Gay Batman is more than a hollow stereotype, he’s a sexual predator.
If you’re looking for a comedy short that contains harmful stereotypes about gay men, then Gay Batman by Weirdfellas, is for you!
“Gay Batman” by Weirdfellas
Let’s unpack the tagline for this film: “If Batman ever saves you in a dark alley, be careful. He may want more than a "thank you.”
This idea sets the tone for the 4-minute short, written by Luke Allein, that only acts to perpetuate the stereotype that gay men are sexual predators. It’s well documented that the Batman character has always been reluctant to engage in any romance or sex, but add Gay to his title and apparently that’s all he needs to become a wanton sex criminal. I talked with writer/producer, Luke Allein about Gay Batman. and he enlightened me as to it’s origins and the psychology behind its story.
“I was talking to some girl at a bar,” Allein recalls, “and I ran out of things to say, so I just asked her if Batman ever saved her in a dark alley, would she kiss him. She said, ‘no’ and that it was a stupid question, but then I thought of asking the question to a guy and I had the idea for Gay Batman.”
As we all know,Straight Batman is an asexual hero who would never abuse his position of power for personal gain. In this film, Gay Batman (Kelly Woods) is compelled to solicit sexual remuneration from the male citizen (Quinn Butterfield) he saves. Portraying gay men trading sexual favors in dark alleys is one of the cheapest generalities about gay men and it fallaciously assumes that straight (normal) people aren’t capable of the same behavior. Even Allein admits the story wouldn’t work if Batman was sexually assaulting a woman in an alley, “it wouldn’t be funny if [Batman] was doing it to a girl.”
“Pucker up, or else.” (Image from Gay Batman by Weirdfellas)
Throughout the short, Gay Batman molests the citizen he’s saved, even going so far as to threaten him with violence if he won’t submit to a kiss. Scenes like this perpetuate the myth that gay men are attracted to every male they meet, including those who are in vulnerable positions. This is the same logic that allows people to believe that male pedophiles who abuse boys are gay, when all of the psychology has proven otherwise.
The fear that gay men, if allowed access to straight men, would make sexual advances on each and every man they meet is a durable stereotype that continues to give gay-panic attacks to athletes, politicians and televangelists alike. Unsurprisingly, the Weirdfellas’ misconceptions about gay men don’t end there, “Bruce Wayne isn’t gay,” Allein explains, “he’s living his regular life as a high powered businessman and playboy, but when he’s Batman, he’s already wearing a costume, so why not let his inner desires come out?”
Let's do a quick analysis of the comedy equation in this film. Our hero, Batman, is a straight man under the costume, a man who lives a “normal life.” When he dons the cape and cowl, however, the anonymity allows him to explore his deeper desires, which manifest as sexual aggression towards men. This tells us one of two things, either Bruce Wayne is gay but represses his sexual desire to such an extent that it manifests as violent aggression, or that Gay Batman isn’t gay at all but has far deeper issues that manifest as the use of sexually aggressive force to assert his power over others. Either of these implied character issues would have made for excellent shortdramas but none of the material here makes for good humor.
Why, Kurt Fuller? (Image from Gay Batman by Weirdfellas)
Writers must now realize that we're entering a post-prejudice age, where our non-heteronormative characters are not automatically a punchline because of their minority traits. In Allein’s film, Gay = Deviant, and that trope is now just as tired as it is offensive. The only way to save Gay Batman from itself is to divorce him from the implied deviance by portraying him as a superhero who, even with all of his training, weapons, intelligence, and honor, is forced to deal with the same prejudice and bigotry traditionally experienced any LGBT person. If Gay Batman had to constantly rebuke straight male citizens assuming he wanted sexual favors, that would meet the new standards of post-modern comedy.
Gay Batman misses the mark for both humor and social commentary, hopefully the sequels will redeem both the character and his writers.