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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's Not All About YOU

The other day, I read a person's idea for Nightwing. I'm not a Nightwing fan, but I tend to think I should be, and I would be, if the writing ideas behind him were different, so I find these neat.

Now the idea itself wasn't bad. Having Dick do undercover work in Baltimore. It's not my choice as I'd prefer him to interact with a group of supporting characters he could be himself around. But it definitely seems workable.

Then I got to this part:

"As a side note... Dick belongs with Babs - there will be no interference in this area."

That's it really. The writer then digressed into how he needs his spine back and a good job.

I'm not sure why this bothers me. Maybe it's the lack of justification. I mean, this is this person's blog, so naturally she has no obligation to explain her opinions to me. But, the blind "this is the cold hard truth" way it was stated bothered me.

Not to mention that there's no explanation for how to get them back together. Because, face it, proposal or not, the two are NOT together right now. We don't have a case of two magnets being drawn together until a piece of paper is placed in between. These are two characters clearly moving in opposite directions. Inertia is against them, not for them. Interference is required to get them back together.

It reeks of fan-entitlement to me. "This should be this way because *I* want it this way" even though it doesn't make sense in the narrative.

Look, I admit to my own biases against the pairing. I've even posted about it. But this attitude rankles me.

Possibly because (and this is not fair painting everyone with the same brush, I know ) every time I've gotten into a discussion about the pairing it'd go as follows:

Random Person: Oh! Dick should get with Babs!
Me: Hmm, I'm not a big fan of the pairing.
Random Person: Aw, why? Dick and Babs would make a great couple!
Me: Well (insert a few reasons basically stated in the post I linked above)
Random Person: But...Dick and Babs belong together!

I'm not saying that every Dick/Babs fan is like this. There are many with, I'm sure, very reasonable and logical reasons why they're compatible. And they certainly don't have to justify themselves to a skeptic like me.

But the fact is, I haven't read a single justification that went beyond: "But they were together before and it was good!"

Which is true enough. A good writer could probably pair Darkseid and Catwoman together and make it fun.

That hardly means characters belong together. Even history of having been together before does not make the characters compatible now.

I admit, I'm being a bit of a hypocrite here. I've argued that Steve Trevor and Diana belong together. Even though they haven't been for twenty some odd years. Even though as current continuity has it, some massive retcons would be needed to make the couple work.

But I think there's a big difference. Steve and Diana were together for the Golden Age and while dicked with a lot in the Silver Age, still tended to end up together. He was created to be her Lois Lane, created as a partner/love interest.

In contrast, Barbara wasn't created to be Dick's girlfriend or vice versa. And as for history...honestly, the pairing itself is a relatively modern invention. When Babs was originally introduced she was quite a bit older than Dick and didn't see him as love interest material.

It's only later that she was actually tweaked to be the same age as Robin. And it took quite a while for them to actually start dating anyway.

Besides, if you are going to be using past stories to justify a couple in comics, he was dating Kory a lot longer than Babs. And even almost married her. More than once. I'm not saying that makes this pairing more valid than Dick/Babs. But it makes it AS valid.

Babs might have gotten a proposal. But Kory had a wedding. I'm just saying.

I've never read a Dick/Babs manifesto posted by any fan of the couple that really convinced me that they could work. And in general, they didn't tend to give many reasons behind it.

Except occasionally the "Well, she's a distant, shy geek, but Dick could bring her out of her shell" reason.

Which I'm sorry, but you have to WANT to come out of your shell for that to work. And even then...you've got a very independent person who likes her space, bristles when someone offers to help PUSH HER CHAIR and a very effusive guy, public with his emotions and very demonstrative in his gestures. It sounds pretty, but it basically requires Babs to either CHANGE WHO SHE IS, put up with the invasion of personal space that gets irritating and uncomfortable, or be closed off and make DICK miserable.

The thing is, most fans of the Dick/Babs pairing I've seen that use that justification are academic, scholarly, bookish women. They are, if I may be so bold to conjecture, very confident online but possibly less so in real life.

The fantasy of the hot guy noticing the shy geeky girl and reaching out for her is not uncommon.

I tend to think that when certain of these fans say "Barbara" they actually mean "Me".

Because honestly, Barbara IS a geek. But shy? Unassuming? Unnoticed? No way. This is a woman with highly trained operatives at her command. This is a woman that the Justice League considers invaluable. This woman has contacts and connections throughout the world.

If she's not reaching out, it's not because she needs rescue. It's because she DOESN'T WANT TO.

It says something, I think, that pretty much every female fan I can think of who insists this pairing should be tend to be more vocally fannish regarding Dick Grayson than Barbara Gordon.

Straight male fans I think tend to be similar, from the opposite perspective. Most are huge Babs fans rather than Dick's. And why not? She's beautiful, sexy and smart. A geek's dream girl. I don't think it's necessarily a stretch to suggest that most of these fans might like to imagine they're a superhero, able to reach out and win this attractive unattainable woman. They tend to be less militant about it and more "wouldn't it be cool if..."

I'm being uncharitable. I do know there are fans of this couple that genuinely like both characters. But they tend not to be the ones that have that streak of fan-entitlement. The "DICK MUST BE WITH BABS!" extremeness.

But when I consider the rabid usually female fans that rage at Dan Didio for publically saying the characters are not and will not be together as long as he's Editor. They're not reasonable.

I've heard the argument that it isn't Didio's place to say that a couple shouldn't be together.

Honestly. YES IT IS. The man is EDITOR-IN-CHIEF. Which means whatever product comes out, comes out with his creative fingerprints on it. If he thinks that pairing two characters together is a bad idea in terms of characterization, then it is HIS JOB to make sure that it doesn't happen.

For the record, while I'm sure he has business justifications as well, I know for certain that many of his objections to the couple are on a character level.

Because I asked him. He phrased his answer in terms of how Dick or Babs (or more accurately people like them) would really react. Now I'm not saying that we should always agree with his interpretations of the characters.

I'm saying that as EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, he has the responsibility to veto changes that he thinks defy the core characterization of the characters.

Look, I'm not saying that Dick and Babs can't be written well as a couple. Or that they shouldn't ever be a couple.

I'm saying they're NOT A COUPLE.

They don't "belong together". They're not "starcrossed lovers kept apart by the cruel hand of Didio Fate."

It's time to deal with reality.

FACT: Dick and Babs are not together.

This is not a matter of interpretation. It's not a matter of debate. They are NOT together. Now what happens next, do they meet other people, do they get back together...that's up to you.

Until it's contradicted by the next issue of course.

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62 Comments:

  • At September 27, 2006 3:19 AM, Blogger Tom Foss said…

    I thought Dick and Babs still had that age gap...when was it eliminated? I think a lot of the people clamoring for a relationship are taking their cue from the cartoon series, and the Dick-Barbara-Bruce love triangle that happened mostly off-screen. Man, the things Timm & Co. did with relationships while no one was looking...

    Anyway, I like the idea of Dick and Barbara being together, though as you've said, right now it would be horribly contrived to make it happen. That sort of thing needs to develop naturally.

    And as far as Kory goes...I don't know, I've just never really liked her as a character, and I've really not liked the way warrior woman Starfire turns giggling schoolgirl around Nightwing.

    Though now that I describe it that way, there are some interesting character options there.

    I guess it seems to me that with Dick and Kory, you have a guy who ought to be a mix of dark and brooding and happy-go-lucky, and a woman who acts strong but melts around him. Meanwhile, with Barbara, you have a woman who appears weak and acts fairly shy, but is actually one of the strongest characters in the DCU. I just feel like strong characters deserve each other, I suppose.

    Also, your comment about Dick/Babs fans identifying with shy, bookish Barbara and hoping that the big, strong, hot guy will notice them and carry them off into the sunset, has me considering several awkward and slightly uncomfortable questions about my sexuality and the subconscious notions behind my thoughts on comic book couples. If I start dreaming about Nightwing tonight, I'll just forward my therapy bills to you.

     
  • At September 27, 2006 3:27 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I think they're both supposed to be around 25-27 with her a few years older.

    I admit, reading over the rant, I'm targetting some of the wrong people.

    My bias aside, Dick/Babs could be cool. I'm mostly ticked off at the militant fans who seem to demand it happen. :-)

    I honestly wished they'd explore Kory a little more without Dick in the mix. (I'm not a big fan of his after all, but I think I could like her) I've been liking her in the space story for that reason actually.

    But I'd really rather not rehash Dick/Kory either. He needs distance where he's not banging any redhead for the moment, I think. And she deserves better. :-P

    I agree that strong characters deserve each other, but honestly, at this point, I don't think Dick is strong enough. (I always liked Ted/Babs though...which might be part of my bias. :-))

    And err. Sorry. :-) Though if you have to question your sexuality, Dick is at least very pretty?

     
  • At September 27, 2006 6:59 AM, Blogger Sinspired said…

    We both came down on that in the DC Nation panel. I didn't notice Dan DiDio's reaction, and I'm glad he feels that way.

    When I used to read Birds of Prey and Nightwing, I used to hope for the Babs/Dick pairing... but in the intervening years it's grown more and more unpalatible. Thank you for putting why into words for me.

     
  • At September 27, 2006 7:20 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    That was a good panel!

    Actually though, in Heroes Con in North Carolina I got a chance to ask him after the con. That was pretty interesting actually. He let us take our picture with him and chatted for a while. :-)

    I don't think Dick/Babs is necessarily impossible. Even if I don't like it myself. But it's hardly a given. :-)

     
  • At September 27, 2006 7:20 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    As an addendum: I think he gets asked about that at EVERY con. Poor fellow. :-)

     
  • At September 27, 2006 10:14 AM, Blogger Matthew E said…

    I've been trying to figure out who the two of them should end up with, and I have some not-necessarily-satisfactory answers.

    Nightwing: someone straightforward and fun. Someone who isn't going to bring any new angst in, is what I'm saying. How about Halo? She's got ties to the Batman mythos, she's not too young for him anymore (I presume), and DC's not doing anything else with her.

    Oracle: the Question. (Or at least I'd like to hear someone explain to me why it's a stupid idea.)

     
  • At September 27, 2006 10:37 AM, Blogger The Dane said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At September 27, 2006 10:46 AM, Blogger The Dane said…

    Since neither Barbara or Kory seem to be working out, why not just abandon them as love interests and have him move on to someone new (and potentially better for him)? I mean, I hate to say it, but that's how it works in real life.

    And if they want to keep it in the Bat Family, I hear there's a new Batwoman out there.

    Or better, why can't he just hook up with a normal girl. One who doesn't put on tights and take on villains. One who is maybe a shy-but-vocal-on-the-net librarian. Really, the only people who date exclusively within their own career field are actors - and we can see how abyssmally that turns out 29 times out of 30.

     
  • At September 27, 2006 11:33 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I like the idea of making Nightwing more swashbuckling, because anything would be preferable to the whining. I don't see he with Barbara, because I think that after a short period of time, he would annoy her unspeakably. He's so damn needy! Bring back Ted Kord, and set him up with either Peej or Barbara. THAT would be fun.

     
  • At September 27, 2006 9:51 PM, Blogger Racy Li said…

    You're right Babs and Dick just don't belong together right now.

    I don't remember if it was on this blog or some other one but if they stuck the 2 of them together, I think that Babs would lose alot of the independence that make her who she is ala Storm and Black Panther.

     
  • At September 27, 2006 10:05 PM, Anonymous Ununnilium said…

    "And if they want to keep it in the Bat Family, I hear there's a new Batwoman out there."

    ...yeah, see, I don't think that'd work out. `` Just saying.

     
  • At September 27, 2006 11:53 PM, Blogger The Dane said…

    See the funny thing to me about the complaint that Person X would lose a lot of independence if put in a relationship with person Y is that this is What Happens in a Relationship. In a good relationship, both parties sacrifice their independence for the greater good of what they put forth together. Needing independence is one of the primary reasons a lot of the people who fear marriage do indeed fear it.

    It's only when someone overcomes this particular weakness (the inability to be dependent) that they should seek a relationship. Someone not ready to give up independence will not be able to contribute to a healthy relationship.

    The problem with Black Panther and Storm is not that Storm lost her independence, but that (it seems to me) Black Panther didn't. If he can operate as independently (or eve near so) as he could prior to the wedding, then he is a weak contributor to the relationship and shouldn't have gotten married.

    If Babs isn't willing to lose her independence to a relationship with Dick (or any other person), she should not become entangled in a relationship. If Babs and Dick get together and become mutually dependent, then that right there is what its all about. If however, Babs sacrifices her independence and yet Dick retains his, the relationship is crap.

    So yeah, I think the complaint is taking the wrong direction for it seems to be asking for and promoting an unhealthy relationship - one of independence.

     
  • At September 28, 2006 2:38 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    matthew: Halo could be interesting. I wouldn't actually mind Clancy either, though I'd prefer personally them cutting ties with the Grayson/Jones era and starting fresh.

    Question/Huntress is hotter. But there are a lot of neat geek men out there that would work I reckon.

    Darn them for killing Ted though.

    the dane: Hee, Batwoman probably won't do.

    I'd actually prefer Dick spend some time single. They've had him hopping from woman to woman for ages. I'd like to see them work on HIM as a character instead. A relationship is not a patch to fix all problems.

    Then a new one. Definitely.

    sally: Ooo. Peej? That'd be...interesting.

    racyli: I agree. I think it was Ragnell's blog though. I don't really tend to talk about those two.

    ununnilium: Hee

    the dane: Well, I personally agree and disagree.

    While a bit of interdependence does tend to come about because of a relationship, I think that a lot of that depends on the people involved. Some people, like Barbara, would not get as "involved" in a relationship as others, I think.

    This isn't to say that the relationship is meaningless. The bond can be strong and emotions very real, but in general for these people the relationship is not the most important thing in their lives.

    There will always be other concerns. A kid. A career. A mission. Justice. Vengeance. Charity work.

    And that's okay, I think, as long as both partners are on the same wavelength.

    When there's an imbalance, you have trouble though. To one partner, the relationship is the most important thing ever. To the other, the career/kid/mission/ideal is more important. This leaves the first feeling neglected, used and unappreciated, understandably hurt because he/she isn't as important to his/her mate as this other thing. The other partner feels put-upon, misunderstood, and like they're being placed in the position of the bad guy. Love's about understanding, right? His/Her mate should understand how important this other calling is to him/her. It's unfair to expect to change them.

    Which is really my problem with Dick/Babs in a nutshell. Dick's a people person. He defines himself in terms of relationships. He uses relationships to measure his self-worth, hopping from one to another with every new trauma. This means that while the mission remains important, the relationship will remain how he continues to define himself. (Even when he's the one to break it off...notice how the uplifting end to Grayson's story arc was Bruce's parental intervention and the proposal to Barbara.)

    Barbara is more about her mission than Dick is. To Barbara, her work as Oracle is the most important thing. Her friendships and relationships are important too, but they're usually placed in the framework of her organization. Compare her leadership of the Birds to Dick's of the Outsiders. Barbara was indirectly culpable in Ted Kord's death. I'm not saying it was her fault or anything, but she has to be aware of the fact that if she perhaps had been more involved/paid more attention, her friend would still be alive.

    Dick's got the same sort of thing with Donna's death in Graduation Day. Donna was on his team, following where he lead. He might not have killed her, but he'll feel some sense of responsibility. However, as a result of his grief/guilt, he loses his ability to lead. Cutting himself off, getting people hurt. Dick is unable to lead efficiently without considering his team "family".

    In contrast, Barbara is able to keep doing her job as leader. Because that job is so incredibly important.

    Now, there is Obsidian Age, where Dick actually does lead well. Because it's a situation where Dick was putting his job before his emotional relationships. That portrayal of Dick was one I could almost see as compatible with Barbara. Though I'll never really like the pairing.

    It's about balance though. It's not fair to expect Dick to devalue his personal relationships. But it's also not fair to expect Barbara to place something like a relationship ahead of her life. I liked Ted for her because he seemed to understand and accept that he would never be first in her life and had enough diversions, friends, inventions to be able to handle it.

    My problem with Storm and Black Panther is that she's being mischaracterized here. They could be such a good pairing...if they were being handled fairly.

    But the thing is, we have Black Panther placing his duties as king/hero before his wife. That's actually okay, as it's in character. He's that sort. It's important.

    But Storm is really that sort too. With every relationship we've ever seen her have, it was important, but her altruism and herodom came first. And that's okay. Heck, that's perfect.

    If she were in character, we'd have a partnership of two strongwilled, strong-egoed people who care very much about their marriage but both have certain ideals/duties that are even more important and they have to learn within their partnership how to manage that.

    But instead, Storm's suddenly putting everything aside for the marriage. The marriage seems to be portrayed as the most important thing to her, with being a hero and her ideals coming second.

    I'm not saying she should have to necessarily stay an X-Man or she can't relocate to Wakanda. But she should be finding some way to help people/be a hero there as well. (And she sure as hell shouldn't have let what happened in BP 19 happen. No f-ing way!)

    Which not only makes for an unpleasantly unequal partnership, but it's bad characterization. Which is doubly irritating.

    It sucks because the partnership really could have been something awesome.

     
  • At September 28, 2006 12:06 PM, Blogger Ferrous Buller said…

    "I'm saying that as EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, he has the responsibility to veto changes that he thinks defy the core characterization of the characters."

    Will you remember you said that the next time Dan makes a decision you dislike? :-)

    [Today's verification word: "funhouh." And houh!]

     
  • At September 28, 2006 1:53 PM, Anonymous Willow said…

    ... In a good relationship, both parties sacrifice their independence for the greater good of what they put forth together. Needing independence is one of the primary reasons a lot of the people who fear marriage do indeed fear it...

    What the hell?

    Ok, I'm going to take the position that I'm misunderstanding what you're saying and that you are not saying that marriage equals co-dependency. That you are in fact not saying that people should sublimate themselves in order to have a good relationship.

    If you're not saying that, then you're saying that T'Challa isn't acting like a married man in remembering that his life is now connected to someone else's and they have opinions and strengths to offer him?

    Because if you're NOT claiming that a relationship ISN'T a partnership of equals who encourage each other and support each other through bonds of love and respect that highlight the best elements of each other - and that anyone Barb ended up with would have to respect her natural inclanation for space and thinking things through....

    You have completely and totally lost me. So I'll just be over here sharpening things.

     
  • At September 28, 2006 6:44 PM, Blogger The Dane said…

    K:
    Good response. I like that you bring up that different people have varying degrees of interdependence to offer. I think that's important in that it helps to exemplify the give and take in relating and that different people have more to lose in a relationship. Someone who values their independence above all will have a lot more to lose in a relationship (at least in that area) than a person who merely enjoys their independence. As soon as there is someone depending on her, she loses some degree of her independence and moves into the realm, as you say, of interdependence.

    Now, not having read much Nightwing or Birds of Prey or whatever else Barbara appears in, I can't be a very good judge of just how important independence is to her. But let's say our example is Batman, with whom I'm quite a bit more familiar (who isn't?). For Batman, independence is a priority value. Any real hampering of that independence diminishes his ability to carry on his mission in the manner he feels is best. Now it very may well be that he could be a better Batman if he gave up some of that independence, but what matters is not reality, but what's in his head. So Batman has some relationships and though they may be very dear to him, he does tend to keep them (his Bat-family) at arms length. While this is fine so long as everybody's happy with the arrangement, I don't think we'd call it a strong relationship. To be sure, I agree with you that these kinds of relationships aren't meaningless, but then I don't think you'd disagee that they aren't as meaningful as the could be if Batman put a little more Bruce into the relationships.

    I suppose too that if you had two people who so cherished their independence that their relationship consisted of merely brushing through each others lives and only having the most ephemral of effects on the other, then that could be alright. Still though, I think that's a pretty weak relationship. Kind of a Catwoman/Batman sort of thing.

    And I also like that you bring in other points of concern as well: akid; a career; a mission; justice; etc. I think that if one properly prioritizes the relationship and both parties are working interdependently, then these concerns get met through the normal operation of the two. This is natural because (and I'll use the inappropriate example of Batman and Catwoman), say Catwoman really needs to take care of this thing with Black Mask. If he is an interdependent member of the relationship, Catwoman's need to take care of Black Mask becomes his need. The concern is now shared. It is only when the couple is acting independently, that these concerns become difficulties to the relationship.

    Uhh... what was I talking about? I think I went all tangential there...

    So back to Dick and Barbara. It's fine that Dick's a people person and Barbara's more about The Mission. So long as they don't hook up in that state of mind. Which I think was your point. If they did get together, a good writer were show her trying to be interdependent but struggling with it; which is generally what happens when highly independent people become intimately involved with other people. They tend to chafe on the close contact. And maybe Dick would be written attempting to understand why it's so hard for Barbara to relate like he thinks she should. And from there they could either growing into each other's special needs, Barbara helping Dick overcome the weakness of overdependence and inconsideration while Dick helps Barbara overcome the weakness of her great independence. Or else then just explode colossally, like most of these relationships tend to do, and have Superboy freed by the sheer force of the calamity.

    And yeah, the Storm I knew growing up probably wouldn't have married the Black Panther anyways, which is why I couldn't even be interested in picking up the book. Which is sad for Storm. Being the Black Panther, on the other hand, appears to be sad for the Black Panther.

    Willow:
    I shamefully confess that I had a hard time keeping up with all the multiple negations in there, but let me restate a couple things. Feel free to keep sharpening while I work it out :)

    1) I think marriage (and indeed, all relationships) are based on interdependency rather than co-dependency.

    2) I would be happy to say that T'Challa, while acting like many married men, isn't doing a very good job at the whole relationship/interdependence thing. Ororo seems to be overplaying in the opposite direction, unfortunately. Ideally, T'Challa would happily enjoy his wife's capable involvement in his life and adventures, especially seeing as how she is uniquely suited to kicking the kind of butt that he seems to need to kicking.

    3) I can't be sure that I'm agreeing or disagreeing here but: a loving relationship is a "partnership of equals who encourage each other and support each other through bonds of love and respect that highlight the best elements of each other." Furthermore, I would say that anyone who embarks on a relationship with Barbara would need to first understand her particular needs in regard to her desire for independence and then, gradually, help her overcome her weaknesses as she is ready to overcome them - even as she helps him overcome his weakness as the relationship will bear it.

    4) It's not really much of a secret that I think of a need for independence as a weakness. I also think introversion is a weakness. And I'm glad that through the help of friends, family, and relationships I have largely overcome those weaknesses - and have a much better and fuller life for it. I don't think these things are necessarily bad, but I have found them an unhelpful hindrance to both life and relationship. Really, it's hard for me to see a need for independence as any kind of positive attribute. The ability to perform independently, yes; but the need to do so? not so much.

     
  • At September 28, 2006 11:07 PM, Anonymous Willow said…

    The Dane:...it's hard for me to see a need for independence as any kind of positive attribute. The ability to perform independently, yes; but the need to do so? not so much.

    I'm not going to be able to comment on anything but this bit here. This and the part where you talk about introversion being a weakness. Weakness is a pretty strong term. The way you use it implies weakness of character.

    If you've never met anyone who had a need for independence; for whom it was the pscyhologically healthy thing; you'd know it and I hope understand where it came from. So I guess you really can't see why it'd be a need and this isn't a willful point of view thing of yours.

    For individuals who've had smothering or abusive situations where they were made to feel dependent on someone else (their life not under their own control) - the need for independence is a very big thing. They've likely struggled hard to get it. They're proud of their independence and what they've accomplsihed. To call it a weakness, to me, is to judge something that even trained therapists take on a case by case basis as suits their client's needs.

    Using Barbara as an example; yes Jim Gordon tried to smother and protect her and she was still Batgirl anyway. But to me that was a reflection of independence chafing at the bit and wanting a chance to express itself. She wanted to be her own person with her own contributions.

    There's a difference between being independent and going it alone. Going it alone implies that even when help is there and it's in your best interests to utilize it, you don't. Being indepedent would be accepting that help on your own terms and not letting the help become a crutch or the helper try to take on the role of care-taker when you don't need one.

    Being introverted I don't see as being a weakness either. If you (Dane) feel helped out of your shell by friends and family, more power to you. But some people just aren't psychologically or emotionally built that way. For some people being gregarious and outgoing would be an energy consuming peformance. It'd be an act they put on to make other people feel better, because those people just can't leave a quiet individual alone with a book or their thoughts without feeling guilty about not somehow including them.

    You mentioned Batman in terms of independenc and interdependence:

    ...If he is an interdependent member of the relationship, Catwoman's need to take care of Black Mask becomes his need.

    My only respone to this at first was 'Why?' Why should that kind of intermeshing be an ultimate goal?

    Why on earth should Partner X's needs become Partner Z's needs? I can understand honoring them, respecting them, and showing consideration for them. I can even understand helping to achieve said goals if your help is asked for (and you can offer it out of caring). But this intermeshing of needs sounds very like a 'two become one' paradigm. And that's a false expectation. 1+1 is still 2. If 1+1 = 1 then something is very wrong.

    It's all very romance novel to think 'Your problem is my problem'. But it really isn't. The statement can be an affirmation of 'I want to be there to help you deal with this thing you need to deal with'. But your problem can't become someone else's problem, unless you've just killed a man and framed them for it.

    Just... I have no words for how disturbing that sounds with creepy overtones of sublimation. You probably don't mean it that way. At least I hope you don't.

     
  • At September 29, 2006 2:01 PM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    None of Dick's relationships or proposed relationships ever work out or make a ton of sense.

    Because he's supposed to be with Bruce. 50 years of subtext doesn't go away without a fight.

    Yes, Dr. Wertham. I said it.

     
  • At September 29, 2006 3:51 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    ferrous: He's made decisions I don't like. :-) It's just that, well, it's his job and there's always the next one. Considering these characters have lasted for decades, I figure there's time. :-)

    Willow and Dane: *watches discussion with interest*

    tenzil: Hee. Honestly, I never saw the subtext at all. If anything the Green Lanterns have more pseudo-incestuous subtext than the Batclan does, honestly.

    But then again, I also didn't see any incestuous overtones in that Supernatural show either. So I might just be thick

     
  • At September 29, 2006 5:05 PM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    Hee. Honestly, I never saw the subtext at all. If anything the Green Lanterns have more pseudo-incestuous subtext than the Batclan does, honestly.

    The GLC is more like a group of college or post-college friends. They all hang out, have a common culture, and spend so much time together it's natural there would be some breakups or drama. Some are younger and more inexperienced, but all are assumed to be functioning adults entrusted as law enforcement officers. It's like a big cosmic dorm floor.

    Dick Grayson is a teenage boy adopted by a single billionaire, who makes him dress in silk shorts and engage in vigorous excercise and tumbling. They are always together, to the extent that Wayne and Grayson did not have many relationships of any kind outside Wayne Manor. Batman is also notable as being one of the few longtime comics characters without a set female partner figure. He's had how many? Silver St. Cloud, Talia, Vicki Vale, Julie Madison, the list goes on and on. Why can't he just make it work?

    Superman? Lois Lane.
    Flash? Iris West, Linda Park.
    Green Lantern? Carol Ferris.
    Aquaman? Mera.
    Green Arrow? Black Canary.
    Ralph Dibny? Sue.
    Atom? Jean Loring.
    Wonder Woman? Steve Trevor.
    Hawkman? Hawkgirl.

    Every DC biggie gets a spouse character of some kind. Except Batman. He gets Robin. Batman has no 'designated girlfriend'. The only major or semi-major character who also fits that category is Captain Marvel, who is actually...a little boy, so an allusion to a sexual relationship would be inappropriate.

    The pairing no one ever thinks of but would be awesome if Grayson were straight: Nightwing and Supergirl. Makes perfect sense- they both grew up around the biggest iconic figures, they would be exotic to each other, they really don't know each other that well, Dick's already dated an alien, the pairing could have great adventures. Barbara is like his sister.

     
  • At September 29, 2006 6:04 PM, Blogger The Dane said…

    Willow:
    Thanks for giving me the chance to further clarify myself. I'll start with the term, weakness, and see if I can't give it a little more light.

    When I speak of introversion or a need for dependence or a need for independence as weaknesses, I'm not speaking as strongly as one could. Really, I think the way I'm using it is pretty mild. But since that isn't coming through, let's see if I can clarify it a bit.

    When I speak of weakness in this manner, I'm not speaking of a flaw in character. And I'm not speaking of any kind of moral weakness either - i.e., someone with one of these weaknesses would not be "bad" for having it. Neither, do I think, would I necessarily characterize someone with one of these weaknesses as weak. These are all different ways I could have been using the term weakness, but none of which really capture the flavour of what I'm saying.

    When I say introversion is a weakness, I'm simply describing it as a trait that hinders (in most cases, actively) one from interacting in society to the best of their potential. It's kind of like how I have a weakness when it comes to understanding economics. If I work diligently, I can compensate for my weakness in various ways so that one might not even realize the weakness existed. I view introversion similarly.

    It's not a character flaw, but it doesn't make life easier. In fact, if memory serves, being introverted presented many difficulties that I had to strive against in order to take part in many of the things around me. And if I ever didn't feel like making the effort, I would lose out on things. In this way, a great many things were prevented me until, really, my mid-twenties. I take a similar view to other attributes that I consider were weaknesses of mine, shyness and a fierce need for independence. These were hindrances to my living a better fulfilled life. Hindrances that could be overcome through work, but hindrances nonetheless.

    After struggling with these things for too long, I determined that I would do what I could to minimize these hindrances in my life, and by and large, I have. I still have plenty of weaknesses with which to contend but now, thankfully, I have a few less. So, I suppose when I use the term weakness, it could mean more or less determinant upon how greatly the particular trait hinders.

    As for those to whom a need for independence is a truly healthy thing, I will have to take your word for it. And I don't mean this in any condescing way - but only to say that such a thing is so far removed from my experience that I cannot begin to imagine such a case. You appear to have a better grasp of such a circumstance and so I'll simply nod to your experience. My personal inclination would lean toward viewing their need for independence as a compensation for another weakness (introduced, in the case you mentioned, through inadequacies in their environment), but then - as I said - I'm really out of my depth on that note, so my personal inclination matters very little in terms of the truth of the matter.

    Later you ask a another good question: why should the way I portrayed interdependence between Catwoman and Batman be the ultimate goal?

    If I'm being consistent with myself here (and I may not be), I don't think that is The Goal. What I do think is that intimate relationship is that goal of intimate relationship (even though that sounds tautological) such interdependence as I mention is the natural product of intimate relationships. I think part of my problem may be in that I'm presuming a degree of intamacy as the bar across coupled relationships, when in reality, there are couples that want less tangible relationships.

    Fair enough, I suppose. But simultaneously, I believe they are missing out on something great. And even if they don't want it, it's sad that they're missing out on it. It's like if you run into one of those women we studied back in Sociology 101 who are one among forty-seven wives to the same guy, with no real liberty, no real liberty to pursue her future, and a waiting list to share the marital bed. If you ran into that woman and tell her about all the opportunity's out there and that she doesn't have to live her life chained to a horrible destiny, but she just refuses to listen because the life she has is all she know... you're bound, almost, to feel sad for her. That is how I feel for those who need to retain their independence in relationships.

    Maybe I'm wrong to feel that way. Or maybe it's fine for me, but I shouldn't hope the same for others. I don't know. But I do know that depite being our own individuals (and pretty darned capable in our own right), my wife and I are together something much greater than we are on our own. I love her enough that when she needs something (medicine, comfort, ice cream, her Masters degree, to explore!), you better believe that I need her to have that. And not to be needlessly contrary but my problems can indeed become someone else's - by simple virtue of the degree to which they care for me. Like the mother who so deeply empathizes with her son that his drug abuse is killing her even as it kills him. Romance novel notion or not (I confess that Jane Austen is the closest I've come to the genre), I am so wrapped up in her and she so much in me that our needs bleed over into each other.

    And that's not as scary as it might sound. Believe me, both of us have experienced relationships in which we were smothered by our partners. Instead of interdependence, our respective exes leant toward overdependence. I suppose there's a fine line (there always is), but I am certain that what I advocate is not the scary version of things. It is not the diminishment of the individual but the exaltation of the team. The aphorism, "There is no I in team," is quite in error on this point.

    I suppose I can see how it could come off as scary, but trust me when I say I'm not advocating either sublimation or assimilation. I will say that I'm supporting mutual self-sacrifice, but I think of that as quite different. Anyway, hope that clarifies somewhat. And feel free to use your stick as seems judicious :)

     
  • At September 29, 2006 6:11 PM, Blogger The Dane said…

    Ooh, maybe this makes Batman a better Marvel character than a DC one. Apart from Reed Richards, they change love interests like they change, er, love interests...? Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Daredevil - they've all had more than a handful. Iron Man has had like twenty-seven handfuls. Even Hulk, with his constance toward Betty, has been involved with several other women as well.

     
  • At September 29, 2006 6:20 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Tenzil -- That's easy. Batman can't make his relationships work because his personality is built to push people away. Dick can't make things work because he's a naturally needy person attracted to independant people.

    You can look for subtext wherever you like, but the idea that a string of failed same-sex relationships indicates homosexuality is a really simplistic view of sexuality and human relationships.

     
  • At September 29, 2006 9:03 PM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    Ragnell, couldn't disagree more. But I do so with much respect.

    That's easy. Batman can't make his relationships work because his personality is built to push people away.

    Right. He 'pushes people away'. Except for Commissioner Gordon. Barbara Gordon. Dick Grayson. Jason Todd. Tim Drake. Alfred. Shall I go on?

    There are two big 'families' at DC. Superman Family. And....Bat-Family.

    Barry Allen was the warmest humanist alive. Besides Iris and Wally, who was in the Flash family? Batman has had more GARAGE MECHANICS in his family than the entire supporting cast of the Flash.

    Dick can't make things work because he's a naturally needy person attracted to independant people.

    Surely his Father issues have nothing to do with it. Sorry, "Daddy" issues. Kyle Rayner is better adjusted with not one but two murdered girlfriends. Needy? I don't know. He had almost always been portrayed as one of the most self-sufficient characters. He LEAD the Teen Titans, by acclamaton as far as I could tell. With no powers.

    You can look for subtext wherever you like,

    Yeah, I'm the first guy to discover the Batman & Robin subtext. Sorry, I mean "Ace and Gary".

    but the idea that a string of failed same-sex relationships indicates homosexuality is a really simplistic view of sexuality and human relationships.

    I think you meant opposite-sex, I'll treat it as such.

    No, that's not what I am saying. There are several heroes who have family/relationship troubles or a string of girlfirend-of-the-months. But there are a couple of things that make Batman different.

    First, Batman is the only one of the 'big three' at DC without a supporting love interest being an important part of the mythos. Why? He's more of a misfit than an alien orphan and a goddess made of clay from a magic island of only women? No way.

    Second, contrast and compare him with, say, Spider-Man. Peter Parker has had several girlfirends and was a neurotic basket case. Married.

    Third, Batman is the only DC hero other than Green Arrow where the kid sidekick is an important part of the mythos (Sand is a recent development as a major player, and oh look- Wesley Dodds had Dian Belmont). Green Arrow- permagirlfriend. Speedy - baby momma drama. Dick has neither, nor does Bruce until verrrrrry recently and that apparently is controversial. If Batman is a wild hetero playboy, why the hell would it be controversial for him to have a baby he didn't know about? It should be EXPECTED.

    Fourth, compare and contrast with Captain America. Cap without Bucky works just fine. Better, even. Batman writers always finagle a way to write a Robin in. Even though it makes no sense if Batman really is pushing people away. The ratio of boy Robins to girl Robins also is poor. If Bruce just wants to rescue kids, why only one? Why (almost always) a boy? Why doesn't it "work" any other way?

    Fifth, if you look at parody or commentary stories on the 'kid sidekick' phenomenon (Bratpack comes to mind, for one), the 'Batman' character is ALWAYS involved in a relationship with the 'Robin'. Why? Why does almost every writer want to tell the story this way? I don't think it's for cheap laughs.

    Sixth, it would be great if Batman had a complex sexuality (within the limits of mainstream comics). But he doesn't. He has a string of really unconvincing half-assed girlfriends, a part-time hooker girlfriend he can never seem to help out despite being a billionaire and one of the world's greatest heroes, and a deep bond with teenage boys. Hell, I've seen more self-reflection from Superman, who at least struggles with the ethics of possibly hurting loved ones with his passions and the romantic complexities of only 'passing' for human.

    Now for the Dane.

    Ooh, maybe this makes Batman a better Marvel character than a DC one.

    No way!

    Apart from Reed Richards, they change love interests like they change, er, love interests...? Spider-Man, Captain America, Thor, Daredevil - they've all had more than a handful.

    Nope. Certainly not at first.

    Spider Man- Betty Brant, for a long time. Then Gwen Stacy, for a long time. Then Mary Jane. Married.

    Captain America - Sharon Carter for like forever.

    Daredevil - Karen Page until Frank Miller ruined her.

    Iron Man has had like twenty-seven handfuls.

    Yes, but Tony Stark really is a millionaire playboy. Bruce Wayne pretends to be one. Then he goes home to his live-in teenage boy.

    Even Hulk, with his constance toward Betty, has been involved with several other women as well.

    OK, but Betty is an interal part of the Hulk origin and was the "Lois Lane" of the book for decades.

    The issue is not "does Batman date a lot". The issue is "why is this guy a lightning rod for this theory for 60+ years". This is highly Batman-specific. I am not claiming Batman is a homosexual pedophile. I am claiming that the subtext is so long-lived and so potent that it sabotages stories where Bruce and Dick need to develop (separate) romantic attachments.

    My apologies for the length of this, but I wanted to give a full response.

     
  • At September 29, 2006 10:09 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Tenzil: Honestly, the GLC itself is more like a marine corps/police station than a college. A very hyper-masculine setting.

    The thing is, Hal's got canonically a weird thing with power and sex. Hal is an exploitive personality set up in a role for a long time as almost a guardian/babysitter/pet-owner of Guy as well as senior brother of John. Kyle's got a characterization that's easy to read as bisexual.

    Guy has enough issues with masculinity, sex, and a long term storyline very metatextually about sexuality/masculinity. There's also the bizarre parallels between Mace and Hal to play with.

    Batman's got a teenage ward.

    I mean they live in the same house, sure. But for all intents and purposes, he's his son. All of their issues are very father and son in nature, to me. A needy son trying to earn the respect and love of a closed off father, not realizing he's already got it.

    Batman IS closed off. Of all the characters you've listed, anyone can name many instances where he's pushed each and all of them away at one point or another. That they remain close to him is because THEY want to be.

    And Batman has had a number of close female interests. Catwoman, Sasha, Silver St. Cloud, Vicki Vale? Just because he really doesn't lower his guard enough for a long term sexual/romantic relationship doesn't change the fact that his sexual history is pretty clear and without any real character-wise ambiguity.

    Personally, I see strictly family relationships between Batman and his wards/sons. And even if romantic chemistry did exist, there is no way that the CANON Batman would EVER abuse the fact that Dick and Tim and Jason are (at different times) are all dependent on him for food, housing, guidance and instruction.

    Bruce is a fucked up man, but initiating a sexual relationship with a dependent is a line he would not cross. He's not a monster.

    I like fanfics as much as the next person, but let's not mistake it or Wertham's rantings for anything remotely resembling canon.

     
  • At September 29, 2006 10:15 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Also as an addendum, this is an unpopular opinion but honestly...

    Dick Grayson is straight.

    Seriously. His romantic chemistry is entirely with women. His sexual tension, completely with women. Any interaction he's had with men seems very clearly in the familial in my eyes.

    Contrasted with say, Kyle Rayner's hero-worship of Superman, which might as well involve hearts in the eyes.

    Or heck, the way Roy Harper has sexual tension with anything on two legs period.

    The fact that he's slashed isn't surprising. He's pretty, angsty, dashing...he's a slash fangirl's dream.

    It's just that the canon doesn't really support it. Which shouldn't stop the fic, of course. But that's just how I see it.

     
  • At September 29, 2006 10:16 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    (Yeah, meant opposite sex, oops)

    First, Batman is the only one of the 'big three' at DC without a supporting love interest being an important part of the mythos. Why? He's more of a misfit than an alien orphan and a goddess made of clay from a magic island of only women? No way.

    Umm.. Yeah. Diana and Clark are openly loving nuturing people. Bruce is not openly that way.

    Diana had a loving, overprotective single mother. Clark was raised on a farm with the All-American Midwestern Family Hour Parents. Bruce was raised by his butler. To this day, his closest emotional connection is his butler. As much of a father as Alfred is, there will always be a professional distance there.

    And he has pushed all of the people listed away emotionally. He relates to everyone on a professional level, as a crimefighter. The Batman family is dysfunctional.

    Second, contrast and compare him with, say, Spider-Man. Peter Parker has had several girlfirends and was a neurotic basket case. Married.

    Peter Parker and Batman are two very different types of neurotic basket cases, you're oversimplifying.

    If Batman is a wild hetero playboy, why the hell would it be controversial for him to have a baby he didn't know about? It should be EXPECTED.

    Because we all know Batman is a workaholic, not an actual playboy. He's normally far more responsible than someone like Roy Harper. He dates around, he sleeps around, he can't hold the relationship together, but he is hardly wild. He's cautious as HELL about everything, particularly his enemies. This comparison is also oversimplifying two complex characters.

    The ratio of boy Robins to girl Robins also is poor. If Bruce just wants to rescue kids, why only one? Why (almost always) a boy? Why doesn't it "work" any other way?

    Because Bruce was an orphaned boy himself, and is rather sexist and has trouble relating to women (two traits which are not indicators of homosexuality -- sexual attraction has nothing to do with relating to a person as a person), but which do also explain why his relationships fall through). He has a soft spot for boys that remind him of himself. And different as Dick is, Bruce did take him in because he'd witnessed the same tragedy Bruce had.

    Fifth, if you look at parody or commentary stories on the 'kid sidekick' phenomenon (Bratpack comes to mind, for one), the 'Batman' character is ALWAYS involved in a relationship with the 'Robin'. Why? Why does almost every writer want to tell the story this way? I don't think it's for cheap laughs.

    This plays off sexism. Men are not supposed to be "nuturing." They're not supposed to want to be involved in a child's life. This is a woman thing. People see a man with a child who isn't biologically his own, they think he's there as a sexual predator. Because men are seen as predators, not nuturers.

    The sidekick jokes are enforcing a heteronormative stereotype about men and children, a stereotype that keeps men out of childcare fields.

    Make no mistake, Batman and Robin are a father-son relationship, and the subtext everyone jokes about is not simply homosexual subtext (which we see between Green Lantern and Green Arrow, without any familial bond to mitigate it towards the platonic), or incestuous subtext (which is seen in the brotherly relationship between Hal and Kyle, which also included marriage symbolism in a recent SF&O issue) but it has a layer of pedophilic subtext.

    The idea that a single man would treat an unrelated boy as his son with no strings attached is still difficult for our society to grasp. So, the Batman-Robin relationship is cast as romantic instead of familial in many people's minds.

    Sixth, it would be great if Batman had a complex sexuality (within the limits of mainstream comics). But he doesn't. He has a string of really unconvincing half-assed girlfriends, a part-time hooker girlfriend he can never seem to help out despite being a billionaire and one of the world's greatest heroes, and a deep bond with teenage boys.

    You don't find Batman's repression of sexual attraction in order to pursue an obsessive war on crime, to the point that he avoids romantic relationships in favor mentoring future warriors, a complex sexuality without adding a pedophilic element to it?

     
  • At September 29, 2006 10:28 PM, Blogger Chris Sims said…

    No, Rags, Batman's totally gay. All that Julie Madison / Silver St. Cloud / Vicki Vale / Talia / Sasha Bordeaux / Wonder Woman / Catwoman / Vesper Fairchild / Shondra Kinsolving stuff is just a smokescreen.

    And as for Nightwing, well, it's not like Barbara Gordon, Starfire, Clancy the Landlady, or Cheyenne Freemont really mean anything.

    I mean, if they did, that would keep someone from making ridiculous statements based on their slapdash fan-fiction entitlement fantasies. And we couldn't have that.

     
  • At September 29, 2006 10:55 PM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    kalinara:

    Honestly, the GLC itself is more like a marine corps/police station than a college. A very hyper-masculine setting.

    Except that the Corps apparently has a lot of female members. On Oa, at least, we can assume that there are a wide range of sexes and cultures represented. It never ocurred too me that the GLC would be heavily male. There are 3600 sectors. How many GL's have we seen? 50?

    The thing is, Hal's got canonically a weird thing with power and sex.

    Well, sure. Isn't his girlfriend his villain?

    Hal is an exploitive personality set up in a role for a long time as almost a guardian/babysitter/pet-owner of Guy as well as senior brother of John. Kyle's got a characterization that's easy to read as bisexual.

    With you so far.

    Guy has enough issues with masculinity, sex, and a long term storyline very metatextually about sexuality/masculinity.

    Totally agree.

    Batman's got a teenage ward.

    I mean they live in the same house, sure. But for all intents and purposes, he's his son. All of their issues are very father and son in nature, to me. A needy son trying to earn the respect and love of a closed off father, not realizing he's already got it.


    Does this ever happen in real life? Does it feel real to you? If you had a single 35 year old male friend who was rich, and to all appearances he was a flighty dilletante, and he was all hot to adopt a teenage boy who lost his parents, but not to get married, what would your first reaction be?

    a) This is a selfless hero.
    b) I hope Child Services investigates thoughly.

    Batman IS closed off. Of all the characters you've listed, anyone can name many instances where he's pushed each and all of them away at one point or another. That they remain close to him is because THEY want to be.

    No way. You are referring to "Batman is a dick", which while prevalent for the last 10-15 years, is a very small part of a character that has been around since 1939. Batman from at least the 40's to the late 80's had a large, happy family of associated characters, and had friendly, close relationships with both them and the JLA members. Especially with Superman.

    And Batman has had a number of close female interests. Catwoman, Sasha, Silver St. Cloud, Vicki Vale?

    All mentioned earlier.

    Just because he really doesn't lower his guard enough for a long term sexual/romantic relationship

    OK, there is an interesting story right there. Bruce Wayne can be intimate (non-sexually but emotionally) with his BUTLER or the POLICE COMMISSIONER but not with his GIRLFRIEND.

    doesn't change the fact that his sexual history is pretty clear and without any real character-wise ambiguity.

    That's text, not subtext or metatext.

    Personally, I see strictly family relationships between Batman and his wards/sons.

    Perhaps, but that is also peculiar. He has one "son" at a time, and essentially abandons them when they reach maturity.

    And even if romantic chemistry did exist, there is no way that the CANON Batman would EVER abuse the fact that Dick and Tim and Jason are (at different times) are all dependent on him for food, housing, guidance and instruction.

    No, no, I agree. Batman is not about to be a canonical child molester. Nor would I want him to.

    Bruce is a fucked up man, but initiating a sexual relationship with a dependent is a line he would not cross. He's not a monster.

    Hold on. Two things:

    1. Dressing up like a bat and abusing suspects, including beatings and forced confessions, and building a worldwide robot network to murder your friends if they get 'out of hand' are pretty much monstrous acts.

    2. This happens all the time in real life, unfortunately. Luckily, Batman is a hero and would never do it. But the APPEARANCES are off.

    I like fanfics as much as the next person, but let's not mistake it or Wertham's rantings for anything remotely resembling canon.

    I hope nobody's writing fanfics about this.

     
  • At September 29, 2006 11:06 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Honestly, the GLC itself is more like a marine corps/police station than a college. A very hyper-masculine setting.

    Except that the Corps apparently has a lot of female members.


    Okay, let me get this straight. She says that the GLC is like the Marines or the police force, and you argue that that's not true because the GLC has female members? Please tell me this is a serious misunderstanding.

    On Oa, at least, we can assume that there are a wide range of sexes and cultures represented. It never ocurred too me that the GLC would be heavily male. There are 3600 sectors. How many GL's have we seen? 50?

    Okay, this is something I've ranted about numerous times as a GL, fan, actually. The ratio of males to females is severely in favor of the males in the GLC.

    But that, in itself, has nothing to do with what Kali actually said, which is that the GLC is a hypermasculine setting. That doesn't mean male-dominated so much as "favoring traditionally male character traits" such as the sorts of character traits you'd find drawn to a military/police organization.

     
  • At September 29, 2006 11:09 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Tenzil:

    To the public, Bruce's actions might look odd. Heck, I'm surprised that there aren't more comments in the DCU about it.

    I also think though, there are two things precluding a serious slash reading of the relationship.

    1) Bruce's canonically defined maturity issues, the way he is sort of emotionally frozen at eight (thought starting to finally move past it) give many rationales for his behavior that never need approach the sexual.

    2) The Bruce Dick relationship was defined in 1940, when the concept of Wards of the State and Guardianship wasn't the same as it is today. There are reasons that this was common not only with Bruce but with Wesley Dodds and Sandy as well as other hero-sidekick partnerships originating back then.

    Honestly, you can't have it both ways. Either you go by the recent dark Batman characterization (which actually began in the seventies, when Julius Schwartz began taking the character in a new direction including...fortunately retconned...the killing of Alfred), or you look at the full context. In which the wardship thing is not that weird in that particular social situation. Unusual, sure, but not unheard of.

    And no Batman doesn't have a long term relationship with one woman. But a lot of straight men don't. A lot of straight men do have better relationships with fathers, male friends, brothers than with women.

    But none of those relationships are really sexually charged for Bruce either. (Unless Loeb's writing Superman/Batman, or Grayson's writing Nightwing...but one writer's tendancies do not really make the whole).

    Sorry, I don't think you're really gonna succeed at a conversion here.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 12:21 AM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    Ragnell:

    Umm.. Yeah. Diana and Clark are openly loving nuturing people. Bruce is not openly that way.

    He is with Alfred. I guess you could argue that Alfred is a surrogate parent. But that's different from "Batman is closed off".

    Clark was raised on a farm with the All-American Midwestern Family Hour Parents. Bruce was raised by his butler. To this day, his closest emotional connection is his butler. As much of a father as Alfred is, there will always be a professional distance there.

    Clark is a space monster pretending to be human, and he knows it. He also has a whole dead planet to mourn, if I were Clark I would tell Bruce to lighten the fuck up, there are bigger problems out there. Joe Chill didn't make EARTH EXPLODE KILLING EVERYONE ON IT or anything.

    And he has pushed all of the people listed away emotionally. He relates to everyone on a professional level, as a crimefighter. The Batman family is dysfunctional.

    That's a new development, and for me, an unwelcome one. It is also not that logical.

    Because Bruce was an orphaned boy himself, and is rather sexist and has trouble relating to women (two traits which are not indicators of homosexuality -- sexual attraction has nothing to do with relating to a person as a person), but which do also explain why his relationships fall through). He has a soft spot for boys that remind him of himself. And different as Dick is, Bruce did take him in because he'd witnessed the same tragedy Bruce had.

    Yes. But Bruce never builds the Thomas Wayne Memorial Orphanage for Boys with Murdered Parents, does he.

    Because he DOES want an intimate relationship with his ward. Every Batman writer ever has known this.

    Does Jimmy Olsen even have living parents? He and Clark are very close. Clark feels very paternal towards him. But he would never, ever adopt him. It would be a total WTF moment, and Superman allegedly is more emotionally open and parental than Batman. And Superman has an even more powerful motive to build a large 'earth famliy'. Superman adopts Supergirl, but they are blood relatives.

    This plays off sexism. Men are not supposed to be "nuturing." They're not supposed to want to be involved in a child's life.

    But there are numerous male characters in comics who have adopted children or functioned as surrogate parents. How about the wizard Shazam? All he ever does is hang around young kids.

    This is a woman thing. People see a man with a child who isn't biologically his own, they think he's there as a sexual predator. Because men are seen as predators, not nuturers.

    If Apollo and the Midnighter adopted a child, it would not have the same subtext as the Batman/Robin relationship. Highfather and Mister Miracle. Sandman and Sand. Professor X has many children he has raised, Cyclops clearly thinks of him as an adoptive father. Prof. X is definitely not married.

    Hell, even Will Magnus has 'children'.

    The sidekick jokes are enforcing a heteronormative stereotype about men and children, a stereotype that keeps men out of childcare fields.

    But nobody makes jokes about Green Arrow and Speedy or Captain America and Bucky. Just Batman.

    Speedy is also a single father, never seen a single joke or nasty comment about that. Didn't Wally West change the timestream to help his children? Seems pretty nurturing to me.

    Make no mistake, Batman and Robin are a father-son relationship, and the subtext everyone jokes about is not simply homosexual subtext (which we see between Green Lantern and Green Arrow, without any familial bond to mitigate it towards the platonic),

    GL-GA? Really? Does Dinah know? Did Ganthet just watch or what? If I had to pick, I would have said Blue Beetle-Booster Gold.

    Just so I have your POV correct:

    Two guys on a road trip with a spaceman= flaming homos.
    Single man adopts pre-teen boy to live with him alone in a huge mansion= commendable and should be encouraged.

    Perhaps the reason people feel uncomfortable with grown men hanging around preteen boys is that in the real world this is often (not always) a signifier of a problem. Who are the most trusted male figures? Married men with their own biological children. The least trusted? Single adult men with no close family relationships or children. You and I both know the statistics show that the percieved-as-safe married men often carry out abuse. But since Batman is not real, the appearances carry extra weight. If you met someone who had never heard of Batman and Robin, and you explained to them that it was a story of a lonely, solitary man who adopts a boy and trains him to be a warrior, and they dress in tights, it would largely depend on the listener's culture as to how they would react.

    In American culture, it says WARNING WARNING.

    The idea that a single man would treat an unrelated boy as his son with no strings attached is still difficult for our society to grasp.

    Flip the genders. Wonder Woman has a teen sidekick, Wonder Guy. He lives with her on an island, alone except for a maid. She has no spouse, partner, or steady boyfriend or girlfriend. They are not blood relations. You say "normal nurturing relationship".

    Many, many men adopt children like this in real life. But in the superhero milleu, which also adds strong elements of cosplay, fetishization, and adolescent power fantasies, it looks fucked up.

    So, the Batman-Robin relationship is cast as romantic instead of familial in many people's minds.

    But, why? Why only Batman?

    You don't find Batman's repression of sexual attraction in order to pursue an obsessive war on crime, to the point that he avoids romantic relationships in favor mentoring future warriors, a complex sexuality without adding a pedophilic element to it?

    Hold on. You want it both ways. If Batman is devoted to crime above all else, he tells Vicki Vale, et al to get lost from day one. No reason to be a playboy, he can be a crazy recluse no one sees just as easily. And why not male and female warriors?

    Crazy recluse Wayne seems more complex to me than the playboy facade, which seems too close to a 'closet' situation to be a coincidence. He's just pretending to be interested in girls (closet), OR he really is interested in girls, in which case why do none of them ever mention that he has a son? Why doesn't he broach it himself? Doesn't "I might be a stepmom" ever occur to them? I bet Gotham Child Services LOVES that Bruce is a known associate of call girl and criminal Selina Kyle. Where are the adult relationships here? Everything is like a teenage boy's fantasy of what a sexually aware adult is like, not the reality of it. Bruce has fake-ass James Bond sex, which is very juvenile.

    Ralph and Sue Dibny look somewhat realistic. Clark and Lois, Mr. Miracle and Barda, Wally and Linda. All look fine. Batman is weird. Green Arrow is not. There is only one thing different about them, and her name is Dinah Lance.

    If Batman is emotionally normal (but motivated to right the wrong of crime), it makes perfect sense for him to adopt a son. But it also makes sense for him to be married. Earth-2 Batman fits this description.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 12:30 AM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    Okay, let me get this straight. She says that the GLC is like the Marines or the police force, and you argue that that's not true because the GLC has female members? Please tell me this is a serious misunderstanding.

    Oh, goodness, that's not what I meant.

    Let me try to be clearer:

    The GLC is like the Marine Corps or Police. But unlike on Earth, where these are male-dominated fields with few women, we have no evidence that the GLC underrepresents members who are women or that female perspectives are not an important part of Corps traditions..

    Okay, this is something I've ranted about numerous times as a GL, fan, actually. The ratio of males to females is severely in favor of the males in the GLC.

    We agree on this.

    But that, in itself, has nothing to do with what Kali actually said, which is that the GLC is a hypermasculine setting. That doesn't mean male-dominated so much as "favoring traditionally male character traits" such as the sorts of character traits you'd find drawn to a military/police organization.

    I must have misinterpreted what she wrote then.

    It does raise the question- how do we know the GLC is hypermasculine? We haven't seen the majority of the members. We may not even be able to determine the gender or sex of some members.

    We can also assume that for some species that are members, traits we associate with 'male' and 'female' could be reversed or assigned differently.

    It's a trick question- if the GLC was 50% Lea Delaria clones, is it a masculine or feminine organization? How do we define those terms?

    The assumption I was working from is that many masculine and feminine traits are socially constructed rather than biologically based, so for a group of freaky aliens, anything goes.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 12:30 AM, Blogger Chris Sims said…

    Clark is a space monster pretending to be human, and he knows it.

    So we're to assume that you've never actually read a comic book, then?

    But Bruce never builds the Thomas Wayne Memorial Orphanage for Boys with Murdered Parents, does he.

    Actually, considering that the Wayne Foundation does quite a bit of charity work along those same lines, I'd imagine he does.

    But, why? Why only Batman?

    Okay, this is a shot in the dark here, but it may--MAY, mind you--have something to do with the fact that he's one of the most popular characters of the 20th century and had a wildly popular television show that could best be described as "campy." Just a theory.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 12:33 AM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    kalinara:

    Well, let's agree to disagree then. I can live with that.

    I enjoyed the discussion anyway.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 12:39 AM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    So we're to assume that you've never actually read a comic book, then?

    Oh, I've read quite a few.

    Do you understand any of the ones you read or are you just skimming for pictures of guys getting kicked in the face? Your fetish intrigues me and I wish to recieve your newsletter.

    Actually, considering that the Wayne Foundation does quite a bit of charity work along those same lines, I'd imagine he does.

    Yes, he only picks the 'special' ones to live up in the big house with him.

    Okay, this is a shot in the dark here, but it may--MAY, mind you--have something to do with the fact that he's one of the most popular characters of the 20th century and had a wildly popular television show that could best be described as "campy." Just a theory.

    Hmmmm. Gosh, how odd that the Batman character took to the 'camp' concept well and the Wonder Woman character also filmed a 'camp' pilot at the same time which was a colossal flop, so you could say that the character of Batman (and not Wonder Woman) was a great match for the 'camp' sensibility which comes directly influenced from a Gay Male subculture.

    Curious indeed. Holy Sontag, Batman.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 12:39 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Chris, I'm not sure about her never having read any comic book, but its crystal clear she's never read a Batman comic book, as every single one of her questions is explained in his basic origin story, and all of the motivations for adopting Grayson in the basic Robin origin story. Without pedophilia.

    I mean, our cultural sexism is one thing (and that's what it is, a cultural, institutionalized sexism that won't trust men with young children), but we have seen everything with Bruce. We've read it. We've watched it on television. We've seen it in the movies. We know it's a father-son relationship, we know his true motives.

    What the Gotham gossip-rags are saying about Bruce Wayne is one thing. What we as readers know is another. And for 60 years (Yes, I have read Archives) the writing has been overwhelmingly on the side of a familial, responsible relationship and not the paranoid, homophobic, misandrist fantasies of Seduction of the Innocent.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 12:44 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Actually, it's pretty clear that the GLC is a hypermasculine environment based on the portrayals we've seen currently in Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps and Ion.

    First, there's a larger number of men than women. By a very large percentage going by any available group shot.

    Second, the Guardians, while dual gendered now, still appear in traditionally masculine form.

    Third, of the five showcased characters in GLC, Soranik is the only woman. She's also angry, aggressive and forthright, traditionally masculine traits. (She does now have a more feminine partner)

    Fourth, fighting ability, strength, bravery and will are prized primarily in the corps. Traditionally associated with masculinity.

    Fifth, the guardians also value anger and aggression over hesitance. To the point of actually refusing to fix the brain damage that had left Guy Gardner a bratty six year old, because they felt he was a better Lantern this way. Sane, he was too hesitant.

    Sixth: The Corps is portrayed as a cross between a marine corps and a police precinct story/tone wise. With the Lanterns as operatives, units and detectives as needed

    Oa is very much like a station headquarters or barracks as we see it so far, aside from the Guardian's audience chamber. There is high tension, aggression and fighting rampant...especially when Hal is around (for good reason).

    There's also a very involved military/cop-ish chain of command as well.

    There are three comic books out right now that are heavily focusing enough of the Corps that we can really make a good judgement here.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 12:55 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Oh, and you misunderstood the GA/GL reference.

    I was pointing out that the subtle homosexual subtext sometimes read between Hal and Ollie (or Kyle and Connor) is more obvious, and healthier than what you're describing between Batman and Robin.

    I did not say that "two men on a road trip = flaming queers." There's more nuance to the GA/GL teamups than just two guys in a truck. It's that oversimplification thing again. You may want to watch that.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 12:56 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Tenzil, you're stretching a little here.

    The camp sentimentality works because there was a man and a young boy, perhaps. Which doesn't mean anything aside from the fact that jokes can be made...which is true for anything really.

    Or it could be that unlike Wonder Woman's first pilot (By the way, the success of the Lynda Carter series, seems to imply something different from your argument), the Batman show was very much in keeping with the silly cheesiness that was involved in pretty much all comics at the time


    As for the specialness of his boys...please recall that in the case of Dick, it was relatively early in his career and he considers the boy to be very much like he was. He wants to step in. No sexuality required in that interpretation.

    Post Crisis Jason's more ethically shadier, but he found the kid stealing his tires. He saw a kid hungry, needing a home, and with the fire necessary for a war on justice. Again, no sexuality required.

    Tim moved in because he was already in training to be Robin and Jack Drake was in a coma. Later he moved out when Jack was better. Now that he has no alternative, he's being adopted, as Bruce thinks of him as his son. Again, it's not very sexual in nature.

    Sure you can read it any way you want, but when it comes to the source material, it's simply not there.

    The writers, aware of the insinuations (which are not solely with Batman and Robin, as slash fandom shows...) have been very careful to keep from "questionable" elements. And even those in the Golden Age, for example, weren't nearly so questionable for back then, or it wouldn't have taken Wertham's essays fifteen or so years afterward to blow the lid on it.

    Besides, personally, I think Bruce's inclination to ADOPT pretty much pushes the relationship firmly into the familial and not romantic.

    I am rather enjoying the discussion though.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 12:59 AM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    First, there's a larger number of men than women. By a very large percentage going by any available group shot.

    1. Have we ever seen all 3600 at once?
    2. Can you determine the gender and sex of all 3600? What about the ones that look like 20-sided dice? The ones that look like blobs?

    Fourth, fighting ability, strength, bravery and will are prized primarily in the corps. Traditionally associated with masculinity.

    On Earth, among humans. How about on Korugar? Xanthii? Planet Facepants? Is this ture everywhere in the universe? Can't DC's writers imagine worlds where this is not the case?

    Is Mogo male or female? How can you tell? Isn't assigning all these positive traits to masculinity sexist?

    Fifth, the guardians also value anger and aggression over hesitance. To the point of actually refusing to fix the brain damage that had left Guy Gardner a bratty six year old, because they felt he was a better Lantern this way. Sane, he was too hesitant.

    Is decisiveness exclusively male? Isn't that a sexist stereotype?

    Wasn't Katma Tui brave, decisive, strong, and a good fighter? Isn't Wonder Woman all of those things?

    Sixth: The Corps is portrayed as a cross between a marine corps and a police precinct story/tone wise. With the Lanterns as operatives, units and detectives as needed

    Alan Moore's 'Top Ten' is setup the same way but it has tons of strong female characters.

    BTW, I would love to hear the reasoning behind the determination by Ragnell that I am female.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 1:04 AM, Blogger Chris Sims said…

    To be fair, there's not a whole lot that can be misconstrued from a kick to the face--it's fairly simple and straightforward. You know, sort of like a man whose life was completely shattered by the murder of his parents seeing the same thing happen to someone else and assume that he can help him in the same way that he helped himself to deal with the tragedy.

    Your statement wasn't about his relationship with Robin, it was about whether or not Bruce Wayne is motivated to help others, and considering that practically every story he's in involves him fighting crime and saving people, I don't think the idea that he'd take an interest in trying to aid someone who had a similar tragedy happen to him is as far-fetched as you're making it out to be.

    The fact that you refer to Superman as a "space monster pretending to be a human" bespeaks a fundamental lack of understanding about the character to the point where that's his main villain's motivation. Even in the Silver Age, when he was far more tied to Krypton in mindset than he has been for the past twenty years, he was hardly a monster pretending to be human; if anything, he was a hero pretending to be a goofball. We've all seen Kill Bill, we've all heard David Carradine's speech on the matter, and while it's certainly entertaining, it's not the way the character actually works, and it's a poor statement to include in any kind of viable argument.

    As for my newsletter, well, friend, I don't have one--But don't fret! You can catch my comedic brand of fight-related commentary every day on The ISB, every two months on PrismComics.org, where I write exclusively about gay subtext in comics, and sporadically on CRACKED.com, the internet's home for comedy! Thanks for taking an interest!

     
  • At September 30, 2006 1:08 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Oh boy. Well. Because the comic book is written in America and on Earth, those traits can be used as explanation for hypermasculinity.

    Trying to argue that those traits aren't traditionally associated with masculinity by the culture that created the comics is just silly.

    And pretty much indicates that you're too interested in being right than actually giving the counter-argument a fair hearing.

    I think I personally am done with this discussion.

    Oh and congratulations, Ragnell mistook your gender. Welcome to the Internet. It happens. Deal.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 1:10 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Tenzil -- You're talking to Feminist Green Lantern fans here. We've discussed WIDELY the gender of the corps.

    Dividing into three parts, we have humanoid male, humanoid female, and gender-neutral amorphous background characters. In a crowd shot in GLC: Recharge #5, we saw maybe half the Corps as humanoid, visibly male, half as indeterminate, and 3 visibly female characters.

    As for how we tell about Mogo, the character has been referred to using masculine pronouns since his first appearance. No one's one questioned that in-story.

    And as for the cultural division of character traits, well, it's like the Gotham gossip rags. We know the truth, because we read the panels -- that the characters in question are feminine characters, but that doesn't change the atmosphere, or the valuing of traits which are traditionally trained into men over traits which are traditionally trained into women.

    But, this is hardly worth speaking to you about, since you obviously have never read a Green Lantern comic either.

    I'm sorry, Scans_Daily is funny, but you can't get all your knowledge of a series there and expect to impress people wtih your analysis.

    Oh, and I like to assume female to fuck with the other posters who tend to assume male on my name.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 2:09 AM, Blogger The Dane said…

    I actually really liked the Space Monster Pretending to Be Human (tm) comment. It was one coolest (funniest) things I've read today.

    (Actually, I just re-read Kingdom Come the other night and the sentiment was echoed there).

    I think both sides have made a number of thought-provoking points. I lean towards no (or only occasional homosexual subtext) for Batman/Robin, but I can see where one might find it if he looked.

    Really, though, I'm just thankful to tenzil and ragnell for taking the heat off me! Thanks guys :)

     
  • At September 30, 2006 2:14 AM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    Oh, and I like to assume female to fuck with the other posters who tend to assume male on my name.

    Aha! I was wondering if it was something particular to my arguments or tone or a general policy. Why would anyone assume 'Ragnell" is of either gender? You can assume I am of whatever gender you prefer.

    You're talking to Feminist Green Lantern fans here. We've discussed WIDELY the gender of the corps.

    Serious question- if the portrayal of the GLC is so overwhelmingly hypermasculinized and somewhat sexist, what is the appeal for the female feminist fan?

    As for how we tell about Mogo, the character has been referred to using masculine pronouns since his first appearance. No one's one questioned that in-story.

    Maybe Alan Moore was just fucking with you. Seriously, though, isn't that a perfect example of gender as a social construct? It's a planet, for goodness sake. How can it have gender in any meaningful way? Isn't that a more interesting concept than how hard Guy can punch someone? Paging Grant Morrison.

    And as for the cultural division of character traits, well, it's like the Gotham gossip rags. We know the truth, because we read the panels -- that the characters in question are feminine characters, but that doesn't change the atmosphere, or the valuing of traits which are traditionally trained into men over traits which are traditionally trained into women.

    Could just be shitty writing. The Green Lantern concept is so expansive, isn't there room for characters that push the envelope a little?

    But, this is hardly worth speaking to you about, since you obviously have never read a Green Lantern comic either.

    This is the only thing here I have found offensive. All due respect, since this is your house, but I find it inappropriate to accuse someone of not being a reader or fan simply because they have a differing interpretation of the text. It is legitimate to say "that is a fucking stupid argument". It is not legitimate to say "you obviously never read comics".

    I could be Keith Giffen for all you know. I could be Mort Weisinger Jr. I could have a complete set of (read) Action Comics going back to #1. I could be a DC editor screwing around. I could be 65 years old and a lifetime Marvel reader. You just don't know and it's an ad hominem personal insult.

    If you want to run an "everyone better agree with me" club, post that at the front door.

    Oh, and kalinara, thanks for proving my point.

    You argue that it's silly to separate the Green Lantern comic and characters from the culture that created it. If our culture values the positive traits you enumerate and classifies them as masculine, then a masculine interpretation of the characters is the only possible one.

    To be exact, you wrote:

    Trying to argue that those traits aren't traditionally associated with masculinity by the culture that created the comics is just silly.

    Well, hello. In our culture, a single male engaged in childcare is suspicious, not admired (Ragnell was pretty firm on this point). Furthermore, in the American mass mediascape the only adult males that associate in close relationships with preteen boys are child molesters (such as Michael jackson or misbehaving Catholic Priests). Therefore, the sexually dubious interpretation of Batman is the only correct one. The 1940 interpretation is no longer valid since that culture is lost to us in many ways (I dare you to watch a topical Bugs Bunny cartoon from 1942 with me and explain EVERY SINGLE JOKE in context without a Ph.D. in American Studies).

    Which is it? Can a reader determine their own individualized interpretation of the text from a differing or hypothesized cultural context, or are they totally restricted to the prevalent or creating local culture in their interpretation? It's not looking good for Bruce Wayne if the latter. What the text then says is actually not important, if what you say is true.

    If the writers of Green Lantern wrote "[Female Lantern] is aggressive and violent, and this is a feminine characteristic", you would disagree. But the text would say the opposite. The cultural context would be superior to the text in that case for you to have your disagreement, would it not? If the cultural context is superior to the text, it does not matter that there is 60 years of textual evidence of Bruce and Dick having a father/son relationship. How we percieve it now would be paramount.

    If the text is superior to the cultural context, it is perfectly legitimate to claim that individual traits can be assigned as masculine or feminine according to the whim of the author(s) or reader(s). That makes for interesting stories. And it is perfectly fine to claim that Bruce and Dick have a normal parent/child relationship since what is being said in the text is what we should pay attention to.

    Don't you guys read Foucault and Derrida? I guess you don't read a lot of Marvel.

    Chris, give me a break. Superman Returns is about how Superman is an alien. Superman the Movie is about how Superman is an alien. Superman:Birthright is about how Superman is an alien. Smallville is about how Superman is an alien. Siegel and Schuster spoke at length about how Superman was an alien. 50% of all Superman comics are about how he's an alien. Every other word out of Superman's mouth from 1955 to 1970 was 'Krypton'. I point out he's an alien and I'm suddenly Lex Luthor? Fuck Kill Bill, I hate Tarantino and I hate that movie. Superman is a friendly and heroic space monster (cue theremin music), but like the whole point of the entire premise is that this guy is passing as a human, not that Clark is real and Superman is an act. That is John Byrne whole cloth nonsense he came up with in 1985 to 'reinvent' something that wasn't broken.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 2:30 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    No, Tenzil, you are missing the point.

    You're oversimplifying again. These are two different books, and the arguments have an incredibly important distinction.

    The Green Lantern Corps' atmosphere is beyond what is shown in character, and colored by our culture. Our "anchors" to the story are our Earth Lanterns -- Guy, Kyle, Hal, John, who will have these ideas about what men are like and what women are like coloring their perceptions. They are making coffee and donut jokes and referencing Hill Street Blues. There is a definite intent to draw on our cultural impressions to show us that the GLC is like a police force. A police force is socially set up as hypermasculine.

    Our perception of Batman as a person has nothing to do with a cultural assumption and everything to do with what is written there. Our "anchor" to the story is either Bruce or Dick themselves. We know what goes on in that house. We see it. We're meant to see this relationship as is on the page.

    Every single aspect you've question is discussed in the backstory, the one that's given in nearly every origin story. Bruce's personality, the necessity of pretending to be a playboy rather than being a social recluse, why those relationships failed, why he chose to be a crimefighter, why he is trying to be a mentor and a father. They are all there, and they are not sexual.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 2:32 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I was going to drop this, but I do have one point to make.

    I am arguing the hypermasculinity of a setting.

    You are arguing that Batman's got canonical homosexual leanings toward his charges.

    There's a significant difference. My argument is based on viewing canon source material through the lens of the culture that created it.

    Your argument involves contradicting established source material, using poorly framed generalizations about men without any sort of real canon instances to back you up.

    Honestly, if I were a bat-slasher, I'd be a little embarrassed. I may not agree that there's a lot of actual intended subtext between Batman and Nightwing/Robin/whoever, but most slashers can at least point to scenes that could *possibly* be read wrongly.

    Surely you could actually find applicable instances in the comics themselves to read in such a manner rather than resorting to such general blanket sexist statements as the assumption that a single 35 year old man would only adopt a teenager for nefarious purposes.

    It's also the utter lack of contextual evidence that you've presented that makes us wonder if you've even read the comics at all.

    Honestly, as a slasher myself (of other pairings/fandoms) I'm quite disgusted. I could have written a more convincing manifesto at fourteen.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 2:41 AM, Blogger Chris Sims said…

    To be honest with you, I thought Superman Returns was one of the worst movies I've ever paid money to see, and while I like pretty much every part of Superman II that has Terrence Stamp or Gene Hackman on the screen, I'm not a big fan of the '78 movie, either. Smallville, I've never really watched.

    I didn't refer to you as Lex Luthor, I said you're using his exact argument, which he--the villain--uses to justify his hatred of Superman--the hero: He's an alien monster pretending to be human. You can read Birthright however you want, but I saw it more as a story as someone different being accepted rather than a monster masquerading as a person.

    Clearly, we have a difference of opinion that's not going to be easily reconciled: You're of the opinion that you're right, and I'm of the opinion that the things you're saying are mildly retarded, and I imagine it's the same in reverse over on your side of things.

    Except that I, of course, am actually right. It's just how I roll.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 2:50 AM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    The Green Lantern Corps' atmosphere is beyond what is shown in character, and colored by our culture. Our "anchors" to the story are our Earth Lanterns -- Guy, Kyle, Hal, John, who will have these ideas about what men are like and what women are like coloring their perceptions. They are making coffee and donut jokes and referencing Hill Street Blues. There is a definite intent to draw on our cultural impressions to show us that the GLC is like a police force. A police force is socially set up as hypermasculine.

    Maybe we are just miscommunicating badly.

    I look at books with all-female worlds like Y: The Last Man and (in part) Wonder Woman and there are clearly Police, Armies, etc. Are you saying that, say, Agent 355 is inherently masculine (or signifes masculinity) because of her chosen profession, and her actual biological sex or gender identity is less important? And that this is part of authorial intent? No other interpreation is OK? I can't find her attractive and feminine?

    Our perception of Batman as a person has nothing to do with a cultural assumption and everything to do with what is written there.

    Huh? So, if the aforementioned space monster came to Earth, and you handed her a copy of Detective Comics, she could understand what was going on without knowing anything about our culture? No way.

    Our "anchor" to the story is either Bruce or Dick themselves. We know what goes on in that house. We see it. We're meant to see this relationship as is on the page.

    I'm assuming you are not denying the concept or existence of the subtext (in all works). I know that is not possible because I have seen you post numerous times about sexist subtexts in comics. So I confess I don't get it.

    Serious question- have you done any reading in postmodernist theory, particularly on the concept of the author and on how readers (re)interpret texts? Any readings in cultural theory? Because I feel like we are talking past each other here and I want to make sure we are familiar with the same stuff. This is not to say "ha ha I am smart" but I am arguing using a particular framework.

    Every single aspect you've questioned is discussed in the backstory, the one that's given in nearly every origin story. Bruce's personality, his reasoning for pretending to be a playboy and not ebing a social recluse, the reasons his relationships failed, his reasoning for being a crimefighter, his reasoning for trying to be a father. They are all there, and they are not sexual.

    Of course not, the Comics Code would never permit it. Predating the code, there would have been a huge uproar. Post-code, however, I can think of a few works with a sexualized explanation for Batman. Probably the best is Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum. I do find it interesting that your position seems to be "There is no Gay or sexual subtext in Batman" rather than "There might be one but is is unimportant".

    We should probably give this a rest. I don't want to fight or devolve into nastiness with anyone here, this seems to be getting heated.

    I like your writings (as well as kalinara's) and it would probably be best if we moved on to other topics. We can always revisit the Great Batman Gay Debate later.

    Can't we all agree at least that Midnighter has a gay subtext AND text?

     
  • At September 30, 2006 2:58 AM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    Chris:

    I didn't refer to you as Lex Luthor, I said you're using his exact argument, which he--the villain--uses to justify his hatred of Superman--the hero: He's an alien monster pretending to be human.

    But the difference between Lex and me is that I don't see anything wrong with an alien monster pretending to be human. I'm totally cool with it.

    You can read Birthright however you want, but I saw it more as a story as someone different being accepted rather than a monster masquerading as a person.

    Maybe your copy is different than mine, but wasn't the whole problem he had being accepted was that he was from outer space? It wasn't that he was from Kansas or a nerd or too skinny. Or even that he had superpowers.

    Like, wasn't there an entire issue where everyone loved him right until the exact second they learned he was from outer space? Because they thought he was a space monster? And everyone in the world had problems with that until he beat the fake Kryptonian army that Luthor created? And they finally accepted that he was from outer space and he was OK? And they learned to love the illegal immigrant and possible toxic hazard from the stars?

    Clearly, we have a difference of opinion that's not going to be easily reconciled: You're of the opinion that you're right, and I'm of the opinion that the things you're saying are mildly retarded, and I imagine it's the same in reverse over on your side of things.

    No, I don't think you are retarded for having a different opinion than me. It's clear though that you think personal insults make your opinions more valid.

     
  • At September 30, 2006 2:58 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    WHAT? Midnighter is totally straight!

    In their introduction...they were in that warehouse thing because they were doing a stakeout...naked...

    Um.

    Okay. I'll give you that one. :-)

     
  • At September 30, 2006 3:22 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    I look at books with all-female worlds like Y: The Last Man and (in part) Wonder Woman and there are clearly Police, Armies, etc. Are you saying that, say, Agent 355 is inherently masculine (or signifes masculinity) because of her chosen profession, and her actual biological sex or gender identity is less important? And that this is part of authorial intent? No other interpreation is OK? I can't find her attractive and feminine?

    Are you looking at context here? GLC is a very different book from both Y and Batman. The authorial intent is different. Some books play up cultural stereotypes, some work to throw them off, some writers have different stereotypes in mind than what the reader associates with it. You need to look at the entire book, the entire story.

    Huh? So, if the aforementioned space monster came to Earth, and you handed her a copy of Detective Comics, she could understand what was going on without knowing anything about our culture? No way.

    If she could read the language it was written in, she would most likely be able to understand the story. With enough books, she could understand the relationships. It would be scary to have an alien learn about Earthlife from comic books, but I don't see how an outsider would be unable to get the "gist" of Batman.

    I'm assuming you are not denying the concept or existence of the subtext (in all works). I know that is not possible because I have seen you post numerous times about sexist subtexts in comics. So I confess I don't get it.

    No, I'm not denying the existence of subtext. I was just saying that I've never seen it in Batman comics, but I have seen it in the Green Lantern books, so I agree with Kalinara's original points that a) it's not canonical, and b) it's stronger in Green Lantern.

    Serious question- have you done any reading in postmodernist theory, particularly on the concept of the author and on how readers (re)interpret texts? Any readings in cultural theory? Because I feel like we are talking past each other here and I want to make sure we are familiar with the same stuff.

    I've argued with people of different backgrounds before without having problems. It's a matter of clear communication. That's why I keep my arguments as plain as possible.

    I do find it interesting that your position seems to be "There is no Gay or sexual subtext in Batman" rather than "There might be one but is is unimportant".

    This is another oversimplification. I argued against your first point, because the reasoning was flawed. I argued against your next six, again, because the reasoning was flawed.

    I argued against the last point because you were misunderstanding the differences between the statements about Green Lantern and the statements about Batman.

    None of the specific behaviors that you have addressed have the subtext you are looking for.

    I am not stating in absolutes, I am arguing against your points. Your line of reasoning is flawed because you are drawing conclusions about a sexual relationship based on situations that have been explained away in a nonsexual manner.

     
  • At October 01, 2006 6:09 AM, Anonymous Willow said…

    Ragnell wrote: Dick can't make things work because he's a naturally needy person attracted to independant people.

    So Dick actually needs a nice Domme? Someone to firm and caring and let him be needy but know when to tell him to suck it up? Is it stereotypical that I'm now wondering if Dick's mood would improve if he got a maintance spanking every couple of issues?

    Tenzil: If Batman is a wild hetero playboy, why the hell would it be controversial for him to have a baby he didn't know about? It should be EXPECTED.

    You honestly believe that just to cover his identity that Bruce Wayne, orphan who lost both his parents and made it his life's work to never let another child be so rudely left alone in the world, would father a child willy nilly knowing he couldn't be there for him or her? Ok yeah. And I've got a bridge in Brooklyn that's practically mint.

    ...Batman is the only one of the 'big three' at DC without a supporting love interest being an important part of the mythos...

    You did notice how part of that Mythos is not just being alone or unique but being dedicated to justice to the exclusion of everything else, right?

    Batman is the only DC hero other than Green Arrow where the kid sidekick is an important part of the mythos

    Batman is one of the few DC heroes where what happened to him as a child molds his entire world view. Helena Bertanelli the Huntress is another. Dick Grayson, Nightwing is a Third. However, Helena and Dick both had mentors to care for their pain and give them a direction. Helena trained for vengenace with an assassin. Dick trained with Batman for justice. Bruce was alone with his pain and confusion and grief and rage.

    Which leads right back into: a teenage boy adopted by a single billionaire
    Dick's a little younger than teenager when he's first taken in, whenever the actual adoption happens. And he gets taken in by someone who understands him in way no one else can. He gets taken in by someone else who saw his parents murdered in front of his eyes.

    Yes, you can read that as soulmate or kindred spirit or what have you. But neither of those two qualifiers of 'someone who uniquely understands' are only for sexual relationships. Read Anne of Green Gables sometime maybe. Or Richard and Wendy Pini where Elves can give their soul names to a lover, or to a very close friend and the connotations are different even if the bond is deep.

    Batman is also notable as being one of the few longtime comics characters without a set female partner figure.

    As unintentionally feminist as this might be, I don't think you intended to say that long time comic characters are definined by the existence of a woman in their life. And that just like Victorian ladies were nothing without a good husband, comic heroes are nothing without a girlfriend. Cause that's also a little highschool, even if it reverses the cheerleaders and the football players.

    He 'pushes people away'. Except for Commissioner Gordon. Barbara Gordon. Dick Grayson. Jason Todd. Tim Drake. Alfred. Shall I go on?

    Gordon was a good cop in a bad city and warned respect and loyalty. Batman gives as he gets. Dick, Jason and Tim are emotional copies of himself. Even if Tim lost his parents a ways down the line, Tim held the same need to solve the mystery. Alfred was there for Bruce no matter what Bruce did. He could push but Alfred wouldn't go anywhere. Not even a damn inch. It's what makes Alfred, Alfred. And what I think a lot of fans like to think, helps remind Bruce that he isn't as alone as he feels, no matter how hard he might try to isolate himself in order to feel safe or feel as if he's protecting people around him.

    it would be great if Batman had a complex sexuality (within the limits of mainstream comics). But he doesn't. He has a string of really unconvincing half-assed girlfriends, a part-time hooker girlfriend he can never seem to help out despite being a billionaire and one of the world's greatest heroes, and a deep bond with teenage boys.

    Bruce Wayne has a stream of half-assed girlfriends, some of whom discover his secret and end up being unable to deal with it. Are you calling Selina the part-time Hooker? And I've already addressed the deep bond.

    I do realize it hasn't occured to you that Batman does have a complex sexuality. He's asexual. How many of those do you see walking around in comics land? How many individuals cast aside societal expectations in order to reach for and accomplish a higher calling? Even the enrollment of Catholics who become brothers, sisters and priests has steadily decreased over the past thirty to fifty years. Granted, Bruce isn't celibate because Bruce Wayne has to be a bit of a cad and sometimes it's expected of us to believe that bed shenannigans have happened. But sex isn't his passion and it's not what fills him with fire. Bruce Wayne has one mistress, her name's Gotham.

    Does this ever happen in real life? Does it feel real to you? If you had a single 35 year old male friend who was rich, and to all appearances he was a flighty dilletante, and he was all hot to adopt a teenage boy who lost his parents, but not to get married, what would your first reaction be?

    Truthfully, my first reaction would be. 'I hope he gets that child a good therapist'. Because the apperance of a flightly dillatante who'd also lost his parents would make me think that's not how I'd want the teen boy to grow up. No matter how much the 35yr old might understand. No matter how much it'd make me rethink how much of that 'flighty playboy' was an act because people got too unconfortable with 'the sad little boy who lost his parents'.

    People try to remake themselves in their children all the fricking time. This time someone would be trying to save themselves through a child. Again I say child. Dick only turned into a teen in the tv series.

    Batman from at least the 40's to the late 80's had a large, happy family of associated characters

    I'll give you that Batman is the least lonely loner who ever brooded in a corner somewhere: Babs, Jim, Helena, Dick, Jason, Tim, Kal-el, the rest of the Justice League, Jason Blood, Gotham PD (the good guys), Leslie, Cassie, Kon-el...etc.

    But even before the list grew quite so large, there was never anything happy about it. Bruce was lighter maybe, with Dick, because Dick was a child. But they were still battling dangerous criminals. He was still giving the child he was trying to save the chance to feel empowered in a way that most people would not have approved of. Which is dysfunctional all by itself.

    As for all the 'But not intimate with his girlfriend'. I just point up to my priors.

    PHe has one "son" at a time, and essentially abandons them when they reach maturity.

    Dick grew up, went to college, had a crisis of if he wanted to continue the vigilante life, got confused about if he had a proper chidlhood, grew up and got over it. Jason died. And Batman's still mentoring Tim. Where's this abandonment once they exceed the age of his pedrastic requirements?


    I hope nobody's writing fanfics about this.

    You hope no one's writing fanfic about it? You've obviously thought a lot about it. Some people do meta. Some people write fic. There's loads of fic out there about all three of Robins. I've been shown some of them to read as people tried to convince me of the same pov. As I've always felt that Bruce sees himself in the Robins, and at least in his books, they end up representing the side of him that's the least free. Thus in the beginning Dick's neediness and affectionate nature. Followed by Jason's rebellious "I don't need you - Don't leave me". And then Tim's 'Single minded determination to get what I want'.


    Clark is a space monster pretending to be human, and he knows it. He also has a whole dead planet to mourn, if I were Clark I would tell Bruce to lighten the fuck up, there are bigger problems out there. Joe Chill didn't make EARTH EXPLODE KILLING EVERYONE ON IT or anything.

    Are you just a jerk? Clark mourns a life that could have been, a culture he'll never truly know and parents who're just pictures. He's got the classic case of an adopted child yearning to find out who they really are. And if it is that his homeland is destroyed rather than too wartorn and divided up to really exist anymore, it's not like he caused that.

    Kara is the one who has an actual memories rather than fantasies of the family she's lost.

    As for Clark telling Bruce to lighten up? Who knows what would have happened to Clark if he hadn't found the Kents. Or if they'd died four or so years later when he was still a boy. Thus Clark's got compassion.

    it was a story of a lonely, solitary man who adopts a boy and trains him to be a warrior, and they dress in tights

    They might very well go 'Merlin and Arthur? But he didn't initially adopt him. He sent him out out live with Kay's family.'

    So, the Batman-Robin relationship is cast as romantic instead of familial in many people's minds.

    But, why? Why only Batman?


    What hole did you climb out of? Ollie and Speedy. Orin and Garth. There's more I'm sure. Oh yeah, Scott and Xavier over in Marvel-land. Which is weirdly canonical with the Scott - Jean - Xavier - Scott triangle in the early years.


    If Apollo and the Midnighter adopted a child...

    They did. Her name is Jenny.

    And again... (cause reading your long list of....stuff....) I begin to think you have a problem with a) Older men looking after young boys. Which makes things seem rather b) personal and biased. And I'm sorry if you had a bad experience in your youth or something. But Batman's subtext was coded from 'we're all boys together' and Batman as a dark PeterPan. Someone with intent to twist and pervert in order to shock and repulse, printed a book that said otherwise. And now you seem to be taking them up. Blindly too I might add, as you can't see someone connecting to a unique kindred spirit as anything other than sublimated subtext. Because c) there are young male teachers inspiring children. There are single foster fathers who want to give something back. Some are widowers, some are just bachelors who start off as 'Big Brother' figures and realize they actually want to help a kid more. I think it's extremely emotionally shaded to think that such a scenario is something to be hounded and watched.

    I hesitate to call you a Troll. Even if your name does start with T. But while no one is denying that people have read the coded relationship in one way and even written fiction about it. The fact remains the code is familial. You seem to insist that Batman has a long subversive history that promotes boy love. If you don't have some incident with an older man in your past shading your view and you yourself are not lusting after young boys, or you haven't been denied adoption of a child based on being a single male (oooh scary), or you've been granted adoption as a single female, but then had child services tell you the child was not your loveslave.... Troll just seems to fit.

    My Billygoat is from Krypton. She pwns your Troll.

     
  • At October 01, 2006 9:42 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I have to admit, personally, I don't quite see Bruce as asexual either. As much as the majority of his sexual encounters are in the guise of Bruce Wayne, he's had a few with women he could be himself around. His monologues don't portray any reluctance about the act itself.

    What I tend to think is that he's a heterosexual man with stunted emotional growth who's trying to consider himself asexual. Which isn't quite the same but is still complex. :-)

     
  • At October 01, 2006 8:17 PM, Anonymous Willow said…

    Batman as asexual, not Bruce. Though I can see the concept of Bruce as emotionally stunted, locked away and even shy in a sense that no one's ever getting close to the real core emotions.

    But either way, it's still a complex sexuality and he's still a hero.

    -Willow

     
  • At October 02, 2006 11:36 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Wow! At first I thought that Tenzil was James Meeley, but then I realized that he could spell. However, and I quote..."Serious question. If the portrayal of the GLC is so overwhelmingly hypermasculinity and somewhat sexist, what is the appeal for the female feminist fan?"

    I almost swallowed my own tongue. How can any "female feminist fan" NOT love the Green Lanterns? I mean apart from their magnificent hindquarters. *ahem*. They are all so delightfully messed up that it is a joy and a priviledge to read about them, from Hal's dominance fetish, John's calm in th face of catastrophy studliness, Guy's combination of nurturing and macho posturing, to Kyle's sweetness and occasional stupidity...what's not to like?

    However, I do agree wholeheartedly with the idea of Batman's asexuality. With everything that is going on his life, I just don't think that sex is as necessary to him as it is for example to Hal. Or Ollie. Or Nightwing for that matter. I get something of a Knights Templar vibe from Batman.

     
  • At October 02, 2006 4:08 PM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    Hi Willow!

    You honestly believe that just to cover his identity that Bruce Wayne, orphan who lost both his parents and made it his life's work to never let another child be so rudely left alone in the world, would father a child willy nilly knowing he couldn't be there for him or her? Ok yeah. And I've got a bridge in Brooklyn that's practically mint.

    No, what I believe is that adults who have been seriously traumatized as children often engage in self-destructive behavior. What you raise is an interesting, human storyline- what happens if BRUCE WAYNE fucks up, not the Batman?

    You did notice how part of that Mythos is not just being alone or unique but being dedicated to justice to the exclusion of everything else, right?

    Uh, no. That's not right. That's not at all how the character was portrayed until the late 80's.

    Batman is one of the few DC heroes where what happened to him as a child molds his entire world view.

    Uh...Superman? Wally West?

    Helena Bertanelli the Huntress is another. Dick Grayson, Nightwing is a Third. However, Helena and Dick both had mentors to care for their pain and give them a direction.

    Wally West, again. Not a trauma, but one of the closest mentorships in comics.

    Helena trained for vengenace with an assassin. Dick trained with Batman for justice. Bruce was alone with his pain and confusion and grief and rage.

    No. What about Alfred? Surely he provided moral instruction and emotional support. Leslie Thompkins? Lucius Fox? Bruce didn't live in an isolation box for 15 years.

    Yes, you can read that as soulmate or kindred spirit or what have you. But neither of those two qualifiers of 'someone who uniquely understands' are only for sexual relationships. Read Anne of Green Gables sometime maybe. Or Richard and Wendy Pini where Elves can give their soul names to a lover, or to a very close friend and the connotations are different even if the bond is deep.

    I have, thanks. I can recommend lots of books and articles to you where you will learn that for much of 19th and early 20th century literature, a close bond between women, including schoolgirl crushes and girls' emotional intimacies, can be read subtextually as lesbianism in many cases. Not for Anne, though.

    As unintentionally feminist as this might be, I don't think you intended to say that long time comic characters are definined by the existence of a woman in their life.

    Certainly not!

    And that just like Victorian ladies were nothing without a good husband, comic heroes are nothing without a girlfriend. Cause that's also a little highschool, even if it reverses the cheerleaders and the football players.

    No, what I was getting at is a lack of ADULT RELATIONSHIPS. Ever the sketches of marriages represented in comics are an attempt to make the characters inhabit an adult world.

    Gordon was a good cop in a bad city and warned respect and loyalty. Batman gives as he gets.

    That's not "pushing away".

    Bruce Wayne has a stream of half-assed girlfriends, some of whom discover his secret and end up being unable to deal with it.

    That's a plot device to get the icky girl away. Lois Lane, Iris West, Linda Park, etc. all can deal for some reason.

    I do realize it hasn't occured to you that Batman does have a complex sexuality. He's asexual.

    It had not occurred to me, but now that you raise it....

    How many of those do you see walking around in comics land?

    I can't remember the last time the Spectre got laid.

    How many individuals cast aside societal expectations in order to reach for and accomplish a higher calling?

    I see where you are going..

    Even the enrollment of Catholics who become brothers, sisters and priests has steadily decreased over the past thirty to fifty years. Granted, Bruce isn't celibate because Bruce Wayne has to be a bit of a cad and sometimes it's expected of us to believe that bed shenannigans have happened. But sex isn't his passion and it's not what fills him with fire. Bruce Wayne has one mistress, her name's Gotham.

    I might buy this.

    Truthfully, my first reaction would be. 'I hope he gets that child a good therapist'. Because the apperance of a flightly dillatante who'd also lost his parents would make me think that's not how I'd want the teen boy to grow up. No matter how much the 35yr old might understand. No matter how much it'd make me rethink how much of that 'flighty playboy' was an act because people got too unconfortable with 'the sad little boy who lost his parents'.

    Go on...

    But even before the list grew quite so large, there was never anything happy about it. Bruce was lighter maybe, with Dick, because Dick was a child. But they were still battling dangerous criminals.

    "I will rescue this child by placing him in even greater danger."

    He was still giving the child he was trying to save the chance to feel empowered in a way that most people would not have approved of. Which is dysfunctional all by itself.

    But it's just as valid to argue that Bruce would NEVER let Dick become a vigilante, just like many parents swear up and down they will never repeat the same mistakes their parents made. Some succeed, some fail.

    You hope no one's writing fanfic about it? You've obviously thought a lot about it.

    I neither read nor write fanfic.

    There's loads of fic out there about all three of Robins.

    How much about Speedy? Kid Flash? Aqualad? Almost zero, right? Am I wrong?

    I've been shown some of them to read as people tried to convince me of the same pov.

    I find it interesting that a lot of these arguments devolve into 'no one would ever think about this unless they wanted to insert themselves into the situation'. Do you read comics to enjoy a story or as a personal projection?

    Are you just a jerk? Clark mourns a life that could have been, a culture he'll never truly know and parents who're just pictures. He's got the classic case of an adopted child yearning to find out who they really are.

    Except in this case he's a space monster.

    And if it is that his homeland is destroyed rather than too wartorn and divided up to really exist anymore, it's not like he caused that.

    Yeah, why would the last member of a dead race have survivor guilt?

    What hole did you climb out of? Ollie and Speedy. Orin and Garth. There's more I'm sure. Oh yeah, Scott and Xavier over in Marvel-land. Which is weirdly canonical with the Scott - Jean - Xavier - Scott triangle in the early years.

    Does anyone write Cyclops-Xavier fanfic? Joke about it constantly? Etc. etc.? The point is there is something about Batman-Robin that really resonates culturally in a way those other relationships do not.

    And again... (cause reading your long list of....stuff....) I begin to think you have a problem with a) Older men looking after young boys.

    Not with Barry Allen. Not with Oliver Queen. Not with Arthur Curry. Not with Professor Xavier. Not with Captain America. Not even with Batman, because this is SUBTEXT. Batman is not a child molester, he is a hero who cares for a child.

    Which makes things seem rather b) personal and biased. And I'm sorry if you had a bad experience in your youth or something. But Batman's subtext was coded from 'we're all boys together' and Batman as a dark PeterPan.

    No serious cultural theorist thinks this. No serious comics historian thinks this. Maybe I missed something, please provide names or links.

    Someone with intent to twist and pervert in order to shock and repulse, printed a book that said otherwise.

    is your position that Gay men in the 1950's never, ever, identified with Batman or Robin?

    And now you seem to be taking them up. Blindly too I might add, as you can't see someone connecting to a unique kindred spirit as anything other than sublimated subtext.

    Well, no.

    Because c) there are young male teachers inspiring children. There are single foster fathers who want to give something back. Some are widowers, some are just bachelors who start off as 'Big Brother' figures and realize they actually want to help a kid more. I think it's extremely emotionally shaded to think that such a scenario is something to be hounded and watched.

    Not hounded, but caution is probably needed. Surely that nice Congressman would never hurt a boy, right?

    You seem to insist that Batman has a long subversive history that promotes boy love.

    Except that is not what I have said.

    I have repeated myself numerous times that I am referring to subtext , to code, and to various interpretations of the text. I have also observed that those that advocate boy love seem oddly drawn to Batman in a way they are not drawn to other 'boy sidekick' heroes.

    If you don't have some incident with an older man in your past shading your view and you yourself are not lusting after young boys, or you haven't been denied adoption of a child based on being a single male (oooh scary), or you've been granted adoption as a single female, but then had child services tell you the child was not your loveslave.... Troll just seems to fit.

    None of those items describe me. None are necessary to make an observation that 99% of standup comics make on a daily basis.

    My Billygoat is from Krypton. She pwns your Troll.

    Sorry, my Troll is Bismollian. It ate your billygoat with a nice Chianti.

    Can we please drop this topic now?

     
  • At October 03, 2006 5:06 AM, Anonymous Willow said…

    Tenzil:

    1) You admit you're a Troll.

    2) Gay men of the time also strongly identified with strong female leads. I don't believe those movies were coded for subtext for gay men. It's more likely that abscence of role models led gay men to look where-ever they could for wish fullfillment and some for of identification.

    3)Ollie and Speedy where Robinhood versions of Bruce and Dick; Arrowcar, Arrowplane. Arrowlair whatever etc. So yes, there were similar jokes made.

    4) Comedians also joke about black men's long dicks. It doesn't mean anything other than the long arm of slavery and treating the black man as other continues into the present. Joking about Batman and Robin has been parr for the course ever since the book reviling them came out. It was the major catalyst.

    Just like in highschool, all it takes is one person calling a girl a slut, for the whispering to start.

    5) Why stop the conversation? You started it. Batman and Robin are not Xena and Gabrielle. The subtext you're referrring to has to be viewed through that particular twisted perspective. How are people not going to think you just like to going around being a jackass and causing trouble if you don't engage in long conversations and state your point of view in ways that aren't condesending and offensive? But if you want to drop it. Then you can reply and it'll be dropped. I can stop checking this page, spell checking replies and rubbing my head as you expound on why everyone should be amazed at your intelligence and determination.

    6) PS: Please don't condescend to me about Boston marriages and close friendships between women surpassing the tolerable relationships they'd expect to have with any men/husbands in their lives. I've lived Women Studies 101 and Lesbian History 204.

     
  • At October 03, 2006 2:51 PM, Anonymous Tenzil said…

    1) You admit you're a Troll.

    In jest, yes.

    2) Gay men of the time also strongly identified with strong female leads. I don't believe those movies were coded for subtext for gay men.

    Some were not, but others were, quite deliberately.

    It's more likely that abscence of role models led gay men to look where-ever they could for wish fullfillment and some for of identification.

    Yes, but there is a common theme in the choice of identification targets.

    3)Ollie and Speedy where Robinhood versions of Bruce and Dick; Arrowcar, Arrowplane. Arrowlair whatever etc. So yes, there were similar jokes made.

    Show me some.

    4) Comedians also joke about black men's long dicks. It doesn't mean anything other than the long arm of slavery and treating the black man as other continues into the present. Joking about Batman and Robin has been parr for the course ever since the book reviling them came out. It was the major catalyst.

    Not sure it's the same. There appears to have been a pre-exisiting tradition in heroic fiction of the Hero and his Jr. Partner (Lone Ranger/Tonto, Sherlock Holmes/Watson), how many of those are considered gay icons or the source of merriment? But this kind of very specific work relationship is a very truncated version of real-world relationships.

    Just like in highschool, all it takes is one person calling a girl a slut, for the whispering to start.

    Are you accusing me of spreading mailicious rumours about a fictional person? Bruce Wayne can sue me in Gotham Supreme Court if he feels I have slandered him.

    5) Why stop the conversation? You started it. Batman and Robin are not Xena and Gabrielle.

    Why not?

    The subtext you're referrring to has to be viewed through that particular twisted perspective.

    What's different about Batman? Subtext is subtext.

    How are people not going to think you just like to going around being a jackass and causing trouble if you don't engage in long conversations and state your point of view in ways that aren't condesending and offensive?

    1. If people find my whole premise offensive and beyond the pale, my apologies. I think I've been civil here, despite being repeatedly insulted.

    2. This conversation has gone on for quite some time.

    6) PS: Please don't condescend to me about Boston marriages and close friendships between women surpassing the tolerable relationships they'd expect to have with any men/husbands in their lives. I've lived Women Studies 101 and Lesbian History 204

    I don't know who does what and who has read what. I don't know how old any one is, or if they are male or female unless they self identify. I asked repeatedly if anyone had a background in postmodern theory or ctitical analysis and was met with silence. Mainly, I seem to be getting a lot of "How dare you call Batman a homo!", despite posting at least 5 times I think this is a subtextual, not a textual reading, and I do not believe Batman is a pedophile.

    So far, you are the first person to claim in this conversation that you have studied gender issues in a formalized way. That's great! Let's talk, then.

     
  • At October 03, 2006 3:05 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Well...that was refreshing. Werent we actually talking about whether or not Babs and Dick should be together? How about Donna and Dick? She's kind of a mess and so is he. And I've said it before and I'll say it again, Ted Kord and Barbara would be perfect. Oh, and Batman's not gay.

     
  • At October 04, 2006 3:08 AM, Blogger Tom Foss said…

    Superman Returns is about how Superman is an alien. Superman the Movie is about how Superman is an alien. Superman:Birthright is about how Superman is an alien. Smallville is about how Superman is an alien. Siegel and Schuster spoke at length about how Superman was an alien. 50% of all Superman comics are about how he's an alien. Every other word out of Superman's mouth from 1955 to 1970 was 'Krypton'. I point out he's an alien and I'm suddenly Lex Luthor?
    Or, more accurately:
    Superman Returns is about how Superman is a Christ figure. Superman the Movie is about how Superman is a Monomythic Hero. Superman: Birthright is about how Mark Waid can recreate the Silver Age, and also how Superman is alienated, not alien. Smallville is about how Clark Kent finds out he's an alien and chooses humanity instead; it's about nature vs. nurture. Siegel and Shuster spoke at length about how he was based on Samson and Moses and other Biblical/mythological figures. 25% of Superman comics are about how he's an alien, 50% of Superman comics are about how he dicks around with his friends to teach them lessons, and 25% are about how he's a hero and a greater human than most Earth-born folk. Every other phrase out of Superman's mouth from 1970 to 2006 has been "My adopted homeworld" or "I think of myself as human."

    Superman is a friendly and heroic space monster (cue theremin music), but like the whole point of the entire premise is that this guy is passing as a human, not that Clark is real and Superman is an act. That is John Byrne whole cloth nonsense he came up with in 1985 to 'reinvent' something that wasn't broken.
    When your main character can juggle planets and your only ideas for stories involve bizarre love triangles and father-figure pedagogy, then yes, something is definitely broken. And honestly, the Superman-who-wishes-he-were-normal has its roots in the 1978 movie, as do most of the things Byrne spun off into Man of Steel. Besides all that, the fantastic sci-fi elements weren't a major part of the Superman mythos until the '50s; they were little more than essential backstory to explain how Superman had superpowers. Beyond that, he was the people's hero, champion of the common man against corrupt politicians, dictators, the carefree aristocracy, and the other injustices of the day. Space monster pretending to be human? That was just something the 1950s made up out of whole cloth, trying to reinvent something that wasn't broken, in order to better appease Wertham.

    Besides all this, Superman was an infant when he lost his homeworld, and until someone decided he had super-memory powers, he wouldn't have had much memory of his parents, or anything else of Krypton, for that matter. He was raised by loving parents who died elderly of natural causes, and went on to fight for justice because of the morals they instilled in him.
    Batman, on the other hand, lost his parents to violence as a young-but-impressionable child, and grew up in a cold and lonely mansion with only a butler to parent him. He fights for justice now because he couldn't fight as a child; he fights to ensure that other 7-year-olds don't have to lose their parents to random acts of violence. He adopts Dick for the simple reason that he sees himself in the kid, and sees the chance to give Dick what he never had: a chance, a father figure, and the means to exact revenge.

    Why is it that the media picks up on a homosexual relationship between Bruce and Dick? Why the specific focus on those two? It could be because Wertham mentioned it; it could be because the campy TV series left little to the imagination regarding Burt Ward, and that the show is very much a product of the sexually-experimental '60s; but I think there's another reason.

    Name another superhero/sidekick pair that's as well-known as Batman and Robin. Name one that's even half as well-known to the general public. I guarantee that Average Joe-on-the-Street wouldn't have a clue who Speedy, Bucky, Sandy, Toro, and Wing are. But Batman and Robin are a pair; appearing together in various media since the '40s. There hasn't been a decade since before WWII where Batman and Robin haven't had some major measure of popularity.

    And in this society, in this day and age, we see "single grown man" and already think something's wrong. Add a child into the mix, no matter what the circumstances are, and people will assume there's fishy business. This isn't evidence for Batman and Robin's relationship, it's evidence for the negative biases in our heteronormative, machismo-centric society. And, as someone pointed out, these sorts of assumptions keep men from child-care industries (including K-8 education) en masse. People see "grown man around children" and think "sicko;" strange how "grown woman around children" doesn't immediately associate with "Mary Kay Letourneau."

    I suppose, in the end, there's exactly the same amount of evidence for a Batman/Robin homosexual Freudian father/son slash relationship as there is for Superman being a space-monster-masquerading-as-human. Which is to say, none.

     

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