Off Screen: Everything You Need to Know About the One Million Moms vs. Comic Books

Off Screen: Everything You Need to Know About the One Million Moms vs. Comic Books

Jun 05, 2012

Off Screen, our corner that keeps track of big-screen characters and properties in other media, be they comics, books, TV shows or video games.


The One Million Moms (OMM) are at it again. They are a Christian group dedicated to the removal of homosexual references in all media under the pretence of protecting children. A few months ago, they petitioned JC Penney to pull Ellen Degeneres as their new spokesperson because she is gay. The store stood by her and even responded this week with a Father’s Day catalog page featuring a gay couple with their children.

Last month, Marvel comics announced that an openly gay character named Northstar would marry his boyfriend in June’s Astonishing X-Men #51 following a proposal in the previous issue. Northstar was originally introduced in 1979, but writer John Byrne began introducing hints of his homosexuality as early as 1983 before officially coming out of the closet in 1992.

At the same time, DC Comics had announced that a previously established hero from their story-Universe would also be rewritten as gay.  It turned out to be Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern (Pre-Hal Jordan) from the 1940s. Except that this was a new version of the character from an alternate Universe.

Now the OMM are petitioning DC and Marvel to pull these characters and their stories before they hit the shelves so that children won’t be exposed to homosexual characters in comics. But they chose a battle they never stood a chance of winning on any conceivable front. In fact, partly thanks to publicity created by the OMM backlash, Astonishing X-Men #51 has already been massively reordered and set for further printings before it has even been released.

 

Who are the One Million Moms?

For starters, the “One Million Moms” is an inaccurate name on both its titular claims.

1: There are not nearly a million of them. Their Facebook page currently has less than 50 thousand “likes” and that’s not even members. Granted, not every member is going to be on Facebook, but there’s no telling how many moms are part of the organization. It’s clearly nowhere near a million.

2: Moms should be loving, but the organization is an offshoot of the American Family Association, which was classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

On their website the stated goal is:

“To stop the exploitation of our children, especially by the entertainment media (TV, music, movies, etc.). OneMillionMoms.com is the most powerful tool you have to stand against the immorality, violence, vulgarity and profanity the entertainment media is throwing at your children. It is time to fight back!”

The OMM had already failed to stop Toys “R” Us from selling copies of Life with Archie that included a gay wedding of Archie’s friend Kevin Keller. It appears that the protest led the issue to sell out even faster.

Their campaign against the comic book industry includes this statement:

“This is ridiculous! Why do adult gay men need comic superheroes as role models? They don't but do want to indoctrinate impressionable young minds by placing these gay characters on pedestals in a positive light. These companies are heavily influencing our youth by using children's superheroes to desensitize and brainwash them in thinking that a gay lifestyle choice is normal and desirable. As Christians, we know that homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:26-27).”

UPDATE: As of Friday, June 1, the OMM Facebook page has been removed from the site.  In a tweet, they claimed to be gone for a week of vacation Bible school.  It's also possible that people organized to report the page en masse and it could return after Facebook investigates the claims.

FURTHER UPDATE: The name One Million Moms has been replaced on Facebook by a group attempting to reclaim the title.

The Reality

Comic book companies have a shared tradition of promoting tolerance and reaching the widest possible audience using inclusive rather than exclusive storytelling. As the “Big Two” of comics, DC and Marvel have both colored their Universes with a realistic array of characters from non-white races even during the middle of the American Civil Rights Movement. It creates a verisimilitude that readers usually appreciate because in real life, no matter what prejudices a person may hold onto, you are going to interact with people who embody those prejudices. It only makes sense to be inclusive in order to create a world of characters where every collector has someone he or she can relate to.

When the first X-Men comics were released in 1963, the themes of Mutant Equality were essentially synonymous with the fight for racial equality. In order to modernize their storytelling, it makes sense to move on to a literal statement about marriage equality.

Both companies have created plenty of gay characters since as far back as the 1980s, although it was fairly recent for one of them to have an ongoing self-titled book like Batwoman. In 2006 DC ran a weekly series for a year that included a new version of Batwoman. Comic scribe Greg Rucka was happy to explain “Yes.  She’s a lesbian. She’s also a redhead. It’s an element of her character.  It is not her character.”

Other gay characters include Extrano, Shrinking Violet, Lightning Lass, Obsidian, Apollo, Midnighter, Renee Montoya, Shatterstar, Rictor, Wiccan, Hulkling, Knockout, Scandal Savage, Creote, Achilles, Kevin Keller, Ozymandias, Maggie Sawyer and Bunker.  Ironically, the OMM failed to care about gay characters in the 90's when teenagers were actually reading comics.

But the most telling reason that we can tell that the OMM are completely out of touch on this subject is that they are worried about their children reading comics with gay characters and deciding to emulate them. With very few exceptions, KIDS DON’T READ COMICS ANY MORE.

Both companies have specific lines of books meant for kids, but your average comic book would have a PG-13 rating if it were released as a film. Plus with a price tag ranging from $2.99 to $3.99, most kids can’t afford comics. Your average reader today is 24-35 years-old. Enticing a younger audience to begin collecting has been a point of contention for the entire industry for over a decade. And we’ll leave the emulation connotation alone because we don’t live in the 1950s any more.

Response

To respond to the OMM, Marvel’s editor in chief Axel Alonso made this statement:

"For over seventy years, Marvel's comics have reflected the world outside your window and Astonishing X-Men #50 carries on that tradition. We're proud to create stories that are not only relevant to the issues facing a modern audience but that also explore these nuanced subjects in a compelling manner. We've planned the release of this comic for over a year but the recent discussion of gay marriage, spurred by the comments of President Obama, makes the release of Astonishing X-Men #50 even more timely. The passionate discourse between our fans on both sides of this matter shows that we've struck a chord with our millions of fans around the world."

Neither company has any reason to make changes based on the OMM campaign. They will continue to tell the stories that they want to tell. Comic book plotlines are often planned up to a year in advance so the strange conspiratorial belief that these stories are being released so closely after President Obama’s and Vice President Biden’s statements about gay marriage is laughable.

Northstar has not yet appeared in any of the X-Men films, with at least two new ones in the planning stages, chances are it’s simply a matter of time, even if the character’s sexual orientation isn’t an important part of the plot.

Although they failed to get Ellen Degeneres pulled as JC Penney's spokesperson and further failed in their attacks on the comic book industry, they claim several successes by saying they are personally responsible for getting advertising pulled on several ABC and Disney Channel shows.  If true, it means there's a chance they could affect the film industry next.  DC Comics is owned by Warner Brothers and Marvel by Disney, which may have already been hit. This organization is worth keeping an eye on because if Northstar were to appear in an X-Men movie, the OMM would probably boycott that too, and their numbers could grow.  The very absense of gay superheroes in films could be considered a success by their own standards.

To show support for the comic companies who are continuing to ignore the OMM, you can join the new Facebook group: Comic Book Fans vs. a Bunch of Moms with Nothing Else Better To Do.

There’s also a form letter on the page which you can sign and send in to DC and Marvel.

Categories: Features, Geek
Tags: Off Screen
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