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LawrenceA

Gotham

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I just read an article about the Fox TV show Gotham. For those unfamiliar with the show, it's based in the world of the Batman comic books, but years before Bruce Wayne became Batman (Wayne is a young boy in the show). The main character is police detective Jim Gordon, who will eventually become Police Commissioner Gordon when Batman is on the scene. The main draw of the show, though, is seeing various future Batman villains in their formative years. Among them are the Penguin, who in this show is a young upstart gangster, and Ed Nygma, a police forensic scientist who has a psychotic break and becomes the Riddler. I watched the show for the first half of the first season, but checked out after that due to boredom and repitition. 

 

According to the article, they have decided to have the Penguin develop a crush on the Riddler. My question to the board is: what are your thoughts? Is this another step toward mainstream acceptance and inclusiveness? I wonder if making the villains gay somehow associates homosexuality with unlawfulness, since they are the "bad guys". Gay people are people; there are good and evil and everything in between. But in the oversimplified world of network TV, and comic book TV at that, broad strokes and statements are usually the rule. I wondered the same thing with the American Horror Story franchise, where the inclusion of openly gay characters and lovemaking could be perceived as being presented as yet another "horror" to shock the audience, which doesn't exactly lead Middle America toward further enlightenment. Artists shouldn't be held hostage to other people's prejudices, but at the same time I wonder what message some viewers get from these shows.

 

Here's the article (with an annoying auto-play video):

 

http://www.cinemablend.com/television/1577060/gotham-just-made-a-shocking-choice-for-the-penguin-and-its-perfect

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I just read an article about the Fox TV show Gotham. For those unfamiliar with the show, it's based in the world of the Batman comic books, but years before Bruce Wayne became Batman (Wayne is a young boy in the show). The main character is police detective Jim Gordon, who will eventually become Police Commissioner Gordon when Batman is on the scene. The main draw of the show, though, is seeing various future Batman villains in their formative years. Among them are the Penguin, who in this show is a young upstart gangster, and Ed Nygma, a police forensic scientist who has a psychotic break and becomes the Riddler. I watched the show for the first half of the first season, but checked out after that due to boredom and repitition. 

 

According to the article, they have decided to have the Penguin develop a crush on the Riddler. My question to the board is: what are your thoughts? Is this another step toward mainstream acceptance and inclusiveness? I wonder if making the villains gay somehow associates homosexuality with unlawfulness, since they are the "bad guys". Gay people are people; there are good and evil and everything in between. But in the oversimplified world of network TV, and comic book TV at that, broad strokes and statements are usually the rule. I wondered the same thing with the American Horror Story franchise, where the inclusion of openly gay characters and lovemaking could be perceived as being presented as yet another "horror" to shock the audience, which doesn't exactly lead Middle America toward further enlightenment. Artists shouldn't be held hostage to other people's prejudices, but at the same time I wonder what message some viewers get from these shows.

 

This is a multi-layered issue. I'm sorry to say I do not think Hollywood film and TV shows will ever help Middle America towards enlightenment. Did Archie Bunker's bigotry (played for laughs) in Norman Lear's sitcom All in the Family or Bea Arthur's feminist barbs in its spinoff Maude do anything in the long run towards enlightening viewers? Not really. Racism and discrimination against women has been just as visible in the 30 to 40 years since those shows stopped producing new episodes. And given how long they have remained in syndication without really changing attitudes, it proves even more horribly their failure to use humor to enlighten and possibly change viewers.

 

What really happens here, and this applies to gay representations on screen as well-- is that the audience is still going to keep its prejudices (because they are clinging to those biases with a death grip). From late 2013 to mid-2015, I had moved back to Wisconsin when my father took ill. I couldn't believe how isolated and prejudiced the people still were-- this included all my aunts and uncles, and the cousins in my extended family. And I do mean all of them. My father had married a woman from Colombia who has dark skin and doesn't speak English and she had a rough time there. All my relatives watched Netflix and went to see movies that had inclusive, multicultural characters in them, but it did not make one bit of difference in changing their view of the world. They still went home each night to their old-fashioned neighborhoods and their reality was not at all what appeared on screen.

 

So we're fooling ourselves thinking these shows are going to help. The ills of society run too deep for producers to adequately address. So getting back to whether Gotham will reinforce stereotypes, yes it will. Liberal Hollywood will see it as progressive but it will be preaching to that choir, and in the meantime, these isolated groups in middle America will find a way to see these shows as upholding their "values" about undesirables and deviants on the outside.

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Since gay men can now get married to each other in the United States of America, the walls of intolerance have been eroded - but shows like "Gotham" won't have much of an effect since they are not about being gay in society.

 

Network TV is very hard on any show that attempts to show the lives of gay men.

 

Cable TV can have more of a positive effect, for example, the success of "**** As Folk"

 

A successful movie like "Brokeback Mountain" can also have a positive effect.

 

And there is just so much independent gay cinema in this world.

 

Gay novels of every  kind can be brought - or ordered - in any bookstore.

 

But, in terms of network/commercial TV, I just wouldn't count on that much support.

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I watched the show but while it's well done and I do like the handsome Mr Ben McKenzie- it's a bit dark .   Is having a gay villains a step forward?  I have no problem is there is positive gay character on the show - ( can we make James Gordon bi? ) On HBO's "West World" the human guest have sex with the android hosts- and while there has been plenty of straight ****, lesbian teasing there is only one bi-sexual male who is a jerk.  I'm sure there are plenty of guest who would like to have a relationship with cowboy  James Marsden?

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