Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Batwoman's a lesbian? Who knew?

Talk about things coming full circle!

As I mentioned a post last year, the Batwoman character was created for the Batman comic book series after some goofy psychologist wrote a book claiming that Batman and other comics were making good little American boys into, you know, the sort who like boys more than girls.

Wonder Woman even came under some suspicion.

The comic books have had gay and lesbian characters for years now.  But now we hear that Batwoman is returning.  And she won't be romancing Bruce Wayne, either:  Batwoman regresa al c√≥mic como lesbiana El Mundo 31.05.06 and Straight (and Not) Out of the Comics by George Gene Gustines New York Times 05/28/06.

Gustines mentions that this proliferation of hyphenated "Bat"characters:

Another effort to link old and new characters centers on Kathy Kane, the gay Batwoman who will appear in costume for the first time in a July issue of "52." Batwoman was introduced in 1956, but she was one of several, often silly additions to the Bat family, including Ace the Bat-Hound (1955), Bat-Mite (1959) and Bat-Girl (1961). In her latest incarnation, Batwoman is a wealthy, buxom lipstick lesbian who has a history with Renee Montoya, an ex-police detective who has a starring role in "52."

I'm tempted to make a joke about Ace the Bat-Hound and a certain Republican Senator, but I'll refrain.

That paragraph doesn't mention that this odd cast of characters was a response in particular to the paranoia propagated by Frederic Wertham and his comic-bashing Seduction of the Innocent (1954).  But that wasn't the beginning of the anti-comics craze.  This undated site, Seduction of the Innocents and the Attack on Comic Books, prepared for a Pennsylvania State University class,  gives more background on the alert Dr. Wertham and his crusade to rescue America's pure children from being dragged down into sin and corruption by Superman and Batman.

The author, Jamie Colville, writes:

[In 1945] Dr. Wertham set up a clinic for underprivileged people. After opening it he soon got interested in the "effects" that comic books had on children. In 1948, Dr. Wertham came out against comic books publicly in an interview in Collier's Magazine titled "Horror in the Nursery." This interview would be the start of Dr. Wertham's seven-year study of comic books' effects on children. In this interview, Dr. Wertham would state that:

"The number of `good' comics is not worth discussing, but the great number that masquerade as `good' certainly deserve close scrutiny."

A few weeks later Dr. Wertham attended a symposium in New York City called "The Psychopathology of Comic Books". The reaction to Dr. Wertham's views was immediate. One month later, in the April issue of Time magazine, a story appeared about Detroit Police Commissioner Harry S. Toy, who examined all the comic books available in his community, and then stated they were; "Loaded with communist teachings, sex, and racial discrimination." In May of 1948 he also presented his views in an article for the Saturday Review of Literature. ...

Some people were a little more extreme in their views against comic books. In 1949, Gershon Legman wrote a book called Love and Death, where he claimed that comic books train kids like animals, by breaking their spirit. He also claimed that comic books distort real life, and give kids violent images (or as he puts it, "blood") to "feed" upon.

What will we tell SpongeBob?

For my own part, I loved reading comic books growing up.  They certainly helped me enjoy reading, a habit which has stayed with me.

And, hey, if a comic-book series like the X-Men can put Anna Paquin and  Famke Jannsen on the big screen in the same film, they've got to be doing something right!  We're talking high literary value here.

1 comment:

hpgalactis said...

Yeah lets get rid of the gay comics put lets let em listen to 50 cent. This is bullshit. We have taken the ability of the parents to do there job away. Let the parents decide if they want there kid to be exposed or not.