Saturday, April 24, 2010

Remember When We Used To Be Friends

Looking over photos online, I was filled with a sense of disappointment and sadness. I used to have a friend I didn't appreciate enough. For a few blessed months, we finally connected. Then she got busy. Then I got busy. Through this whole time, I tried so desperately to keep in touch. Then she went away. When she got back from her trip, but she had made new friends. Cooler friends. She's still friends with them. She and I? We're civil, at best. I miss her. But because of some unpleasantness in my past (which I describe here), I don't dare try to reach out to her again.

Life is complicated. I wish it weren't.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Writers' Ownership

I was recently reading an article about incredibly dangerous fictional characters, both good and bad, who also happened to be gay. The main article is here. It's an incredibly interesting article. One thing disturbed me, though, in the entry of a superhero named "Shatterstar":

Shatterstar has been a member of X-Force and X-Factor. His past is clouded in mystery: maybe he's Longshot's son from the future? Maybe he is a genetic construct built by Mojo? Maybe he just really likes padded white outfits? Shatterstar has always had a confusing, 1990's style X-Men origin, but he's constantly been devoted to his recently depowered teammate, Rictor. Shatterstar's creator, Rob Liefeld, was not happy that writer Peter David explicitly made Rictor and Shatterstar a gay couple. But as Peter David was quoted as saying, ""I understand that some parents have the same reaction. They were responsible for their children's first appearances and, when informed of their sexual persuasion, firmly declare it's impossible, they can't be gay."

My problem is this: writers are not like parents. Writers create the entire character, from the dimples in their cheeks, to the repressed memory of losing their childhood playmate, even to their sexuality. In comics, however, if a new writer takes over, they can do pretty much whatever they want as long as an editor approves. This is a travesty.

Now, I'll admit: I've never heard of Shatterstar before this article, and I don't care much about him now. What I do care about, however, is that the original creator had expressed Shatterstar's sexuality, and it was NOT homosexual or bisexual. Wikipedia (yes, yes, I know—not a reliable source) even says that he was originally asexual: a far more interesting character. Rob Liefeld was not saying, as Peter David suggested "he can't be gay." He was declaring, from the creative perch atop which all writers of fiction rightfully sit "He IS NOT gay."

Let's look at this from another perspective: that of Albus Dumbledore from JK Rowling's popular Harry Potter series. When Rowling first made the announcement that he was gay, I responded "You can't do that! You never established the character as gay in the series, so he isn't!" But I was wrong. She didn't need to establish his character in series, because she established it before that. Dumbledore is her character, and if she wants to give him a fetish for cans of cheese-whiz, she can (and you could hardly expect her to put THAT in a children's book). So why assume that if she didn't overtly state it, she didn't intend it. He'ck, why even require any kind of statement.

When a writer makes up a story, the lives in that story are wholly dependent on that author. Every thought, action, and inclination comes from the mind of their creator. Writers hold their characters in an even tighter grip than God does His creation, because no matter how much people talk about characters taking on a life of their own, they do not possess free will of their own. Even if it had NEVER come up, Dumbledore would have been gay. Because his creator wrote him that way.