Friday, April 23, 2010

Life in Comics ...

Anyone out there remember Northstar? The first superhero to boldly step out of the closet and reveal his sexuality by admitted that he was gay in the early 1990's only to have the story line down play it until societal tolerances changed ??

Today on CBC it is reported that Archie's world is about to become a little more inclusive with the arrival of Kevin, an openly gay character who reveals his orientation in the above exchange with Jughead (see the story here).

Personally, I think this is great, though it will no doubt cause concern and fear amongst those who are uncomfortable with notion of gays and lesbians being a normative part of the human family. I can even see Pastor Phelps and his Westboro loonies standing outside 7/11s and comic conventions bearing enormous signs saying "God Hates Archie!!"

I do however, find this story interesting given the veiled threats of death and violence against SouthPark creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone who have offended some Muslim extremists by their outlandish and boundary pushing humour ... On one hand I applaud the ability of our comic and cartoon industry to push the envelope and tackle issues that others fear to confront (remember when SouthPark had the Boxing match between Jesus and Satan? or when they introduced the gay relationship between Satan and Sadaam Hussein?) What better way to promote tolerance and respect, then to have our two dimensional worlds show us the foolishness of our ways ??

It's a sad state of affairs when the tolerance of the cartoon/comic universe is curtailed by the fear of offending those who are close minded ... if the lessons of Salman Rushdie have taught us nothing else, it has taught us the importance of protecting, promoting and encouraging FREEDOM of EXPRESSION and not letting the threats of violence curtail openness, tolerance and inclusion ... if we can't speak of religious themes and if our comic books fail to reflect the diverse rainbow reality of our society, then we are failing to live the very values we claim to support and promote.

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