Recently…well, probably not recently because it’s a very old debate but here’s another recent iteration of it…the discussion once again came up regarding slash fiction. In this particular case, for those of you not clicking the link, it’s a woman stating that she has just as much of a right to remix canon as anyone else, and any guy (and they do always seem to be guys) who gets creeped out, personally offended, emotionally disturbed, or just generally defensive on behalf of poor straight Captain America and Iron Man who can’t do anything about some gurl making them make out and stuff can lump it.
Which is, of course, 99% correct. (It’d be 100%, except that I’ve always felt like Cap and Iron Man’s arguing doesn’t mask a simmering romantic tension between the two men that could erupt at any moment. Cap and Iron Man’s arguing actually masks a much deeper and more fundamental dislike that the two have for each other based on the fact that Iron Man really is a dangerous control freak whose actions, while well-meaning, betray the fact that he actually is so elitist that he thinks that he should be allowed to run other people’s lives, and Cap finds that morally abhorrent. A much better slash pairing would be Cap and Hawkeye, whose macho banter practically screams, “We’re boning each other in the locker room after missions.” But I digress.) The point is, arguing that “this isn’t canon!” or “these characters wouldn’t do that!” is a disingenuous mask that this particular breed of fanboys use to attack fiction that makes them uncomfortable. The same people are probably writing Black Canary/Oracle slash, or at the very least nodding approvingly at it while saying, “Yes, exactly. Good for you for having the courage to show what DC can’t show on the printed page regarding these two characters and their mutual love of kinky bondage games!”
People like that know (perhaps, if you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, you could say that they’re aware on a subconscious level, but I suspect that most of them are perfectly knowledgeable on a conscious level) that if they say, “Ick! Seeing gay male characters being physically affectionate makes me deeply uncomfortable, and I think that only sexy women should be publicly sexualized because that’s the sort of thing I enjoy and fandom is all about servicing me and people like me,” then they will get a pointed lack of sympathy. They also know that fans care deeply about canon, because we read comics as much to inhabit the fictional universe for a brief period as to read any particular story, and as a result we’re very bothered when that fictional universe lacks internal consistency. So by hiding behind, “So-and-so wouldn’t do that!”, they divert the discussion away from their own homophobia and dislike of females behaving as though they have just as much of a right to enjoy comics as males, and towards the question of whether or not Captain America would really sleep with Iron Man. (A discussion that, as shown above, I am not entirely immune to participating in.)
But, as the blogger above pointed out, that is not an honest argument. They don’t run around pointing to every single piece of non-canonical fan art or fanfiction and tell the people involved that they shouldn’t be coming up with a different interpretation of the character than tradtionally done. They don’t even go up to Frank Miller and say, “Hey, your relentlessly angry, anti-social, ruthless Batman is actually pretty fundamentally at odds with the character’s history, and is depressingly unsympathetic and one-note.” They save their ire for women, minorities, and alternative sexualities who insist that they should be represented in fandom as well. They are, in short, practicing enforcement of white male privilege, and that’s actually pretty pathetic.
So, to “Pathetic Avengers Fangirl”…you’re right. You should totally keep enjoying the Avengers in whatever way makes you feel happy. Because that’s what being a fan is about.