Today, I was sitting in my office going through my newsfeed. As I sipped on my coffee, a trending topic caught my eye, #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend, I was dumbfounded to say the least. Not at the idea of a gay superhero, I mean Iceman for example is pretty well known in the comics and his sexuality has been alluded to over the course of many years, and finally confirmed recently. But what bothers me is what is being requested of Captain America. Instead of treating the gay community as human beings, we are seeing a group of people who on some level, are being treated as if they are now nothing more than an accessory to be peppered in entertainment to meet some sort of quota.
In all the years I’ve read Captain America comics, and even some of the old “Whatifs”, there has been no hint that he was possibly gay. So I have to ask myself, why make the change now? It seems to me that you have a group of people who are looking to reimagine a pre-existing character to fit some sort of agenda. We all know too well about the current culture war raging across the Western world with elements of the left looking to reshape social standards to meet their own world view. And, it’s looking like they have their sights set on popular characters. What makes this cowardly is, instead of working with real character development, story development, or even the task of creating a whole new superhero; we are witnessing a rebranding of a character that in my mind cheapens the humanity of those within the gay community they are claiming to want to better represent.
I believe the source of this topic can be traced to the hashtag that requested that the main character of Frozen, Elsa, have a girlfriend in the upcoming sequel. Since that gained steam, it seems that the very same activists have put their sights on Captain America. I have to ask myself, is this what the fans of one of the most recognized heroes want? Or is this just more astroturfing from professional activists and their supporters? This isn’t the first time where we have seen professional activists use social media to have their demands met, even if they’re not actual consumers of the product they want to change.
Just ask Blizzard, Overwatch their latest first person shooter, took a lot of flak over a simple victory pose. The professional whiners soon became outraged at Tracer’s over the shoulder pose. They claimed it was overly sexual, and an unnecessary portrayal of the character. If you simply looked at the pose there was nothing sexual about it, not to mention if you didn’t like that specific victory pose there were others you could choose from. Blizzard did make a change, though not something the professional whiners and many others expected. Blizzard replaced the over the shoulder pose with an even more risque classic pin up pose. Bravo Blizzard! Now, companies don’t often double down as we saw with Blizzard, more often than not you see them pull back, and make changes requested to them by a group of people that don’t even buy or have a real stake in their end product.
This is exactly what I believe is going on with Captain America. We again have a front row seat to view a small, but loud group of activists who make demands on media creators to fit their narrow world view. Honestly, if they really wanted to do the real work and increase the presence of the gay community in the realm of superheroes, then they would create a product that not only fits that mold, but also is marketable. Instead, fans like myself are strapped to a chair and forced to watch heroes that we’ve grown up with, changed in order to fit a political agenda that has nothing to do with the actual comic book story. I hope that Captain America is left alone, and allowed to be the pinnacle of what it means to be an American, I really hope that those who wish to see the change they claim is so important, do the hard task of creating a character that meets their standards. What I hope doesn’t happen anymore is that we continue to treat groups of people like quotas to be peppered in our entertainment, that feel one dimensional, that have no real complexity to them. I want to see developed, and complex people of all stripes take up the superhero mantle. These activists should actually pick up a comic book because they might actually learn a thing too. The biggest would be that superheroes don’t take the easy road and you’ve got to put in the work. So they should roll up their sleeves and get to creating compelling characters rather than trying radically alter established characters for their narrow, and all too obvious political agenda.