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Thursday, August 01, 2019 

Rumors of new Birds of Prey movie's plot, if true, sound very, very grimy

There was once a failed TV show based on Birds of Prey over 15 years ago, that might've been screwed up in part because of its premise that Batman "fled" Gotham City, rather than retired. Now, there's a movie in the works based upon the series originally developed by Chuck Dixon, and if the following rumors about the screenplay are true, it doesn't sound like it'll appeal to the popcorn crowd, yet it's unlikely it'll address the serious issues involved properly either:
According to sources speaking to the host of Beyond The Trailer, Grace Randolph, rumors have it that Birds of Prey will not only have elements of pedophilia in the plot, but Black Mask will have a major character change from the source material which would see him as “flamboyantly gay.”

The rumor claims that a young girl in the movie will swallow nude photographs of the villain as a means to hide the evidence.
Honestly, even without the grisly subject matter, this sounds like a very weak plot already. Kind of like the 1991 movie based on V.I. Washawski, based on Sara Paretsky's novels, which wasn't successful. The comics, as written by Dixon, had Black Canary and Barbara Gordon taking on more elaborate foes like guerillas in fictional south American countries. This sounds awfully weak by comparison; like the plot for a TV episode. The girl in the planned BoP film, by the way, may be Cassandra Cain, who'd succeeded Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, and unlike later replacements in the costume of an originally white protagonist, was done in far better taste, mainly because Babs survived the Joker's assault in the Killing Joke years before, and went on to become Oracle. But of course, that's all been ruined since.
But that’s not everything. There will be a major change in how the movie will treat and explore the character of Black Mask played by Ewan McGregor. The source claims that the character will be gay which is a departure from the comics, but he will be “flamboyantly gay.” Which, without context, is quite cringy, to say the least.
I'm actually surprised if they're willing to depict a male homosexual as a villain, because for decades already, it had all but become taboo in Hollywood to depict homosexual men in negative, criminal roles, while with lesbians, by contrast, they were far more flexible. Indeed, on that note, it's worth pointing out just how unbalanced the entertainment industry's been for over 40 years now, possibly ever since the producers of Marcus Welby MD dared conceive 2 stories where either a gay man was encouraged not to adhere to homosexuality (season 4, episode 22), or, the subject of child molestation was spotlighted (season 6, episode 5). The establishment hypocrites refused to recognize or admit that male homosexuals can commit acts of evil just like anyone else. Oddly enough, when Kojak ran a similar story a few years later, there were no negative reactions that time. Yet the damage had evidently been done, and since the late 70s, male homosexuals were portrayed far less as crooks. Even comics weren't immune to this situation, recalling that when Jim Shooter was EIC at Marvel, they published a Hulk spinoff with Rampaging as the adjective that ran for 2 or 3 years, and the 23rd story had Bruce Banner being threatened by a pair of homosexual rapists at a club. From what I know, this story too was accused of homophobia, and another example where SJWs wouldn't recognize that homosexuals can be just as violent and crooked as heterosexuals.

By contrast, the same can't exactly be said for how lesbians have been portrayed since that time - after the Police Woman episode "Flowers of Evil", there had been a protest against it at NBC, and they initially didn't rebroadcast it for repeat screenings later that summer. Personally, I thought it was odd anybody would make that much of a fuss, if only because the 3 criminals there were never explicitly referenced as lesbians, and there was only one vague hint, which might've referred to just one of three. But within the years that followed, it seems like that was the only objection of its sort, and in the years following, there were various depictions of lesbians as criminals in some way or other, the most common possibly being a lesbian who murders an alleged lover. Why, now that I think of it, Mystique and Destiny in X-Men may have been an early comics allusion to lesbians. And a most hypocritical example on the topic would have to be the time in Alpha Flight when Sasquatch turned into a woman in human form, after which Aurora wanted nothing to do with him until he changed back to his male form, yet Northstar's homosexuality was something that had to be accepted. On TV, some contrasting examples I recall include 2 episodes of 21 Jump Street (season 2, episode 8 and season 4, episode 14), 2 from Quantum Leap (season 2, episode 17 and season 4, episode 12), 2 from Hunter (season 4, episode 19 and season 6, episode 9), and I even remember some on Nash Bridges that were troubling (a villainess who was lesbian or bisexual, yet all the male homosexuals there seemed to be portrayed as honest. Sure, the star's lesbian sister may have served as a positive example, but it was still another unbalanced example in how male/female homosexuality is portrayed in showbiz).

So what you'd basically have is a situation where lesbians in fictional entertainment could be portrayed negatively in almost any possible way, just short of saying homosexuality is abnormal, but male homosexuals were often portrayed almost entirely positively, with very few exceptions, or the producers avoided payoffs for challenging issues. Which amounts to a form of male supremacy on the one hand, and sexism on the other. Let's also remember that the Temple University board of trustees wouldn't help Andrea Constand in her case against Bill Cosby, her lesbianism notwithstanding. And, if most men in business get paid higher than women, it figures male homosexuals do too, while lesbians by contrast are surely paid about as much as you could expect their heterosexual counterparts to be. I do remember that on L.A. Law, there were 2 episodes where a male homosexual was depicted negatively (a burglar who'd committed a rape) and a lesbian depicted positively (a guest lawyer), and even Roseanne did depict lesbianism favorably, but for all we know, the bias in Hollywood may still not have entirely changed, even as now, Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer have finally been shunned for their past crimes.

All that said, I get the feeling BIC has a point that the new BoP movie will probably be a total botch, using a story that'd work better as a TV episode...if it were well written, which it likely won't be. Besides, if Harley Quinn is depicted as a member, then I have no choice but to ask why, again, a villainess is being pushed into roles where she really doesn't belong?

That's why I'd strongly suggest Dixon, as the original comic series developer, distance himself from the project, and not even be "diplomatic" when it debuts, if it turns out to be the cheap sensationalism it sound like. If Warner Brothers could botch the Justice League movie, we shouldn't be surprised if they'll still blow it royally with another production. Which is surely what to expect when movies become far more important than the comics.

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There are a lot of not very nice gay males in entertainment - think the evil Baron Harkonnen in Dune, or Joel Cairo in the Maltese Falcon (more in your face in the book than in the movie). Or Dr. Robert Elliot in the movie Dressed to Kill. Or Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. Maybe The Talented Mr. Ripley, although it is hard to tell whether he is villain or sympathetic character.

For some negative portrayals of gays in comics, see American Flagg and some of Howard Chaykin's other work; and the early issues of Mike Grell's Green Arrow comic book, where a gangster was trying to get revenge on gays because he had got AIDS from being raped in prison.

Speaking of Destiny and Mystique, you do realize that Byrne wanted Pyro to be gay right?


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