Constantine’s Bisexuality Acknowledged by Executive Producer
This week at New York City Comic Con, one of The Geekiary author’s, Bandit. had the opportunity to sit down with Constantine Executive Producer David S Goyer at a press round table. One of the issues that was discussed was about the title character’s bisexuality, which has been mentioned previously with less than positive results. During the discussion Goyer confirmed for the first time that Constantine sleeps with both “men and women,” whereas in most previous interviews he seemed to brush the issue aside and grew defensive when pressed about the issue. He made no promises on when this aspect of the character would be revealed on screen, but the acknowledgement and the surrounding discussion is something worth noting.
“Any adaptation of something in a different medium is going to change a little bit, but it hews pretty closely. I think by the time people have watched the first twelve or thirteen episodes, they will be shocked at how much of that original Hellblazer milieu is embodied in the show.
I mean, he had to be British. He had to have the trench coat, the skinny tie. Even though he’s on Network, he had to be a smoker […] He’s snarky, and he lies, and he’s terrible to the men and women that he sleeps with. He’s just not your first choice when you think of someone to save the world, but unfortunately he’s the guy we’ve got, and that’s what makes him so fun. And we said those things to NBC at the beginning, we said if you can get behind this guy, he’s not like a shiny matinee idol guy, then we’re good. And they’ve embraced that.“
Of course, this news has been met with its fair share of criticism and doubts. Many on Twitter won’t believe it until they see it, which is fair considering American Network TV hasn’t had a bisexual protagonist yet. The UK has Jack Harkness on Torchwood and Kieren Walker on In the Flesh. Meanwhile Canada has Bo on Lost Girl. However, bisexuals on American TV have been relegated to secondary characters or difficult to access cable networks. It’s not a surprise that even this acknowledgement, which I view as a positive step towards getting our representation on TV, would be met with major doubts from other fans.
Still, for many this was enough to finally convince them to watch the show. The perceived erasure of his bisexuality drove away many potential viewers who were wary of another straight-washed character. Though Goyer made it clear that he “never said he wasn’t bisexual,” it’s obvious that many took his previous comments as exactly that. Fellow Executive Producer Daniel Cerone even brushed the idea off by saying they might get to it in “20 years.” As shows don’t usually last that long, this came as an indicator that it would never get addressed. Both Goyer and Cerone have seemed far more concerned with the character’s smoking habits than his sexuality, even going as far as saying that his sexuality would only be addressed when they’ve “mined” everything else interesting about him. Goyer attempted to clarify his previous comments by clarifying that he simply meant it didn’t happen immediately in the comics.
“I think it took eight years to get to that in the comics. . . at one point I said twelve but I believe it was eight years. We never said he wasn’t [bisexual].”
While the chronology issue is similar to the quote we’ve heard before from Cerone, things are different now. With the early introduction of Zed, it’s pretty clear they aren’t sticking to the comic canonical timeline anymore so their stance that it won’t be addressed due to timeline issues are now completely moot. If they wanted to stick strictly to the canon timeline, Zed would still have some time before gracing our TV screens. The fact that this was one of the defining characteristics of the character that they brought up to the network also means that the idea of discussing it has been talked about behind the scenes to some degree, whereas before it seemed like they had barely given it a second thought. These are things that we didn’t have before and they change the conversation quite a bit.
Now that he’s acknowledged Constantine’s sexuality head on, many fans that had promised to steer clear seem to be ready to give it another shot and many will be heading into the show with a renewed enthusiasm.
Right now we know his sexuality isn’t addressed in the pilot. It probably won’t be addressed in the first few episodes after that either. We know that they switched out the main female character shortly after the pilot and the new actress is the one who has been attending the press events, so it’s safe to say that the audience reaction to their dismissive attitude hadn’t become apparent to them until after that point. Now that they’ve been asked about it at numerous press events and people have begun to contact the network via social media and other means about the issue, it should be pretty clear to them now that this isn’t a topic that should be brushed off with “maybes” and vague time frames. The tonal shift between San Diego Comic Con’s confrontational incident and this much more straight forward acknowledgement might mean that they’re finally beginning to understand that this is something that many people view as important.
I’ll be extremely happy if they address it clearly in the first half of the season, but at the very least I feel like a casual mention of it by the end of season one is a requirement at this point. The way it is addressed will also be important. In the comics his sexuality was treated as an aspect of who he was, not a phase or as a way to simply “mine” him for something “interesting.” Most fans aren’t asking for more than what was presented in the comics, except for it to be addressed earlier as TV shows typically don’t last eight years or more. Of course, there’s always room for improvement, like how Game of Thrones made Loras and Renly’s relationship much more obvious than it read in the books. For most of us we would simply like some positive representation on TV. We want a clear bisexual character who can kick ass, just like Jack Harkness and Bo.
If the show doesn’t deliver at least a passing mention by the end of the first season, I can guarantee that many of those fans that decided to give this show a shot after Goyer’s recent comments will probably feel quite betrayed. While I planned on watching regardless, his words gave me a much more optimistic outlook headed into the series. While I do understand the “I won’t believe it until I see it” outlook, I feel much more confident about our chances of actually seeing it now than I did just a few days ago. It’s clear we’ve made our opinions on the matter known. They’re tone has shifted and this is no longer an issue that they can just brush aside. Representation matters and the Executive Producers are well aware of that now.
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.
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