Hold on there, this title sounds like a mad man wrote it! Aha!
Let me put this title through a decoding program, that should clear things up.
*Decoding program activated*
Let’s say I just found out about
Gorillas (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer people)
Being an existing kind of animal, would
Qualify me to become one?
Brilliant code, huh? (I know it is horrible. Shh) No one would have ever figured it out if it wasn’t for this fantastic decoding program. I would have probably been classified as mentally ill, like transgender people have been classified as for a long time, and before them we classified lesbians, gays and bisexuals as mentally ill too.
To quickly answer the decoded question. No, just because someone knew the LGBTQ* community existed, that person does not automatically become apart of that community. It is not like the knowledge of its existence means I will slowly be indoctrinated into the ranks of the LGBTQ* community. That is ridiculous.
*I would like to acknowledge that while the community is known as LGBTQ*, the full acronym is LGBTTQQIAAP and stand for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, and pansexual.*
Most people in our society have accepted the LGBTQ* community lifestyle. Not that they needed our acceptance to live their lives, but it does show how society is becoming more and more progressive the more active the LGTBQ community has become. When people become exposed to new ideas for a long time and see that these new ideas are not as threatening as they once feared, they accept it and move on. The same can be said about children. If introduced to an idea early in life, they can become more accustomed to it while skipping the whole fear phase. That is why we introduce new languages to new kids, and that is why in Europe, supervised alcohol drinking for minors is practiced. Children are accepting of new idea (language, moderation of alcohol) and can integrate and adapt it into their lives with ease and mostly without fear. In Europe, kids are often introduced to alcohol at a young age, so that when they become of legal drinking age they do not binge it to dangerous levels. The alcohol becomes something common to them and they treat almost as normally as they would treat apple juice. This is exactly what some cartoons and anime in America have been doing as of late.
As the people in this society progress, so does the media. More specifically, children’s entertainment. However, this progression in cartoons has been met with uproar from parents. They do not want their kids exposed to the LGBTQ* community at all. They treat it like an infectious disease. If their children see a lesbian on television, they could somehow become corrupted. Again, ridiculous.
Children’s entertainment has become more open about exposing children to the LGBTQ* community. An example of this is Avatar: The Legend of Korra. Avatar: The last Airbender is a cartoon I discussed in my last blog. Korra is the sequel to that show and is progressive in more than just one way. Within Korra’s story, there are progressive messages about racial representation, women, body image, politics, mental illness, religion and sexual identification. The show has no agenda concerning these ideas, as they all blend seamlessly with the story telling. I could write an entire blog entry discussing all the progressive ideas in Korra but for now I will just stick to talking about the shows connection to the LGBTQ*.
*Spoiler Alert* This discussion concerns the ending of Korra. *Spoiler Alert*
In season one of Korra, Korra expressed her feelings for one of the main male characters. She liked him and by the end of season one they were dating. During season two, they broke up and never got back together. They broke up because of incompatibility that does not concern any of the character’s sexuality. By the end of season two, Korra had become close friends with Asami, another main female character. At the very last scene of the end of the show at the fourth season, Korra and Asami stood in a portal together holding hands and gazing at each other’s eye. This final scene was meant to say that Korra had started a homosexual relationship with Asami. Show creator Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino confirmed that the they intended for the final scene to make Korra’s and Asami’s new relationship clear. Bryan Konietzko even stated that the idea to end the show with Korra and Asami together was planned as early as season one and that ever since season two the show had been slowly planting the “seeds” of their relationship. When asked directly about Korra’s sexuality, Bryan told fans that Korra was a bisexual and had been a bisexual ever since the show started.
The target audience for avatar has always been for people as young as five years old. Introducing concepts like homosexuality and bisexuality to kids at a young age is fantastic. It allows children to grow accustomed to such concepts so that the concepts do not seem so foreign to them later on. However, not everyone is happy with such progressive concepts being expressed in a cartoon.
Many fans and parents are simply outraged with the presentation of a homosexual relationship in a cartoon. They were fine with a heterosexual relationship that displayed signs of affection like kissing in a children’s show, but a homosexual relationship that only displayed signs of affection by meaningfully holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes, NAY! (no) that is unacceptable. Fans of the show even went as far as to say that people who said Korra was a bisexual were delusional and that they twisted the ending of the show to work for their own personal agenda. Other fans say that the homosexual relationship ruined the show and that the creators ruined it in order to push a social issue.
The show presented many social issue, but somehow this one social issue managed to ruin the show above all the others. The Legend of Korra is not the first show to be put down for feature a non-heterosexual character.
In 1942, Japan produced an anime, Yu-Yu Hakusho, that featured a transgender character named Miyuki. In episode twenty-four, she was outed as a biological man who identified as a woman. However, when the show was translated into English and broadcaster in America in 2002, all scenes concerning Miyuki’s identity were re-written or deleted. This transcript of the anime shows the difference between the original Japanese script and the edited American script. These scenes were edited because Toonami, the company that aired the anime, knew what kind of reaction they were going to get. They edited the show to avoid all the hate they would receive from the American public. Japan had a progressive attitude all the way back in the 1900’s and it was accepted by most Japanese people. There was no uproar and no articles. However, in 21st century America, a bisexual character can still cause a huge uproar.
It is not like American television did not try to have such a progressive attitude. Its more likely the case that it was not allowed to do so. An extreme example of this would be the cartoon Gargoyles aired in 1994. This cartoon had a confirmed gay character named Lexington, but Disney did not allow the show creators or voice actors to explore his sexuality in the cartoon. The American progressive attitude was there in the late 1900’s but it was just suppressed.
As of late, there is no force that can suppress that attitude, parents can be as outraged as much as they want to be, but as long as the show is good there is nothing they can physically do. Television has continued to release series that star and have characters that are gay, lesbian, transgender, asexual and as of late pansexual.
A recent cartoon called Rick and Morty features a pansexual main character. Show co-creator, Justin Roiland, confirmed that Rick was possibly television’s first pansexual. I have never heard of the term pansexual until I saw this announcement. I had heard of the term homosexual and bisexual before being introduced to it by any cartoon but never have I heard the term pansexual. A cartoon had introduced a new term to me so that if I were to come across a pansexual person, I would already know what it meant and would not make that person feel awkward for having to explain what pansexuality meant.
We, as a society, have become more progressive, and so has television. New ideas will be presented to kids so that they would be more accepting of members of their societies and new ideas within their societies. If the next generation is to move forward and further evolve the progressive attitude of the current generation, some ideas need to be nicely introduced early in their lives, and what better medium than cartoons.
PARADIGM THAT FITS?
This time I will use…..
In the 1980’s HIV began spreading in the United States and most of the cases that were known involved gay men. When the media announced this they did not know that HIV was not specific to gay men. The media seemed to believe that homosexuality was the only way a person could contract HIV. People began associating homosexuals with HIV and eventually that evolved to thinking of homosexuals as sexual deviants. This thought process eventually involved anyone that was not heterosexual. Non-heterosexuality became related to sexual acts, and as such people did not want their children to hear anything about it. Sexual deviants became permanently associated with non-heterosexuality and since we would not talk about sex in cartoons they would not want to see non-homosexuality in cartoons.