We begin our official Week of Lovin' today, wherein I'll be focusing on themes of love, sex, relationships, and other warm squishy feelings as relates to the world of comics, coming to a climax (a-hahaha) on Tuesday, after the posting of which I will engage in my annual Valentine's Day celebration of masturbating and crying myself to sleep.
And we also start a sub-feature for It's A Real Job, wherein I take working professionals to task for dumbass things they say. Because even if they’re making money in this business and I'm not (yet), I can still be smarter than they on occasion.
And because I've never been one to start off slowly, the professional I'm calling out is none other than Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief and every fan's favorite whipping boy, Joe Quesada. Now, 90% of the time I think Joe gets a raw deal from fanboys with chips on their shoulders and pebbles in their skulls, but he's as prone to dumbass moves as anyone else, and he made a big one recently. Over at Lying in the Gutters this week, Rich "Raccoon" Johnston reported:
"In Joe Quesada's regular Newsarama Joe Fridays, the question of Marvel's Western line as raised - and the absence of Rawhide Kid. And it was one sentence that caused my inbox to fill. 'Well, understand that if we were to go with the gay Kid we would have had to label the books MAX and that's not what we wanted for this event.' With that, many inferred that Joe was saying that Marvel could not publish a series starring a gay character without it being labelled a MAX - the same label used for comics featuring extreme swearing, extreme violence and explicit nudity. Something that's now been confirmed to me. Joe Quesada explained to me that this was the act of a responsible publisher in the current marketplace, given a reactionary media, and widespread and increasingly vocal parental concerns."
Now, as longtime readers of this blog will remember, I made my views on the gays in the comics known last year in Sequential Tart. And, as you can see, it's about diametrically opposed to the policy outlined above. So, I have to say, Joe, can you look at yourself in the mirror after this?
Financially responsible as it may be to keep one's advertisers happy, it's a gross creative irresponsibility to let PACs dictate content, and how that content to be framed. And considering some of the other content Marvel is willing to put out without the Max label, it also comes across as screamingly hypocritical.
Official Good Buddy Bert, in a series of posts over at CBR, has pointed out some things that apparently don't worry Marvel's advertisers as much as "teh gays." They include:
-Mary Jane Watson-Parker's guts spilling out of her corpse on the cover to Marvel Zombies 5
-Gratuitous cleavage shots in The 198
-Dan Slott talking up an upcoming She-Hulk arc as being "racy," and hiring an artist for it specifically based on "sex appeal."
-Gay team members in Young Avengers, Ultimate X-Men, and Runaways
For what it's worth, I don't think this decision was made at Joe's level. I think it was made above his head, and he's playing the dutiful company man role as he has for the past six years. But it's still a cowardly decision, and it's still bullshittery of the lowest order to claim any kind of high ground in the matter. Because the people Marvel and their advertisers are so afraid of are bigots, pure and simple. These are people who are so afraid of and reviled by a type of love -- and let us not delude ourselves, for that is what homosexuality is, no more, no less than the romantic orientation and expression towards members of one's own gender -- that they react to it in a Pavlovian manner, squashing it on sight. They have no room in their minds for tolerance, for compromise, for humane understanding. The Fred Phelpses, the Donald Wildmons, the entire architecture and structure of the anti-gay movement is founded on unequivocal, unrelenting hate, unworthy of the respect and fear of civilized people. They are dust motes on the bureau of social history, to be swept away by rational judgment and enlightenment.
The bottom line is, Marvel is kowtowing to special interests, and art doesn't do that. Art challenges. Art defies. Art sins boldly. And in the world where business and art collide, art must be an equal partner, and in some cases, the superior. So, Joe Quesada, I'm Callin' You Out: Defend this decision, this classification of homosexuality alongside Tarantino-style violence and vulgarity, this unwillingness to attach your company's name to the radical and dangerous concept of two men loving each other, as the actions of a responsible publisher. And explain to me, please, just who and what it is you're being responsible to.
I realize, belatedly, that there wasn't much lovin' in this entry. To compensate, here are Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup, with a message about things that are more important than the bottom line.
Tomorrow there will be lovin'. This I swear.