Thumbnail Image

From 'ambiguously gay duos' to homosexual superheroes: the implications for media fandom practices

Despite traversing the fine line between homosocial and homosexual (Brooker, 2000) in his controversial text Seduction of the Innocent, Fredric Wertham's (1954) description of Batman and Robin as a 'wish dream of two homosexuals living together' (Lendrum, 2004, p.70) represents one of the first published queer readings of superhero characters. This text can also be interpreted as the commencement of, and subsequent intense interest in the way superhero characters often portray a 'camp' sensibility (Medhurst, 1991) representative of a queer performative identity (Butler, 1993). This is most evident today within comic book fan-communities online where the sexual identity of popular superheroes are continuously explored and debated in discussion forums and expressed through the production of slash fiction and queer-themed fan art. Indeed, the ambiguity inherent in superhero comics has traditionally allowed and encouraged fans to operate as 'textual poachers' (Jenkins, 1992) appropriating these texts for their own means. Today, however, there exist a new generation of comic book superheroes, in the form of the Young Avengers, Uncanny X-Men and The Authority, which contain established 'out' gay characters. This paper will examine the implications of these series on the practice of fandom by analyzing fan reactions and responses to the manner in which the industry has opted to present a gay relationship between its superhero characters Wiccan and Hulkling and, Apollo and The Midnighter. The meaning of the shift from the 'implied' to 'actual' is examined in terms of fans' acceptance, resistance and desire to further appropriate the text.
Type of thesis
Corin, G. (2008). From ‘ambiguously gay duos’ to homosexual superheroes: the implications for media fandom practices (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2367
The University of Waikato
All items in Research Commons are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.