On Friday news broke that after a year of struggling in the ratings, NBC is canceling its freshman comic book series, Constantine. While others took the interwebs and expressed their disappointment, I celebrated in style. After all, for this queer nerd of color, seeing that bi-phobic tripe get canceled was nothing but sweet retribution with a nice serving of schadenfreude. Because it tackles very dark and adult themes, Constantine, as a franchise, has never had the mainstream success as say Spider-Man, Batman, or X-Men. Just the same it has an immensely loyal and devoted following. While the 2005 film which starred Keanu Reeves (aka Future Hubby #8) continues to garner a mixed reaction, I personally enjoyed it. In fact my friends and I at the time dubbed it The Prophecy 4.
Where was I? Oh yeah… When news broke of a new Constantine series premiering, like many people I was most intrigued… After all, anyone who knows me is aware that I proudly support my LGBTQ superheroes. Oh yes, John Constantine is canonically bisexual and part of the family. And before any other white trolls decide to question this or my comic book street cred like they did on Twitter: STAY MAD HOMOPHOBES!!!!!!! Then news broke that Constantine wouldn’t be bisexual in the new series.
The reason? The standard BS, that Constantine’s bisexuality isn’t all that important to the character.
Sexuality is not that crucial to John Constantine? Have you met the guy? Seriously.
It should also be noted that this isn’t the first time Executive Producer David Goyer has displayed this kind of homophobia and heterosexism. He has previously (and rightfully) come under fire for attempting to downplay and erase the sexuality of another queer protagonist, Leonardo Da Vinci in Da Vinci Demons.
History and facts be damned. Because that’s all the media needs right now another straight white superhero.
So the show struggled and limped in the ratings and S.O.S. (save our show) campaigns were launched. In the meantime myself and other alienated and boycotting fans are essentially enjoying the train wreck.
And to think the very LGBTQ fans who were boycotting this series might’ve made the difference in getting Constantine renewed for a second season.
But by no means is this the first time something like this has happened. Oh no. Hardly. We’re well aware of the fact that erasure happens on the racial front. As out gay writer David Gerrold will tell you, erasure and bigotry is all too prevalent when it comes to LGBTQ people as well. Case in point, his novel and the 2007 eponymous film: The Martian Child. While in the novel the protagonist is gay, in the film he is turned into a straight widower. And for those of you who are wondering, The Martian Child tanked at the box office. The irony being had they kept the protagonist gay, the film probably would’ve done far better. If nothing else than for the sheer fact that it would’ve been something different from every other bland straight white rom-com drama. It would’ve piqued curiosity and garnered disposable queer dollars like that movie about the gay guys on the mountain. Um, yeah them too, but I meant the other gay guys on the mountain. It should be noted that most writers have no power over film adaptations which is why we get fails like this and the Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea fiasco where the characters were whitewashed for the SyFy Channel’s miniseries. LeGuin spoke out on the erasure and the whitewashing of the films on Salon. Neil Gaiman has also had to deal with the Hollywood shotcallers trying to whitewash his protagonists — which is why adaptations for Anansi Boys were sidelined. New York Times Bestselling Author Jessica Verday was part of an upcoming dark fairy romance anthology, Wicked Pretty Things, and wrote a boy/boy tale for it. The editor claimed the publisher Running Press wouldn’t approve of it and she’d need to make one of the characters a girl. Verday called BS on the claim and pulled the story in protest. As many of you may recall, I had the privilege of having a bigoted Lethe Press publisher invite me to submit to a Civil War anthology, only to be instructed that I am not allowed to include gay characters because the anthology needs to appeal to a mainstream cis heterosexual audience. Having a racist piece of garbage tell me to erase the gay from my narrative is no different from telling me to erase the colored. But you really have to appreciate the gall to ask a queer writer of color to houseslave for a Civil War anthology. While Gaiman, Gerrold, Verday, LeGuin, and myself are all completely different writers, it’s clear that we have at least one belief in common: So Hollywood, I see you continue to hemorrhage money left and right. With all of that erasure, bigotry, and soul-auctioning, I have to ask, how did it work out for you? Oh. Okay then.