Saturday, February 20, 2016

Do Cartoon Characters Have To Be Relevant?

The Little Mouse that could – that’s how I thought of Mighty Mouse during the 1950’s.  His song “Here I come to save the Day means Mighty Mouse is on his Way” started my Saturday morning cartoon watching as I sat cross-legged on the floor in my pajamas. 
In later years, cartoonist/creator of the popular Mouse Ralph Bakshi was criticized.for having an agenda.   One fan on said he watched one hundred greatest cartoons and dug out new adventures of Mighty Mouse.  His critique:  “ you see Mighty Mouse, more than a couple of times pulling silly faces and looking down at characters’ crotches." My beloved mouse was deemed gay.  Honestly!  Another fan put on YouTube in 2011, a satirical song entitled “Here I Come to Shave the Gay!”
As far back as 1988, The American Family Association (AFA) in Tulepo, Mississippi claimed that Mighty Mouse had snorted cocaine when he was sniffing flower petals and became energized later.  His exhilaration after inhaling was drug-induced, so the critics judged!  
Sponge Bob Square Pants
In 2002, Sponge Bob Square Pants” creator Stephen Hillenburg fought off rumors from people like right-wing James Dobson who claimed that the character had” a flamboyant lifestyle and tolerant attitude, typical with gay men.”  Hillenburg countered that Sponge Bob was asexual. In 2012, Ukranian right-wingers thought Sponge Bob Square Pants could turn kids gay. Such power being exercised by the cartoon figure of Bikini Bottom!
Reverend Jerry Falwell said purple teletubby Tinky Winky was gay.  In 2010, Gandy Goose and Sourpuss were thought of as an ambiguously gay couple.  And of course, the most famously gay couple of all, Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie, graced the cover of The New Yorker when gay marriage was passed by SCOTUS.
The most egregious case happened recently.  The hamburger-eating Jughead Jones of Archie Comic’s Riverdale High has been declared asexual.  Jughead, to his gay high school friend, Kevin Keller, says “ I'm not hobbled by these hormonal impulses!”  Why? 
Erica Henderson and Chip Zdarsky,  creators of Jughead #4, offered his opinion on Jughead’s sexuality at a NY Comic-con panel: “ I think something like asexuality is underrepresented and since we have a character who was asexual before people had the word for it, I’m continuing to write him in that way.” In the past five years, Archie comics has included a gay character and same-sex marriage. 
Future of Cartoon Characters
What’s next?  Jughead has an eating disorder because he’s always eating?  Comics and cartoons are not the real world and in my opinion not the vehicles for the world’s acceptance of diversity. It brings to mind Diane Keaton who morphs into a cartoon character for a few minutes during Annie Hall, and tells Woody Allen, “I’m a cartoon character.  I’m not supposed to have periods.”


Monday, February 8, 2016

Self-Identified Clothing Comes Out Of The Closet

Now, gender-queer persons have better chances to express how they feel inside with what they can now wear on the outside.  Fashion is starting to realize that humans come in all sizes and shapes and don’t need to be shoehorned into binary clothes (dresses for women, menswear for men), the traditional categories for shopping in retail stores.

Will and Jaden Smith’s son, Jaden Smith likes wearing dresses as they “flow.” In Louis Vuitton’s Women’s Wear Campaign, you can see him shirtless wearing a kilt. Just seventeen, he is stunning with his blue nail polish and red flower behind his ear in another shot. Jaden is challenging gender and seems to be neither female or male, but nevertheless comfortable in his skin.

February is Fashion Month in Manhattan and you’re sure to see a lot of the androgynous 6’1” model, ex-farm girl Rain Dove, in menswear fashions, but more fluid than Annie Hall in the 70’s.  In the latest Marc Jacobs Campaign, Milk, a relative of Harvey Milk, and his boyfriend James Whiteside kiss.

Fashion is just beginning to reflect the changes in our society.  Butchbaby & Company is creating maternity wear for genderqueer parents. The Verge fashion show by Gogo Graham at the Brooklyn Museum showcased last September  trans/femme models strutting clothing specifically for Trans women.

Perhaps, David Bowie was on to something with his evolution of gender-bending fashion before others came out of the closet.