The term “Stunt Casting” is defined as: “casting used to generate media attention.”
The problem with commentating on topical issues is that you’ve sometimes got to discuss subjects you’d really rather not discuss. No, that subject is not Gay Awareness or Gay Acceptance. It’s the fucking X-Men.
Someone said in passing that people outraged with the recent development that Ice-Man had come out of the closet and been revealed as Gay (hahaha) were misguided, since the X-Men have “always been about tolerance”.
But have they? It seems beaten into the public subconscious that The Uncanny X-Men are a pop-culture allegory for acceptance and standing up to prejudice. Granted, there did exist some late 1960s’ stories where Cyclops and Ice-Man himself were about to be lynched (!) by a fearful town of ordinary folk. And, granted, Magneto was always pushing for the rise of “Homo Superior”. So why do I seem so reluctant to embrace Marvel’s mighty mutants as bastions and examples of equality and acceptance?
Because you’ve got to care about intentions. Getting the right reactions for the wrong reasons means a lot with something as important and fundamentally crucial as increased Gay acceptance.
Everything about Marvel seems reactive and under-handed. Significance passed down. Sure, this character that’s been here for five decades now- he’s Gay. Because, you know, if you’re a mutant who can turn his body into ice- your sexuality is clearly the most interesting aspect about you.
The X-Men, initially, had some interesting potential to explore and exploit underlying fear of a changing culture. But it wasn’t until the 1980s and beyond that it entered the fandom lexicon that the Magneto/Professor X dynamic was just like the imagined Malcolm X/Martin Luther King Jr. dynamic. This was, I presume, casually mentioned in passing but very quickly picked up on to where it is still mentioned today. But this isn’t so. It just- wait for it- capitalizes on popular thought amongst the public subconscious that was earned by something else. Before you knew it, it was hip to speak in pretentious, serious tones about how the X-Men were “persecuted” and, therefore, perfect reading for those suffering in the real world.
I suppose it’s fair that I offer that this is true; many X-Men fans have spoken about those stories helping them as they suffered self-doubt and self-loathing about their sexualities, etc. I’d suggest it was more the escapism involved in the stories than the creative team actually executing such a message, but I don’t want to dismiss other people’s enjoyment.
Marvel has been using the “knows what it’s like to be judged and persecuted” card for some time with their X-Men titles; titles that show a true elitist group, even shown endlessly posing with dour, rock-star expressions and superior hustle. A group that lives in a Mansion and that, at least in recent times, are prone to endless hook-ups with each other and other super-heroes. So, tell me: persecuted by whom? Big fucking Sentinels? So how is it different from The Fantastic Four, constantly under attack by Doctor Doom and his endless robotic assaults on the Baxter Building? “BECAUSE THAT’S NOT AN ALEGORY FOR RACISM *slobber”- yeah, shut up.
Making Ice-Man suddenly Gay is Fag casting. That’s all it is. Even the dialogue involved is so abnormaly terrible with it’s cutesy wording and movie trailer pacing. The snark is high at Marvel Comics; it makes you wonder if their entire editorial mandate is to write every comic like a movie trailer- condensed and edited towards making sure every smug punch-line is met by the audience- and they’ve all been given the Guide to Writing by Joss Whedon. (we must be self-aware and make smug remarks at all times!!!)
“I don’t know why everyone’s in love with you”, Ice-Man says.
“Yeah, that’s because yer Gay.” replies Jean Grey, head-tilted and all cutesy. Ugh.
It makes you wonder if any of these cargo-shorts wearing straight male man-children working at the Big 2 even interact with Queer people outside of comic savants, whose personality should not be held as the standard for balanced individuals, regardless of sexual orientation.
I’ll bet you that, eventually, Ice-Man dates an African-American. That seems the usual trope of white straight comic writers- their reverse logic is so extreme that they’ve made him a token, why not go all the way? Why not make it interracial to boot? Oh, I’m in no way against this- by all means, interracial relationships are fantastic. It’s just that you wonder if every single comics fucker’s only exposure to Gay relationships were Pedro Zamora and his boyfriend Sean or what? Whether it’s Mikkal in Starman or Northstar in the X-Men, it’s always the same, tempered Black guy putting up with the more emotional super-hero. You adorable little Avenger. Stop being foolish and come here. The writer needs to prove something.
The next time any publisher wants to promote a Gay character, outside of Wuvable Oaf.. it would be very nice if they didn’t have a series of Press Releases to announce it. Sometimes, it’s best just to DO IT.
Oh, and my response to the comment made in passing about people being outraged due to a member of the X-Men coming out as Gay..? “I’m amazed more people weren’t outraged at how abnormally bad and poorly written the X-Men were to begin with.”