Gay Marriage: A comical stand

Growing up (in Australia), my vision of the US was moulded by a number of things. The Brady Bunch and Mork & Mindy on TV. Grease and Smokey & The Bandit on the big screen. And literature-wise it was Archie comics.

In fact Archie, Betty, Veronica and the gang were the epitome of what ‘America’ was all about. High school hijinx, white picket fences, meeting at the diner for a milkshake…

Like most of us, I had this idealised version of the states in my head where everyone was friends, freedom of speech was paramount and equal opportunity was king. After all, this is the home of the brave; the land of the free.

Sadly as we got older we realised that – although we might snicker at ‘root beer’ – Archie comics was a little too idealised. Perhaps even two-dimensional. So we filed it away under “childish”.

Until recently.

For not too long ago Archie comics announced one of their openly gay characters was getting married.

Grown-up Anthony realises that the USA isn’t quite as accepting as his childhood perceptions, so wasn’t surprised at the reaction particularly from the conservative belt. But what WAS surprising was the reaction of Archie comics to the criticism.

“We don’t care if bigots don’t read our comics”.

Read that again. No back-pedalling, no justification, no spin. At a time when it’s incredibly hard to make money out of comics, a corporation is resisting the urge to go into spin mode and is instead just making a stand.

And now because of their stand, an organised protest group called One Million Moms is trying to pressure Toys R Us into not displaying and selling Archie comics.

This same group recently tried to pressure JC Penney into pulling Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson because she was gay. They describe themselves as “an online activism campaign which gives mothers an impact with entertainment  media decision-makers, and lets them know we are upset with the messages they are sending our children and the values being taught.”

Apparently freedom of choice and expression isn’t big on their values list.

But despite the criticism and possible loss of sales Archie comics is standing firm according to co-CEO Jon Goldwater.

“We stand by Life with Archie #16. As I’ve said before, Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone. It’s an idealised version of America that will hopefully become reality someday.

“We’re sorry the American Family Association/OneMillionMoms.com feels so negatively about our product, but they have every right to their opinion, just like we have the right to stand by ours. Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate and narrow-minded people.”

I’m an avid reader. Books, magazines, comics, online forums… if it’s got words then I’m there, but I haven’t picked up an Archie comic in decades. That will change this week as I make a point to purchase three or four. They don’t have to be the issue in question and I’m not doing it for value or even the storyline.

I’m doing it to send a message to the small-minded people of the world that I want literature to reflect all of society not just their sheltered part of it. And to support the open-minded people at Archie by sending a few bucks their way.

Growing up we used to argue over who Archie should choose – Betty or Veronica (Betty all the way btw – you can’t beat the nice girl next door). It was quite simplistic and, although I didn’t know it, reflective of the heterosexual dominance of the media.

I want my kids to grow up knowing that – even if it isn’t your particular sentiment – there are other choices out there. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

So please buy an Archie comic today. And make a bigot cry.

Hello allo allo

“Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.

“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What i tell you three times is true.”

The crew was complete: it included a Boots–
A maker of Bonnets and Hoods–
A Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes–
And a Broker, to value their goods.

A Billiard-maker, whose skill was immense,
Might perhaps have won more than his share–
But a Banker, engaged at enormous expense,
Had the whole of their cash in his care.

There was also a Beaver, that paced on the deck,
Or would sit making lace in the bow:
And had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck,
Though none of the sailors knew how.

There was one who was famed for the number of things
He forgot when he entered the ship:
His umbrella, his watch, all his jewels and rings,
And the clothes he had bought for the trip.

He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
They were all left behind on the beach.

The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
He had seven coats on when he came,
With three pairs of boots–but the worst of it was,
He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to “Hi!” or to any loud cry,
Such as “Fry me!” or “Fritter my wig!”
To “What-you-may-call-um!” or “What-was-his-name!”
But especially “Thing-um-a-jig!”

While, for those who preferred a more forcible word,
He had different names from these:
His intimate friends called him “Candle-ends,”
And his enemies “Toasted-cheese.”

“His form in ungainly–his intellect small–”
(So the Bellman would often remark)
“But his courage is perfect! And that, after all,
Is the thing that one needs with a Snark.”

He would joke with hyenas, returning their stare
With an impudent wag of the head:
And he once went a walk, paw-in-paw, with a bear,
“Just to keep up its spirits,” he said.

He came as a Baker: but owned, when too late–
And it drove the poor Bellman half-mad–
He could only bake Bridecake–for which, I may state,
No materials were to be had.

The last of the crew needs especial remark,
Though he looked an incredible dunce:
He had just one idea–but, that one being “Snark,”
The good Bellman engaged him at once.

He came as a Butcher: but gravely declared,
When the ship had been sailing a week,
He could only kill Beavers. The Bellman looked scared,
And was almost too frightened to speak:

But at length he explained, in a tremulous tone,
There was only one Beaver on board;
And that was a tame one he had of his own,
Whose death would be deeply deplored.

The Beaver, who happened to hear the remark,
Protested, with tears in its eyes,
That not even the rapture of hunting the Snark
Could atone for that dismal surprise!

It strongly advised that the Butcher should be
Conveyed in a separate ship:
But the Bellman declared that would never agree
With the plans he had made for the trip:

Navigation was always a difficult art,
Though with only one ship and one bell:
And he feared he must really decline, for his part,
Undertaking another as well.

The Beaver’s best course was, no doubt, to procure
A second-hand dagger-proof coat–
So the Baker advised it– and next, to insure
Its life in some Office of note:

This the Banker suggested, and offered for hire
(On moderate terms), or for sale,
Two excellent Policies, one Against Fire,
And one Against Damage From Hail.

Yet still, ever after that sorrowful day,
Whenever the Butcher was by,
The Beaver kept looking the opposite way,
And appeared unaccountably shy.

Gay Marriage – a comical stand

Growing up (in Australia), my vision of the US was moulded by a number of things. The Brady Bunch and Mork & Mindy on TV. Grease and Smokey & The Bandit on the big screen. And literature-wise it was Archie comics.

In fact Archie, Betty, Veronica and the gang were the epitome of what ‘America’ was all about. High school hijinx, white picket fences, meeting at the diner for a milkshake… 

Like most of us, I had this idealised version of the states in my head where everyone was friends, freedom of speech was paramount and equal opportunity was king. After all, this is the home of the brave; the land of the free.

Sadly as we got older we realised that – although we might snicker at ‘root beer’ – Archie comics was a little too idealised. Perhaps even two-dimensional. So we filed it away under “childish”.

Until recently.

For not too long ago Archie comics announced one of their openly gay characters was getting married. 

Grown-up Anthony realises that the USA isn’t quite as accepting as his childhood perceptions, so wasn’t surprised at the reaction particularly from the conservative belt. But what WAS surprising was the reaction of Archie comics to the criticism.

“We don’t care if bigots don’t read our comics”.

Read that again. No back-pedalling, no justification, no spin. At a time when it’s incredibly hard to make money out of comics, a corporation is resisting the urge to go into spin mode and is instead just making a stand.

And now because of their stand, an organised protest group called One Million Moms is trying to pressure Toys R Us into not displaying and selling Archie comics. 

This same group recently tried to pressure JC Penney into pulling Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson because she was gay. They describe themselves as “an online activism campaign which gives mothers an impact with entertainment  media decision-makers, and lets them know we are upset with the messages they are sending our children and the values being taught.”

Apparently freedom of choice and expression isn’t big on their values list.

But despite the criticism and possible loss of sales Archie comics is standing firm according to co-CEO Jon Goldwater.

“We stand by Life with Archie #16. As I’ve said before, Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone. It’s an idealised version of America that will hopefully become reality someday.

“We’re sorry the American Family Association/OneMillionMoms.com feels so negatively about our product, but they have every right to their opinion, just like we have the right to stand by ours. Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate and narrow-minded people.”

I’m an avid reader. Books, magazines, comics, online forums… if it’s got words then I’m there, but I haven’t picked up an Archie comic in decades. That will change this week as I make a point to purchase three or four. They don’t have to be the issue in question and I’m not doing it for value or even the storyline.

 I’m doing it to send a message to the small-minded people of the world that I want literature to reflect all of society not just their sheltered part of it. And to support the open-minded people at Archie by sending a few bucks their way.

Growing up we used to argue over who Archie should choose – Betty or Veronica (Betty all the way btw – you can’t beat the nice girl next door). It was quite simplistic and, although I didn’t know it, reflective of the heterosexual dominance of the media.

I want my kids to grow up knowing that – even if it isn’t your particular sentiment – there are other choices out there. And there’s nothing wrong with that. 

So please buy an Archie comic today.

And make a bigot cry.

 

Edit: THIS makes me happy 🙂