Archie Andrews Will Die Taking A Bullet For His Gay Best Friend.
The famous freckle-faced comic book icon is meeting his demise in Wednesday’s installment of Life with Archie when he intervenes in an assassination attempt on Kevin Keller, Archie Comics’ first openly gay character. Andrews’ death, which was first announced in April, will mark the conclusion of the series that focuses on grown-up renditions of Andrews and his Riverdale pals. [...]
“We wanted to do something that was impactful that would really resonate with the world and bring home just how important Archie is to everyone,” said Goldwater. “That’s how we came up with the storyline of saving Kevin. He could have saved Betty. He could have saved Veronica. We get that, but metaphorically, by saving Kevin, a new Riverdale is born.”
I’m glad that Archie has dropped the fundamentalist Christianity and is now pro-gay. Huzzah huzzah, and all that. But does the writing have to be so hamhanded?
Oh, and the person who shot Senator Kevin? A homophobic gun activist who objected to Senator Kevin’s pro-gun-control stance. (Why did he bother? It’s not like any gun control bill has any chance of making it through Congress.)
Jon Goldwater, Archie Comics publisher and co-CEO, defended Archie’s demise being a lesson about gun violence and diversity.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I don’t agree,” said Goldwater. “I think Riverdale is a place where everyone should feel welcome and safe. From my point of view, I’m proud of the stance we’ve taken here, and I don’t think it’s overtly political on any level.”
What would he consider overtly political, I wonder?
Look, I spend my work life creating all-age comics which I hope are informed by my feminist and progressive politics. But I work very hard to bury any of those messages deep under truckloads of entertainment and well-constructed stories and characters. Because a crappy comic with good politics is still a crappy comic.
Via righty Rod Dreher, who, upon finding out that a couple of minor supporting Archie characters are lesbian, commented “Seems like everybody is gay in pop culture today.” Yeah, because it’s so hard to find depictions of heterosexuality in Archie Comics.
EDITED TO ADD
1) I really hate the sort of patting-ourselves-on-the-back-for-being-so-brave feeling I get from events like this, when Archie or Marvel or DC or Star Trek or something makes a supporting character lgbt.
Including a gay or lesbian supporting character in mainstream American pop culture is not brave. At this point, it’s just being ordinarily decent. It would be brave if this were the 1970s or 1980s.
Making Archie gay or bi would be something. Having Jughead come out as asexual – that would be pushing some boundaries. And let’s see some trans characters, already!
I’m glad that Archie is no longer pushing the idea of a world where there’s tons of romance plotlines but never any gay characters, because that was unrealistic and sort of embarrassing. And representation does matter. They are doing a good thing. But if they want to deserve credit for being brave, they have to do a lot more.
2) I really hate it when TV shows and comics depict bigotry as a vicious murderer with a gun. The more pop culture depicts bigotry in those extreme terms, the harder it is to talk about the majority of real-life bigotry, which is far more subtle and carries around platitudes and smiles, not firearms.
It’s true, of course, that there are still bigots with guns shooting people – from what I’ve read, the per capita likelihood of being murdered is especially high for transsexuals, and that’s horrible. But that’s still an outlier. Typical anti-homosexual and anti-trans bigotry simply isn’t that obvious, and I think it’s actively harmful to our culture when our popular narratives only acknowledge the most obvious forms of bigotry.