Benton Quest/Race Bannon

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Pairing
Pairing: Benton Quest/Roger "Race" Bannon
Alternative name(s):
Gender category: Slash · M/M
Fandom: Jonny Quest · The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
Canonical?: Non-Canon / Semi-Canon[note 1]
Prevalence: Popular
Archives:
Other:
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Benton/Race is a slash pairing between Dr. Benton C. Quest and Roger T. "Race" Bannon from the American media franchise Jonny Quest. The pairing has been known since the multiple airings of the original 1964 TV series, and while it never had canon status inside the franchise's universe it became a recurrent pop culture item, often being referred as "TV's first gay couple". Since then, the two characters have appeared in a number of other Warner Bros. proprieties, including Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, in which is heavily implicated they are in a romantic relationship.

Canon

In the Jonny Quest universe

There has never been any explicit or implicit indication of a romantic/sexual attraction between Benton Quest and Race Bannon in the Jonny Quest universe, be it in the TV series, comics or other media, and the two characters have only been depicted having romantic relationships with women. The speculation about the nature of their relationship can be mostly explained due the unusual structure of the Quest family: a single widower father with two kids, one biological and one adopted, living together with their bodyguard. Benton and Race are shown as having a close comradeship relationship and seem to deeply trust in each other, as well as having a lot of intimacy, due their shared lives and the bond of raising kids together — in some episodes of the original TV series they are displayed sharing a room, each with his own bed. Comico's comics further expand their relationship development beyond the regular focus on Jonny, usual in the TV series.

In the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law universe

Benton: "Of course we are a couple!"
Race: "A couple of guys!"[1]
Phil Ken Sebben (to Race): "You can't change what's right, you sodomite!"[1]

Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law is a Adult Swim TV series that depicts "ex-superhero" Harvey Birdman as an attorney working with and for several other Hanna-Barbera characters. In the series very first episode, "Bannon Custody Battle", Benton and Race engage in a legal battle for the custody of the Quest boys, which ends when Harvey Birdman discovers that Race is a robot built by Dr. Zin and the real Race was on vacation. In "Return of Birdgirl", Benton and Race decide to marry, "as a matter of convenience", to have the later recognized as the boys' second father and allow him to be covered by Benton's insurance. In "Peanut Puberty", when Black Vulcan is telling Peanut about "his first time" (fighting a villian), Benton and Race are shown in the background playing football in a suggestive manner.

Although other characters seem to suspect or know Benton and Race are a same-sex couple, the series never actually made it explicit, and their relationship could be understood as a closeted one (Benton refers themselves as "long-time partners" and Birdgirl stated they have been together for twenty years), being used as a running gag in the mentioned episodes.

In popular culture

The Advocate's "Jonny Quest's two dads", promoting Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.[2]

The perception of Benton and Race being a couple surpassed the traditional fandom space in which slash pairings like this are usually appreciated and became a known subject to the general public. Their portrayal in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law can be considered a consequence of this popularity, as well as a mean to address and play around the "rumours." In an article titled "Nine cartoon characters that totally ping the gaydar", Logo's NewNowNext contributor Lyle Masaki tried to explain the pairing's presence in the public consciousness:

The quintet that Johnny Quest traveled with certainly has felt like the kind of improvised family that’s so familiar to gays and the way that Race and Benton took care of each other certainly suggested an affection based in more than just having survived plenty of dangerous adventures.[3]

Likewise, Gay.it stated that "[in Jonny Quest,] we are able to find a bunch of characters which are protagonists of what was a prototype of the ideal gay family."[4] Lado Bi's James Cimino presented a similar assertion, adding that it was showed in a "not so veiled way."[5] While arguing for a Hollywood adaptation of Jonny Quest, Dave Trumbore of Collider wrote that "many fans have posited a homosexual relationship between the adult characters [Benton and Race], mostly in jest but, hey, in the hands of a competent writer these days…"[6] Addressing the release of The Venture Bros. — a TV series inspired on Jonny Quest's archetypes — Sun-Sentinel writer John Crook opined that "Jonny Quest fans will be tickled by the way [Jackson] Publick sends up the so-called 'gay subtext' on that earlier show between Dr. Benton Quest and bodyguard Race Bannon."[7]

Fandom

Despite its high public recognition, Benton/Race never had a large number of followers, much in part due the nature of Jonny Quest's own fandom. Animated series didn't use to have much active adult fans until the later decades, which means Benton/Race never had its own fanzines and conventions, like other early modern slash pairings such as Kirk/Spock and Starsky/Hutch have.

The release of The Real Adventures in the 1990s didn't provide a big popularity boost for the pairing, with Jonny/Jessie (and Jonny/Hadji, in a smaller scale) overshadowing its presence in this new and larger fandom. Later on, with the pairing's appearance on Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law in the early 2000s, a small fresh wave of fanworks started to show up. Athea is one of the earliest authors of the pairing, with works dating from the second half of the 1990s.[8] The oldest Benton/Race fanfic on FanFiction.Net is "All Tied Up" by Jamoche, posted on May 24, 2004.[9] As of 2019, there are 19 Benton/Race fanfics on Archive of Our Own, making it the largest Jonny Quest pairing on the website.

External links

Fanworks

Art gallery

Vids

Notes

  1. Non-canon in the Jonny Quest universe; heavily implicated in the Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law universe.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law: "Return of Birdgirl" (season 3, episode 9).
  2. "Jonny Quest's two dads" The Advocate. September 11, 2001.
  3. Masaki, Lyle (August 24, 2007). "Nine cartoon characters that totally ping the gaydar" NewNowNext (Logo).
  4. "Sexy Sixties" Gay.it. July 22, 2002.
  5. Cimino, James (May 26, 2015). "Desenho 'Jonny Quest' era mesmo sobre uma família LGBT?" Lado Bi.
  6. Trumbore, Dave (September 22, 2012). "Hollywood! Adapt This: Jonny Quest" Collider.
  7. Crook, John (August 7, 2004). Twins Not Too Swift in New Cartoon Venture Sun-Sentinel.
  8. Jonny Quest Athea's Writings. May 26, 2003.
  9. Jamoche (May 24, 2004). "All Tied Up" FanFiction.Net.
  10. jinnotheunicorn (April 6, 2011). First gay dads on TV imo Tumblr.
  11. idaiku17 (October 6, 2010). Jonny Quest DeviantArt.
  12. rollingrabbit. Jonny Quest Tumblr.