[Ladies, gentlemen: We talk a lot about ladies, here at the Tiger Beatdown. We have, by and large, lady contributors. We are run by a lady; that lady's co-blogger is another lady; every week, the lady who runs the blog has a conversation with a third person, ALSO a lady. As the blog's very subtitle makes clear, we conduct Lady Business, a charming little phrase that the lady who runs the blog happened to pick because it is also slang for "pussy." She is a very mature lady, as you know. However! Did you know that there is a whole entire other gender out there -- a gender not composed of ladies? Yes! It's true! This gender is known as "men." And these "men," or "dudes" as some call them, experience a variety of things, such as marginalization, and opinions about sports. You know what would be interesting: If the conversation about marginalization, and gender, and such, were not entirely conducted by ladies. Experts inform us it's often not, and we have just been so far up our own ladybusiness that we don't publish that part often! Therefore, in the interest of learning more about this mysterious and elusive "second sex," Tiger Beatdown will be presenting a special series this week on Visions of Manliness. And the manly contributors to this series will, in fact, be actual men! We kick it off, my friends, with a man you ought to know. A man known to us as Garland Grey.]
I love comics. I love the collector mentality of comic book readers, the care taken with the physical object, and the fetishism that care demands. I love the trivia, the ridiculous costumes, the character arcs. Even though I’m scientifically literate, I still love the weird-ass ways comic books try to explain superpowers. I love the fact that I know more about adamantium and vibranium (the material the Black Panther’s suit is made out of) than I do about REAL ELEMENTS.
I love the way that facts are concrete in the comic book universe, but also flexible. I love the religiosity of having a canon that you must follow, but I also love alternate timelines. I’ve had entire arguments about storylines that take place outside Marvel’s Earth-616 (the earth we inhabit). I enjoy the number of creative geniuses that try their hand at shaping the same clay, and the different ways that they re-interpret and re-contextualize characters. Comic book writers will decide to write a comic where they take your favorite superheroes AND TURN THEM INTO ZOMBIES. OMFG Marvel Zombies. Catch the fuckin’ fever.
I could talk about men in spandex all night (and then I might start in on comic books… ZING). But some of you aren’t into comics, so here are 5 things you might not know about your favorite superheroes:
- In “The Killing Joke,” The Joker shoots Batgirl in the spine, paralyzing her.
- Galactus is not REALLY a villain. He does eat worlds, but he also prevents Abraxas from being unleashed upon our universe. He’s cold and cruel, but he’s a part of the process.
- Superman wasn’t originally able to fly. In earlier comics, he had been raised on a planet with a higher level of gravity. He could jump long distances, but not fly.
- Magneto has two children: Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch. In the “House of M” saga, most mutants in the Marvel Universe were de-powered (including Scarlet Witch) and Magneto killed his son.
- Northstar from Alpha Flight is gay (and they’ve killed that poor bitch on every universe they could).
You can imagine the fuckin’ squealfest I had when I found out the trailer for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World had come out.
I’m not as big a graphic novel reader as I should be, but I knew the following things:
- It was directed by Edgar Wright, the creator of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.
- The people in this movie have superpowers.
- Michael Cera. I would watch this man pick out produce. Just film hours of him thumping cantaloupe and squeezing heirloom tomatoes. I’d be entranced. If Michael Cera Goes to Whole Foods didn’t win any awards, I’d refer to it as an “Oscar snub.”
And I KNOW, all of you 5 cat having, bookstore working at, Renaissance Festival Attending, GRAPHIC NOVEL PEOPLE are complaining about him being cast. Do you know why they didn’t cast an action hero? Action heroes can’t act. Have you seen Schwarzenegger’s early “work?” The best movie he ever made was Twins with Danny Devito. There. I said it. Bring on the hate mail.
I KNOW you find Cera sickly sweet and a little fey. Give him a chance to show you his range. If he doesn’t start doing meatier roles he’s going to come down with a case of the Winona Ryders and be playing a high school student for 10 years.
Anyway, I watched the trailer, and it looks AMAZING. Scott Pilgrim falls in love with a girl named Ramona, but must defeat her 7 evil ex-boyfriends, all of whom have vowed to kill him. When I finished, I had two reactions. My first reaction was that this movie looks like it will follow Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey,” the model for every successful Hero Myth. The Call To Adventure, Supernatural Aid, The Road of Trials, etcetera. The second reaction was that I was missing something.
So I watched the trailer again, and at 00:36 the 7 exes are spread out in a fan. We have:
1. Smirking Brunette penis.
2. Indie Darling Jason Schwartzman penis.
3. Glam Rocker penis.
4. Chris Evans penis, brother of Gay One Life to Live Heartthrob Scott Evans penis.
5. Blondes Have More Fun penis.
6. Innocuously Handsome penis.
I did a little research: her name is Roxy Richter, she is a lesbian, she was Ramona’s college girlfriend, and she’s half-ninja. But at 01:15 Scott’s sister refers to them collectively as “evil ex-boyfriends,” just as Michael Cera does earlier in the trailer. AND when the Los Angeles Times reported on the new trailer, they used the phrase “seven evil ex-boyfriends” in their story.
Ladies and Gentlemen, watch closely to see how a major studio, Universal, de-gays a film.
Warner Brothers did the same thing with Valentine’s Day, their romantic comedy about BLAH BLAH BLAH not LOVE ACTUALLY so I don’t care. Two of the characters, played by McSteamy and the Bradley Cooper, appear as a gay couple. In the trailer, it looks like Cooper is with Julia Roberts’ character.
How do I know Cooper and McSteamy are a couple, without having seen the movie? Because Warner Brothers made sure I, as a gay man, was aware that these two hot guys were going to be playing gay characters. They got the information out there in a very quiet way, and then de-gayed the trailer. The Weinstein Company did the same thing with A Single Man. The movie revolves around a gay man facing the horror of losing his lover. Would you understand that from the trailer? Absolutely not. You would have to conclude the movie was an Ice Storm-ish, Revolutionary Road-y movie about Colin Firth and Julianne Moore being trapped in a tortured romance.
This is a gay movie, about a gay man, mourning another gay man, directed by the gay fashion designer Tom Ford. Tom Ford, who once released a cologne designed to smell like “a man’s crotch.” (I could not make this up. I don’t have good enough writers.) This is one gay-ass movie. What POSSIBLE demographic was this being de-gayed for? People who will go see what Eddie Izzard referred to as a “Room With A View With A Staircase And A Pond type movie” but won’t feel they’ve been misled when it is a completely different movie than what the trailer suggested? Rednecks whose copy of Steel Magnolias got eaten by the VCR?
[Ed. Note: The trailer embedded above is available on YouTube, and, duh, embeddable. That is why it is here. In the embedded trailer, you will see shots of men kissing, and in bed with, men. If you look for "'A Single Man' official trailer," however, you will find this video, which has embedding disabled, apparently meant to promote the movie as a potential Academy Award winner. It intersperses critical praise with some of the shots from the trailer above, and some new ones. You will note that certain shots from the trailer we've embedded -- and we won't say which ones they are! -- are, well. Missing. Pay attention, people, this is important.]
Roxy Richter is in the trailer. She’s in the league of evil exes. Why isn’t she mentioned in promotional materials?
Movie studios should be commended for making movies with gay characters. If you don’t think gay characters can offer a light to gay kids, you have never seen the film Mannequin with Meshach Taylor as the gay fashion designer Hollywood. Sure, he’s flighty and flamboyant and gay as a rainbow made of unicorns, but he’s also able to transcend his jealousy and frustration when he’s no longer the center of attention, and he’s willing to put himself at risk for his friends.
But by reducing the amount of publicity for LGBT characters while simultaneously trying to court the gay dollar they are sending the message that gay characters are something they are ashamed of. I sometimes wonder if Fox would have DARED take X-Men 3 away from Bryan Singer and give it to Brett Ratner if Singer wasn’t a gay director. Seriously, imagine them trying to pull that shit with Michael Bay. He would EAT THEIR HEARTS out of their chests.
We gay comic book fans don’t hope for much. A few explosions, a little eye candy, some acknowledgment that the director is working with a story larger than himself – and complicated, interesting gay characters. That can’t happen if our superheros are always forced to use the service entrance.
[Garland Grey grew up a gay intellectual in the South; this experience has given him a high tolerance for the absurd. He writes about culture, politics, and media at garlandgrey.com]