Darth Vader wanted to bring order to the galaxy, but I guess he’ll settle for bringing order to the Ukraine instead. In the midst of the ultra-serious and unstable political situation in the Ukraine, comes a bit of political theater as the Dark Lord of the Sith has thrown his hat in the ring to run the struggling Eastern European republic. Of course, Vader’s track records with running republics is spotty at best, but believe it or not, Vader has been a fixture in Ukrainian politics for the last couple of years, and this run for the nation’s highest office is just another entry in the character’s political saga. (more…)
The politically aware among us know that it’s going to be a rough ride to re-election for current U.S. President Barack Obama, but there’s now polling suggesting that if aliens descend on Earth between now and November, the people will gladly follow Obama in defense of the Earth against evil invaders. Or get along with them if they turn out nice.
The poll, conducted by National Geographic in promotion for its new series Chasing UFOs, reports that nearly two-thirds of Americans, 65 per cent, think that Obama would do better dealing with aliens than his opponent, former Massachusetts Governor Miit Romney. The numbers also break down along conventional political lines, 68 percent of women polled choose Obama as alien buster-in-chief over 61 percent of men. Nearly 70 percent of those polled between ages 18-64 think Romney would do worse when dealing with aliens, and 50 percent of those 65 and over think he’d struggle.
Interestingly, National Geographic’s poll further revealed that “More than 80 million Americans are certain that UFOs exist,” and that most of those people “would not mind a minor alien invasion, because they expect these space-age visitors to be friendly — like the lovable character depicted in Steven Spielberg’s popular film E.T.”
So does that mean people trust Obama to deal diplomatically with a friendly E.T., or do they trust him to suit up Independence Day style if the aliens come down here and get all rowdy. Hopefully, this isn’t a question the electorate gets hung up on this election year.
“Homosexuality or any suggestion of it by illustration, dialogue, or text was strictly forbidden” – A 1974 memorandum from the Comics Magazine Association of America, aka the group behind The Comics Code.
We certainly have come a long way — from pretending that homosexuality doesn’t exist in comics to the announcement of a marriage between two male characters. Gone now are many of the stereotypes that plagued the first gay characters like Extraño (whose name literally translates to strange, or queer), DC’s flamboyant magician who was, at one point, infected with HIV by an AIDS vampire named Hemo-Goblin. Yes, things are decidedly different now, but are these recent changes, that are built on top of decades of slow progress, going to find the impact they seek?
For Marvel, the wedding of Northstar and Kyle feels organic, not something done as a stunt. Will it capitalize on recent events like President Obama’s affirmation of his support for gay marriage and efforts to both harm and further the cause of marriage equality? Sure, but Northstar is regarded as among comicdom’s first gay heroes, with his sexuality at first implied from 1979 to 1992, and then confirmed by Scott Lobdell in Alpha Flight #106, and he has been in a relationship with Kyle for quite some time.
If Northstar was straight and had proposed to a woman, no one would care or bat an eye and that marriage would be viewed as standard, but in this unjust and under-evolved world, same sex couples cause fear, controversy, and anger and there is a wall impeding their pursuit of that standard.
In real life, that wall stands due to prejudice and archaic legislation and in comics, it stands due to a fear of reprisal from the loud voices of small people. Big voiced, small people who have hindered the ability of writers, creators, and somewhat gutless publishers for almost 25 years since the Comics Code changed and the blockade on addressing homosexuality in comics was lifted.
In those two decades though, there have been plenty of out characters, but other than Northstar and Batwoman, most gay characters have been used in minor roles like Phat, been humiliated like Wing, quickly discarded like The Freedom Ring, or been a total embarrassment like the previously mentioned Extraño. Yesterday though, news broke that DC Comics would go against prior statements and change the sexual orientation of one of their existing characters in an effort to add another major out gay character to the landscape, with co-publisher Dan DiDio (the author of those prior statements) saying that that character would become one of DC’s “most prominent gay characters”.
Naturally this set off a firestorm, with most blogs and comic news sites (including this site) openly (and somewhat immaturely) speculating on who the new gay member of the DCU was, or as one site put it, “who is this mystery gay?” Hell, Fox News even weighed in, speculating on if the new out DC character could be Superman, that unyielding symbol of American virtue and value (save for that time he denounced his citizenship).
I for one don’t really care who it is, I care how it’s done. As I said up top, Northstar and Kyle’s engagement and pending nuptials developed organically, the timing is a touch curious, but it doesn’t really feel like a hollow gimmick. On the other hand, DC’s decision to suddenly mess with a characters origin story and switch their sexuality could very well feel exactly like that if it isn’t done properly.
Too many characters have been turned gay to get a bounce in readership and then left to fade away or pretend that this massive part of their lives doesn’t exist. I’m not saying that a characters sexuality should be ever present in all things that they do, I’m not personally interested in overly sexual characters regardless of their orientation, but I think the intelligence level of the average reader is high enough that writers can move beyond the habit of portraying gay characters as little more than a checked box on a diversity survey, or a eunuch. Let reality be a guide, and let these characters be truly multi-dimensional, because anything else is going to come off as DC trying to get some cheap attention, betray an origin story, and tweak Marvel as they try to break a barrier.
UPDATE 1:45 p.m. CST: Fox News reports confirmation from the White House that the State of the Union Address will NOT happen Feb. 2, and that the Lost premiere will continue as planned.
Relax, “Losties” — the precious sixth and final season premiere of Lost will keep its Feb. 2 date and won’t be ousted by President Barack Obama! That is, if the tweets of Damon Lindelof, of of the show’s creators, can be believed.
In case you hadn’t heard the news, President Obama was considering two main dates for his upcoming State of the Union Address: Jan. 26 or Feb. 2, with Feb. 2 being the White House’s preferred date. Because the Lost premiere will be two hours long and there likely will be a recap show before it, it would be nearly impossible for ABC to manoeuver around the President’s address that night; they’d have to push the show back another week.
Moments ago, however, Lindelof tweeted from his @DamonLindelof Twitter account the following news:
OBAMA BACKED DOWN!!!! Groundhog Day is OURS!!!!!!! (God Bless America)
That tweet was followed by:
Okay. So Obama didn’t technically “back down.” He leveraged Carlton and I to do something on the show. Two words. MORE FROGURT.
From those tweets, it doesn’t sound like Lindelof is joking, so keep your fingers crossed that ABC puts out the official word soon. If Lindelof or another major Lost entity puts out word of any change or retractions, we’ll let you know.
As much as I like Obama, I’ll be happy to report Lindelof: 1; Obama: 0. Well, unless you count the presidency itself, of course.