‘Outsiders’ Author Answered Questions About Characters Being Gay. Social Media Wasn't Happy With Answers.

As I sit watching the Patroits play and my future ex-husband Rob Gronkowski makes yet another touchdown, I think, if only he "played on our team."  Of course, he's a human being and he seems pretty straight, but I can dream. 

It's a little different when you read a book.  When you get to know a character and there's only 192 pages to get to know a character and how he relates to other characters.  Really?  Only 192 pages to figure out back story, present feelings, and hopes for the future of every single character. 

So when we are left with filling in the blanks about characters, we improvise, imagine, and dream. 

Great catch GRONK!  Sorry for that brush with reality for a moment.

When we fill in those blanks and become comfortable with what we have build for them, for their "real" lives in our heads, their relationships and feelings with and for others in those brief pages, we don't like when something dilutes or scars that imagery.

If you want to keep those non-fictional lives you have built for your fictional heroes and heroines, when you get the chance to ask the author, you should take a policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."  Some fans of The Outsiders went down that path with author S.E. Hinton and they didn't like what they learned.

 

When most authors are confronted with questions of whether a character they wrote is gay, transgender, different race, etc., they usually just weasel out by saying it’s up to interpretation.

But not Outsiders author S.E. Hinton. She had an answer, one that’s really pissing people off. Some dude on Twitter asked her if Johnny and Dally had the hots for each other, and she just flat-out said “no.”

Some on Twitter not only thought that Hinton’s response was homophobic but also quite rude. Now a good ole’ outrage mob has it out for Hinton for daring to take a stand on her decades-old characters’ sexuality.

Hinton spent the ensuing days arguing with social justice warriors incensed about her comments.

Hinton unknowingly stepped into a turd pile of controversy that has been raging as far back as Star Trek,  the original series. Subtexters, or people who see homosexual subtext in a work of fiction (i.e. Kirk and Spock) often virulently defend their position on social media. Hinton unknowingly enraged the Johnny/Dally subtexters by ruining the relationship existing in their heads, and therefore must suffer the consequences in her Twitter mentions for weeks to come. - heatst.com

 

I covered a similar situation with J.K. Rowling and her answers to who is gay and why in the Harry Potter series (Why Are We Digging So Deep Into Harry Potter To Find LGBT Issues & Characters?). That was a mess, too.

To those people that had their book dreams crushed, I say, sorry, not sorry.  If you ask the author, and they give you an answer, you take their answer as truth.  Write your own book if you want things to go differently. 

I cannot rewrite who Gronk is, but believe me nothing is going to mess with my fiction about that man.  And if it does, I'm not going to get all whiny and pissy and sit behind a keyboard and degrade someone over it, especially an author.

 


 

Here are some of the back and forth tweets. Click on images for a larger view.

 

h/t:  heatst.com

 

 

Comments

+1
0
-1
[-]

I read "The Outsiders" when I was in 9th grade and was more impressed with the age of the author when she wrote the book rather than the book itself. It was still required reading (pre-movie) when I first began teaching and it was almost effortless to get kids to read it. I do think LGBTQ kids can relate to the book, it's more because of its universal themes, but I can't recall what I would call a gay subtext.

+1
0
-1
[-]

It's brutal for authors now because social media gives the reader almost instant connection. And everyone (most everyone) thinks their opinion matters. I know authors who have gotten death threats from readers. When it comes to art, it is what the creator says it is, if the creator is alive. The author didn't write that book for you, or paint that picture and so on for you. We are forever grateful you found meaning, but refrain from letting your "subtext" overshadow the work. And if the author says 'no' it's NO. Who the hell are you to argue with the author?

+1
0
-1
[-]

Very well put. I agree with you completely.

Add new comment