Thursday, August 17, 2017

Music Review: Toto's "Africa" Is About Bisexuality (My Theory)

Toto's "Africa" is one of my favorite songs, and it turns out that the song lends itself quite easily to a queer reading. See if you can spot what I mean in the lyrics (or read the lyrics here):

I have always loved this song, but listening to it now, I realize that it actually seems to make more sense if it is about a bisexual man reassuring his insecure girlfriend:

Gonna take a lot to drag me away from you. There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.

Those are some quotes of the lyrics from the chorus. The first verse is merely about a man waiting for his girlfriend to arrive in Africa (though it does sound like an excuse, for why he stopped the old man). But the entire second verse seems to support my theory.

The wild dogs cry out in the night, as they grow restless longing for some solitary company.

I always took "solitary company" to mean that the restless dogs wished to pair off and mate. "Solitary" and "company" aren't usually put together. The singer certainly has the topic of sexuality on his mind.

I know that I must do what's right, sure as Kilimanjaro rises like a leopress* above the Serengeti.

*(I thought it was "like a leopress," a female leopard, but according to the websites I've seen, it's "like Olympus." My mom, who remembers the eighties like it was yesterday, swears that she saw the lyrics in a magazine, and the word "leopress" was plainly visible. My word processor does not recognize "leopress" as a word, but we have the word "tigress," so why wouldn't we have "leopress" too?
It even sounds like "leopress," in the original music video. I suppose both of them work, though I prefer my version. Then again, the Olympic gods were notorious bisexuals--do a quick search about Zeus and Ganymede, if you don't believe me.)

It is not uncommon for LGBT to have a crises of conscience upon discovery of their sexual or gender identities. Especially if they were raised to believe that what they are is wrong. It's not clear what "do what's right" means here--simply not cheating on his girlfriend with a man, honorably breaking up with her before exploring his gay side, reassuring her that she will not lose him, or even--

I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become

Oh wow. That got dark quickly. I guess he thinks conversion therapy will work for him. If he needs it, he's probably more than bisexual. And it usually doesn't work in the long run.

So is there any evidence in the music video that is about bisexuality? Unfortunately, I didn't find bisexuality. I found racism.
The video is...problematic, for in a song praising Africa for its inspiring and cleansing effects, the singer's black love interest is killed by a savage native. (What else could her glasses falling to the ground symbolize?) And she is most definitely the love interest, for in the romantic song mentioning "she" so very much, this actress is literally the only woman. Books and a kerosene lamp topple because of the attack, and the singer's life and love, and all symbols of such things, go up in flames.
The "good" African, the black woman, has been westernized, and is sitting at a desk, writing something in the white man's study. (Is she his secretary, taking care of his correspondences for him while he loafs with his books?) But the "civilized" African is killed--defeated--by her violent, untamed counterpart. There is apparently no room in an African's life for both peace and education on the one hand, and traditional tribal garb and way of life on the other. Why not have both, in the same individual? People are capable of both.

So is there any evidence, other than the lyrics, that they wrote this song with the experience of bisexuality in mind? None that I could find.
"Africa" is credited to band members David Paich and the late Jeff Porcaro. And while Paich has an...interesting...history on LGBT matters, there is nothing on Porcaro (except his very sudden and mysterious death at age 38).
In 2003, the band announced that Paich would be undergoing a gender reassignment surgery. Turns out that was a joke--and a bad one. When I saw the announcement while doing research for this article, my suspicions were raised when fellow member Steve Lukather referred to Paich as "he" throughout. If Paich was really a transgender woman, would Paich not have asked to be referred to as "she"? And if they were as supportive as they seemed to be, wouldn't they respect her wishes?
There was also Paich's name on a list of musicians on the site Drowned In Sound, from a poster claiming to be a closeted gay man. The list appears to be of musicians that he believes are LGBT. The list was posted in December of 2008, and it is unclear whether the poster believes Paich is gay, bisexual, transgender, or something else.
There was no other evidence that I could find.
And I could find nothing about Porcaro. But again, his death seems suspiciously young, and band members claim that he was not a drug addict, only an occasional user, so that it probably did not contribute to it. I don't think he would be killed for being bisexual per se, but then again there are some people out there who would take a life because the victim was queer. Perhaps there are some of those people in high places.

And the band does claim that the song was literally about working too hard. That this "thing" the man had become was a machine, an automaton. That could very well be, but a lot of people work too hard, and they don't usually get scared that they are monsters because of it. That seems like a very lame excuse, and a queer reading makes much more sense to me.

However it was originally intended, it makes more sense if it was actually not just about a straight romance or a white person "finding himself" (the writers had never been to Africa at the time they wrote it).
All in all, we may never know for certain what the character of the song wished to "cure" deep inside him, and what thing he had become. But what other thing is treated like this not only in the West, but in many African nations? We do not even treat mental illness like it's both a curable disease, and that it makes people into monsters (or at least, most people should know better). Where else does talk of sexuality, and the words "do what's right," "cure," "deep inside," and "become" fit perfectly together? (Though one doesn't "become" gay that we know of, some people believe that others do.)
I love this song, but it is a very dark song. A man goes to Africa, away from his girlfriend, and has a bisexual awakening, then decides to try conversion therapy, "frightened of this thing that (he's) become."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

LGBTQ: How To Deal With The Religious Homophobes Inside Your Head

I woke up this morning with my cat demanding to come in my window and cuddle with me. I let him in, lay down again, and started petting him. He cuddled right up to me, and demanded more and more petting.
It was such a happy moment, but for some reason, I had woken up thinking about the homophobic people I had encountered over the years. I found myself getting upset and arguing with them once again--even though they weren't really there, only in my thoughts.
Society's homophobia, and my reactions to it, had ruined a perfectly good moment. So I tried to remind myself that they weren't here, they didn't want to be convinced not to hurt people, and they didn't matter. It wasn't easy, but I tried to think of happy things.

I don't believe that anyone "lets" someone bother them. I don't believe that for one second, because I never chose to be bothered by people--why would I? I want to be happy!
But it's important to remember that, though it is very difficult, sometimes you have to at least try to stop arguing with phantoms. You have to at least try to think of what you look forward to about the day, even if it's something very small.
Your energy is too precious to be wasted on anything you don't want to do. On something that doesn't accomplish anything for you. On people that deep down, like to hurt others, though they won't admit that to themselves.
(I say they like to hurt others, because there are so many resources out there, they could at least look at why some people believe God does not punish people for being themselves and falling in love. But they don't. And so they are getting something out of hurting others.)

I think often of Ellen Degeneres. She doesn't waste time arguing with her haters. She just does her show and her voice acting. I try to emulate that attitude.

For me, arguing with imaginary homophobes--the reflections of my own homophobic side--threatens to hurt my writing.
I think back to when I was much more productive with my writing. This was about ten years ago, when I was fifteen and sixteen. What was different about that time? For one, I thought I was straight at the time. I assumed gay issues, while hurting others, did not affect directly. Now I realize it does.  I had other things to be bothered about--but nothing that made me a bad person. So now, I try to remind myself of my good qualities, and that wanting to be straight doesn't necessarily make someone good. So the fact that I just want to be myself, is just as good a choice. (Probably better, or at least easier!)
Another thing that was different is that I didn't have access to the internet as much as I do now. No one limited how much time I spent on it or what I read, but there weren't as many resources for every subject as there is now. And there weren't as many comment sections. And I wasn't on Facebook.
What I'm saying is, it used to be that we all didn't have access to arguments the way we do now. It used to be that we argued about things as they came up with relatives and friends. Now I can go literally almost anywhere on the internet and pick a fight about something if I wanted to. In fact, it's hard not to come across controversy sometimes.
I also literally always have the option, on Facebook, to go back and revisit the horribly, religiously homophobic people I've messaged (when they've had children) or who have messaged me. There is no "I did what I could, and now they're gone." And that sucks.
There are some people who are hurting their children, and they refuse to change because they like it--even if they don't think it's their children they are hurting. And now I have access to these self-righteous people, access which I don't want. And that sucks.
So I try to limit my internet usage to "happy" things as much as possible. And I often go a few days a week, at least, without checking Facebook. Facebook can wait.

I also used to feel silenced a lot. About ten years ago, the thought of arguing with someone scared me. Now I finally feel like I have a voice, and a right to say what I believe and what I think is right. But I often feel obligated to defend myself from verbal attacks--even when the attackers aren't there. And though I have a voice now, I am not obligated to use it, especially all the time. I can have a life, too.

Sometimes I pour out my soul in a special document on my computer. I dump all the mental toxins there, argue all I want to, and no one has to see it or get an opportunity to respond. I always have the option of saying these things later. Sometimes I pour out my soul, and then I can create positive things. With my writing, and in other endeavors, and just with my life.
I have found that I actually need a battery of techniques to combat my internalized homophobia and how it manifests in my life and my mind. Sometimes dumping all my feelings on paper helps. And sometimes it helps more to just try to write about good things, and focus on the positive things about my life. Or to tunelessly hum my feelings. Or to try to help others with my writing.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Censorship Is Also Interpretation Censorship: My Thoughts On Books And Scripture

I recently wrote about my county losing its library system, and how that would affect the literary freedom of poorer residents. Without a county library system, with all of its resources and the ability to borrow from other libraries across the country, those who can't buy books, can't read books. Or rather, can't choose the books they read.
But all of this got me to thinking about what books really are: They are other people's ideas. 

The freedom to read what you want--to have access to the things you want to read--is the freedom to take in and, if you like, be influenced by the information and ideas of other people. Restricting books is isolating people from each other.
Other people's printed thoughts have the power to change religions beliefs, political ideologies, ideas of how one should live their own life, and a thousand tiny everyday opinions as well. The freedom to read, interpret, and agree or disagree with, what one chooses, is religious, political, and personal freedom.
No wonder many religious and political institutions in power have tried to curtail that freedom. They know that there might be mass conversions away from their beliefs and systems if this freedom is allowed to go unchecked.

But actual censorship isn't the only way they do this. I disagree with the author of the book mentioned in the last post, The Woman Reader by Belinda Jack, when she says that "(Writer Doris) Lessing is right that no-one can tell us how to read."
 For example, how many people in America will tell you exactly how to read--or rather how to interpret--the Bible? For evangelists who make such a big deal out of their reading the bible "literally," they are eager to tell you exactly what each passage means, whether you ask or not.
When I read the bible, I see a Jesus who cared more about people than he did about rules. Who believed that God cared more about people than he did about rules. But apparently man was indeed made for the law, according to conservative Christians, and the law was not made for man. Provided, of course, that it isn't Jewish law (unless they wish to use the Old Covenant to conveniently condemn modern-day homosexuals or anyone else they don't care for). I don't think that it is impossible for one to be a "Pharisee," just because they are not first-century-non-Messianic-Jewish--but a lot of people would tell me I'm reading it the wrong way.
They would tell me how to read. Especially because I'm a woman--and a queer woman.

(I may do more formal reviews of The Woman Reader, if I have anything more to say about it. It is quite interesting so far.)

The right to read--and to read what one chooses, and how one chooses to interpret something--should be protected for all, including women, lower-income people, and children. (Because children have rights too, not just parents. And that includes freedom of religion and political opinions.)
I am very glad that I have always had access to books, and no restrictions on what I could read, at least in my teenage years. But some are not so lucky. And we need to protect their freedoms as much as we can.
There is no difference between deciding what children read, censoring what women read, restricting what the masses may read, and denying scripture to the masses. There is also no difference between those things, and telling people how to read scripture and other books. They all restrict religious freedom, which conservatives and others say they hold so dear.

When A Town Loses It Library, Many Residents Lose Their Literary Freedoms

I have just started reading The Woman Reader by Belinda Jack, a history of women's literacy. Even the introduction talks about the many ways in which books have been censored, by the church and even in other countries. And though the censoring of women's books has been less formal, women's reading especially has caused a lot of anxiety from men in power.
Jack says:

"For much of history it was this fear of women assuming greater power that caused the most unease. One strategy was--and is--to deny women education, but with the passage of time women in many parts of the world did become numerate and literate. This did not mean that they had free access to the material they most wanted to read, of course. The revolutionary moment, for the woman reader, comes in those parts of the world where women were both able to read, and had free access to a significant range of material. In many cases what mattered most was to be able to use libraries."

(Bold is mine.)

Here I would like to note that I live in America, in the area of Roseburg, Oregon, where the county shut down all of our libraries because they "couldn't afford it." I remain skeptical, as this is a big timber-producing area, with all of the Federal dollars that implies. It is only through volunteers at Sutherlin and other nearby small-town libraries that we even have any tiny libraries at all--our whole library system is gone. And there are no libraries in Roseburg, the biggest city in the county and the county seat.
These circumstances make the very next sentences from this book all that much more interesting--and alarming--for me:

The writer Doris Lessing, who grew up in colonial Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), makes the point very clearly: 'With a library you are free,' she writes, 'not confined by temporary political climates.' For Lessing, who saw in South Africa a regime's appalling attempts to deny freedom to the majority, access to books is the most fundamental human right. The library, she goes on to say, 'is the most democratic of institutions because no-one--but no-one at all--can tell you what to read and when and how." 

(Quoted from Doris Lessing, Index on Censorship, vol. 28, no. 2 (Apr. 1999), pp. 158-9)

Pretty chilling that because of county budget priorities, Douglas County residents who can't afford a computer or books of their own live, at least in one sense, like those in colonial Rhodesia. Modern white Americans, especially, like to believe they live in a more enlightened place than either Africa or the past.
Who knows whether the taking of literacy freedoms was done on purpose by the county commissioners. But the effects themselves are enough of a concern.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Why Do Feminists Protect Rape Victims Better Than Conservative Christians?

It's interesting that secular feminists are like, "No means no," but the Christian patriarchal people who "protect their women" have a bunch of excuses for why it's not really rape.

"If she didn't scream," when a lot of women and others freeze up in danger.
"If she wasn't modest," like it never gets hot outside, or as if modesty were not a different thing in everyone's mind. Or as if "wanting attention" means wanting to be brutally violated.

(In a system in which we all deserve hell--which means these "righteous men" deserve to be raped also.)

"If she didn't fight him off," which basically means if she didn't die fighting him off. Which actually didn't happen in the biblical story of Tamara, where it explicitly says that it's a rape! And also the story of Dinah.

They "protect their women," but they really don't!

They think, in most cases, that being raped means that she didn't DESERVE to be protected from rape. What other crime do we treat that way?

As if bad things never happened to good people. They never see themselves as deserving of bad or terrible things.

There was a Republican senator--I don't want to search for his name and relive it, look up the story if you wish--who said that having sex with a woman in her sleep was not rape. If I want to wait until marriage to have sex, I have to never sleep!
(And no, maybe she won't wake up and resist--as if any of these men have ever had to wake up in their bedrooms fighting for their lives. Making she took a sleeping pill for insomnia. That's not consent or a sin.)

Maybe they're afraid that women will have sex and then say it was rape--but isn't the greater danger driving rape victims to silence, self-hatred, and suicide? Don't these "pro-life" people care about women's lives?

And this is saying nothing of male rape victims, or lesbian rape victims. (From their partners, or "corrective rape," designed to make them straight. Yeah, nothing like trauma to be a turn-on.) Or the fact that most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows and trusts. Someone she doesn't think would ever do that to her. Who would suspect all of their friends and family (and pastors), all of the time?

What in their pasts are these men trying to justify?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Spider-Man Comics: Making Soap Operas Acceptable To Men--And Other Thoughts

I decided to get rid of some of my comic books lately, so I found some Spider-Man comics that I didn't want anymore. I had tried to get into Spider-Man, I really had, but for some reason I never saw the appeal.
So I tried to give them one more chance. Most of my Spider-Man comics are from the 1990s, when it wasn't uncommon to have many-parted stories, even ones spanning up to five different series, so that you have to subscribe to five different series just to see how it ends. (Superman comics were really bad about this in the 90s, but Spider-Man apparently did this too.)
So I picked up a standalone comic (Web of Spider-Man 92, September 1992), thinking that I didn't have to worry about not catching up. But somehow, Peter Parker was still bothered, apparently, by something that happened in the last comic (probably in many previous comics). I had seen no indication on the cover that it was continued from the last issue of WOS, or from another series.
And yet I found myself thinking, "Who is Betty and why does she blame him for her husband's death?"
And then I remembered that this had been typical for any modern Spider-Man comics I had seen. Here are my thoughts on the character:

1) The Bold And The Bugbrain: He lives in a daytime drama.

 I realized that this was the problem with Spider-Man for me: He always had some shit to deal with. There was always something going on, I was always plunked down in the middle of an ongoing story, and if I recall right, it had been happening since the 1970s (in the comics; I was born in 1991).
 And I don't care for this approach to storytelling. I have my own shit to deal with, and now I have to deal with Spider-Man's? I like my peaceful life; why would I escape into one filled with interpersonal drama?
Sometimes his personal problems are related to his villains, sometimes they are not. And while superpowers, insanity, and accidents that drive people to evil corruption can sometimes make things much more interesting, underneath it all, it's still drama. With a big enough budget and a long enough run time, any soap opera series would go into every one of these plotlines. It's a glorified super-powered soap opera.

2) The count of his friends can rival Game Of Thrones (and it's just as bloody and complicated). 

What made the Winter Soldier storyline, in both the movie and the Captain America comic books, so addictive, wonderful, and heart-wrenching was the fact that it was Bucky who was corrupted. Bucky, Cap's sidekick from the beginning--the very beginning in 1942! This was a rare storyline to pursue for Cap, and it had so much history behind it.
It became great, because Captain America was treated like Spider-Man--only they did it rarely, and with so recognizable a character. Imagine if Uncle Ben came back from the dead as a brainwashed assassin that Spidey had to fight. Or Aunt May gets brainwashed, because that's actually someone we know better. How awesome would that be?
And yet Spider-Man has SO MANY friends, that it becomes hard to keep track of them all, or to care about any of them.

3) Flash Thompson was not a bully, he was preserving his own soul.

And when they're not being killed or kidnapped, they're turning evil at alarming rates. Doc Ock, the Lizard, Norman Osborn, Harry Osborn, even the parasitic alien goo that comprises half of Venom--I am not even a Spider-fan, and I could name five off the top of my head! Even if you're living tar from outer space, the minute you befriend Peter Parker is the first step in your downward spiral into madness, your first handshake the dreadful sign of your inevitable and inescapable corruption.
 Flash was perhaps afraid to get close to him, and perhaps he was onto something. He knew that Peter was the Horcrux of a tiny, radioactive, eight-legged Voldemort. (Voldemorachnid?) I would love to know if the evil spider who bit him had previously murdered Ant Man.
Spider-Man has so much going for him, especially all of the many, MANY silly and colorful villains. He is the Flash of Marvel. I should love him. And I do--when he isn't weighed down by his wife wanting a divorce or his aunt possibly having cancer or him feeling responsible for his girlfriend's death. And I have to go pretty far back to get the purely fun, colorful crimefighting of yesteryear. I think even in the 60s, there was still a bit of drama.
When Harry Osborn became the new Green Goblin, that was a great concept and storyline. But they did that kind of thing too much. Now everyone around him is either going to become a villain, or get mixed up with one.

4) He appeals to a victimhood mentality.

And everyone is inevitably going to get mad at Pete for something that isn't his fault. (He's such a "nice guy," after all.) He's sometimes the avatar for a certain kind of male. The kind of male that the internet first called "nice guys," then called "neckbeards," and now I believe they're called "fuckboys." But whatever you call them, these are the guys (usually young, but they can be into their thirties and beyond) who are always a victim. Something is always happening to them, and it's always someone else' fault.
The most famous and common example is that the women they like "always pick the assholes." (I once misread that phrase, and thought someone was complaining that so many women were literally picking THEIR OWN ASSHOLES, like someone would pick their own nose. I was horrified, for one very long and unpleasant minute.)
Or that the woman they are currently with, is somehow ruining their life, and why can't these women just treat them right, because they're nice guys, after all? Apparently not hitting women is enough in their minds.
Usually, these men are blaming women for either not being attracted to them, or once they are with them, not giving them enough sex or making reasonable requests to help with the children or household tasks.
Spider-Man himself is not a professional victim--he tries to help those who cause him harm, not blame them. But I think he appeals to these types of men, because something is always happening to him that is not his fault. It's always someone else who is evil or reckless with their experiments or carrying their emotions of grief too far. It is very rare that anything is his fault. (And let's be real--do we really expect him to give up fighting crime to spend more time with Mary Jane? MJ is meant to be seen as unreasonable. The only time I really saw any fault with him is when he lied too much in one issue, and learned he had a problem.)
I have personally heard a Spider-Man fan or two describe themselves as a "nice guy" unironically. But Spider-Man sets an excellent example for how to deal with--how to try to help--those who cause you grief through no real fault of their own. Yet the danger is that he's too perfect, and everyone around him is unreasonable. And that "everyone around me is unreasonable" is what fanboys will ultimately take from it.

5) He has a rare mother figure.

He also has a mother figure sometimes mentoring him, which is so rare for a male superhero. Most of the time he has the mindset of trying to take care of the helpless little woman (even when he was a teenager). But occasionally Aunt May dispenses advice which is unintentionally useful in his crimefighting.
I am tired of seeing male superheroes obsessed with their dead fathers. Especially Superman, who never even knew his biological father (his sperm donor), but obsesses over him, even comically arguing and taking advice from a computer simulation of his ghost--but cares nothing for his dead birth mother (egg donor). He never knew her, but he never knew his sperm donor, either. And  he constantly shits on his adoptive family by not acknowledging them as his parents, when they raised him from a baby! They weren't abusive or neglectful, so why aren't they his parents?
And there's also Batman, who also seems to worship his father an inordinate amount compared to his mother--and he knew both of them until he was about ten.
So, even though Spider-Man obsesses over Uncle Ben, when Aunt May is still alive and ready to dispense wisdom and good advice, it's refreshing that he has a "mother." And it's very rare in comics that any female would not be a young, pretty love interest (yes, I've heard of those gross movies)--even though he seems to have to take care of her when she should be taking care of him.
(Even when he is still a boy, and she seems elderly but able-bodied--because he has a penis, I guess.  And she can cook and clean a large house, but cannot even be a part-time receptionist, because she lost all job skills upon her marriage.)
At least in the beginning, Aunt May played a much bigger role than either Martha Kent or Aunt Harriet. (In the comics, at least--does anyone even remember Aunt Harriet, other than in the 1960s Batman TV show?) I just wish that he would have consistently looked up to her as the mentor figure she could have been, rather than obsessing over one short sentence uttered by his dead uncle. (Because other than that, what do we really know of Uncle Ben, anyway?) Uncle Ben may have been the reason he became Spider-Man, but the living Aunt May should have been the reason that he continued fighting evil.

My relationship with the character of Spider-Man is...complicated. I wish I could just tell him to lighten up, to stop feeling so responsible for taking on other people's drama. Any time he has a simple, angst-free superhero storyline, I gobble that shit up. But unfortunately, that excludes most of his comic book history. I'm limited, basically, to anything done for little kids--though I don't mind terribly, but it would be nice to have grownup storylines without teenage angst. We need a mixture of light and dark, not all dark all the time.
I realize I'm generalizing very much here. I can't read all of the Spider-Man comic books ever published, or even most of them. All of his adventures could be crammed into ten very busy human lifetimes. He's like a friend that I like as a person, but don't like to be around because I don't want to take on his burdens and constant life drama.
I hope for all of our sakes that Spider-Man is allowed to retire his Midas Touch of Evilness when meeting new friends, has a happy marriage, doesn't have to worry about his elderly aunt, and also fights challenging bad guys against insurmountable odds.
Maybe some people actually like that his inner demons make him more "relatable," but it just makes me want to avoid him so that I don't have to hear about his depressing life--while not even being able to help him.
Spidey deserves to be happy for a while, in his personal life. And we deserve to see him happy.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Supergirl Pilot Episode Review: How To Make Jimmy Olsen Black

Not a lot of people know this about me, but I am a HUGE Jimmy Olsen fan. I literally have every issue of the golden, silver, and bronze age comic series, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen. It took me a long time to collect all 163 issues from 1954 to 1974. (I quoted that statistic off the top of my head--look it up, I have that much confidence. I know I'm right.) But it was worth it.
I am obsessed with my favorite characters, of which he is one. I love the goofiness of the golden and silver ages, and the changes of the 1970s when he becomes "Mr. Action" and gets more politically involved. And I love that his disguises--including cross-dressing--have remained a part of his character since the very first issue.
And even though I chose not to collect the series when it became Superman Family at issue 164, folding in both the Lois Lane and Supergirl series also (again, off the top of my head), my Jimmy Olsen collection is one of my most prized possessions. Number one is not in Near Mint condition, but it is mine.
And I would never give up even one book in my collection, unless I had to feed myself, pay for a medical emergency, or get a degree for a dream job that I love more than Jimmy Olsen. (Ha!)

So it really upsets me when he is portrayed in movies and on TV as anything less than his magnificent, bright-orange-redheaded, freckled, bow-tie-wearing, Superman-worshipping, geeky self. And he is portrayed with brown hair literally every single fucking time.
These casting directors have absolutely no excuse. Rupert Grint exists. If you can find a Ron Weasely, you can find a Jimmy Olsen. But apparently since the 1930s, redheads have only existed in cartoons and comic books.

I also really love Supergirl, almost as much as I love her friend Mary Marvel. In fact, if Supergirl doesn't end up with Mary Marvel, Jimmy Olsen is my first choice. He is the only acceptable love interest, in my mind, for Hetero Supergirl. The only one.

So at first I was very unhappy, watching the first episode of CW's Supergirl, when the character introduced as "James Olsen" was a thirty-five-year-old, tall, muscular black man with no hair--not just non-red hair, no hair at all!
But then I realized, as a Jimmy Olsen/Supergirl super-fangirl, that, if they were going to change his appearance so drastically, the producers of the show could have had a lot more fun with it. In the pilot, he meets Kara (called her Kryptonian name in real life, apparently--if they didn't want to go with Linda, would it have killed them to shorten it to Lynne or something?), then right away hints at his friendship with Superman. She exclaims, "You're Jimmy Olsen!" and he corrects her--"James." Because apparently in a show called SuperGIRL, we have to be reminded that Jimmy Olsen is all grown up.
There is no iconic bow tie to be seen.
But they could have made it so much better. Consider this instead:

Throughout the first episode, Kara keeps running into the new guy from work--who is wearing a bow tie. Most people will not notice the bow tie at first, at least on a black man. He keeps trying to introduce himself, but they get interrupted every time.
Finally, at the very end of the episode, he gets the chance to say, "There you are. We haven't been formally introduced. I'm Jimmy Olsen."
"Oh!" she exclaims in surprise, glancing at his bow tie. "You're...not like I pictured you..."
"What do you mean?" he asks.
"I expected you know...shorter," she answers sincerely.
He appears genuinely perplexed. "Yeah, for some reason, when people hear the name 'Jimmy Olsen,' they picture a skinny little white kid."

In this way, we can have fun with the change. We can take it seriously, because of Kara's sincere tone of voice when she says "shorter," as if she is not thinking of some other word. And his real confusion over why people think of him as white would avoid the "wink-wink" type of fourth wall break that thinks it is so clever, but which is severely overused (and which I can't stand).
But at the same time, we would give the audience a mystery to solve, and acknowledge the big change that is made. The exchange about him being shorter could easily be ruined with bad acting or bad direction to the actors, but if the actors are sincere--if the characters really believe that "shorter" is the most appropriate word--then it can be pulled off beautifully.
 (He also could have figured out on his own that Kara was Supergirl, making him look much smarter than if Superman had simply told him, as in the show. That reveal just makes him look like a real jerk for hinting at it throughout the episode, as if he wasn't trying to figure something out but rather just wanted to tease her and make her anxious about her secret identity.)
And he doesn't even have to wear a bow tie after the first episode. Just give us the pilot, have him say later that his other ties were dirty if you want. But Jimmy Olsen doesn't need a phallic symbol on his neck.

If you're going to change such a major and beloved character's appearance so much from the comic book--not just his race, but also his age, build, height, hair style, fashion sense, personality (more confident, less awkward, no gushing over Superman), and even the name he goes by--you're going to have to address that. While also taking the change seriously, so it doesn't look like you're making a black man, and your entire show, nothing more than a joke.
By making a mystery out of who this guy is--while providing a subtle visual clue--and addressing the change without getting overly jokey about it, we can do this. That is something this white, Jimmy-Olsen-purist, super-fan-girl can get behind.