Mother Jones' tasteless take on "diversity"
"In a Galaxy Far, Far Away From Comic Book Bigotry, Black and Queer Heroes Rule"And what's that supposed to mean? It sounds like they're saying the history of comicdom was all just bigoted and nothing else. It gets worse, starting with the beginning paragraph:
In October, a small but dedicated internet faction urged people to boycott the new Star Wars movie. On Twitter, #BoycottStarWarsVII became a trending topic, with some people tweeting that George Lucas' latest promoted "white genocide," because the lead role is played by John Boyega, a black man—and because we see our first black Stormtrooper.Sure, I'll bet they did. What if the real reason is because they found it preposterous and ludicrous that a black man was in the employ of the Evil Empire? After all, Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader's regime was supposed to draw from past autocracies that were comprised of white supremacists, so how do we know any backlash had nothing to do with a certain crowd's annoyance at the idea of sellouts? We certainly won't know from reading Mother Jones. They may not be the same embarrassing joke Salon's become, but they're still pretty awful all the same, and I won't be surprised if they're taking everything out of context for the sake of "spins".
And it still gets much worse:
Racially charged outbursts from fans of science fiction and comics are hardly new. In the '40s and '50s, comics "were sexist, they were racist, you name it," artist Jules Feiffer told Mother Jones last year, "and they kind of gloried in that." In 2011, critics including Glenn Beck cried foul when Marvel Comics made Miles Morales, a black-Puerto Rican kid, one of several spin-off Spider-Men in alternate universes. The controversy escalated earlier this year, when Marvel designated Morales as the principal Spider-Man. A Sony Pictures licensing agreement, leaked via the big studio hack, revealed specifications that Parker be played by a straight, white, male actor. Marvel creator Stan Lee reinforced this idea in a June interview when he said Parker should remain straight and white. Some fans were incensed by a Twitter campaign to cast actor/rapper Donald Glover as Parker; the role ultimately went to Andrew Garfield, who is white.Wow, who knew Feiffer was capable of throwing his past peers under the bus with a blanket smear? Now it's true that there were a handful of downright questionable depictions of some black/Asian co-stars like Ebony White in the Spirit, and Wi Cheng in the Blackhawks. I certainly won't deny that. Nor will I deny how sad it is that wasn't considered at the time by the otherwise decent folks who put those books together. But as it so happens, the various publishers and artists did take note of objections raised, and by the mid-60s, Cheng's character design was being altered to something more palatable, and Will Eisner admitted in the years before his death (around the time he'd published his GN called Fagin the Jew) that he'd never realized the visual design he'd used for Ebony was insulting, even as he found anti-Jewish caricatures offensive. The difference, however, which neither Mother Jones nor Feiffer consider, is that Eisner and company never declared blacks and Chinese evil entities, never said they had no right to exist, and save for the unfortunate character designs, they were depicted favorably. It's certainly quite different from how the Mexican comic Memin Pinguin was handled. And neither the magazine nor Feiffer can at least thank past contributors for having the audacity to avoid falling into a trap of one-dimensionality?
To make matters worse, they even imply it's wrong to stick by Spider-Man as the white character he started out as, and even make Lee out to sound bad because he defended the request not to turn Spidey into a PC quagmire. So, he's not allowed to defend his own creation, even if Spidey weren't prisoner of corporate ownership? Oh, how nice. This is just a sample of how progressives try to claim creating past heroes as white was wrong, and villify those who object to forced alterations as backwards dinosaurs.
Now, onto some of Vaughan's own comments:
Mother Jones: Why do you suppose people who are willing to indulge fantastical worlds full of web-slingers and Jedis are so protective of those worlds when it comes to race?I suppose he means that Babar, King of the Elephants should be turned into a horror show? He probably does. Nobody's saying he should retell the stories from his youth, but why doesn't he seem to grasp that there's nothing wrong with telling stories similar to what he read in his youth, and on a family-friendly level?
Brian Vaughan: I don't know, and I find it very unpleasant. I think some people are just very passionate that things remain the way they were when they were kids. Whether that means Spider-Man has organic webshooters versus mechanical webshooters, or he's black or he's white—they just love everything to be the way it used to be. I've never had any interest in retelling stories from my youth.
As for organic or mechanical webshooters, if the moviemakers want to take liberties, I have no problem with that, so long as it doesn't affect the source material. Unfortunately, Marvel's editors have a low opinion of the common moviegoer, thinking they can't get used to what the older contributors thought up. That's why they changed the X-Men costumes to black leather for a few years in the early 2000s, and at one point tried changing Spidey's webshooters to organic.
MJ: Is that why you choose to create main characters who are black women, say, or queer ghosts?Oh, look at that, now he's boarding the defamation bandwagon, making it sound more like the sci-fi novelists created white heroes because they were racists! That was not the case at all. Most of them did so because nobody made a big deal out of the hero's race years before, and also because they weren't trying to make obvious politicized statements. If there'd been a writer who wanted to publish a story with a black/Latino/Asian hero, I'm sure they would've tried doing it. What about the Charlie Chan novels by Earl Derr Biggers? There were even some old comics based on them too. You can't say nobody in the early 20th century ever thought of creating Asian leads. Why, what about the Shaft novel by Ernest Tidyman? Again, there's something Mother Jones and Vaughan have decidedly missed.
BV: [Laughs.] I like things that are weirdly imaginative and couldn't be real, but I also like stories that are recognizable and relatable. With Saga, when I started, that wasn't in the forefront of my mind. But I was talking with [illustrator] Fiona Staples, and I said, "There are these two characters, one has horns and one has wings." Her first question was, "Well, do they have to be white?" I realized that for fantasy and science fiction, especially from my youth, white was the default. Luke Skywalker was in the lead, or even if you were a hobbit, you're going to be white. That was an extremely old-fashioned, obviously really narrow-minded way to look at things. We don't have to tell another sci-fi epic with two boring white people at the lead—let's make them people of color. I think the book has been much better for it.
MJ: What made you want to write about immigration?I won't be surprised if Vaughan's vision on immigration turns out to be quite leftist. At least he's honest that comics have become a costly hobby. What he fails to realize, however, is that this is because publishers - Image included - stick firmly to the outmoded model of pamphlets. If they'd just make a shift to paperbacks and quit with the emphasis on company wide crossovers in superhero tales, then it could be made more affordable. Digital products doesn't solve much of anything if they can't acknowledge the pamphlet format's becoming an absurd obstacle.
BV: Immigration confuses and terrifies me, so why not try to write a comic and make some sense of it? Marcos Martin [his co-writer on Barrier] and I had just finished doing the story of The Private Eye for Panel Syndicate. We wanted to try our hand at digital comics, in part because comics used to be this really inexpensive medium. Over the years, it's become this really expensive hobby for just a few people. Privacy is one of the most important topics of the last five years, and it was really fun to be able to put out this comic and have it released in Russia the same day it was released in the United States and France, and sort of have this dialog begin. We wanted to tackle another big subject, and immigration will be just as important in the next five years, especially with the election coming up.