Sub-homophobia and the gayness of Judge Dredd
When last I read the sci-fi comic strip Judge Dredd, back in its 1980s heyday, the character seemed to work just fine without a psychological, emotional, and sexual back story.
There was enough fascination in unraveling the details of a 22nd-century world where America had been reduced to a couple of crime-ridden megacities separated by a radioactive wasteland full of mutants (Red States and Blue States, anyone?).
The only home life the relentless lawman had was a lisping drink-dispensing robot called Walter and a landlady who still had the thick Italian accent and culinary attitudes of early-20th-century Italian immigrants.
Now, according to The Independent, it’s being leaked that Dredd is about to come out of the closet as homosexual:
“The writers of the legendary lawman Judge Dredd have caused a stir among fans by suggesting he might be gay. The latest edition of the comic 2000 AD is titled Closet and deals with the issue of a teenager coming out. The first page has been released on the internet and apparently shows Dredd – a judge/policeman form the future – kissing the youth in a gay club.”
This clearly reads like either a desperate quest for new storylines, after exhausting the vast number of possibilities that the original concept opened up, or an attempt to expand the audience by getting wider media attention. The fact that the Judge’s decloseting would piss off traditional fans of the comic means that it is very probably the second.
In a previous article for AltRight I mentioned the phenomenon of Subracism and how it has been used to sell product and make the careers of the modestly talented, Madonna and Kim Kardashian among then.
Race is one of the things that nobody can ignore. Anything which has a racial, especially a bi-racial, component immediately engages our attention. When Madonna kissed the feet of a Black Jesus in one of her pop vids, there was an outcry, but, interestingly, it was voiced as complaints against sacrilege, when what was really pissing people off was the image of a White women – even if she was a piece of trash – kissing a Black man’s feet.
Also there was the recent example of promoting the latest Bond film Skyfall by floating the ridiculous idea of the next Bond being Black.
The racial awareness in cases of “Subracism” of course is not subconscious in a true psychological or Freudian sense. Most of the people appalled by Madonna, Kim Kardashian, and Idris Elba dressed in a tux saying “shaken not stirred” know full well why they are appalled. They just can’t admit it, so they’ll talk about sacrilege, skankiness, or being “true to the period” instead. The ‘subconscious’ element exists at the social level of what a society can openly tell itself.
Subracism is thus the stimulation of our racial sense in a social or cultural context in which we cannot admit or express it. This stimulates passions and controversies, and of course media coverage (free advertising) for product that would otherwise have to get by on its own merits. The displaced emotional energy caused by Subracism has always led to big bucks for someone.
But as the recent case of Judge Dredd’s hinted-at homosexuality suggests, this phenomenon need not be limited only to race. Just as threatening human identity by playing games with race creates a media buzz made up of stifled visceral urges, so too with questions of gender identity, in particular homosexuality. This is an instant button pusher, and again the pattern is the same: mass individual repulsion, anger, distaste, shock, or horror that can’t express itself at the social level, quickly followed by dispacement into associated quibbling points, attempts at ironic detachment, and also moral jockeying.
But just as the owners of Bond know that their bread will remain buttered by retaining the umbilical chord with the character’s retro-Britishness, so the publishers of Dredd probably realize that making Dredd an obvious fag would not only lose them much of their audience, but might even piss off their gay readers, who probably like to keep their homoerotic fantasies of the character in an extremely nebulous state.
Raising the spectre of Dredd’s homosexuality definitely seems to be a good way to get a bit of free advertising, but it also raises the question of the non-homosexual sexuality of other cartoon and comic characters. Should sexuality only be an issue when a character is gay, and does the fact that being gay is an issue therefore serve as a justification for a sexual treatment of a cartoon character?
If yes, that is inherently homophobic.
The logic of “political correctness” – assuming it has one – is that either every character or no character’s sexuality should be on the table. If we are forced to deal with homosexuality in a character, should we not also be exposed to the heterosexuality of heterosexual characters? If the signal is being sent out that Dredd likes it up the ass, should not the signal also be given – and I may be speculating here – that Popeye regularly gets a blowjob from Olive Oyl or that Goofy wanks off to cow porn?