Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Monday, December 09, 2002

truth and the rawhide kid

Apparently, the RE-decade has extended its reach into a recordbreaking 13th year. Although the Brady Bunch movie series is past its last legs (the recent television-only outing faltered badly), Spiderman The Movie did phenomenally well earlier this year, James Bond is going strong, Star Trek is about to issue its tenth movie, Dragnet is going to return to the airwaves early next year, and Smallville continues to mine the Superman story with notable ratings success (although Birds of Prey, a retelling -- and many would have it, a vicious violation -- of a DC Comics series is now headed to cancellation). Not to be completely left out of mining DC Comics for story ideas, Marvel Comics, earlier this year, turned the tables on television and on its prime competitor in an interesting and peculiar way. Their "Marville" title (NOTE: Macromedia Flash required, issues 1 and 2 available online) is ostensibly a parody of the WB's "Smallville" series, and although it gets in a few digs at the show (their alternate first issue cover, most notably -- seen on the "Insiders' Guide to Marville" page in the online version), it is more or less a merciless lampooning of all things Superboy, all things Ted Turner, and all things AOL Time Warner ... although that's not quite its intent, supposedly. ("Marville" is, in theory, meant to be a parody of comics culture, and is a contender for future publication beyond its initial order with two other series in Marvel's "U-Decide" contest. Why a comic book company would feel that comic book readers would want to read a comic book that is trying explicitly to make fun of them, I'm sure I don't know. Thankfully for Marvel's fanbase and future sales, "Marville" misses its target by one hell of a wide margin.)

Given that the movies and television have used comics as source material, and television is retelling its own stories, why couldn't the comics use themselves as a source to rework their own history? And so they have. But this time, they're retelling the characters' stories with some interesting twists.

Enter Captain America. DC Comics is retelling of the Captain America origin story in a new six-issue series called "Truth: Red, White and Black" (NOTE: Macromedia Flash Player required - the complete first issue is available online). Basically, it retells the Captain America story through the lens of American History at the time. To wit: there was no way on this planet that an experimental drug with no known beneficial effects would have been tried on a white American male without having been tried on a Native American or Black first. The history of our country argues against that most strongly. In any event, as far as can be told from the first issue, the series looks to be pretty good -- artist Kyle Baker and writer Robert Morales are telling a very interesting story, and it's apparently selling.

Sales, of course, produces an interesting follow-on effect. - Marvel Comics to unveil gay gunslinger - Dec. 9, 2002: Marvel Comics plans to break new ground in the comic book industry by introducing the first openly gay title character in a comic book. The character will appear in a revival of the 1950s title, "The Rawhide Kid." Marvel expects a February debut. [...] Although shy with girls, the original Rawhide Kid was not intended to be gay. The new version uses double entendres and euphemisms to reveal his homosexuality without saying anything explicitly. Based on a blurb on Marvel's Web site, the tone may be campy. In a bubble in the first edition of the series, Rawhide Kid comments about the Lone Ranger: "I think that mask and the powder blue outfit are fantastic. I can certainly see why the Indian follows him around."

Oh, dear.

You know, I think the people who will object to this -- and there may be one or two who do, yes -- would not object half so much if the Kid weren't going to the upper reaches of 20th century high camp. Not only is he going to be severely anachronistic, but even if he weren't, given who he's supposed to be and what he does, that behavior would likely get him killed at that point in time.

Why is it these days that if you're going to inject gay content into something not primarily intended for gays, there MUST be camp content somewhere? And no, I'm not saying that we don't have our camp quotient, heaven knows. It's just that, when it's for popular consumption, it's always THERE.

And now I just know that someone out there will be saying, "Jeez! those people are never satisfied! They get a mainstream comic book, more or less, and now they want it to be real?!"

Well ... yes, frankly. Or at least relatively true to the character, allowing for that particular twist. Seriously, go back over the history of the Rawhide Kid. Shy with girls. OK, fine, I can see where you can pull "gay" out of that. But camp?

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin'
Keep movin’, movin’, movin’,
Though they’re disapprovin’,
Keep them doggies movin’ Rawhide!
Don’t try to understand ‘em,
Just rope and throw and grab ‘em,
Soon we’ll be living high and wide.
Boy my heart’s calculatin’
My true love will be waitin’,
be waiting at the end of my ride.
Move ‘em on, head ‘em up,
Head ‘em up, move ‘em out,
Move ‘em on, head ‘em out Rawhide!
Set ‘em out, ride ‘em in
Ride ‘em in, let ‘em out,
Cut ‘em out, ride ‘em in Rawhide.

Yes, I know that's the theme to "Rawhide", the TV series, and nothing to do with the Rawhide Kid ... but the broadcast version of the lyrics couldn't be more appropriate if they'd tried, really.

Posted by iain at 01:26 PM in category



Actually the Captain America story is nonsense too. The deus ex machina formula which may have retroactively made dangerous, was originally designed to be and called "the super soldier serum." Unlike syphillis that sounds pretty good to me. And if it didn't work and was highly unstable true there might have been some apprehension... but if it did work, then you'd have a black man in the forties during America's still oppressive racial atmosphere as the strongest and most unstoppable single warrior on the planet. Oh that makes no sense, does it? There would have been no tests on African Americans. The benefit would've been too great

Posted by d j brabham at December 12, 2002 08:58 PM

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