000 hits and you'll see all sorts of people up in arms over this.

Did Obama say this? No.

Is this Obama's agenda? No.

The internet is a place where rumours get started and people get all bent out of shape, because they believe what they read on some web-site they frequent and don't do any fact-checking as to whether it's some thing to actually be concerned about or not.

Think of some thing even crazier if you don't believe me. How about "Satan and space aliens have created a pact to enforce a Communist world government, and all Republicans will be killed." Type it in Google, see what results you get. I bet you'll see some.

So, it's easy to imagine that, as I said, some one posted, "NBC has made it so that popular bi-sexual comic book icon John Constantine cannot be bi on TV show." And, then, every one gets angry, because it sounds like it's anti-gay. They didn't bother to do any fact-checking.

 

"Ashes and Dust" isn't as easy to define as you're making it though. It's homophobic, I do agree. But, it's not that John hates Manor. It's that John and Manor have a sexual appeal to each other, while at the same time, John hates Manor. It's Azzarello's views on the Batman/Joker dynamic also. Let's not forget that ludicrous bit of story-telling. That Batman and Joker secretly crave each other, while at the same time, they have a deep hatred for each other. The whips and stuff, they're in a S&M club. Manor is in to sado-masochism.

This whole idea that "John is just pulling a con on Manor"...it doesn't work. John is going really far to pull this con. It makes no sense. John has never been so elaborate in the lengths he's gone to to trick someone before. This isn't just a con. John does trick Manon in the end, but he's not just going through the motions sexually with Manor. There's a layer of sexual attraction underneath.

It does paint bi-sexuality as something disturbing and illicit though, I agree about that. It's not a positive portrayal.

But, this whole, "John was just fucking with Manor. It wasn't really sexual on his part." is at the level of, "I'm not bi-sexual. I just went through a phase where I was having sex with men, you know, just because."

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