Jul 17, 2014

Orientation isn't important. But it is.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed today I happened across a rather interesting “article” written over on io9. I only use quotes because it was a compendium of comments about the coming Constantine TV show. I won’t add all the comments—for that, you can see the article below. But it is very interesting to see the amount of people that are coming to the defense of this character’s sexuality. In the original comic series, John Constantine is a bisexual man. That’s not to say that that is the only thing that is important about him. As the commenters point out, “[in] this particular genre, sexuality of all sorts tends to be downplayed, so I'm not up in arms about it.” 

He has a valid point. In many comic series, it is not important whether or not Batman or Daredevil, for example, is gay or straight. They are crime fighters, vigilantes—general heroes to their populace. But there is certainly more to the characters than the kinds of things that are immediately apparent. In the case of Constantine, that same commenter, dkasper, goes on to say that “Erasure is in fact quite a big deal, so much so that characters who were "just" queer, who were queer without it being a major aspect of their lives, are incredibly rare” and he has a huge point here. In many forms of media—TV shows, movies, anime—sexuality is something that is just given. It’s something that isn’t brought up until it is pertinent to the story or a romance forms. I haven’t seen many shows of any kind that make a point to just include LGBT people and not make it about their orientation. I'm looking at you, TV shows that make flamboyant gays' gayness a joke, instead of giving them jokes.

Most recently, however, TNT’s new show The Last Ship, starring the ever "McSteamy" Eric Dane, broke the mold and brought things a step closer to the real world. The show revolves around Dane and his crew of marines shepherding a CDC scientist around to make medicine. That’s all I’m going to say so I don’t spoil it, but it’s a fabulous show—watch it. Back to my point… Well I think that this Tumblr post says it best.

And this character isn’t a minor character either—every episode so far she has been a major part of, with probably as much air-time as any other high-ranking officer. This is how writers for TV shows and movies take it to the next step. 

Back to Constantine, commenter (on io9) Adultosaur says “it would do so. so. so. much. for this character to be bisexual, and to have it be a complete non-issue. something that happens and isn't a huge part of the storyline. … REPRESENTATION BREEDS NORMALIZATION” [sic] and Jim Hague says (and much more) “I'll bet you anything that if DC released a new Batman TV show where his parents never got shot in a dark alley… that there would be people lining up on the streets screaming about how DC was "forgetting where the character came from.” I myself wholly agree with Mr. Hague. Even if it’s something small, all the minor details are truly important to forming a whole character. Even in this case, it’s not important that John Constantine is bisexual.  

That very thing is what is so important about the comic and the forthcoming TV show. It isn’t important. But the only way that society is going to progress and have different viewpoints on the matter is to realize that someone’s orientation isn’t important and it isn’t any of their business.

Good luck John, maybe you’ll come back to join us someday. Congrats to Lt. Alisha Granderson for her position as an officer on the USS Nathan James.

To read the article on io9, click here.
To see a trailer for The Last Ship (purely selfish, not an endorsement), click here.
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