Monday, January 08, 2007

A woman of convenience

I probably shouldn't be reading about comics. But I did. And they seem to insert diversity, at least in the form of gay characters, when it is convenient.

So they've made themselves a gay Batwoman. She's got a lead role and everything, that's nice. And she's got an old flame: Renee Montoya. She's the cop from Batman: the Animated Series and although she is background, she features strongly in a few episodes. She's a very strong character and works in a "man's" job. Of course she's gay. It's very convenient. I suppose it gives a certain uniformity to the outlook of police force?

Still, she is a pillar of morality doing what is right for society rather than what is right to make a quick buck against a background of extreme corruption. Do you have any idea what sort of strength of character that takes? If you are a straight woman (or a man) looking for a role model like Montoya and can't because she's been written as gay, you are a twit. Her sexuality doesn't matter, it's just very convenient.

(Apparently she's not such the pillar of morality later in life, but I've only read that on Wikipedia. The circumstances of that do seem to make it just more convenient for the writers, though.)

(Also, I suppose this argument could be taken further to point out that being on the moral high ground was the woman's job when this country was born and it wasn't a new idea then. Even now, corporate whistle blowers are very often women, as an example. Of course the character written to have no inclination to graft was a woman. Also very convenient.)

A second bit of convenience occurs in Heroes, the TV show. Here we have a character who has successfully battled off one aggressive challenger to her chastity and is finally starting to see the geeky boy helping her out as, well, male. And she even tries to ask him out to the dance at which point we discover, or at least are treated to stronger hinting than usual, that he is gay. And as a supporting character specifically supporting a character shedding the impurities in her character, that's very convenient. Save the cheerleader, save the world? Apparently, but first get her nice and high on a pillar of purity.

Unfortunately, there's no thin line to walk for this. No balancing act good enough, no stepping clever enough. No right answer. You can please some of the people or none of the people. Is a fictional universe really large enough to accurately or meaningfully reflect the diversity in society?

And Hollywood should get past heavy hinting.

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