Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Well, this'll get people talking

In a rare occurrence, I actually got my comics on a Wednesday, which means I can get the ball rolling on this.

In today's Green Arrow, noted lefty blowhard and sexist hypocrite Oliver Queen, mayor of Star City, admits to performing gay marriages NOT because he particularly believes love between two men or two women is just as real as love between a man and a woman, but instead he did it in order to court controversy and attention for his recently destroyed city (think Katrina).

Later he blackmails a businessman with the threat of prison rape. In his words, "Sadie Hawkins Dance, and the-worst-part-of-Deliverance prison."

Yeah, so on the one hand he's explicitly exploiting an under-served minority just to get national publicity, and on the other revealing his latent homophobia by claiming the worst part of prison is the gay sex (and not, y'know, the murder, the violent abuse, the lack of freedom...).

And to me, that's good writing. Yeah, Oliver's being massively dickish, but it's perfectly in character for him. He talks a good game, but he's NEVER lived up to the values he espouses. It's a nasty and accurate swipe at the national media, that will get bored of human tragedy after a month or two, but can't stay away from the gay. (See: Brokeback Mountain, Lance Bass, Batwoman...)

And, if I'm reading it right and I might not be, it's also a funny self satire, because if there's anyone who has exploited homosexuality in order to attract attention (and sell books), it's Judd Winick.

But, I'm not gay, so while I might not be offended by the material and attribute the homophobia on display to the character and not the writer, bloggers who are gay might be, and I'd like to hear what you think.

(In non-controversial news, Conner Hawke is fine, training, and waiting for his miniseries, Deathstroke has teamed up with the world's second most deadly assassin, and Mia Dearden is in fine fighting form, kicking ass, taking names, and talking back! So that's good.)


Brandon Bragg said...

Did you catch the first page of the last "Outsiders" issue? Mallah and the Brain in possible, post-coital bliss? Good stuff.

I tend to either loathe what Winick writes or love it. "Outsiders" seems good for two or three issues and then horrible for a few and then back again. Very frustrating.

Steven said...

Huh, guess it didn't get people talking.

Anyway, no I missed Mallah and the Brain, but I'm happy that gay is the least weird thing about that relationship. (I also think there needs to be a Mallah and the Brain/Pinky and the Brain crossover RIGHT NOW).

And on the whole I enjoy Winick's work, particularly his lighter, action-y stuff like Batman and Juniper Lee. It's the heavier stuff that tends to get preachy and piss people off. Here, which has been mostly an action book where the politics on display are explicitly hollow, seems just about perfect.

Anonymous said...

Well, I did finally get to a comic shop and check it out. Not to defend Winick (because this story is really bad and seems misguided), but I think he may be playing upon the local reaction to Gavin Newsom allowing same-sex marriages.

While the mayoral race was portrayed nationally as "who's lefter" (along with the usual "only in San Francisco"isms), Newsom and his opponent were both liberal on social issues but far apart on fiscal issues (with Newsom having a pro-big business and anti-welfare history). Whenever Newsom's conservative tendencies was pointed out, his response would be something along the lines of "How could I be conservative? I'm pro-choice."

So. A few months after that very close election and Newsom begins marrying same sex couples. Some of Newsom's critics (who've also criticized him for being better at managing effective sound bites than city policy) looked at the move cynically, noting that it's pretty hard to call the guy who married thousands of same-sex couples any kind of conservative while also praising the action.

I got the feeling that history plays into the story, with how Ollie the Mayor seems pretty cynical towards the issue and the pundits shown sound a lot like the talking points I heard at the time.

I haven't been following Winick's GA, so I'm not sure what he's going for here... is the OYL Ollie a hypocritical, media-managing loudmouth who doesn't really care about the issues he represents?

I dunno, I miss the Winick who made "Pedro and Me" his superhero work usually leaves me underwhelmed... what I read hasn't even been "Terry Berg" good.

Matthew E said...

Well, I haven't read any of the comics in question, so my opinion isn't worth much more than nothing, but I can't imagine that Green Arrow doesn't care. More likely, he just can't get his actions and his beliefs to work together.

Steven said...


I forgot Winick lived in San Francisco, so he had a more local view of the Newsom deal, and I didn't know the local reaction was so cynical (though probably accurate). That, to me, makes this story a lot more interesting.


It's not that I doubt that Ollie cares. I'm sure he'd say he was sincerely pro marriage rights for gay couples. But he explicitly says that "marrying a few gay people" is a stunt to attract attention, which implies that if he wasn't going to get any attention for it, he wouldn't have done it at all.

Or if he would have gotten more attention for DENYING gay couples their rights, he might have done that.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know the local reaction was so cynical

I'd say it was more of a cynical undercurrent. The majority of people were very happy to see the marriage ceremonies take place while plenty who didn't vote for Newsom also noted what a politically savvy move it was... especially if someone were to commend Newsom as corageous.