The Gunshot Hit Archie Where?

archie-dies

Despite the illustration, I presume the fatal shot hit him on the nose. From People Magazine:

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.

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6 Responses to The Gunshot Hit Archie Where?

  1. 1
    Jeremy Redlien says:

    1) One how can you judge the writing of something before it comes out? How do you know it will be ham handed? Maybe this will be both political and well written? Furthermore, how do you know there won’t be more subtle examples of bigotry than simply bigotry with a gun? (Not that I would hold my breath on that last one…) Aren’t we jumping to conclusions a bit here?

    2) At least it isn’t Kevin Keller who dies sacrificing his life to save Archie. There’s one problematic trope at least that they’ve avoided.

    3) Isn’t the whole point of marketing to make your product out to be the best possible product possible? I get that there’s nothing terribly edgy about a comic strip character who is gay at this point, but I also get that the marketing department is going to try and wring as much as possible out of every little thing that they can.
    -Jeremy Redlien

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    Welcome, Jeremy. Thanks for commenting!

    1) Fair enough, I was jumping to conclusions. Now that I’ve read it (it already came out), there were things I liked about the story, which was essentially “Archie takes a walk around Riverdale and has a nostalgia-fest in his head, and then he gets shot.” I liked the conversation with old Mr. Pavia, in which Mr. Pavia defends the idea of Riverdale as a community where nothing ever changes. Keeping it ambiguous whether Archie is married to Veronica or Betty is a cute device, but it drags on too long and has the unfortunate side effect of making Betty and Veronica seem interchangeable. And the same thing for the nostolgia-fest and Archie thinking about how swell and wonderful his whole life is. It becomes a bit cloying, especially since the adult versions of these characters are so perfect and thus much less interesting than they were as teens (“the way I see it, you’ve both done a lot of growing up lately,” Reggie sagely intones to Archie).

    Overall, I wouldn’t say the story was hamhanded, as “Archie” comics go. But the shooting itself was, indeed, hamhanded. It also had some fairly poor visual storytelling – what was happening was just confusing, and not in a good “trying to show how confusing the incident itself was” way. And the politics of the situation – which was in the issues leading up to this issue, not this issue itself – was, yes, hamhanded.

    Also, I loved the variant covers.

    2) True!

    3) Yes, that’s true. But just because there’s a marketing reason to make a choice, doesn’t make that choice beyond criticism.

  3. 3
    Peter says:

    I’m afraid this is par for the course for much of Rod Dreher’s so-called reporting. From here he’ll go on to tell us the parkway is slow today because too many people have parked there.

  4. 4
    Phil says:

    I miss the cutting-edge Archie comics of my youth, back when Archie and his friends dealt with current events in surprising and controversial ways.

  5. 5
    delurking says:

    I agree with Peter. Rod Dreher has basically three stories.

    (1) Christian Society is being destroyed by the Militant Sex-fiend LGBT/Leftists and here’s some more proof (2) Aren’t Small Towns Just The Best (3) Lookit This Delicious Food Porn

    Okay, Four (4) Ghosts R Real!

  6. 6
    Ben Lehman says:

    Like we talked about in person, I feel very much like you are missing the point of Archie comics.

    Archie comics don’t exist to push the envelope. Archie comics represent a basic mainstream of American society. I think it is really cool that that now includes a gay senator, an evil homophobe, and the vague idea that totally uncontrolled gun purchasing might not be the best public policy. That’s both notable and admirable.

    Archie comics are never going to be the “first” for anything, but after you push the envelope somewhere it is important sometimes to go check the envelope and see if it’s still there where you pushed it*.

    yrs–
    –Ben

    * I broke the metaphor. Sorry.

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