2012’s Most OMG Moments In Geek #9: The Green Lanterns Of Controversy

There’s the good, the great, and then there’s the BEST. Welcome to MTV Geek’s Best of 2012 — what we thought were the cream of the crop this year in the world of GEEK!

“…you want comic books to be realistic, you have to acknowledge the diversity of the human race.” — James Robinson

MTV Geek is counting down the 10 Most OMG Moments Of Geek! #9 regards a certain pair of Green Lanterns…

Oftentimes, big entertainment companies are loathe to change their iconic heroes in any way — even a hairstyle adjustment  must go through a certain scrutiny by the “higher-ups.” And then we have Green Lantern — or, rather, Green Lanterns. You can have plenty of Green Lanterns, whereas you need to keep your Supermen and Robins down to a reasonable amount. In a move that would  increase the diversity of their comic book lines (regardless of whether that move was incidental to the stories, calculated, or most likely a mix of the two), DC Comics in 2012 introduced two new Green Lanterns to the roster — one gay, and one an Arab-American Muslim.

Cue reactionary Internet freakout here.

Alan Scott from “Earth 2″

Back in May, rumors spread that DC was ready to have “come out of the closet” one of their major superheroes. We strongly hinted back in April that the hero in question was the “Alan Scott” version of Green Lantern, and soon our guess was confirmed. This Green Lantern of the comic book “Earth 2″ — from a parallel Earth to the main DC Universe — was rebooted from an earlier version of the character (that version essentially a reboot of an even earlier version, and so on). But unlike his predecessors, this Scott was gay.

There were several controversies over Alan Scott. Let’s tackle the big one first: some people are really really bigoted. At the time, we had compiled some of the most offensive/clueless reactions to the news of this gay Green Lantern; here’s a sample:

“so does this mean that any villian who attacks green lantern can be charged with a hate crime? what’s next, superman is really a pedofile?”

“Messing Up All The Great Comic Heros.. Foolishness That Just Because The POTUS Agreed To Gay Marriage That Everything Has To Have A Homosexual Tendecy.. Just Sad”

“If a childs superhero has a human sexuality than they are`nt a real superhero.Who cares who the cartoon is FN? it`s a FN cartoon not a starbucks porno”

Ah. The “starbucks porno.” Forgot about that one.

On the other end of the spectrum, DC received criticism that they didn’t make the “main” Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, gay — instead, opting to go with perhaps the “safer” choice of a GL from another Earth.

As you will see regarding some of the entries in our “2012 Most Shocking Moments” list, it’s really hard to make everybody happy, and pretty easy to make a lot of people angry. But maybe we should give “Earth 2″ writer James Robinson, who came up with the storyline, the last word:

“…you want comic books to be realistic, you have to acknowledge the diversity of the human race. And for there to be a team – just by the sheer percentage of people who are gay in the world – for there to be a team without a member who is gay just isn’t realistic.”

Simon Baz, the newest Green Lantern

The DCU’s newest Green Lantern, Simon Baz, created controversy merely by his first appearance on the cover of “Green Lantern” #0 — where he was pointing a handgun at the reader and appeared to be wearing a ski mask. DC later gave more background on the character, an Arab-American Muslim who was falsely accused of being a terrorist and faced a Guantanamo Bay type situation. But wouldn’t you know it? More controversy, as some conservative websites and readers were horrified at the very idea of having a superhero of that particular religion, providing another carnival of xenophobic and racist objections to wade through at one’s leisure.

And, just like in the case of Alan Scott, other people accused DC of “tokenism” and only introducing Baz to make a half-hearted attempt to diversify their characters and grab some headlines.

As with both of these situations, it helps to understand what the actual writer of the story was thinking — in this case, Geoff Johns, who himself has an Arab-American background and wanted to make a statement about the way Arabs and Muslims were treated after 9/11 . He told the Associated Press:

“I thought a lot about it – I thought back to what was familiar to me. This is such a personal story.”

The real controversy about both Alan Scott and Simon Baz isn’t their sexual orientations or religious faiths — it’s about the strong reactions, often online, from both “sides of the aisle” in terms of opinion. Publishers want to include more diversity — admit that they need more diversity — but, when doing so, run the risk of pissing off everybody anyway. In such an environment, where the loudest and most audacious voices often hold sway, how does the comic creator and the comic book publisher introduce these diverse characters without feeling like they are setting off hundreds of land-mines?

The answer has to be: they have to do it anyway.

Next on “2012’s Most OMG Moments”: TV’s “Community” loses a showrunner; and then things REALLY start to fall apart!