Wednesday 11 May 2016

Be Brave, Be Bold

Imagine the scene: you're sitting in the cinema, with a mate or two.

You chomp on popcorn and slurp at your drink.

You hope beyond hope that the annoying kids behind you will settle down after the trailers (they won't: they will kick your chair, climb over the seats, and talk loudly, but you can hope.)

The film starts. (The kids don't really settle down. Dammit.)

It's a superhero movie - a big one. The big one of the year (although, there are at least four films vying for that title.)

Before long, you're completely engrossed in the story. The bad guys are being bad. The good guys are being good. Stuff blows up. People get hurt, mainly by the good guys.

A dude approaches our hero. They've been fighting, side by side (in a battle which must've cost millions to film.)

The new dude got a bit banged-up in the fight, and title-hero is feeling moodily guilty.

"Hey man," new dude says. "It wasn't your fault."

"It was," title-hero replies, "but thanks..." he sighs heavily.

(The kids behind you are throwing popcorn. You really wish their parents would stop pretending not to notice.)

"Don't," new dude whispers...  and plants a kiss on title-hero's lips.

But the world doesn't end. The kids' parents don't scream. Everyone carries on with their lives.

Could this happen? I mean, really? Could this be a reality some day? (And hopefully someday soon.) Or are the studios too terrified to let one of their main properties be gay?

Because it really gets to something when we're more willing to shoe-horn in a generic blonde female (who deserves to have more character development than she's given, might I add, *cough* Civil War *cough*) than to let a leading man kiss another man in a blockbuster.

As things stand? I really can't see any of the money-making superheroes being permitted to be LGBTQ+ - on page or on screen.

But the amount of fanfiction (yes, I know, I rabbit on about fanfiction a lot, but I have an actual point here, promise) which shows main characters in same-sex relationships shows that there is an interest in change.

You can dismiss this as the wish of a minority of fans if you want - but the amount of fanfiction readers and writers that are out there writing and reading about same-sex relationships and LGBTQ+ issues runs into the millions.

Are the big studios really ready to dismiss the voices of change coming out of fandom? Are the publishers?

Big changes usually start with the comics.

Yes, we now have LGBTQ+ comic-book characters: Mystique, Deadpool, Iceman, Daken, Hulkling, Wiccan, Northstar, Miss America, Loki...

But even Mystique, Deadpool, Loki, and Iceman, are portrayed as straight on film (although there is the possibility of change for Deadpool).

And the others? Great characters, but not ones that even the casual fans will know, let alone the general public.

The lists of LGBT superheroes and villains (although a lot of these 'villains' could be considered anti-heroes,) on Wikipedia are woefully small. Even worse are their scarcity of notable figures.

Would it really be such a shock to have Captain America kiss Bucky Barnes?

...on page or on screen?

Maybe it would be. I'm sure the haters would come out in droves. There are some countries which would probably ban the film.

There would be uproar in several quarters. Free publicity, at the very least. (Moi? Cynical? Pshaw!)

But aren't superheroes supposed to be brave? Aren't they supposed to challenge injustices and support people being themselves (unless yourself wants to take over the world... I suppose.)

So, superheroes, it's time to be brave, and its time to be bold.

It doesn't have to be Cap and Bucky - they're just an example.

But it has to be one of the money-makers, one of the heroes with a following of their own.

It has to be someone on the level of Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Thor, et. al. (ooh, look at me with my fancy Latin abbreviations,) or it'll just be the publishers and studios hedging their bets with a less valuable property. That's a cop-out.

Let it be big, and let it be soon. Superheroes are supposed to lead the way forward. And this is the way forward - a brave and bold strike for equality, love, and a shared humanity.

Let's be brave. Let's be bold. Let's change the world.

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  1. I loved this post! Enough with the blonde damsels in distress and more with LGBT characters,which will make for less gender roles as well.

    1. Ha, the chicks are still allowed to be blonde - promise! I just wish they wouldn't stick in generic women *just* to be a love interest. Hello? Can she not be a *person*? Because she only talks to the lead feller - and then only to provide inspiration, plot-developing information, and/or to flirt. And that's just ridiculous.

      And yes! At the *very least* they could let characters who are already LGBTQ+ on page be the same on screen. Loki, for example, in the comics, has a complex and broad sexuality which is more to do with the individual than their gender, and is him/herself semi-gender-fluid (sometimes, s/he is actually Lady Loki.)

      The fact that characters - like Mystique - who aren't straight are made to be so on film just makes it seem like the studios are purposefully censoring LGBTQ+ people.

      I think it needs to be done. We need to have one of the head-liners in a non-het (or non-cys) relationship/scenario. And we need it to not be the focus - it needs to be as matter-of-fact, normal, and not-a-big-deal as 'hero kisses blonde girl.'

      Sorry, that's somewhat of an essay of a reply. *gets down off soap-box*

    2. No, this was an awesome reply! I feel like a lot of times, not even in just superhero movies, but many books, LGBT characters are put in place just to make a "plot twist" or to add interest. They never get a leading role, and are often killed off in the end. What's important is to make them seem less than a plot filler and more like a protagonist.

    3. Exactly! Character development and all that! Basically, I don't want a film about a superhero being LGBTQ+. I want a film about a superhero, who is LGBTQ+, and still does all the superhero things. Just happens to come home to another dude, and has romance scenes like we've had a billion times with het relationships over the years, only in a same-sex relationship.

  2. YUP. XD I couldn't agree more. And I think it WOULD be a shock? Because publishers/movie-makers all seem very intensely interested in NOT portraying lead characters as LGBT. Which boggles me. I mean, it's 2016 already. People need to get over it and let the LGBT characters lead. I'm getting a bit tired of only ever seeing them as side characters...THEY DESERVE SPOTLIGHT TOO.
    (And c'mon, who doesn't ship Cap and Bucky?!?! At least a little. xD)
    (I would also like to see Supernatural acknowledge some more queer main-characters instead of only relegating it to the secondary characters!!)

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    1. In superhero movies, they're not even the side-characters.

      But yes. This needs to be a thing. The lead needs to have a non-het (or non-cys) relationship. Because that would send a message - LGBTQ+ PEOPLE CAN BE *LEAD CHARACTERS.* THEY CAN, IN FACT, BE THE *HERO.* And it needs to be done right - with actual romance and chemistry and no cop-out 'Hydra/aliens/drugs made me do it' qualifier.

      (And I think Stucky should be MCU's first canon m/m ship. Because even though my otp is FrostIron, Stucky is a natural relationship with the storylines we currently have. I think it's actually harder for them to avoid the romance than to give into it at this point.)

      Thanks for the comment! XD

  3. I think maybe this is too much of a touchy subject for cinemas to risk it at the moment. I will say that in reference to Civil War that yes, I do think the blonde needed a lot more development and storyline because nothing really came of that -.-

    1. Sharon Carter is an actual comic character - if they were going to include her, they needed to give her the respect of an actual character instead of a generic love interest. (Argh!)

      I understand that it's risky - and that is *exactly* why they have to do it. Being brave is the only option if culture is ever going to move forward.

  4. Representation is dismal out there for kids like us. I have had this happen to me in the Harry Potter fandom, and every fandom I have joined later. Characters are presented as queer (never overtly), but then suddenly (dun dun dun) opposite gender person makes an appearance and "a beast inside" the main character changes things up. Then, when fans say something, they're treated as though they're perverted for wanting a queer pairing. See also: Merlin, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Star Trek, Star Wars, X-Men...etc.

    1. The complete erasure of canon queer identities in the Marvel films makes me sad :/ (Like I said - Mystique, Iceman, Loki, etc.)

      And I think you are referring to HP & The Cursed Child, yeh? Because yes. Completely with you on that. (And personally I was a fan of Drarry too.)


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