Gay Archie Comic Character: My Channel 2 News Response

-By Warner Todd Huston

Earlier this afternoon, Mike Parker long-time reporter from CBS 2 News, Chicago, gave me a ring and asked me to make a quick trip downtown Chicago — well, “quick” being relative with Chicago traffic at rush hour — to appear with him in a piece on the recent announcement by the good folks at Archie Comics that they intended to add an openly gay character to their Archie comic book series.

It was a bit unusual for me. Not to be on TV, but to have TV call me about an item I hadn’t yet written about. I saw this story this morning but thought I’d put off writing about it until later tonight or Saturday. Now, usually I get everyone mad at me after I’ve written about something, but it looks like Mr. Parker wanted to initiate a preemptive strike with this one! Ha, ha.

Anyway, Mr. Parker was quite correct that I had a thing or two to say about the matter and I hope that I was able to effectively convey those ideas in the interview that will appear tonight during the 10 O’Clock news on Channel 2.

What struck me about this Archie announcement is that it seems we’re about to lose yet another safe haven for kid’s entertainment. Introducing a gay character may be “realistic” but does Archie have to be realistic? Kid’s entertainment doesn’t have to “reflect the current world of Teens.” It doesn’t have to present harsh realities or controversy. It can just be about fun or fantasy and it doesn’t have to delve into every aspect of life whether it be provocative, even deviate. Will the Archies have a skinhead character? Will they have a Holocaust denier character? Or how about on the other end of the spectrum and putting in a strict Christian character? Will Archie get one of those? Likely not as it doesn’t fit the liberal agenda.

What we have here is the break down of another tradition of wholesomeness, just another way to eliminate good clean fun and turn it into something salacious. I mean, when I was a kid in the 1960s I didn’t want my comics full of the Vietnam war and race riots! I wanted to escape all that in my comics.

Back in 2007 we already had Paramount Pictures initially declaring that they intended to remove the U.S. Army aspect of last year’s GI Joe movie until called on it and then they reversed themselves. Just recently Marvel Comics had Captain America warning against evil, dangerous tea party protesters even though millions of Americans identify with that movement and its been the most peaceful grass roots political movement in decades. And now we have the always easy going and kid friendly Archie comics going for controversy instead of sticking with its decades long commitment to good clean fun.

Mr. Parker wondered if I was one of those book banning sorts that was intent on making sure that Archie comics were somehow “not allowed” to have their gay character. A fair question, of course. I reminded him of the Dixie Chicks and how what they said about G.W.Bush was so controversial. My point in bringing them up was to say that I was not out to try to squelch their free speech or the Archie Comics folk’s free speech, but just as they have every right to say what they want I have just as much right to reply that I don’t like what they’ve said and to essentially vote with my wallet and refuse to buy their products. What could be more American than free speech for all yet seeing lawful, perfectly legitimate consequences that follow from that free speech?

In any case, I am sure there will be an Internet link to this tale after it appears on the 10 O’Clock news and I’ll post about that when it happens. If, that is, I don’t come of like a raving, wild-eyed lunatic! Ha, ha.

**UPDATE**

OK, here is a link to the report: CBS 2 News.

Comments

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  • Gay people, and gay characters, are not inherently "salacious." Have you actually seen the Archie strips you're writing about? They're not even remotely racy. Your casual comparison of gay people to skinheads and Holocaust deniers is ridiculous.

    I'm glad the kind of old-fashioned off-handed bigotry you exemplify in this post is on its way out; a majority of Americans now understand that gay people are just people, not some kind of perverse infection creeping in to corrupt good ol' wholesome values. It's sad and a bit depressing that you not only haven't yet figured this out, but for some reason also feel the need to put your ignorance and lack of empathy on public display.

  • In reply to ihatch:

    ... and some better reading comprehension and less name calling from YOU would be nice.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    (Great rebuttal.)

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    How is it reading comprehension and name-calling? There is no other words for it. How do you even argue with a man who says that gays are out to destroy the world? That's such an ideologically backward and offensive statement that you simply cannot discuss it in a civil manner.

    Here's a news flash: some people are different than you. Some people are not different by choice. This happens. You need to accept this. You talk about not wanting children to be exposed to a "realistic" world. Would you say the same if they introduced a black character? A Latina woman? There are more extrapolated political issues that we can disagree on such as gay marriage, but the viewpoint you have shown is just hateful. And there's no way to get around that.

  • In reply to ryankiefer:

    Hilarious. First is your inability to actually read, then comes name calling, then comes wild eyed hyperbole. "Out to destroy the world"? You really aren't stable enough to debate, so thanks for stopping by.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    Hilarious.

    Do you ever actually reply to the comments your readers post? Or do you just criticize their reading ability?

  • In reply to EdNickow:

    The problem is, none of these "comments" actually address anything I said. They merely name call, throw bombs, make assumptions and assert their own sense of superiority. I have yet to see a comment that actually tried to engage me. So, why should I bother with all your hate and attacks? I see no reason to engage with this sort of childish attacks.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    All of "MY" hate and attacks? I have not engaged in any name-calling, bomb-throwing, assumption-making or sense-of-superiority-asserting.

    Maybe you should check below and take a minute to reply to my very direct question about the definition of the word "salacious" which is something you actually said in your post and which I "actually address[ed]".

    It's sort of funny that while you complain about name calling and assumption making you engage in the same behavior yourself.

    One might say it's "hilarious"

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    The fact that the only way you can respond to direct criticism is by belittling the people who wrote it says a lot more about you than anyone else.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    I apologize, I may have overstepped. What then, are you attempting to imply by saying that including a gay character in a cartoon is "salicious" and "the break down of another tradition of wholesomeness?" Quoting you exactly there.

  • In reply to ryankiefer:

    Well, finally. The first ACTUAL question! Congratulations.

    So, what do I mean by "salacious"?Let's look at the Archie history. A main theme has always been love, of course. Does Archie love Veronica or Betty? But it has never been about mere sex, the physical act. In fact, it has been common that a kiss resulted in a sort of red-faced embarrassment in the comic. It dissolved into a childish swooning as opposed to a sexual lust-like reaction. That is in keeping with the pre-teen, "wholesome" entertainment I was talking about.

    However, introducing gay characters refocuses that treatment to the physical act as opposed to the sort of airy "love" that makes up the fantasy of the series. "Love" is separated from the mere act of sex in this sort of literary treatment. Adding a gay character, then, changes the entire underlying flavor of the comic and begins taking it down the path of realism instead of fantasy. And that materially changes the comic, virtually destroying what it was.

    But, even if my contention is wrong and I am off base in my feelings about how this undermines the entire edifice upon which Archie Comics was built, there is something else that we have to confront. Why Archie too? Here is the main question: is there NO venue that the gay agenda cannot coopt? Why does EVERYTHING have to be "updated" to "reflect the world"? Can't we just have a fantasy and entertainment created in a particular vein without coopting it? Does everything have to be altered to please a tiny, tiny minority of people? (and yes, this nonsense of gays being some 10% or more of the population is off base. They are less than 6%. That makes them a tiny, tiny minority)

    For instance, I do not want to force any left-wing entertainment to change its basic premise to suit me. If left-wing books or movies or TV shows (or even a comic) has any audience, I have no interest in stopping them from doing their thing. Yet left-wingers are not happy unless they've eliminated anything they disagree with coming from the right (Archie is just the latest). The left-wing is intolerant in the extreme, but their attitude does reflect the left's essential fascist underpinnings.

    If you want a gay Archie-like comic book series, go create one. Why coopt the current Archie just to suit YOUR needs? Can't gays get by without taking things away from others? Can't the left make things work for themselves without attacking and attempting to overtake what other people have?

    And if you want intolerance, all you have to do is look at every single reply here. I never once said gays were bad people, I never said they were evil. I never said they should be shut down and not allowed any free speech. I never said they shouldn't be allowed to have characters to their liking in comic books. But each of you intolerant lefties came here and began calling me names, assuming that I "hate" and putting words in my mouth. Leftists are nothing more than fascistic in their methods.

    Why are you people so intolerant?

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    You have made several assumptions in this paragraph which I will address directly:
    First, you assume that that a homosexual attraction is purely physical. This is simply wrong. A relationship between two men, or two women, is no different than any other relationship. There is a strong emotional component involved in any strong gay relationship, and any of my gay friends who are coupled will tell you that they love their partner very much. It is very possible to write a comic that includes a purely platonic love between two men, contrary to what you have assumed. It happens in real life all the time.
    As for the rest, I can say no more than this: the entire purpose of an LGBT movement is to be treated equally. That's it. There is no "gay agenda" trying to take over and make everything include gay characters, as you have said above. We wish only to be not treated as separate, as special, and worst of all as somehow degrading. The very fact that you are against gays being depicted as intelligent and reasonable people, or at all, much like what anti-civil-rights activists argued for against blacks, Hispanics and women in the past says that you hate.

    Why are you so intolerant?

  • In reply to ryankiefer:

    And there you go, devolving into name calling. Too bad. Why is it you can't debate without name calling?

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    This is coming from the person who has called me intolerant, illogical, elitist and unable to comprehend the written word. Pot, meet kettle.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    Mr. Huston, I have just one question for you: When was the last time you actually purchased and read an Archie Comic? I ask this because as someone who works in the comic book industry and has seen how the medium has evolved over the years, you seem to have a somewhat dated idea of what's been going on in the books. You do realize that Archie has HAD SEX with both Betty AND Veronica in the books, right? Albeit it was in a scenario where he was married to each of them, but the relationships have gone beyond the simple 'kiss and swoon' of the 60's. And as for this notion of comics being a 'safe haven' for children's entertainment, I've gotta ask when was the last time you EVER read a comic book? Have you read Spiderman? Superman? Batman? Any of these books where parents look to these characters as symbols of heroism and courage? Were you aware that Peter Parker has had sex OUT OF WEDLOCK? GASP! That Superman and Lois Lane have been shown LYING IN BED TOGETHER? Now that is salacious! And yet I have never heard of anyone complaining about those portrayals in comics.

    Do YOU have a problem with it?

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    In response to other comments that have been made, I could be snarky and say things like "Why are you so intolerant?" or "Do you know what was also frequently updated to reflect contemporaneous times? The bible!" However these things would not be civil of me and so I will refrain.

    Archie comics has been praised in the past for updating their comics to keep them relevant to today's youth, using contemporary costume and technology! It is therefore not out the scope of their comics to include contemporary dating culture.

    Also, while young adult fiction does not need to include topics of relevance to young adults, to completely forgo any of them would almost make it cease to be 'young adult fiction' as it is no longer relevant to that audience. It is the duty of good, nay, excellent young adult fiction to educate youth in issues that will present themselves in the near future so that our young adults can make rational and healthy decisions, especially on supposedly controversial matters.

    Also as a long running serial whose primary audience now is not the primary audience it started with, and that has a quite regular audience turnover, it's whole existence is dependent on its ability to attract new readers. This is such an attempt to include a new audience into its fold.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    This from the blogger who continues to use the word "intolerant" to describe the "left-wing" or others who disagree with him.

    Hilarious.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    After reading so many great criticisms of this blog post, I'm inspired to post something in the style of my blog (Ahem ... http://www.chicagonow.com/haiku)

    Gay love, like straight love
    Is more than just physical
    And it's all normal

  • In reply to EdNickow:

    Damn parenthesis
    Ruined the self serving link
    To my haiku blog

    http://www.chicagonow.com/haiku

  • In reply to EdNickow:

    I was pretty disappointed in this article, but I'm glad to see all these other commenters jumping all over it. There's nothing "unwholesome" about the mere existence of a gay teen. Mr. Huston, you're talking as though the comic is going to be taking on a dirty, sexual tone now because of a gay character, but I don't know where you're getting that. The comic always showed heterosexual relationships, and did so in a wholesome way. That's all going to change just because they have a gay character? I do not like the implication there. After reading your responses to the comments above, I think you ought to pull that foot out of your mouth and apologize.

  • In reply to EdNickow:

    No way dude thats just too funny.

    Lou
    www.anonymous-vpn.tk

  • In reply to EdNickow:

    "Salacious?" Why . . . does gay stuff intrigue you? Are you SURE you wouldn't have wanted a little glitter dust in your comic books? Lol.

  • In reply to EdNickow:

    I think salacious was the wrong word. Political, politically correct, or better yet, politically correct salaciousness.

    Comics are no different than any other media. They are all trying to out politicize each other- right or left. Mindless entertainment is a thing of the past. We must be culturally educated, even when we try to escape our mundane lives through trivial entertaining pursuits.

    Of course, the comics would not dare to run a strip portraying Muhammad. That would be way over the top, even for them.

  • In reply to EdNickow:

    My partner Fausto actually broke the story right here on our Chicago Now blog-
    http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/feast-of-fun/2010/04/archie-comics-plans-gay-character.html
    '
    If you watch the video, you'll her the artist say, that it's no big deal as kids today are use to gay people.

    You talk of a lack of wholesomeness in introducing a gay character, but I ask you, what's not wholesome about gays?

  • In reply to EdNickow:

    I just wanted to point out that you used all of these terms to describe gay people: a harsh reality, a controversy, provocative, deviate, part of a liberal agenda, the break down of wholesomeness, salacious. To say you don't think gay people measure up to their straight counterparts would be a gross understatement. Luckily this mindset is already in the minority. Did you hear that Houston actually has a lesbian mayor. Imagine that?! Must be that liberal agenda going on in Texas.

    If people under the age of 30 were the only ones voting, marriage equality would be legal in 40 of the 50 states. Check out the stats here:
    http://contexts.org/socimages/2009/11/05/support-for-same-sex-marriage-by-age-and-state/
    More than anything, these stats show there is a huge generational shift in attitudes about gay people. You are obviously not the target audience of Archie comics. So they have nothing to worry about. It's for young people that don't have ANY issues about sexual orientation. In 2010, I think that is a very good thing.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    Might I ask, how can you say that the addition of a gay character "changes the entire underlying flavor of the comic." Reading between the lines (and, admittedly, making a slight assumption based off a sentence in the same paragraph as the quoted one, which says the "love" in Archie " has never been about mere sex, the physical act"), you seem to be under the impression that being gay is all about the physical act of having gay sex. Your claim seems to revolve around the concept that there is no such thing as gay "love."

    I would appreciate it if you clarify this point: do you believe that being gay has nothing to do with "love," but is rather only about the physical act of having sex?

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    I also never said you didn't have a right to your opinion. That's another assumption you have made. We both have a right to our opinion. I can talk about socialism and organic yogurt and whatever as much as I want, and you can talk about the gay agenda and Sean Hannity as much as you want. I also, however, as you do, have a right to challenge other's opinions when I would like to. If this is "fascistic," then I have no idea what democracy is.

  • In reply to publiusforum:

    FINALLY ... the FIRST actual question? I posted this very question (about "salacious") three hours ago and repeated it in my comments above in this very thread, but you ignored it. But nevermind ...

    Can you please explain exactly why the fact that somebody is gay, "refocuses that treatment to the physical act"?

    I've seen and heard this kind of comment for decades from people who are uncomfortable with depictions of gays as a normal part of life. It usually starts with "why are you discussing your sex life" after a simple "I'm gay" comment. The best response I ever heard was to someone who mentioned that their wife was pregnant, to which someone replied "why are you discussing your sex life."

    Let me bring you up-to-date and what's happening in Archie's world. In some recent issues (my wife and daughters have them) Archie married both Betty and Veronica and had children with both of them.

    So I guess you're okay with inclusion of bigamy and heterosexual intercourse (how else did they have those babies?) but have a problem with a regular old gay character.

    Do you have any evidence that anyone has "co-opt[ed] the current Archie" or would you consider the possibility that the people who publish Archie made a business decision that a gay character would make the comic more popular?

    Actual questions ... will you provide actual answers or just more ranting about the intolerance of others?

  • In reply to ryankiefer:

    "Will the Archies have a skinhead character? Will they have a Holocaust denier character? Or how about on the other end of the spectrum and putting in a strict Christian character?"

    This is not really logical. Being a skinhead, a Holocaust denier, and an evangelical are all choices. And to put the first two examples on equal footing with a homosexual person is simply hateful. Plus, none of those stereotypes fit into Archie's colorful world as well as a flaming gay kid.

    Really, your idea that this is the "break[ing] down of another tradition of wholesomeness, just another way to eliminate good clean fun," is also silly. You're hearkening back to a "wholesome" world that never really existed in the first place. Gay people have always been around. To think otherwise is to, in itself, participate in a cynical worldview in which you pretend that something never happened, something doesn't exist, quite like your Holocaust denier example itself.

    As a non-salacious, boring gay man with a partner who has some Christian tendencies and firmly believes in the Holocaust, I'd suggest you relax about this non-issue, considering no one really reads Archie anymore. They're too busy watching Glee which, hate to break it to you, has a non-salacious openly gay kid as well.

  • In reply to ryankiefer:

    According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary, salacious means:

    1. arousing or appealing to sexual desire or imagination
    2. lecherous, lustful

    Can you please explain what is "salacious" about including an opening gay character in a comic book?

  • In reply to EdNickow:

    ... should be "openly" gay, of course ...

    I wanted to correct that before Mr. Huston uses my typing error as an excuse to ignore my question.

  • In reply to ryankiefer:

    What's the big deal? Have you ever read an Archie comic? This is not the first time an Archie character has been gay. just openly gay. Jughead hates girls. Just sayin'. I realize that conservatives would like us to return to the days of Donna Reed and The Beaver, where we were all lined up in well-manicured lawns, and everyone was white, Christian, and heterosexual. The women stayed home and baked in their pearls, and everyone was happy. At least on the surface.
    The fact is, the world we live in is NOT like that. It never was. I realize that so called Christians would like gay people to go back in the closet, for gay teenagers to hide their true selves away and grow up to be "respectable" members of society. The sooner conservative and religious groups wake up and accept the fact that gay people are born gay, and that they are healthy, respectable and contribute to society just as much as heterosexuals, the better off they will be. Making a big deal out of an openly gay character in Archie comics is merely grasping at straws. The bendy ones, not the straight ones.

  • In reply to JeffLassiter:

    Jeff ...

    Well said, but I'd suggest that instead of complaining about "conservative and religious groups" you should refer to "conservative religious groups".

    I am a member of a Reform Jewish congregation. Take a look at our Movement's positions on GLBT right, which provide some evidence that not all religious groups have problems with gay people. Our Movement ordains gay clergy and allows its leaders to officiate at gay marriage or commitment ceremonies.

    http://rac.org/advocacy/issues/issuegl/

  • In reply to ihatch:

    Yes. You're a straight white male, and you WOULD call everything otherwise "unwholesome," wouldn't you?

    All the examples of possible Archie characters you gave are things people CHOOSE to be. As far as the way people are BORN, though - Archie has a blonde, a brunette, a redhead, a meathead, a balding principle, etc.

    But, since you were obviously born hateful, I just mostly feel bad for you (and bad for people who care to hear your opinion on things).

  • In reply to nixhexison:

    Agreed. Describing gay people as some sort of force that's looking to break down family values is really just indicative of your own ignorance. And as far as tea party rallies being peaceful, I can agree no violence has occurred, but I can't think of many larger political movements in the last twenty years that had their members bringing assault rifles to protests, yelling racial slurs at congressmen and burning effigies of public officials.

  • I really love your write-ups guys continue the good work.

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