Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Aunt May in Love



In Amazing Spider-Man #592, a couple months ago, Peter Parker (that's Spider-Man to you less geeky Geeky Sex readers out there) went to visit his Aunt May at her house after a particularly long absence and received a bit of a surprise -- he found his septuagenarian aunt in bed with the father of his newspaper editor boss/nemesis, J. Jonah Jameson! (The image above is the property of Marvel Comics and used totally without permission but hopefully in a way they would approve of if I had asked them.)

Like most comic books Amazing Spider-Man has a letter column and like most comic book fans its readers had strong opinions about what happens in its pages. Those opinions hit in last week's Amazing Spider-Man #603.

Ric Davies of Sterling Heights, Michigan, writes:
That last page of issue #592 made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. What were you guys thinking? Seems like Aunt May has gone into the wayback machine and is in her 50s-60s again. For cryin' out loud, she's like 1,000 years old!

I definitely don't like imagining May Parker having relations... and if you guys want my eyes to continue to be able to read your fine comic, I would suggest no more of this. What happens in Aunt May's bedroom should stay in Aunt May's bedroom.

'Nuff seen and 'nuff said!

Steve Delaney of Knoxville, Tennessee, put it even more concisely:
About ASM #592, specifically the last page, only one word comes to mind: AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Now, without a doubt, the writers of the comic book were playing the scene for laughs, not to confront any sex-negative attitudes in their audience. It was indeed a funny moment. But what really tickled me pink was the fact that the writers (who recently reinvigorated this ailing series) had decided to give Aunt May, a sexless old lady for most of Spider-Man history, a sex life that is as explicit as these things get in superhero comic books. And I was tickled even pinker when I saw Peter Parker's reaction in the next issue. After a few moments of embarrassment, our hero tells his aunt, "Pretty lady, whatever makes you happy makes me happy. This guy's a catch. Hang onto him. As you were, you two."

So I was surprised by this violent reaction from the fans. (To be fair, a third letter commended Peter's levelheaded reaction.) I mean, I know that our culture has trouble talking about sex and doesn't consider a person attractive unless they're in their twenties, which is going to be an obstacle to any attempt to portray an elderly couple having sex. Nonetheless, the reaction seemed a little over the top. Do we really begrudge older people -- even fictional older people like Aunt May -- the occasionally fun and healthy roll in the hay? I just wanted to shake these fans and say, "Old people have sex too! Get over it!"

So instead I did something I've only done once before in twenty years of off-and-on comic book readership -- I wrote a letter to the editor. And since it will probably never see print I'd just like to say thanks to the writers of Amazing Spider-Man for making their (evidently ill-prepared) readers face something that is a normal part of everyday life. As you were, you guys.

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