Things Aren’t Looking So Good For Constantine’s Bisexuality

ConstantineBisexualIt looks like those of us who have been waiting for a bisexual protagonist on American network TV are going to have to wait a while longer.   At the Television Critics Association press tour executive producer Daniel Cerone stated that it wasn’t a crucial part of Constantine’s character and joked that we might see it ’20 years from now’ but reaffirmed that there were no ‘immediate plans.’  This interview has dampened the excitement of many fans who were hoping that this might finally be their chance to see a lead character that reflects their own sexuality on a network genre show.  Coupled with the news that they are switching out the lead female character before the show even starts, and it looks like Constantine is off to a rocky start before the pilot even airs.

ConstantineAt the same event that he dismissed Constantine’s sexuality, Cerone stressed the great lengths they were going to make sure that his smoking habit go portrayed on screen in some way.   I’ve compared the two issues before and expressed concern that they both might be cut due to network pressure, but it seems they have decided to fight for the cigarette smoking while ignoring his sexuality completely.  While I understand that Constantine’s cigarette smoking is portrayed nearly constantly in the comics whereas his bisexuality is addressed only a few times, portraying non heteronormative sexualities on TV seems like a far more important issue to push for than smoking.  I understand that for many Hellblazer fans, his cigarette smoking is a staple of his character and I’m not at all saying that it should be ignored, but if I were going to pick a battle I’d have gone with the one that has wider societal impact.

Alas, I’m not a showrunner, all I can do is hope that someday someone in a position of power has the same concerns that I do about the heteronormative shows that dominate our TV screens.  It’s quite clear that Daniel Cerone is not that person.  When that showrunner or producer finally comes I hope it lives up the expectations that so many have placed on this important issue.  We’ve had so many opportunities for this to happen, but American networks and the showrunners who put content on those networks just don’t see it as an issue worth fighting for.

 

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel 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 is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.


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About the author

Angel 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 is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. She identifies as queer.

Comments

  1. Eh, I’ve removed it from the Season Pass list for fall for the TiVo and TiVo’s for Neilson count so that hurts.

      1. Truth be told, i could’ve done without his cigarette smoking if it meant we got to see a bisexual John even for one episode, even a reference to liking men would’ve been a good thing…i really don’t get it…there are shows that have sexual representation: Shameless, Glee, Penny Dreadful, even Dominion, and they have an amazing fanbase…but then hearing showrunners say that it can’t happen in their show doesn’t feel right, it’s not as if Constantine would’ve been the first ever show of it’s kind…i guess, it depends a lot on the networks it airs on…don’t think Spartacus could’ve given us Agron/Nasir if it wasn’t on Starz

        I guess it was good of them that they cleared the air about the show quite soon and didn’t try to hook curious fans with the whole: Watch the show when it airs, it might happen if enough people demand it

        At least now only people who are interested in a bierased John will watch and the showrunners won’t have to worry much about angry fans etc cos they really didn’t promise anything to the fans and came clean from the beginning…DaVinci demons promised, didn’t deliver, they recovered from angry fans and the show is getting a S3…Teen Wolf is still battling it out with the fans…Constantine will fare better cos everything has been revealed before the show even debuted

        1. It’s definitely a network thing. American networks are afraid of having a queer protagonist. Of the shows you mentions, Glee is an ensemble (no main protagonist), Penny Dreadful and Dominion are on Cable, and Shameless isn’t made in America.

          1. And the networks can’t figure out why their ratings stink? Between this and stacking the timeslots with reality shows, they really haven’t a clue, have they?

            We keep telling them and they keep giving us talking points from the ’50s

            1. If you look at the mentions for the writers and official Constantine account right now, the public is very clearly trying to make their voices heard on this matter. But will they listen? I’m doubtful. But I’m proud of people standing up for this at least.

              1. thebacklot released the whole transcript regarding the Q and the answer they gave. It seems, DC’s The New 52 move really did delete the events of the “Hellblazer” series (the one in which he was bisexual), and the current writer likes the previous run. So, yeah, don’t think they will be showing bisexual John anytime soon. Unless DC makes a bold move and shows John with another man in the current New 52 run because that will give fans a better standing on the issue.
                David S. Goyer, straight washed Davinci in his TV show. People called him out on it, even thebacklot said stuff but it wasn’t changed. So, it’s unlikely the Constantine showrunners will change stuff regarding his ‘straight’ sexuality even if the fans voice their opinions.
                http://www.thebacklot.com/briefs0714/07/2014/

  2. I would have watched Constantine if they were going to portray him as a bisexual character. Now I’ll pass. That would have literally been the only reason that I was planning to tune in to it at all because I’ve never even watched the movie or read the comics.

    It is past time that LGBT be better represented on our televisions, most especially bisexual characters. So many television shows just make me sad now.

  3. I’ll still be watching. I’ve been a Hellblazer fan forever and I’m really excited to have a portrayal that might watch like the comics read. AKA snarky and smoking and not Keanu Reeves.

    1. I’ll still be watching too, but I’m super disappointed and hope that they change their minds about this. It’s very important to a lot of people.

      1. I get that, I do.

        Personally I’d rather they stay true to the character (aka not declaring anything, just doing his thing) than make his sexuality a big deal. If the character isn’t coming out on television saying “I’m straight” or “I’m bisexual,” then there’s no reason for us to think that he’s not bisexual. There’s a quote from the executive producer saying Constantine has a very healthy sex life on the show but you’re not going to see it gratuitously, so it sounds like they’re not going to flaunt his exploits with women either.

        “It’s like, look, he’s a smoker,” Cerone said. “We’re on network television, so we’re limited to what we can do and what we can show. But within that framework we’re going to be very honest to the character … I believe Constantine has a very healthy sex life, we’re not going to see that on TV either.”

        His sexuality isn’t a main storyline in the comics, so not having it be a main storyline in the show is okay with me.

        1. Believe it or not Liz, its possible to have queer characters and not have their characters stories revolve around their queerness.

          Its called incidental sexuality. everyone’s sexuality is incidental to who they are as a person. They could make Constantine bisexual and have it be an incidental thing. You thinking that for a character to be queer, it has to be a “big deal” is part of the problem that contributes to queer erasure in media.

          Queer is not all we are for god’s sake. It is a single part of who we are. It doesn’t have to be a main storyline in order to be fully present.

          1. While I agree with your sentiments, you do need to watch your tone a bit. Our website welcomes civil discourse, but we do not need to be condescending to each other.

            Policies: https://thegeekiary.com/policies

            “Disagreement is fine, but please do not be cruel, hurtful, rude, or downright mean towards other community members. Personal attacks are not allowed. Stay on topic. If you can’t engaged in civil discourse do not engage at all.”

            1. I didn’t realize the truth was condescending? That having mentalities like the one above IS what contributes to issues of queer erasure, which was indeed the topic at hand.

              1. “Believe it or not Liz” is very condescending. We value civil discourse and I understand your frustration. I really do. But we work hard to maintain civil discussion in our comments section so while engaging with those who disagree with us, try to keep our policies in mind.

          2. I actually agree with your point. It can be present in the way you’re describing. That’s kind of what I meant by saying it didn’t have to be a big deal. He doesn’t have a relationship with a man until later in the comics, which the executive producer alludes to in his comments. So saying he’s not coming out or declaring himself as bisexual in the beginning of the show is consistent with canon but doesn’t mean he won’t later in the show to also stay consistent with canon.

        2. It doesn’t have to be a main storyline, but they can introduce it like they do in the comics. It’s just a part of who he is. It doesn’t have to be the crux of his character or the main plot. On Welcome to Night Vale Cecil and Carlos’s sexuality aren’t the main focal point of the story nor their biggest character traits. But Constantine’s sexuality is part of who he is and even if it’s not a big deal, it’s super disappointing for bisexuals like myself who have been waiting for a bisexual protagonist on american network television to once again realize we aren’t going to get it. And the reason we aren’t going to get it is because predominately heterosexual showrunners don’t understand how important it is.

          1. Also, its not like exploring his sexuality or making it explicitly clear will affect or take away from him fighting demons. It doesn’t negatively impact the rest of the story, as is being implied.

            It really makes me sad that for a character to be queer, everything has to be about that.

            1. I agree. That’s why characters like Jack Harkness or Bo are so important. They have fully fleshed out stories that aren’t about their sexualities. They just are who they are. But on American network TV? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. If we get a queer character the plot tends to revolve around their queerness instead of it just being a part of who they are. It’s very frustrating.

          2. I 100% agree. But again, his bisexuality doesn’t come up until later in the comics, which the executive producer alludes to in his comments, so I don’t think not making it a plot point at first erases it altogether. That was all I was trying to say.

            1. I see. Yeah, but a lot of people don’t want to wait 20 years. I don’t see the harm in them pushing it up a little earlier in the name of representation. I really hope this decision isn’t set in stone and that they change their minds down the line.

              1. I hope they bring it up eventually too. I just really really want them to stick close to canon, because there are so many storylines in the beginning of the comics that I LOVE, and I don’t want them to rush it.

                1. They can definitely introduce his sexuality without changing anything about the plot. That’s part what’s so frustrating when it comes to queer representation in media. It’s only deemed important to bring up if it’s important to the plot, which absolutely doesn’t have to be the case. His sexuality can be mentioned and all the stories can remain completely intact.

                  1. At the beginning he and Zed are sexually involved, so giving him any onscreen love interest, male or female, that isn’t Zed would be changing the plot. And if they’re going to skip ahead to when he and Zed aren’t sexually involved then they’d be skipping great storylines, and I’d be bummed about that.

                    I suppose they could work it into conversation to establish it, but again, in the comics he doesn’t discuss his sexuality at all. He just has sex, and a couple of times that we hear about/see it it’s with men.

                    1. But they already bumped Zed up by a hell of a lot already didn’t they? And she only appeared in a handful of issues anyway and they are giving her a bigger role in the show, so it’s clear they are already changing things. I wrote about that issue in my last article: https://thegeekiary.com/constantine-switching-out-female-lead-good-or-bad/14710

                      I just don’t understand the insistence that they don’t mention his sexuality at all. If they are already expanding on the role of a character and bumping her up way ahead of where she was introduced in the comics, why not bump up his sexuality as well? Why is moving/expanding a character okay, but moving up his sexuality not okay?

                    2. She comes up pretty quickly, and there’s a couple of big series at the beginning of canon that involve her. They are skipping some good stuff to bring her in right away, which also bums me out.

                      I’m not really insisting anything. I’m just saying that I want things to be like they are in the comics.

                    3. I guess we’ll just have to end it there then because I feel like if they’re changing some things, then this is something that is worth changing. It’s hugely important to a lot of people. The Game of Thrones fandom didn’t complain when they made Renly and Loras’s relationship more explicit than it was in the books. Yet somehow it’s an issue here. Representation is important and if it requires a small tweak to canon that is already being changed by a lot, I’m all for it.

            2. Yeah but dude, if they were doing that then why not just say. Yeah he’s bisexual but we’re not going to focus on his sex life so we probably won’t show it that much or at all because this is Network TV and there is only so much we can get away with. Simple answer that doesn’t deny or erase his sexuality. If that’s what they were planning, that’s what they would have said. But they didn’t. So it’s erasure. If you want to watch, watch – that’s cool (I love the Hellblazer comics so I get it). But they are erasing his sexuality and they didn’t have to – plus I like to think we’re a lot more accepting of fluid sexuality than we were when these comics were first published so I should hope we don’t have to wait 20 years for his bisexuality to be revealed this time.

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