Saturday, 14 March 2015

IS THE ISSUE OF 'DIVERSITY' IN COMICBOOKS AND THE MEDIA AS BLACK AND WHITE AS IT'S PAINTED?


Image copyright MARVEL COMICS

Okay, here's the scoop, folks!  Of necessity, it'll have to be the
Reader's Digest version or I'll be here all night.  On another blog,
someone commented on internet speculation about a new SPIDER-
MAN movie featuring MILES MORALES as Spidey instead of PETER
PARKER.  The idea was proposed that it might be a good thing, diversity-
wise, as the MARVEL universe apparently has only three African-Ameri-
can characters.  (I playfully assume that different races, like The KREE,
The SKRULLS, The WATCHERS, The INHUMANS, and what-
ever other various species that exist, don't already demonstrate
the lack of any anti-diversity sentiment  in the MU.)

I expressed a wish that movie-makers would give us the heroes
we grew up with, and, if not, they had another reason than merely
ticking some politically-correct boxes (if such was the case) in order
to appear acceptably multi-cultural and appease the seemingly modern
'need' to embrace every single living being on the entire planet so that no
one feels excluded.  That's why I'd be just as against producers making
The BLACK PANTHER or LUKE CAGE white in any proposed cel-
luloid incarnations as I am against The HUMAN TORCH being black
in the upcoming FF movie.  My objections are the same in each case,
there's nothing racially-motivated in my comments, merely a
desire to see the characters as originally created.

So up pops some numpty who accuses me of being a bigot,
even saying that "The fact that you equate a black T'Challa and a
black Power Man on equal grounds as a white Peter Parker further
demonstrates the ingrained bigotry of your argument."  How's that
again?  Believing that the integrity of a person's skin colour should be
maintained, whether white or black (treating them equally, in other
words), is proof of my alleged racial bigotry?  Obviously joined-
up thinking isn't this guy's (or gal's) strong point.   

Laying my cards on the table, I'm not a fan of so-called
'positive-discrimination'.  Personally, if I never saw another Scots
person on TV or in a movie, I wouldn't be upset by it, or complain
that the Scots were being excluded, or that their absence made it diffi-
cult to relate to the hero or his situation.  If other Scots were bothered
by it, I'd expect them to create their own outlets for expression, rather
than insist that existing English, Welsh or Irish media should include and
represent them.  Therefore, if any other race (and I use the word in ac-
cordance with the definition of  'A group of people united or classified
together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic
distribution:  The Celtic race' for example), feels excluded from
any form of entertainment, whether it be books, movies, TV,
comic mags, etc., then I don't consider it a big deal.

As I also said: "If colour isn't supposed to matter, then it really
should make no difference what skin colour someone is.  Once
you start saying 'We need more Blacks, we need more Asians...more
Mexicans [*or any other Latinos or group of people you care to name],
etc.,' then you're making colour an issue.  However, if colour isn't an
issue then ethnic origin shouldn't matter a hoot.  When I watched SHAFT
back in the day, I didn't think 'Hey, I need a white guy here to identify with.'
Once you suggest that black kids [*or any colour of kids] need their own
superhero because SUPERMAN is white, then you're saying that colour
matters, which is the wrong thing to say.  There's absolutely nothing
wrong with black kids hero-worshipping BATMAN, any more than
white kids hero-worshipping THE BLACK PANTHER.  Let's
leave out these attempts at social engineering and societal
manipulation and just all be colour-blind.  Please?"

(Asterisk-marked inserts added for clarification on what
should be implicit, but seemingly isn't to some people.)

Now, maybe it's me who's the thicko, but where's the alleged
bigotry?  (Unless it's against idiots, which I'll put my hands up to -
but then it's not actual bigotry, because willful stupidity is deserving
of our ire.)  If you can generate any enthusiasm for what should be
a non-issue, perhaps you can point it out to me, because I sure
as hell can't see it.

Feel free.

******

Sad to see that some deluded t*sser is still trying to stir things
up on that other blog in an attempt to provoke me.  Sadder still
to see that it's being allowed.  Why's that, I wonder?  H'mm?

29 comments:

John Pitt said...

I see things in a very simple way:- I would LIKE as much as possible to be as true as it could be to the ORIGINAL comics in the movies origins, skin colours, team memberships, etc.
But, nothing ever is.
So, they can chop and change as much as they like, it won't bothet me. I KNOW how it SHOULD be done!
PC has gone over the top these days. There is always somebody just looking for something ( ANYTHING! ) to take offence at.
No matter how carefully and diplomatically you say anything - SOMEONE will find some way of being offended by it!
LOOK VERY CLOSELY AT THIS RESPONSE!
SURELY I MUST HAVE CAUSED OFFENCE SOMEWHERE?

DeadSpiderEye said...

I think you gotta appreciate the scale of the colour -thing- in the US as opposed to the UK. There, it's a huge social issue, that generally people here, despite our own, sometimes differing issues, have very little conception of. Which is why, when certain attitudes, cross the pond, they seem more than a little incongruous. Yes there has been growth in awareness here but it's generally not been a positive process. The thing that's a lot more evident over there is the cultural divisions. Those divisions seem to be pretty much intransigent from my observations, despite the best efforts of those considering themselves well intentioned. Yeah, I'm not happy with Johnny Storm thing--but it's just something you gotta take on board and be philosophical about, like the other liberties they take with comic and literary characters. I quite enjoyed the Sam Raimi Spiderman, even iii, but his monkeying with the Spidey, Gwen, Mary Jane triangle was about as far away from the source material as you can get.

One thing that slightly annoys me is the misuse of words like -discrimination- which should be a neutral term, so when people use conjunctions like 'positive discrimination' you know trouble's ahead. Discrimination is generally good, if you buy a car you should probably discriminate in favour of one with all four wheels. It's negative when it's arbitrary, like when someone's not your favourite colour, and arbitrary discrimination is -always- negative I'm afraid.

Don't worry too much about groundless accusations of bigotry or racism, those get thrown around with breathless gratuity, no one really takes much notice of 'em except for possibly earmarking their source as a *anker.


Phil said...

As a minority I want to see more people like me . But I don't want what amounts to stunt casting. The Torch has an appearance based on 75 years of comic books. Casting a guy who doesn't remotely look like him ...why? Then accuse fans of racism when we say, hey he doesn't look like him?
There are very few examples of minorities taking over established super heroes and making them a success. The most famous example would be Green lantern and even then, they brought Hal Jordan back...because he's the hero who established the GL universe as we know it!
If you want to do minority heroes I am all for it. But do original characters. And not stereotypes. Don't give me Master of Kung Fu, give me Jimmy Woo Agent of Shield. Give me Static Shock, not black Captain America.
I speak only for myself, I don't represent any race. Maybe old school fandom perhaps.

Colin Jones said...

I've been following the debate on BAB with great interest and, as I mentioned on there, I'm not a great fan of these comic-book movies anyway as they always take enormous liberties with the characters and time-line of the comics so I don't really care who plays Spidey - and Miles (not Mike) Morales is an already established character (albeit in the Ultimate universe) so he could legitimately be the new Spider-Man I suppose. I do agree though that the black Johnny Storm thing is ridiculous - I was reading Sci-Fi Now magazine on this issue just a couple of days ago and it said quite blatantly that anybody who objects to the change in Johnny's colour is a racist. The subject can be widened though because you can't criticise anything if colour is involved - the appalling corruption and economic mismanagement in so many African countries is still blamed on colonialism decades after independence. But my favourite was in the 2005 General Election when George Galloway ousted Oona King from her Bethnal Green (I think) seat and Jeremy Paxman said : "Are you proud of yourself for removing one of Britain's only black female MPs ?" - apparently Oona King had a right to her seat simply because she was a black woman !


Kid said...

To be honest, I don't get too bent out of shape about those changes myself, JP. I do think that most of them are completely unnecessary 'though, and would prefer them to be as close to the source material as possible. It makes sense to update Iron Man's origin from Viet-Nam, but I don't see why The Hulk's origin couldn't have included Rick Jones' involvement.

What you say about people taking offence at anything is something I said on that other blog. It seems that someone took offence at it.

******

What irks me slightly, DSE, is blogs that ask controversial questions, but display an aversion to controversial answers, even politely-expressed ones. Avoiding dissent is not really something that can be done unless all they''re looking for is twee, insipid comments of assent to their own views.

On the point of what is called 'positive discrimination' - people seem to forget that if you're only choosing women for jobs in order to meet a PC quota of females, then you're discriminating against men purely on the grounds of their gender, even when they might be better-qualified. (The same would be true in reverse, of course, before someone accuses me of being anti-women.)

On that other blog, I suspect it might be a case of 'poking the bear, then accusing it of being aggressive when it growls'.

The childishness of many so-called adults continues to amaze me.

******

Phil, to be honest, having a black guy being Cap for a while doesn't bother me, if it's an interesting story worth exploring and Steve Rogers eventually returns. If he's being replaced permanently as an exercise in 'diversity', then I think it's rather patronizing to black people. Of course, at the end of the day, there's more pressing matters to contend with in the real world, but there's something about the PC brigade which sits ill-at-ease with me. It seems to be the same people who say it's wrong to tell an 'Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman' joke on TV, but think that the increasing use of the 'c' word in telly programmes is cultural progress.

******

An interesting point, CJ, and very true. As I type this, there's just been an advert for an upcoming TV programme called something like 'Race - Things We're Scared To Say - But Are True' - I think I'll be watching it. Tell me, you've seen what I said on that other blog - I thought I was extremely polite and restrained, given what I was responding to. Do you think that's a fair assessment? Don't panic - you're allowed to say no.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, I see your response to my comment but where's my original comment ? Yes, I thought you were polite and restrained but you always are - I too was baffled by that anonymous comment that called you a bigot for saying a black T'Challa and a white Spider-Man were the same. And I agree that if you're going to pose a controversial question then you must expect a bit of friction in the comments - poking the bear and complaining when it growls is a good way of putting it.

Kid said...

CJ, I updated my comment to include a response to yours, but then deleted yours by mistake instead of my previous one. I've cut and pasted them into their proper sequence (the deleted one I took from my email inbox) - sorry about the absence of your avatar, which I can't duplicate.

As for that other blog - I suspect that someone with a grudge (not the usual suspect) is deliberately trying to stir things up over there.

Anonymous said...

I don't intend to visit that particular blog again. It seems to me that they wanted a lot of comments to the effect of, "Oh, yes, of course, Miles Morales should be the new Spider-Man, we need more ethnic diversity, etc., etc.," and then hypocritically let fly with the false accusations of bigotry and racism when someone politely expressed a different opinion.

No rational debate or discussion is possible when one side is free to hurl epithets, but the other can't express an opinion or even state a fact without being subjected to wild accusations.

In the 1950's, if you wanted to cloud an issue and stifle dissent, you could accuse your opponent of being a "Communist" or a "Red." Today, labels like "racist," "sexist," "homophobe," and "Islamophobe" serve the same purpose.

-TC

Kid said...

You're spot on, TC. I must confess to being seriously disappointed about the way they've behaved over this. It's like inviting someone around to your house, giving them a meal with NO cutlery - and then saying that they're not allowed to eat with their fingers. Every single comment of mine was expressed in the most courteous and non-offensive of terms, yet some have come in for criticism from the pair merely because I sought to correct a false impression which they allowed.

Ken said...

Unfortunately positive discrimination can often be the only way to address problems/inequalities in society. The down side of course is that in some cases it is blatantly unfair to a person who is over qualified, different gender, religion etc to the minority who is benefitting.

Obvious I know.


Ken.

Kid said...

Interesting point, Ken, but I'm not convinced that it's the only way, or, indeed, that there's always a problem needing solved to begin with. For example, it's said that there's not enough women in politics, so women-only shortlists are drawn up for certain jobs.

Well, who says there aren't enough women? Women, obviously. However, this assumes that men aren't going to properly represent them, which, to me, seems rather ridiculous. Politicians tend to see only potential voters - regardless of their gender - so, to the extent that they represent anyone (and whether they do or not - apart from themselves - is open to question), they're just as likely to represent women as they are men.

And who's to say that there aren't as many women in politics as who want to be? If that's the case, there's no problem. True equality is treating everyone the same, so jobs should be open to all those qualified to fill the position, regardless of their gender or ethnic origin, or whatever. Then simply give the job to the best applicant.

baab said...



I think you hit the nail on the head in your opinion.
Very clear and concise.

For the record,I have never in my life seen a white skinned person nor a black skinned person.
I have seen multiple variations in between.

Its a classic divide and conquer taken to the simplest form,black or white.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Yeah--I just had a gander at the post that is the subject here, it's a bit of train wreck, derailed, it seems, by one particular individual. The issue over semantics, besides being pedantic, was quite ironic, since -Latino- is gender specific, you should say (or write) -Latin- and this is the term used in media when such solecism isn't tolerated. There were some pretty good observations by other contributors, none of which my views would completely coincide, though it was rolling on quite nicely but there's always one that spoils if for the rest isn't there?

Obviously, I haven't seen your deleted post, it's possible you've been hard done by, through a concern over being seen to be even handed over a subject that has raised controversy. Generally I would say a certain sensitivity is called for when this subject is the issue of concern but it should be balanced with a forthright attitude towards those deliberately sowing the dragon's teeth, which coincides with my estimations of Anon's contribution.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, anybody who reads your blog regularly knows that you don't take insults lying down - I kept checking in to BAB precisely to see how you'd react and I have to say that I didn't consider the comments to be THAT bad - if you object to Johnny Storm being black then being called a bigot is par for the course and of course you had a right to answer back. When it comes to women in politics I really wonder how many women actually care that much - I once asked my mother if she thought it was strange that half the population (or 52 per-cent actually) are women yet there are so few women prime-ministers/presidents/chiefs of industry etc - she answered : "I suppose so, I've never really thought about it". It's mainly middle class women who bleat about the glass ceiling and middle class women mainly care about themselves - they aren't in the slightest bit bothered about the exploitation of working class women or working class men for that matter. And middle class women conveniently forget that they have far better opportunities and life chances than working class men.

Kid said...

Baab, I sometimes think that there's a few people who'd like to hit a nail into my head. Funny how people react that way to someone merely having a different opinion to them, eh?

******

DSE, my comment was a reply to Edo Bosnar's, wherein I said that I mainly agreed with him, but it was only simple courtesy to allow a wrongly maligned person a right of reply without accusing them of 'wanting the last word'. (Although, come to think of it, who else SHOULD have the last word when it comes to defending their good name? Okay, who laughed at the 'good name' part?) I suspect the deletion was a knee-jerk reaction, but I felt the (perhaps inadvertent) suggestion that MY comment had been vitriolic was wildly inaccurate.

******

Well, I don't think there was anything 'bad' at all in my comments, CJ, but I know what you mean. And I think you're spot on in your views on the politics/women/positive discrimination thing.

Colin Jones said...

Kid, I just looked at the BAB site and the entire Miles Morales post has vanished !

DeadSpiderEye said...

I feel the last word's overrated, I feel whether you should respond to a statement depends upon what you feel you can bring to a discussion.The first requirement there, is that it there has be an actual discussion in the first place. If someone is bandying insults and epithets, that's a pretty good indication that, that precondition hasn't been fulfilled. Say someone writes: You're an idiot DSE, your fingers should be sewn together so you can never utilise a keyboard again. What can you infer from those kind of assaults? Personally, they say what they like about me, I don't care, the only thing I care about is, is someone worth talking to? So occasionally I do respond, if they have something worth saying or I think that a misunderstanding may have ensued, otherwise I throw them in the bin. I know you might feel that you may have been slighted by that reference to -vitriol- and felt the need to respond to put the record straight and that's fair enough but none of your comments on that page seem at all vitriolic so they belie that notion for anyone bothers to read 'em.

Graham said...

I thought you did just fine, Kid. People have just gone nuts, bending over backwards looking for ways to get offended, and then everyone else bends over backwards to accommodate them. I certainly didn't see anything wrong with what you were saying, or the way you were saying it. You were expressing your opinion, and tactfully so.

Kid said...

CJ & G: Yes, I'm aware that the blog post is missing. They've taken it down while they decide what to do with it. It may return.

******

DSE, That's true to a certain extent, certainly for intelligent, fair-minded people. However, even a brainbox can have his perceptions influenced by the suggestion of impropriety in someone's remarks and start to imagine what isn't there. As there has been a concerted effort by a few malcontents on previous occasions to cast me in a bad light, some people might begin to think there's no smoke without fire. And, when a comment is deleted amongst talk of vitriol, those who didn't get to read it for themselves might assume the charge to be true. I even received a comment from Anon, trying to goad me into providing a link to the site so that people could see that I'd had a 'vitriolic comment' deleted.

******

That's what I thought too, Graham, but it seems to have eluded one or two folk. Fortunately, everyone who has commented here so far can see the truth.

John Pitt said...

Oops! I hope it wasn't MY fault they took the post down! I just happened along and added a comment right at the end!
I put:-
oh dear, oh dear....
I know! - How about a disabled Spider-Man?
( Sorry, but I couldn't resist it! )

Kid said...

JP, you didn't! Did you? I suppose Professor X was disabled, being in a wheelchair - but that wasn't to tick a PC box.

Colin Jones said...

John, you are naughty !! Kid, don't forget that Daredevil was blind so that's disabled too.

Kid said...

Or The Thing, 'cos he's got eczema.

John Pitt said...

Just in case you didn't know, Doug & Karen have "cleaned up" the post and reposted it - minus my "offensive" remark and 9 others!
Not sure I approve of this kind of censorship, so I made another comment, which shouldn't offend them.

Kid said...

I've just taken a look. I did say to them in an email that if they were going to delete Anon's comments, then I wouldn't mind my responses to them also being deleted because they'd no longer be relevant. Most of mine are still there 'though, sort of giving the impression that I'm banging on a bit. I even refer to one of Anon's comments that no longer exists, which will probably confuse new readers. However, I appreciate that it's a difficult choice to make as to what goes and what stays.

I agree with you that they'd be better with comment moderation if they wish to avoid a repeat of the situation. Obviously someone with a specific grudge against me was attempting to press my buttons on this occasion, but my absence won't guarantee the same thing not happening again with others.

I must confess that I find their 'you guys are the best for being so well-behaved' attitude to be slightly patronising; an artificially-induced and maintained air of twee cordiality, where controversial issues are skirted around rather than faced head-on, seldom leads to a worthwhile discussion, in my view. As J.M. Keynes once said: "Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking." That doesn't necessarily mean insults or rudeness 'though.

John Pitt said...

Words, opinions, debate - all part of our free speech, but when somebody butts into all this, spouting hostility ( whilst hiding behind anonymity! ) and these remarks have been already seen, I say leave them on to show the truth.
I've no doubt that I sometimes make a t*t out of myself, this is because I'm a mere human, so I hope that they will accept that I myself meant no offence with my remark, but unless they have read some of my comments to you, they wouldn't be familiar with my sense of humour! :-D

Kid said...

I've got mixed feelings on the subject of deletions, JP. I've deleted some comments before myself, in order to deny some pleb the pleasure of seeing his remark in print. Of course, it would be better not to publish them to begin with, but sometimes the person's hostility isn't so obvious until he's submitted a few comments to the one post.

What I objected to on the blog you refer to, is them lumping my comments in with Anon's, as if mine were also rude or vitriolic. I believe in the right to reply if someone's making inflammatory or accusatory remarks, as long as that reply is civil.

John Pitt said...

Hey, it would appear that "little old me" DID indeed offend one ( predictably Anonymous ) reader. Wonder if it's "Jack"?
I've tried to put a smile on his face, but I suspect that I may be the new villain of the blog!

Kid said...

Most of them are missing the point anyway, JP. If colour isn't an issue, then it shouldn't matter whether most superheroes are white (or whatever colour they happen to be). However, when people start saying that comics should have more blacks, Asians or whatever, then they're making skin colour an issue - as well as revealing a bias against whites. After all, implying that there are too many whites is surely racist, isn't it? If someone were to say that there were too many blacks in Shaft or The Cosby Show, they's be accused of racism, so it's the same thing in reverse, no?

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