Saturday, May 20, 2017

Do Comic Books Have A Diversity Problem?

No. That's the short answer. No. No and Nope. And in case you didn't read it the first time, NO! Sadly, there are some individuals who won't accept "No." as answer and will demand a more lengthy discussion of the topic. Okay, fine twist my arm, as if I haven't addressed the topic, time and time and time again, no. Because someone decided there is a contingency of people who really believe that comic books are dominated by extremely racist, sexist, misogynist bigots, I believe I have to address this using my African American immunity. Let's dive in.

Before we address the topic at hand "Do comic books have a diversity problem?" (The answer is still No.) let's consider this, when Netflix released it's latest series "Iron Fist" a certain portion of society cried Racism that the eponymous Iron Fist character a.k.a Danial Rand was played by Finn Jones, a White male actor. That contingency were of course ignored by comic book readers as any Marvel fan who's actually read comic books can tell you point blank that DANNY RAND IS A WHITE DUDE, THAT'S THE WHOLE F*CKIN' POINT BEHIND HIS CHARACTER! So that form of criticism was ignored. Still there were individuals who were aware of the fact that Danny Rand is White (and always has been) who said that the series missed an opportunity to discuss Daniel's "White privilege" in being the Iron Fist and his cultural appropriation.

...or that Keanu Reeves appropriated him

Of course this too was and should be ignored based on the fact that Daniel wasn't given the Iron Fist because he was White, he EARNED the Iron Fist and as far as his cultural appropriation, he was raised by Chinese Monks, hence the reason he resonates more with them. He didn't appropriate anything. Before we address the topic at hand "Do comic books have a diversity problem?" (The answer is still No.) let's consider this, recently "The Dark Tower" film just released a trailer that featured Roland Deschain (a character who in the books is described a being Blonde with Blue eyes and White) being played by the very African Englishman Idris Elba. Many would consider this "progressive" casting, after all, African Americans are "under represented" in Hollywood. Meanwhile I (and I'm sure many others) see this as needless, why, might you ask? Because there is already a VERY prominent FEMALE, African American character FEATURED in the books already!

Yeah, we totally need to make Roland a Black guy...it's not like there are Black Characters in the books...nope...no Black characters at all.

Not only is Susannah African American, she's female, she's physically disabled (she doesn't have legs) and she's mentally handicapped (she suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder), talk about "Diversity". According progressives you'd be representing 3 "under privileges" groups, African Americans, Women, The Physically Disabled and The Mentally Disabled. Also Susannah isn't just all of these things, she's A BAD ASS! She's a key member of Roland's group and a main character. Despite these things, if anyone showed any issues with Roland being cast a Black Man, immediately the cries of "Racist" and "Bigot" would come flying along with the cries of Hollywood being afraid to cast Black leads, etc. etc. While someone such as myself would nix The Black Roland is favor of the ALREADY available Black character within the story.

Before we address the topic at hand "Do comic books have a diversity problem?" (The answer is still No.)  let's consider this, Gail Simone once stated

Despite the fact that Gay characters and Black characters have been in comics for literally years. Short List Of Black Characters:
Storm
Black Panther
Luke Cage
Black Lightning
Cyborg
Azrael
Bishop
Mister Terrific (Michael Holt)
Batwing
Jakeem Thunder
Starboy
Steel John Henry Irons
Static
Vixen
Blade
Cloak
War Machine
And that's just a short list of ONLY Black characters, this list doesn't include Latino, Asians or any other ethnicity. So Gail Simone saying this makes NO SENSE as People of Color have ALWAYS been in comic books. As far as LGBTQ characters, short list of Gay characters (not including recently turned gay characters...like Wonder Woman):
Northstar
Batwoman
Bunker
Catman
Deadpool
Pied Piper
Obsidian
Midnighter
That's a SHORT list, there's lots more. That being said again Gail Simone saying this makes NO SENSE because LGBTQ characters have been around for awhile. Considering Gail's connections I'm 100% certain that if Gail wanted to write for Northstar or Batwoman, they'd be more than happy to do it.

Before we address the topic at hand "Do comic books have a diversity problem?" (The answer is still No.)  let's consider this,

This is a legit panel in a comic book...no explanation needed.

Before we address the topic at hand "Do comic books have a diversity problem?" (The answer is still No.)  let's consider this,

Once again, a legit panel in a comic book...no explanation needed.

Before we address the topic at hand "Do comic books have a diversity problem?" (The answer is still No.) let's consider, America Chavez, A "Puerto Rican" Lesbian "superhero" from a "Utopian" universe who was raised by two moms and constantly makes reference to the fact that she's a "Brown" girl and uses phrases like "Holy menstruation".

Not to mention America Chavez #1 is a horribly written mess. No huge shocker considering it was written Gabby Rivera who was hired SPECIFICALLY because she's "brown" (Puerto Rican) and lesbian. If you don't believe that, I urge you strongly to read America Chavez #1 and argue with me. Not to mention Gabby Rivera wrote a novel titled "Juliet Takes A Breath" in which and I quote;

"Ava had no time for Harlowe. She wrote me a list of all the other books I needed to read about feminism that weren’t written by white women. I couldn’t understand why it mattered so much. Like, what was so bad about Raging Flower? Ava said it was because Harlowe didn’t make queer or trans women of color a priority in her work; that Harlowe assumed that we could all connect through sisterhood, as if sisterhood looked the same for everyone. As if all women had vaginas . . .
“Um, Ava, don’t all women have vaginas?” I asked, staring at her.

“Fuck no. We just talked about this,” she replied. “This is why I can’t fuck with Harlowe. All Harlowe does is equate being a woman to bleeding and having certain body parts. Like, I’m so not with that. For me, womanhood is radical enough for anyone who dares to claim it.”

Much of America Chavez #1 is written very much like that.


Before we address the topic at hand "Do comic books have a diversity problem?" (The answer is still No.) let's consider, The Red Skull giving a speech about illegal immigration.


Before we address the topic at hand "Do comic books have a diversity problem?" (The answer is still No.) let's consider, the fact that M.O.D.O.K was made to look exactly like Donald Trump.


Before we address the topic at hand "Do comic books have a diversity problem?" (The answer is still No.) let's consider, female Thor. Marvel fans know that Thor has lost his powers before in the past and that many other people have claimed Mjolnir (Storm, Captain America, Hell, even Squirrel Girl) but despite having his hammer, they haven't claimed his name. But alas, Jane Foster not only took Thor's hammer but took his name as well...and is punching people in the name of...feminism?


Before we address the topic at hand "Do comic books have a diversity problem?" (The answer is still No.) consider this cover for Mockingbird,


Before we address the topic at hand "Do comic books have a diversity problem?" (The answer is still No.) Maybe we should address the much larger problem of the writing. Why are there terms like "Unsolicited opinions on Israel" in a comic book? Why is Thorina punching Absorbing Man for "saying Feminist like it's a four letter word"? Why is The Red Skull talking about illegal immigration? Who is writing this and why are they writing it this way and for whom are they writing it for? Those are the questions we should be asking. Consider this, Black Panther is a beloved Marvel Character, the king of the most technologically advanced and richest African nation in the world, T'Challa, one of the best fighters, one of the smartest men in The Marvel Universe, handed Captain America his ass, beat The Fantastic Four single-handedly on a whim...and he was created by 2 Jewish guys, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby.

Stan Lee & Jack Kirby didn't have to be Black or from Africa to want to write an interesting character, they just did it. They didn't make T'Challa to appeal to "diversity" or showcase how "Not White" they were. Granted, Black Panther was very much a product of his time, the same way Luke Cage was a product of the Blaxploitation era. T'Challa was obviously a reflection of Black Power Movement of that time. BUT the kicker here is that Black Panther never called Reed Richards a "White Devil" or complained that there were "too many White people in The Avengers" or complained that the X-Men never "checked their privilege" for being White. T'Challa just kicked ass and took names and THAT'S why people like him. Fast Forward some 50 years later and White people are suddenly supposed to be AFRAID of the prospect of a "Black Panther" having an all Black cast? You kidding? As if Comic book fans are somehow unaware that Wakanda is in Africa?

Let's take a step back. You know who's an awesome character, Renee Montoya. Why? Because she kicks ass, she's good at her job, she's kind of an alcoholic but aside from that she knows what she's doing. If you don't believe me check out DC Comic's "52", AMAZING series! In it Renee becomes The Question after the previous Question dies of lung cancer. Renee's intelligence was essential to taking down Intergang and also aided Black Adam & The Common Wealth Of Kahndaq. Also, did I mention she's Hispanic...and a lesbian? Contrast that with America Chavez who can't go a single panel without mentioning how gay & brown she is. You see where I'm going here?

No, comic books DO NOT have a diversity problem and NEVER HAD a diversity problem! At a certain point in time we have to honest with ourselves. On average, African Americans, Women (of any race) and other minorities are the minority readers when it comes to comic books, that includes employment within the industry, NOT BECAUSE OF RACISM! Simply because of different life choices. For example, if you turn on a Basketball game, the vast majority of the players are Black. Is that racism? No. It's choices and demographics. Just like the vast majority of sports fans are men. Is that sexism? No. It's merely just a numbers game and that doesn't change or effect the way you enjoy what you enjoy. With that being said, it's no small wonder why the vast majority of comic book characters have been White (they make up the majority of the industry and the readership), but to pretend as if comic books haven't featured ethnic or female characters and pretend as if that's something that's brand new and never seen before is ridiculous on it's face. Again I say NO, comic books DO NOT have a diversity problem! What we have is a writing problem.

Writers these days don't try to write actual narratives, they simply try to get by on writing their own political and social ideas into comic books and then claim that people have to like it simply because the main character is "brown" or gay or from some other under privilege community of people. I don't recall news headlines for Jamie Reyes. I don't recall news headlines for Renee Montoya. I don't recall news headlines for The Midnighter. I don't recall news headlines for Black Panther. Jamie was Mexican American before the illegal immigration craze, Renee Montoya was gay and "brown" before America Chavez and The Midnighter was gay before being gay was the "in" thing. Yet, certain individuals would have you believe that these things never were until recently. No, it's just their stories suck and instead of admitting they suck they'd rather blame you, the reader, for being such homophobic, racists, bigots and not reading about these wonderful, super-powered "brown" people. Ignoring to give their characters story, personality, struggles, things that would make for good reading. Nope, gay, "brown", "under privileged community", print money. The sad thing is, Marvel & DC have a plethora of unused characters with vast potential that they're not using and all it'll take is a good writer to dust one of these characters off and use them.

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