Funnybook Babylon

September 22, 2008


Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , — Chris Eckert @ 1:16 pm

That’s right, did you hear? MARVEL DOESN’T CARE ABOUT GAY PEOPLE!

Okay, actually it’s just the statements of one of their writers, so I guess MARC GUGGENHEIM DOESN’T CARE ABOUT GAY PEOPLE!

It’s true! He said it! Listen to this!

“Here’s my attitude, if anyone is upset about the marriage going away, then they must all be pro gay marriage,” he continued. Because if you’re pro gay marriage, you understand the distinction between a marriage and a civil union — that a civil union is not equal to a marriage. We downgraded Mary Jane and Peter to a civil union. If that bothers you, then you’re pro gay marriage.”

Putting aside the questionable wisdom of trying to link penny-ante funnybook “issues” with topics that actually affect people’s lives, I don’t see how this is at all “anti-gay”, or even “anti-gay marriage”. Guggenheim appears to be saying, and feel free to correct me if I am missing some greater context:

1. People are upset about the retroactive changes made in One More Day/Brand New Day, but misunderstand the scope of them.

2. The Peter Parker/Mary Jane Watson relationship was not dissolved, only the Peter/MJ marriage. They were downgraded from marriage to civil union.

3. If you (the anti-OMD/BND reader) are so outraged by this happening to two fictional characters, imagine how shitty is it for the millions of real life actual people who are denied marriage rights.

Of course, this is all wrapped up in an implicit endorsement of the new Spider-Man status quo, so people assume that if you do not like the new status quo (and in Guggenheim’s estimation, like gay marriage) then you are objectively wrong. This is silly on a lot of levels; if Ed Brubaker was called upon to defend the new status quo in Captain America, that doesn’t mean he personally supports the real-life murder of Captain Americas. Sometimes bad things happen to fictional characters.

It seems to me that Guggenheim is not, as some wag edited his Wikipedia entry to claim, “against gay rights“. If anything, he took an ill-advised moment to stump for gay rights, but the blogosphere cannot erupt into fiery rhetoric about the evils of Marvel Comics if one of their creators say something progressive. So the furor rages on! I can’t wait for Guggenheim to viciously murder young gay mutant Anole in his Young X-Men book, then call for the death of his Amazing Spider-Man collaborator Phil Jimenez. I hope no one tells him half his favorite musicians are gay, it will likely be a terrible shock to an old Hollywood insider such as Guggenheim. He will be forced to not care about so many people!

And yes, I realize this is a stupid “some of my best friends are ___________” counter-argument, but let’s pull out Occam’s Razor here. Or we can continue to wish death upon Marc Guggenheim. I can see which option the blogosphere’s opted for.


  1. Jeesus. This is the lipstick on a pig fiasco for the comic world.

    Comment by Joseph — September 22, 2008 @ 2:15 pm

  2. Wow, really? Are people still this upset about OMD/BND? So upset that, even though, I, personally, have seen the status quo explicitly explained online and in the actual books themselves, from all four Spidey writers, Tom Brevoort, Joe Quesada, and maybe even Mark Waid a couple of times, that they will still believe what they want and that Marvel is pursuing some anti-marriage, pro-devil, gay bashing agenda? You can lead blogger to an explanation, but you can’t make him believe it, I guess…

    Comment by Mike — September 22, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  3. Looking through Marc’s career, he’s mostly noted for working in a decent capacity on “Brothers and Sisters” a show featuring a gay main character was created and run by a gay guy. His current writing partner on Eli Stone? Openly Gay.

    Comment by Pedro Tejeda — September 22, 2008 @ 4:47 pm

  4. You have to admit that it is a pretty messy train of thought. The best thing he could have said was nothing. Really it sounds like a play on him saying “If you don’t like it, you’re stupid”.

    If some fans don’t like it, just let them complain. You won’t win them back by arguing, and they might still be buying the comic anyway. Coming out with these kind of statements will probably either be received badly or have no real effect.

    Comment by Andy — September 23, 2008 @ 8:29 am

  5. Finally. Some sense. Thank you.

    And Joseph, your lipstick/pig analogy is well-put. I was commenting to my wife that I felt like Obama…


    Comment by Marc Guggenheim — September 23, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

  6. A few remarks:
    1. Guggenheim claims that fans misunderstand the scope of the retroactive changes made via OMD, but whether that is true is open to debate. As is the truth or not of the “real” scope as described by Guggenheim. (Joe Quesada for instance has publicly stated that it was unlikely that Mary Jane got pregnant during the Clone Saga in the revised continuity because, well, apparently you can’t get children without the magic marriage license). Guggenheim, as most people connected with OMD/BND have been doing all the time, blames this on anti-OMD/BND fans being stupid, of course, not on Marvel causing and aggravating this confusion in any way by the way they choose to tell the story and by the hints etc. given in interviews and other public statements.
    2. Guggenheim deliberately or not confuses civil unions (something that does require legal paperwork etc.) with “living together” (something which Peter has done before with Harry Osborn and is now engaged in again with Vince Whatsisface). In any case, if fans object to the downgrading (or degrading) of Peter and Mary Jane’s commitment to each other, that hardly shows that they are misunderstanding anything.
    3. And here we come to the firework of faulty logic. Again starting with the incorrect equation of cohabitation (or, if you prefer, “common-law marriage”) with civil unions. Secondly the unfounded assumption that anti-OMD fans are primarily bothered by the purely legal aspect. After all, on the purely emotional level, there is no fundamental difference between living together, civil union and marriage. There are unmarried couples who live together and have a much deeper commitment to each other than many married ones. Also, in states where they have civil unions for gays, wouldn’t the analogy really be that of a gay couple being “downgraded” from a civil union to living together like Peter and MJ did in the revised continuity?
    If you assume the statement was meant as supportive of gay marriage, then Guggenheim makes an implicit (insulting and entirely unproven) accusation that all anti-BND fans are also anti-gay marriage (otherwise his statement could only mean: because anti-BND fans appreciate the difference between civil unions and marriage, they are on average morally superior to the fans of BND who may or may not appreciate this difference).
    Then we get the old “how can you be upset about comics when there’s so much real trouble in the world” argument, although I am not exactly sure if Guggenheim actually meant to say that or whether you are reading something into his pronouncements. But if it is bad to be so upset by something that happened in a comic-book to stop buying it (saving you at least 9 bucks a months which you then can spend e.g. on promoting gay marriage), isn’t devoting so much time and money to reading something as frivolous as comics even worse? And shouldn’t the logical consequence be that people currently reading the BND Spider-Man should stop doing so and instead promote gay marriage?

    Comment by Menshevik — September 23, 2008 @ 5:27 pm

  7. Wait, what? People read that as being ANTI-gay marriage? I thought it was an overly simplistic and somewhat illogical comment, but also that it was very obviously in support of gay marriage.

    Related question: did Peter and MJ officially register their relationship as a civil union, or is this just a term that’s being applied to it? I’m not reading Amazing Spider-Man at the moment, so I don’t know if that’s been explained.

    As an aside: I’m rather amused that the person in the first link insists that Tony Stark is a ‘facist,’ showing not only a basic misunderstanding of what facism entails, but also a very simplistic (and in my opinion incorrect) reading of the development/growth of Tony Stark’s character during and after Civil War.

    Comment by Derk van Santvoort — September 23, 2008 @ 5:40 pm

  8. According to
    civil unions are not open to opposite-sex couples except in a very few jurisdictions, not including New York or any other US state (the article mentions Quebec, New Zealand, Uruguay). As far as I am aware there was nothing in any statement in-story or out of story from any of the people involved in OMD/BND to indicate that Peter and Mary Jane legally formalized their relationship in any way in the changed continuity. It’s safe to assume that they didn’t actually enter into a Civil Union, even if that was possible in the New York of the Marvel Universe, because then the dissolution of that union would be the functional equivalent of a divorce, i.e. precisely what Quesada wanted to avoid through OMD in the first place.

    As to whether Guggenheim cares about gays, who knows? Even if his crazy statement is to be interpreted as pro-gay marriage, it would appear to me as the cynical exploitation of a real problem for essentially selfish purposes – to sell more copies of ASM to makre more money and to get back at the fans who dare to dislike the current direction.

    On the other hand, the whole thing amuses me no end. Guggenheim accuses fans of being confused and blowing things out of proportion, and in his meltdown demonstrates that he himself is confused and can’t keep things in perspective. That he also shows that logic is not his strong suit is an added bonus, but should come as no surprise given that he he belongs to the “brain trust” that thought that to get rid of Spider-Man’s marriage via a deal with the devil was a good idea. And that wanted to avoid a divorce because it would “age” Peter Parker but that changing Harry Osborn, who is exactly Peter’s age, into a triple divorcé (and how does that fit in with “everything happened just the same way”?) would not affect the perception of Peter’s age as well.

    To point out another non-sequitur in Guggenheim’s argument, granted, some fans are confused by the extent of the change wrought on continuity, but the contention that this confusion is the reason why some fans stopped buying Amazing Spider-Man is unproven. On the other hand, I recall seeing statements by some pro-BND readers on message-boards who said in effect: “the new stories are not great, but I’m reading them and support the new direction because now the §$%& the evil Straczynski inflicted on Spider-Man, such as ‘Sins Past’ and the Spider Totem, are no longer in continuity”.

    Comment by Menshevik — September 24, 2008 @ 3:45 am

  9. Even as a pro-marriage person (or more accurately, I’m a pro-Peter being happy in least one aspect of his life instead of being Charlie Brown or Job), this is utterly ridiculous. Guggenheim was clearly making a joke. He may have told it in a convoluted manner, but it was a JOKE.

    I bet if this had been a video interview, it would have been even more clear Guggenheim was just playin’ and no one would be outraged at

    Comment by Dan Coyle — September 24, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

  10. Jokes are not somehow immune to being offensive. I agree that people are misreading the comment, but I don’t think the issue at hand is whether or not people recognize that it’s a joke.

    Comment by Mike Barrett — September 24, 2008 @ 5:32 pm

  11. The statement would be in support of gay marriage if Guggenheim’s point was that people should stay angry about OMD. Instead, he’s arguing that a civil union and marriage aren’t that different, and people should stop complaining. That is not a pro-gay marriage argument.

    I obviously don’t know anything about the personal beliefs of Guggenheim, but his statement does come across as anti-gay rights.

    Comment by Ben — September 24, 2008 @ 8:47 pm

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