Geek culture likes to consider itself pretty progressive. In general that’s a fair assessment: people who feel different or ostracized tend to sympathize with each other, and in this regard geeks and marginalized groups have something in common. In spite of this, however, problems and prejudices that exist in society on the whole do tend to endure in some form even amongst geeks, and biphobia is one such problem.
Biphobia is a constant struggle for bisexual people of any gender in ways that are superficially different, but which stem from one underlying idea: society’s obsession with wieners. Let me explain. In popular opinion, women who are bisexual are assumed to be straight and using their sexuality as a performance to gain male attention. Men who are bisexual are assumed to be gay but afraid to properly come out of the closet. Either way, the presumed be-all end-all is thirst for the mighty D, and geek culture is often guilty of this assumption as well.
Representation matters, and everyone wants to be a hero. Unfortunately, what we LGBTQ+ folks get more often are queer villains, queer-coded villains, or anti-heroes. At least, they’re the most famous ones: pretty much every Disney villain ever, Loki, Constantine. The predominance of these types of characters and the lack of LGBTQ+ “good guy” superheroes creates the image of queerness as being tied to wickedness, threat to society, and general “otherness”. This influences both the way the general society sees LGBTQ+ people and how LGBTQ+ folks see ourselves, especially young people struggling with their identities. It creates a certain narrative for us, implying that we can only fit a certain type of mold and that it always sets us apart and makes us a threat. And that sucks.
I love a rugged jerk with a heart of gold as much as anyone, but Constantine’s morals and ethics leave something to be desired.
However, I’m not saying all queer characters need to be “good guys”. It’s just that a balance is needed to avoid forcing the idea that queer equals bad. Therefore it’s important to have more LGBTQ+ heroes and “good guys” who are people others follow and look up to (I’m not saying bisexual Steve Rogers, but I’m totally thinking bisexual Steve Rogers). We need to see that we can be great heroes and that we can have all kinds of different stories be about us.
Constantine is the much anticipated television adaptation of the Hellblazer comic book series. I will readily admit to being one of those supernatural drama fans who has never once read an issue of Hellblazer; my prior knowledge of John Constantine comes from the 2005 film Constantine and some Wikipedia research after said film came out. I was pumped for this show, as I’m a fan of horror and fantasy and quite liked the film, and I was even more excited when I saw the first images of Matt Ryan in the title role. What a hunk, and he actually looked quite a bit like the comic book pictures I’d seen. Well, the show finally premiered Friday night and it was… okay? Spoilers ahead, friends.
The devil is totally evil and you should hate him! Actual religious beliefs affect how religion is portrayed in pop culture, and of course affects how religious figures are portrayed. Now, Satan may not be Jesus. He’s not a paragon of virtue that is upheld by believers (unless they are Satanists, but we aren’t talking about them), but nevertheless he is an extremely important character in Judeo-Christianity.
Because Satan is an evil character, pop culture often pits him against the noble and righteous characters. When we talk about the devil in pop culture, we are often talking about the typical villain archetype. He is evil without reason or remorse. He does everything he can to destroy our virtuous heroes. Not only does he attempt to destroy them in the typical “I’m going to kill you” way, he also attempts to destroy our heroes by tempting them to evil. By doing this the devil gains more souls for hell and turns people away from God.
A lot of people say that Nazis are the perfect villain, because everybody hates them. You will never have a theater full of people getting pissed at how Nazis are treated. Well, pencil in Satan next to Nazis. Our default setting is to hate Satan. There is nothing endearing about him. Furthermore, he has a plus side over the Nazis—he is more interesting. Remember this is a character that according to most Judeo-Christian mythology is someone who was best friends with God before rebelling against him. Again, our default is to assume God is good and awesome. God created us, gave us life, and free will, so why would someone hate him?