Sexualized Saturdays: The Future is (Not) Now

So it’s 2014. Same-sex marriage is legal in nineteen states, and twelve more are working on it. We’re learning how to 3-D print human organs for transplant, and scientists have just invented a color that is literally darker than black.

Early 2000's goths, rejoice.

Early 2000’s goths, rejoice.

But having a bisexual protagonist on a TV show is apparently way too futuristic for some people.

In recent press junkets for the Constantine TV series premiering this fall, its executive producers made waves by saying that their John Constantine character was not bi.

In those comic books, John Constantine aged in real time…. Within this tome of three decades [of comics] there might have been one or two issues where he’s seen getting out of bed with a man. So [maybe] 20 years from now? But there are no immediate plans. (x)

Where did these remarks come from? Well, the executive producer team is made up of Daniel Cerone and—oooh, David Goyer. What a bastion of awfulness that fucktruck is. I guess I shouldn’t have expected too much progressive thought from the guy who said that She-Hulk was clearly created for Bruce Banner to fuck and that Martian Manhunter was an embarrasment, or anyone associated with him.

john constantine tv showIn the same interview, the two men are careful to reassure viewers that, despite NBC’s strong stance against portraying characters actively smoking cigarettes onscreen, Constantine would still be a smoker. This is extra awesome news, because it sends the message that showing that a character has an addictive, cancer-causing habit is far, far more important than giving queer viewers some much-needed representation.

Including Constantine’s bisexuality in the TV show wouldn’t even be a revolutionary move the way making a character like Dean Winchester or Steve Rogers bi would be. That would be altering the current canon to include representation. Making TV show Constantine bisexual is literally just a matter of staying true to the original comics that the character comes from.

After public outcry, the production duo later backtracked, offering this comment to MTV:

“We never said he wasn’t. It’s just not what we’re leading with,” said Goyer. “When was Constantine in the comics introduced as being bisexual? How many years into the run? Ten, eleven, twelve years into the run? When he was first introduced, sexuality was not the big thing they were featuring. They didn’t even get into that, regardless of who he slept with, for a year or two.” (x)

Approved_by_the_Comics_Code_AuthorityExcept this still comes off as implying that the series will only out Constantine after a decade or so into the run of a show that we have no guarantee will last that long. Furthermore, his bisexuality probably wasn’t the big thing when Constantine was introduced in 1988 because the Comics Code Authority wasn’t revised to allow open portrayals of same-sex relationships until 1989—maybe that is a fact that has some relevance here? It wasn’t “the big thing” because they were literally forbidden from publishing a book showing him having relations with a dude—whether or not the creators wanted to.

john constantine bisexual

from Hellblazer #51, 1992.

Here’s the thing the production team doesn’t seem to understand: the future is now. Dudes can kiss each other in comics and on TV, and the bigoted minority who has a problem with it is constantly shrinking. Two of the hottest shows out there right now are Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, both of which feature protagonists who experience sexual attraction to more than one gender. No one rioted in the streets when Arrow’s Sara Lance was revealed to be bi, and Oberyn Martell was a fan favorite before his unfortunate and gruesome demise. They’re introducing a character who most casual comics fans have never heard of to a wide audience. Cerone and Goyer can’t claim that they’re being true to that character out of one side of their mouth while erasing his bisexuality out of the other side. The future is now, and it’s time for Constantine’s production team to get with the fucking program.

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