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Bi-erasure: Constantine

Content description:
Discusses bi-phobia and bi-sexuality.
Mentions smoking.
Excessive use of sarcasm.

So there has been some sad, but none too surprising news recently, NBC’s new show Constantine which I’ve been looking forward to, is bi-phobic. As this new adaptation of the Hellraiser comics portrays Constantine, a canonically bi-sexual character as straight (I can scent the douchebaggery in the air). A change which has absolutely no reason to take place.

The news comes from a TCA press junket on July 13th 2014 where Daniel Cerone, executive producer of the show, answered  questions about how the show would deal with Bi-sexuality and Constantine’s smoking habits. He stated 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. So 20 years from now? But there are no immediate plans.”. Aside from the plainly offensive language used (as though Constantine’s relationships with men are ‘issues’ to overcome or mistakes somehow?) the insinuation that a bi-sexual character may only have a chance at the small screen in 20 years is plain awful.

Especially as after this dismissal of Constantine’s sexuality they launched into a lengthy discussion on how they were going to portray him as a heavy smoker despite network restrictions. As smoking is such a key trait for the character they’ve thought long and hard on how to incorporate this habit into the show, but it’s going to take another 20 years before they can think of a way to even hint at bi-sexuality. It must be so hard to imagine two men in bed together and somehow display this visually on tv (I don’t know how, maybe by complicated interpretive dance, that could work right?).

Despite stripping Constantine of his sexuality however, they vow to be “very honest to the character” (insert sounds of chirping crickets here). Stay ‘honest’ my ass, by changing his sexuality, they’ve changed a large portion of who he is. Now I’m not saying sexuality defines people, far from it, but to say that someone’s sexuality is unimportant or negligible is wrong. When we live in a culture that is largely homophobic or at least erases the identities of those in the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s incredibly important we get the representation we need. Having characters who are bi-sexual and aren’t fetishised, stereo typed or completely defined by their bi-sexuality is super fucking important.

But y’know maybe I’m wrong. As a bi-sexual person I don’t face any oppression or disadvantage in society, hell I don’t face any discrimination from within the LGBTQIA+ community itself at all. I wish I could say I’m surprised that heavy smoking is seen as a vital aspect of a character, so vital in fact that they’ve had to think of ways to portray this despite network restrictions. Whereas bi-sexuality, something that isn’t restricted by network guidelines, is just so mind blowing and difficult to comprehend for a modern audience it’s been dismissed as easily as changing Constantine’s hair colour (Although I suspect that would cause more outrage and furious black board tinkering, “Brunette or Blonde? Daniel! How can we decide?!”)

If you’re as annoyed as I am, heck even if you’re not, why not head over to the official Constantine Tumblr page and twitter? Leave them some scathing messages or some well thought out arguments or better yet ask why it’s so difficult to portray a bi-sexual character. Because honestly there’s no reason for Constantine to not be bi-sexual other than plain old bi-phobia. I think it’s time major networks stopped acting like LGBTQIA+ characters are anything but representations of real people across the globe.

Don’t you?

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Floatingmanatee also known as Alice, is a certified Zoologist living in Britain and has an unhealthy love of weird creatures. She's bisexual, a lover of books, TV, film and anything else that tells a story. Generally she's either angry or sad or both about the state of the world, but watching youtube videos of cute animals makes her feel better.

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  1. July 15, 2014 at 6:55 pm —

    When they say ‘issue’, I think they mean ‘released edition of a story’ rather than ‘problem’ (e.g. I went down to the store to buy this month’s issue of Batgirl).

    But for the rest … definitely. It’s infuriating how all the subtlety of human sexual (and romantic, sensual etc.) interactions are reduced to either ‘heterosexual’ or ‘homosexual’ on TV (I guess because humans can’t possibly be more complex about that), and bisexual characters are portrayed as sex-crazed people that will ‘hump anything that moves’ outside of literature made primarily for people under the ‘queer’ umbrella. And it’s disappointing whenever they adapt a character who has any gender- or sexual-variance from expectations at all and force them into their respective pigeon-holes.

  2. July 15, 2014 at 8:17 pm —

    While I’m as annoyed by the bi erasure of Constantine’s sexuality, I think the “few issues” he’s referring to are issues of the comics, not that he’s dismissing Constantine sleeping with men as “issues.”

    That said, it still sucks, because I’m sick and tired of seeing my sexuality erased, except when it titillates straight guys.

  3. July 15, 2014 at 8:25 pm —

    Ah okay, I take back the ‘issues’ thing, I may have been raging a little too hard there :).
    That said, the whole tone of his reply is so dismissive and offensive, if bi-sexuality is so unimportant then why are you portraying him as straight?
    When will people get it through their heads that straight is not the default sexuality, it’s just a common one that is portrayed in the majority of media already.

  4. July 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm —

    This bugs me, because people ignore the fact that it is a change. When first created, he was very homophobic. While Constantine was waiting to meet Swamp Thing in an alley, a big scary biker called Constantine a “poof”, so he yelled at the guy and demanded an apology, so angry that he crushed his own drink glass and stared at the biker, with glass shards impaled in his flesh.
    The change was probably (almost certainly) for the better, but why do people ignore it.

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