Friday, September 14, 2012

A Gay Ole Time in Riverdale: Thoughts on Kevin Keller

Read an article today that made me think more about the newest resident of Riverdale: new character Kevin Keller:

"But thinking in terms of quotas as a non-binding guideline could be helpful, because without some sort of prompt to encourage creators to think about diversity the default inclination is to go with what's familiar."

That is an extremely wrong-headed idea that is anathema to why Kevin has been a success. He's a fun character and him being gay is not the only thing that defines him. That's where Dan Parent has excelled -- in writing a character who feels at home in the Archie Universe. Reading the Kevin stories doesn't make me feel like I'm watching "a very special episode" of a sitcom, or an old "After School Special" (yeah, I'm that old...), but that I'm just reading a fun Archie story that happens to feature a character who is gay. I also never got the idea that Kevin is the only gay kid at Riverdale high, but rather that he's the first to break into the Archie's Gang Clique. That's why Kevin Keller works so well.

This also makes me think more about how Riverdale functions as an idyllic fictional society. Although it has may progressive traits (openness to all races, gay students, embracing environmentalism, charity work), it does so while embracing what can only be described as traditional family values. None of the core characters in the Archie universe come from broken or single-parent homes. None. And I'm including a lot of secondary characters, including Moose, Midge, Raj, Chuck, Tre, Kimoko, Dilton, Ginger, and others.

I don't want to read too much into the Archie universe, but it's interesting to note that the Progressive Agenda seems only to work when it is built upon the strong foundation of a "traditional" family.

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