Political Flavors

Fuss Over “Fun Home”

Posted in Editorials on August 26th, 2015

Amanda Marcotte has a great piece up at Slate about the students who are refusing to read Fun Home because it violates their religion.

I find myself thinking “Fun Home” is a bittersweet graphic novel about a woman growing up as a lesbian and coming to terms with her father’s suicide and that he was a closeted gay man. These Duke kids got off easy!

The first book I had to read in college was Querelle by Jean Genet. I was pretty sheltered 17 year old Catholic kid. And so in my first week at college, it was kind of mind blowing to be handed this piece of French nihilist literature which the internet tells me is about society’s hypocritical attitudes about sex – especially gay sex – and violence. All I remember is a sailor having graphic sex with a man he didn’t particularly like. I was wondering why he had to make it sound so awful – it wasn’t loving or sexy at all. I was very uncomfortable, but it never would have crossed my mind to refuse to read the book or drop the class. And even though I was still very religious, I NEVER would have thought to use my Catholicism as an excuse to not do my assigned reading. I really wanted to be taken seriously so I toughed it out.

I survived and I think I even learned a few things – that old people were lying when they pretended gay people were some new fad, that there were a ton of themes in literature that my high school English class didn’t even touch, and that I didn’t like nihilism.

Brian Grasso writes:

Jesus forbids his followers from exposing themselves to anything pornographic. “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” he says in Matthew 5:28-29. “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.” This theme is reiterated by Paul who warns, “flee from sexual immorality.”

I think there is an important distinction between images and written words. If the book explored the same themes without sexual images or erotic language, I would have read it. But viewing pictures of sexual acts, regardless of the genders of the people involved, conflict with the inherent sacredness of sex. My beliefs extend to pop culture and even Renaissance art depicting sex.

If comic book drawings of sex compromise your morality and your faith, neither is very strong. He comes off as deeply insecure rather than someone taking a strong ethical stand.

When I was in college, a favorite prank was for people to draw cartoon penises on the chalkboards. (Do people still do that?) This even happened in my Comp Lit class where we were studying Querelle. The instructor rolled her eyes and erased it, letting out a few giggles before she turned back around to face the class. If someone repeats that juvenile prank in one of the classrooms Brian Grasso is scheduled to attend will he wait outside until the board is wiped clean?

Archie Comics CEO Imagines A World Without Bigotry

Posted in Editorials on March 1st, 2012

You might have heard that the “One Million Moms” have proposed a boycott of Toys ‘R’ Us because they are carrying the issue of Life With Archie that depicts the wedding of Kevin Keller, a gay character, to another man.

I’ve read this issue – being a fan of Archie Comics since I was a kid, and all sexuality is written out of the gay characters. Kevin loves his husband, that is clear – but they do not even kiss, at their own wedding. This is in contrast to the straight characters who are frequently depicted hugging and kissing. I understand why Archie Comics left out even a chaste smooch, as it still shows their wariness about the storyline.

However, any doubts I had to the commitment they have made were gone when I read this statement:

“As I’ve said before, Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone,” he wrote. “It’s an idealized 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 love this because he’s both standing up for what is right, and pointing out the ridiculousness of getting so upset about a cartoon. It delights me to know that he’s holding it over their head that they can’t hurt Kevin Keller – because he’s a fictional character and that they would rather tell his story than ever depict people as hateful as the American Family Association. The AFA are the people who do not belong in idyllic Riverdale, not Kevin and his husband. This is a beautiful message to send out to everyone, especially any young LGBT fans of Archie – You matter, and we see you as an important part of our community.