Ready for Another Straight White Male Hero? NBC’s ‘Constantine’ Continues the Whitewashing of Bisexuality from Mainstream Media

Ready for Another Straight White Male Hero? NBC's 'Constantine' Continues the Whitewashing of Bisexuality from Mainstream Media

Bisexual heroes are few and far between in popular culture, particularly when it comes to network television. Yet it’s 2014, and we might have hoped that things had moved on somewhat. Not so, if NBC’s new show based on the DC Comics character Constantine is anything to go by.

Speaking at the Television Critics Association’s press tour, the show’s executive producer Daniel Cerone explain that he does not see Constantine’s bisexuality as an essential part of the character, claiming that "within this tome of three decades there might have been one or two issues where he’s seen getting out of bed with a man", and confirming that "there are no immediate plans" to depict such an event on screen.

While Cerone’s claims have already been disputed online by fans who claim Constantine’s bisexuality is a far more significant character element that is being acknowledged, it seems the battle has already been lost. And while this is no doubt a conservative decision based on gaining the show as wide an audience as possible, is it even a wise one? "Game of Thrones" may air on cable, but it is now one of the biggest shows in America, with official viewing figures pushing 18 million in the latest season, and actually viewership no doubt much higher once illegal streaming is accounted for. The show is famously gratuitous in its depiction of sex, and while that may be problematic in various ways, it is certainly proof that mainstream viewers are not in any way alienated by the very existence of bisexual lead characters.

Then there’s the fact that it’s been less than ten years since the Keanu Reeves cinematic adaptation of the same character, which also chose not to touch on Constantine’s bisexuality. Some may have seen this as a prime chance to refresh the character and give it a new, contemporary spin. Not NBC. The wisdom of their decision – while undeniably depressing – remains to be seen.

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Comments

Keith

Since when was it a large part of his character? I know there are brief references, and some stuff later on in the series…much later. But the vast majority of the Hellblazer comics, John is a heterosexual man, with no inklings of bisexuality. I have no qualms with them even making the character bisexual or homosexual if they chose to, but I'm saying that I think you have vast misunderstanding of who this character is and to what extent bisexuality plays a role in his story lines. Smoking, on the other hand…it's a shame and travesty they cut that…

Mike

The article writer's disgust is based on ignorance of the book. Constantine gets older as the series progresses. He starts as a straight male, but discovers his "urges" as an older guy and only in a few story-arcs the show has not progressed to yet. This would be like giving Wolverine his adamantium before the Weapon X program. Certain things have to happen first before he becomes that character. Like the producer says it's not a season 1 story, and maybe not a season 2 story. People have to be patient with the character. I read Walking Dead and while the prison is central to the story they do not reach that until Season 3, as they should have. The writers outrage underscores that good characters should be given time to develop. I realize comic fans want every one of their favorite stories done all at once, but that's not the way it ought to work. Think about Green Lantern movie which tried to shove every aspect of Hal Jordan into one movie.

Guy

While I would love to see more LGBT characters on television, and think a fresh take on John Constantine is welcome, I somewhat doubt the writer here has much knowledge of the Hellblazer comic.

The bisexuality thing is minimal here. It really is not character defining. If it were, then the disgusted attitude of this article would be fair and more arguable.

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