Comics may have gone too far in how they deal with minority group characters
I found this debate panel on Silver Bullet Comics about how to make comics more appealing to minority groups. But here's an even better question: must they? And how do they know that any minority groups are really asking for them to?
And if they really have to appeal to minorities, why then does it only have to be according to race? That's the problem, that comic book publishers, in their attempts to reach out to minorities are still only featuring those considered minorities - black, Asian, Latino and caucasian. If they really want to appeal to minorities, not to mention show some creativity, why then can't they start featuring some characters of noteworthy European backgrounds, for example, of Hungarian, Armenian, Latvian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Danish descent?
As of now, there are very little to no prominent characters in mainstream comics, superheroes or supporting characters, who are defined by their European origins, and for a medium that some may say can have its educational values, they sure don't seem to teach about other nationalities and their cultures, probably not even honestly. One of the very few standouts I know of is the new Dr. Mid-Nite, Pieter Cross, who's from Trøndheim, Norway, who, unlike some other characters from Scandanavia who're defined by having powers similar to the pagan deities of the Vikings, just carries gadgets and gizmos and isn't superpowered by any stretch (but like his predecessor, he is blind). And yet, this is but a drop in the bucket compared to what could be done by coming up with a whole ton of stories that could tell you about the history of the nations any characters defined by their nationalism.
Also, too many of these characters defined by nationalism tend to slip under the radar and get clouded out by all the stock elements we're already too familiar with by now.
Many minority group characters, as I've long guessed, are introduced for the purpose of getting minority group people to take a look and read or watch the product. But minority group membership alone does not a character make; there's also the importance of solid, in depth writing to boot. And by now, that's something that's lacking in many cases.
Also, recalling how in years gone by, minority group characters were usually introduced as part of human interest stories, one would think that by now, that's something that they could serve a good basis for - telling human interest stories with educational value. Instead, they're just being introduced on their minority group status alone.
Which leads to the following question: if there really needs to be a black Firestorm, a Chinese Atom or a Mexican-American Blue Beetle, surely they couldn't have some purpose beyond their just being minority group members? For example:
- A black Firestorm certainly could deal with the problems of racism, which are still definitely relevant, but not just that, he could deal with the problems of anti-white racism as well, arguing that it doesn't help the cause of minority groups and could knock their cause back by several years. Why can't DC do a story like that, rather than to hit us over the head with a story in which Lorraine Reilly is forced to utter anti-war mishmash?
- A Chinese Atom could discuss the problems faced in China today, what with free speech being restricted, and human rights abuses abound. Why couldn't DC do something like that, rather than give us some nonsense about the Socialist Red Guardsmen?
- A Mexican-American Blue Beetle could set a good example for everyone by showing that he upholds the laws of the US by helping to fight against illegal immigration. If the focus were on Mexico, he could meditate cases like the recent riots in Oaxaca, trying to figure out who's right or wrong in what happened there, and which side to choose. He could investigate a case similar to one that took place in Juarez, where for over a decade, as many as 400 women were raped and murdered (Jennifer Lopez recently made a film out of this subject.) He could even confront the kind of racist mindset that led to the publication of ghastly stereotypes like Memín Pinguín!
Minority characters can certainly be a welcome idea, but without some solid ideas behind them, their strengths as characters can wear thin very fast.
And on another note: I can't find any proof and thus doubt that any minority group members as a whole are asking for leading white everypersons to be replaced for the sake of a minority group character, certainly not at the expense of said everyperson. I think that's exactly why, if a Jewish character came along and replaced an everyperson, and I discovered that it was all being done at the expense of said everyperson, that's why I would flatly object and shun the whole idea, period. To forcibly replace an everyperson for the "sake" of what I would "want" is an insult to me from a racial perspective, and I highly object to it.
Most minority group characters introduced in years past also debuted as their very own characters, as in the case of Sam Wilson, the Falcon, and certainly weren't intended to just replace their white every-stars within an instant. And if they did, as Michael Holt replaced Terry Sloane as Mr. Terrific, it was only years later, long after Sloane has passed away. They certainly didn't do it forcibly, and by insulting the predecessors in the process.
The time has come to stop with this absurd notion that comics are truly desperate for minority group members to be featured at all costs in comic books, and if they are needed, then it's high time that those defined by European backgrounds and cultures are introduced. Comic books may feature minority groups, but their perspective is still limited to either the minorities that are already well known in the US, or to a strictly US-bound perspective of what minorities are, without even trying to seriously explore European nationalities and cultures in depth. If comics are really to be unique, that's why they have to start showing that they can do serious research on nationalities as much as on race.