Monday, January 08, 2007

I Hate Being Wrong

Ladies and Gentlemen, (Via Rhiannon) Mr. Chuck Dixon:
We needed a scene in which Connor undeniably had sex with a female so we could stop the assumptions that Connor was gay.
Let me start off by saying that is the stupidest excuse for having a sex scene I've heard outside a Laurell K. Hamilton plot.

And it serves to kill some of my interest in Connor Hawke.

I didn't read much of Dixon's Green Arrow, just the Green Lantern crossovers, JLA and the relaunch. From them, though, I never got the impression of a homosexual man. Instead I thought he was asexual.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the term "asexual" as applied to human beings, let me explain it to you the best I know how. If you've ever been pretty drunk while a remarkably attractive person is kissing you and begging you to spend the night but you turn them down because you don't feel like going to the trouble of undoing a button fly on somewhat tight jeans, the term might just apply to you. If its not shyness that keeps you from approaching the gorgeous person who sent you a drink, but an unwillingness to give up your seat in a crowded and noisy club, the term probably does apply to you. I don't mean anyone who turns down sex in a "it's not my type" or "I'm aroused but repressed by low self-esteem or cultural taboo" way. I mean someone who turns down sex in a "I have better uses for my energy" way.

Its a lot more complicated than that, and there's probably a bunch of people ready to nitpick this definition, but the basic idea is no real interest in sex.

That's not to say there's no interest in romance or attraction, which is where I got my impression of Connor Hawke. He liked women, but really didn't have an active sex drive.

It fit with his whole relaxed archer persona. Like Ollie, pretty much all of his sexual needs were met. Unlike Ollie, he required very little in that department.

Until, of course, I saw these pages.

Instead he's just another repressed, sheltered young man for writers to project their own adolescent sexual insecurities through, or play off cliches and cheap jokes with.

This character is strange. I'm reasonably certain that he was a 90s attempt at racial diversity. I remember one comic that described him as part white, part Asian, and part black. But, they gave him blonde hair and most of the artists draw him like a white man anyway, so nobody knows unless they specifically point it out.

In the meantime, he seemed, to a lot of people, like a chance at sexual diversity. A lot of people read him as gay, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who read him as asexual. They can still make him bisexual if they want (there's really no way to close that door on future writers). But that message board conversation proves that he was created to be a stock heterosexual young man.

And he looks like a stock white man, unless you go out of your way to point it out in the story (and you shouldn't have to).

They could, of course, have let it be subtle and been ambiguous so that individuals could project on him, relate him to themselves or people they've known. But that intense need to establish sexuality early on shut the door on that, and made the DC universe just a little less diverse, and a little less interesting, than it could have been.

In the end, of course, it proves nothing but Dixon's double-standard on censoring homosexual relationship. People experiment, even asexuals, and a single love scene doesn't set things in stone. A later writer could establish him as gay and retcon this out, or explain it away as him doing what he thought he was supposed to do and have a big awakening sexuality storyline.

The only difference now is, as opposed to being irked that he's gay rather than asexual like I'd thought, I'd find myself logging online in sadistic glee to read Dixon's reaction.


  1. ...I don't understand why it's so necessary for his sexuality to be established in the first place. Is it important to the story or concept?


  2. I see nothing wrong with some subtlety and ambiguity...but who am I kidding? This is Comics!

  3. Asexuality...LOL. Myth. People use that excuse when nobody would be willing to sleep with them.

  4. I don't know what I find more disturbing - the fact that Chuck Dixon wrote a whole ambiguous sex scene just to defuse the gay rumors or the fact that Judd Winick wanted to out Connor and do a big storyline because of those same rumors in order to tell a relevant story.

    Thankfully, DC refused to let them do that on the grounds that there was too much established background that Connor did in fact like girls. Not that this matters at all in relation to his kicking-butt.

    Honestly, Ron Marz handled the manner very simply and with a good deal more tact than anyone in Green Lantern, during the second Kyle/Connor team-up; Hard Traveling Heroes, The Next Generation.

    I forget the exact dialogue, but basically the two were in a diner and the cute waitress was flirting with Connor. Kyle asked Connor why he wasn't flirting back and Connor said he hadn't noticed and that he really wasn't interested. Kyle asked if Connor was gay, noting that he didn't have issues with it - he just wanted to know as a friend. Connor said that he liked girls but...

    1) he saw no reason why he had to respond to every single woman who flirted with him and indulge in meaningless sex, just because he could.
    2) he knew about his dad's wicked ways as a young playboy and as much as he admired his father, there were some things about Ollie he did NOT want to emulate.

    Now that made Connor a very interesting character to me when I read that- here's a guy who makes a willing choice, not neccesarily to be celibate, but to forego casual sex simply because he thinks about the consequences of his actions. No religious or spiritual reasons are given - he just knows first-hand what kind of trouble sleeping around from one town to the next can cause.

    It made perfect sense from the standpoint that Connor's very existence came about because of Ollie not thinking about the future and that he would want to be like his father but at the same time try to improve himself.

    And if nothing else, it did make for an ammusing gag as all these women are throwing themselves at the 'not-looking-for-a-fling' Connor while Kyle (who was between Donna and Jade at the time for most of these stories) is standing in the background groaning at his friend's luck.

    So Connor isn't asexual - he's just learned how to control his urges. Go figure having spent all his teen years in a monestary. ;)

  5. I agree with Matt. My libido is very healthy, but I find myself turning down propositions because I knew that the post-coital conversation would be, well, awkward and meaningless, and I would have a long ride home to boot. It happened just this past Saturday! I just wasn't feeling her enough to go home with her. I certainly don't consider myself asexaul. It's just that I'm old enough and secure enough to turn down invitations if that particular woman isn't right for me. WM

  6. Starman -
    Except that DC DID let Dixon do a whole ambiguous sex scene to prove he wasn't gay.
    And in his current mini-series they let Dixon mention it again to AGAIN prove he is neither gay nor a virgin.

  7. Asexuality...LOL. Myth. People use that excuse when nobody would be willing to sleep with them.

    Like hell. Sorry, but this attitude here really pisses me off.

    I'm asexual. It is, honestly, having zero interest in sex and, for me, not being sexually attracted to anyone. I can look at my fellow humans and appreciate their beauty, but it's like my reaction to fine art.

    I don't particularly appreciate being told that my (lack of) sexuality is a "myth" or an "excuse". The only thing that would be more offensive is if you told me to go get medical help - or to go get fucked.

    Do you tell gay men that homosexuality is a myth, and an excuse for why women won't sleep with them?

    ... Sorry. I didn't mean to derail this thread.

  8. "Starman" Matt MorrisonJanuary 9, 2007 at 1:20:00 AM GMT+1

    To whoever anon was,

    I never said that they didn't. The "them" in my post was refering to Winick and his editor and the plans to "out" Connor.

    And for the record, I'd like Connor if he were gay, straight, bi or whatever. I'm just against anything that gives Judd Winick a chance to try "tell an important story".

    Now that I'm home - I dug out the issue in question and here is exactly what Connor says. Seems I got two conversations mixed (probably the similar one Connor had with Wally West once) but the gist of what I said is still there.

    CONNOR: "I'm... well, I didn't know. I don't really notice that kind of thing. Growing up in the Ashram and all, I haven't really had much experience..."

    KYLE: Play your cards right and you're gonna get a world of experience from Cristie over there.

    CONNOR: That's not what... I just don't think I want to... you know... with her.

    KYLE: Don't want to? Seriously? Connor, if you're trying to say you're gay, that's cool. You can just tell me.

    CONNOR: No, it's not that. I've always thought of myself as straight. But... I WAS raised in a monestary. (quietly) Kyle, I've enver even KISSED a girl. I'm just... uncomfortable with women. Unlike my father, who seemed unable to resist a pretty face. Maybe I have noticed women noticing me, but I just never did anything about it. But like I said, I have no experience with women at all."

    So yeah - not asexual, not gay. Just shy and a little clueless.

  9. "Do you tell gay men that homosexuality is a myth, and an excuse for why women won't sleep with them?"

    Gays have someone who will sleep with them so why would I say something like that. Asexuallity is a myth and maybe you should explore it with a psychiatrist.

  10. Wait, wasn't that conversation during the Marz run and not Winick's?

    Speaking of Dixon chicanery, I find the quote posted at Rich's latest LiTG illuminating. Axel Alonso won't talk to him? How DARE Alonso not speak to a man who implied publicly Axel lies to his artists!

  11. Dan, yes it was. I said that was from the Marz run in my post before the one where I quoted the conversation.

  12. Starman -- See, now I read that scene but I don't see it setting that he's not asexual. There's still room for interpretation the he has no sex drive. He says he likes women romantically, but there's nothing there that implies that he's exercising any control over his libido when he turns a woman down.

    Alexandra -- Ignore that guy, he's just desperate to get a rise out of someone.

  13. Alexandra -- Ignore that guy, he's just desperate to get a rise out of someone.

    Wise advice.

    As for the scene being discussed here in the comments, I haven't actually read the comic in question, but from the transcript, it sounds ambiguous as to whether he's straight-but-shy or actually asexual. (Fun ambiguity, though.)

  14. Well, even though I can't help laughing at Dixon's quote, both as an example of hypocrisy and as the worst excuse for a sex scene I've seen in a while, I have to agree with the reading of Connor as asexual.

    He's a little shy, sure. He doesn't want casual sex, either. But mostly, I think he's just not interested in a relationship. We've seen him turning down offers of dinner as often as he turns down offers of sex.

    It's like what we've been shown of Libby Lindstrom in the CH:DB mini. She seems nice enough, and she's proved she's got at least a little bit of backbone; she's probably less likely to work for the bad guys than Connor's last romantic interest, Crackshot; she's only trying to talk to him a little bit-- and he's blowing her off completely. Which, granted, is to some extent for plot issues, but still fairly telling, IMHO.

    At least it's a reading that Dixon's not likely to contradict. He's already "proved" Connor's not gay, which means that now he can leave Connor waiting for his true love like a good little virgin.

    One question: I keep hearing that Winick wanted to write Connor as gay. Is there a source on that? Because, while I find it believable that Winick would consider it, I can't help but think that even Winick should know what people's reaction to him writing that story would be.

  15. The fact that Dixon considers that scene to prove Connor's hetrosexuality is bizarre. The way I remember that issue she believed he was her long-lost lover and enchanted him to believe it too, which took away any choice he may have had in the matter.

    Mind, I was always puzzled in the first place as to why Dixon even cared about his sexuality given that he created Connor as not just a very religiously devout Buddhist but also a monk. A monk, damn it, which pretty much renders his sexual orientation a moot point since he's forsworn whatever it was.

    (By the way, I remember it being Kevin Smith, and not Winick, who started playing with the idea of Connor being gay.)

  16. Flidget, if I understand the traditions of ashrams similar to Connor's, they don't require celibacy of people who live and study there, and Connor wouldn't technically be a monk. I admit the research I did was a while back, and I've forgotten most of the particulars, but it is worth noting that both Oliver Queen and Eddie Fyers have spent a fair amount of time living at the ashram as well. The tradition seems to be that when they're actually in residence, they do as the monks do, but when they aren't, celibacy is not a requirement.

    As for the particular issue with Connor and Lady Ren, I don't think she enchanted him, exactly. More that she was so insistant that Connor didn't exactly have a chance to decline. And then, of course, whatever sex they could have had was interrupted when Connor runs off to fight the bad guy five minutes later.

    Actually, while I didn't think of it this way when I read it (probably because I was so firmly convinced that nothing happened between them), If Dixon is insisting that sex happened, then the consent issues are probably murky enough to qualify Connor for the rape list. Which just makes the whole thing where no one acknowledges it even creepier....

  17. "Alexandra -- Ignore that guy, he's just desperate to get a rise out of someone."

    Yeah, that's what it is...oh, except that my statements are still valid and still the truth. If I wanted to get a "rise" out of someone I would have used words like "fuck" which she used or other profanity. It's not my problem that she feels like an outcast for refusing physical contact with people.

  18. "Starman" Matt MorrisonJanuary 9, 2007 at 5:59:00 PM GMT+1

    Rhiannon - I've heard personal accounts from two seperate fans I consider reliable sources who claim to have heard Winick speak of wanting to out Connor because of his sexual ambiguity. I remember also reading him saying something to that effect in print but I can't find that article on-line.

    (Incidentally, I think this lends credence to my own theory that Winick doesn't read other people's comics but just reads story summaries on the Internet.)

    I admit that is technically hersay - but as you say, would anyone be the least bit shocked if it were true?

    Fidget - Smith depicted Connor as straight, though he did joke about the gay rumors. From GA (v. 3) #15

    OLLIE: (as Mia is flirting with a hospital bed-sick Connor) "That is, if the boy's even interested."

    CONNOR: "Look, I like girls, all right? Jeez. Just 'cause a guy ain't you."

  19. Hmm.. looking at what was posted: Chuck Dixon was driven in an editorial fiat to establish Conner's (hetro)sexuality. the Lady Ren sequence was what Dixon preferred over what Paul Levitz had in mind. Has anyone mentioned exactly what Levitz wanted Dixon to do in terms of Conner's sexuality? (my guess is it was introducing a "surprise!-a-kid" kid? "OOOH! He had a drunken one night stand and look what happened! OOOH, he's --HETRO!
    The he-man world is secure in knowing he's a idiot who doesn't know how to use a condom." Hey, they did it with Ollie and Roy... what is it with those darn Arrows...Off on a slight tangent time--Now, it's Wildcat too--was that done just to trash Dorian's Wildcat fandom at PMB? Ted's established constant macho posturing certainly indicates he's insecure about his sexuality. Honestly, as a hetro female and long time Wildcat fan (JL of A# 123 way back in the 70's)I'd rather have Wildcat be a heroic gay male than be just another in a series of indiscriminate idiots foisting pregnancy (and raising children) on faceless plot device women.
    (yeah, Cheshire falls into this category too. I wondered at the time why they were making a big deal/cover splash out of yet another "enhanced but basically non-powered" fighter wiping the floor with the Titans when Deathstroke did it better.)

  20. Wasn't Wildcat's search for his son a focus of an earlier JSA plotline? Furthermore, were't his brief affairs with Catwoman and (GA) Huntress another such focus?

    I'd mean, I have no problem with Wildcat being bisexual or anything, but he's pretty firmly established as someone who's made his way around DCU women of questionable morality.

    ...meaning mostly villains, antiheroes, and vigilantes, I should say.

    As far as his kid goes, if I'm remembering the earlier plotline right (where he mistakenly thought a young villain was his son), then it doesn't look like foisting pregnancy on an unsuspecting woman was entirely his fault.

  21. It's not my problem that she feels like an outcast for refusing physical contact with people.

    You know, I was angry at you for your previous comments, but now I just can't be anymore. You're absolutely hilarious. I haven't laughed so hard in ages.