4 Reasons We Need To Retire the Batman Gay Joke

By: 03.19.12  •  13 Comments

There’s actually a lot of jokes you can make at Batman’s expense. He’s a guy who runs around in a flying mammal costume. He’s a rich white guy who spends a lot of time beating up poor people, which is rich with unfortunate implications. He’s been written by Frank Miller.

But whenever there’s a Batman parody in comics, almost inevitably one joke will come up. Most recently it came up in “Supurbia”, a new book from BOOM! that ran last week. Yes, yet again, we’ve got Batman porking Robin. To be fair, it fits in well with the book, an attempt to combine “Real Housewives” dramatics with superhero tropes, but that said…

This marks, what, the billionth time that joke’s been made in pop culture? Here’s why it’s well past time to drop this particular stale joke.

#4) The Roots of It Are Actually Not Funny At All

This actually comes, fairly directly, from one of the worst periods in the history of the comics medium: the HUAC hearings of the 1950s. A quick review; a psychologist, Dr. Frederic Wertham, wrote “Seduction of the Innocent”. Easily forgotten amid the fact that these hearing shut EC down was the fact that Wertham basically saw gay propaganda everywhere: if he was on Fox News today, we’d consider him an ignorant loon. He’d be a close friend of the Kevin Keller-hatin’ One Million Moms. And that’s really where it got started; in the founding of the Comics Code, the ruining of EC Comics, and the medium being set back decades because of one busybody promoting an ignorant viewpoint. Which leads us to…

#3) It’s Homophobic To Varying Degrees

“Supurbia” actually handles it fairly off-screen (it’s more of a Batman/Nightwing than a Batman/Robin), but it is still a bit ignorant to just trot this joke out with no thought. We’ve all seen depictions of it that get a whole lot worse than the ones cited here, and it can get a bit uncomfortable pretty rapidly, especially when it equates homosexuality with child molestation. There’s crossing the line to be funny, and then there’s outright fear. The latter? Not funny.

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