Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Superheroes: Were their outfits telling us they were GAY all along?

Okay, watch this:

I need a little help here. I admit - I'm completely baffled.

At first, I thought it was funny. Really funny, and I wanted to share it on this blog right away because it was so cool.

Then, when I started to think about it, I was kind of offended (I didn't like the kids pointing and laughing scene, or the "now you're thinking about stabbing me") - clearly the superheroes didn't WANT to look gay, and they were all kinda surprised by it.

But damn if they don't all LOOK really gay.

I mean, I grew up watching "He-Man" - maybe there was a reason for that?

And all of this made me want to share it with you all even more.

So, I'm super-hero curious. What do you think?

Is it Funny?

Is it Offensive?

Is it Both?

Let me know your take on this in comments.


Super Namaste,



Brian Farrey said...

Good question.

Are we laughing at the fact that the heroes don't want to look gay or are we laughing at their insecurities, knowing that it's stupid for them to be concerned about it in the first place? Are we ultimately laughing at/making fun of homophobia?

Personally, I thought this was pretty funny, mocking the stereotypes that gay has a "look" or a "feel" about it. If someone were to ask me, "Does this make me look gay?" I think I'd respond, "If you have to ask, you're already a friend of Dorothy."

As for the kids pointing and laughing, it may be the most borderline offensive scene. But, for all we know, Captain Planet just asked the kids if he looked gay and they're laughing as if to say, "Do you REALLY need to ask that?" I dunno. It was certainly the riskiest gambit in the video.

Now, the next question is: what else does this CollegeHumor put out? I mean, if this had appeared on SNL or MadTV, I would be far more inclined to think of it as satirical. But if these are put out by a bunch of fratboys, there may be a little more homophobia behind it.

I'm sticking with my first answer. I think it mocks homophobia. But I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

I can only speak for myself, a married, mostly-straight woman, but I thought it was more funny than offensive.

It's funny because nobody really walks around dressed like that, and anyone who did walk around dressed like that would immediately be considered kinda scary. It takes the heroes out of the realm of fantasy and brings them into the "real world" in a new way. It's funny because we traditionally look to comic heroes to be above "all that." (Concerns about body image, concerns about others' perceptions of their bodies, issues of sexuality at all, really, at least when you're looking at the kids' cartoon versions of these characters rather than the comic-book versions, which are usually more complex.) It's low humor, for sure, the kind of thing a seventh-grader would come up with, but that doesn't make it necessarily offensive. And as Brian mentions above, despite the simplicity of the question "does this make me look gay," there's no simple answer. As much as we would like for the simple answer to be "why do you care?," there's still so much more to it than that.

In our day and age, humor, in order to "work," must always walk on the razor edge of offensive. Humor points us to the places we don't want to look, and when it works it makes our response to those places palatable, so that maybe in another moment we can approach the subject with more courage. Humor is most offensive when it reduces the difficult to a stereotype, a cliche, a neat little package to be contained and dismissed. Like Ronald Reagan's "there you go again" to Jimmy Carter, or Sarah Palin's "Being mayor is sort of like being a community organizer only you have actual responsibilities." I don't think this video packages and dismisses the issue, but it rather gives us the opportunity to ask more questions about it. Others may disagree with me, and I'll be interested to hear out anyone who does find it offensive.

web said...

I also didn't find it particularly offensive and have been trying to articulate why. What I've come up with is that the video falls within the realm of stereotypes that the "gay community" has embraced/celebrated so much, they have generally lost their sting. Does that make sense?

It would seem very different to me if there was a sense of malice there, but I didn't perceive one. That's just one person's view, of course -- and that of a straight woman, at that.

BookChic said...

Personally, I thought it was just funny, and I think that with the kids pointing and laughing, he had prolly just asked them if he looked gay, just like all the other superheroes had asked, like Brian said.

Great blog, btw! I just found it via Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog and love it. Your blog's going in my favorites.