A fawning interview with G. Willow Wilson in Comics Bulletin
I conducted this interview a few weeks before the US elections took place. As a black Canadian Muslim woman, I’m fearful for the marginalized groups in America right now and what this means for the world. Many of my friends are scared, sad, angry, distressed and some are even hopeless. [...]How classic, making it sound like everybody is nothing more than a nervous wreck. Anybody who makes such a fuss over politics so badly does nothing to improve anything. The Muslim Ms. Marvel book - which is far from popular if it sells so much lower than 40,000 copies at store level only - will probably wind up doing attacks on Trump so long as it's still around, much like it did with Bernie Sanders.
After debuting with a roar in 2014, Ms. Marvel cultivated a fanbase before a single issue came out, and now the collections are fixtures in book stores. I wanted to talk about Islam because as a Muslim reader, I wanted to get to the heart of one Marvel’s biggest superheroes; a teenage Pakistani-American Muslim girl from Jersey City.She's only made this whole piece quite a giggler. The only people who make such a big deal out of it are leftists who want to promote dishonesty, and it makes no difference to them how low it actually sells, even in book stores. The interview continues with her denial that this was ever intended as propaganda:
I think there was sort of two camps in terms of expectations of what the series would be. One camp was like, “Oh, it’s gonna be token diversity. It’s just going to be a model minority book. People are going to forget about it after five issues.” So there was kind of that and then on the other side there was, “Oh, it’s going to be Islamic propaganda. It’s going to promote sharia law in the USA. It’s part of like the global conspiracy of Islamic jihad” or whatever. So you know there were those two extremes and what we wanted to do was something completely different. Something that felt very authentic and I think we would not have been able to get there if there were not two Muslim women involved. I think it could not have happened in the way it happened without Sana.I guess it's not election propaganda either, huh? Taqqiya (deception) and denial that disapproval in Islam that a woman go without a headscarf is just the propaganda they deny they set out to do. Any book where the lead has a bad religion ascribed to her background doesn't qualify as "model" either, though there is quite a bit about the development that reeks of tokenism. She continues her taqqiya with the following:
I thought from the beginning that she should not wear the hijab. I mean she wears it in the mosque obviously and at certain cultural functions but I did not want to make her like a hijabi in her day-to-day life simply because the majority of teenage Pakistani-American girls do not wear a hijab. So even though I wear a hijab – I’ve worn the hijab for most of my adult life – I thought, “You know what? Let’s make this representative. Let’s not, again, do some sort of model minority book or make her sort of this perfect caricature of what we think a Muslim girl looks like.Uh, is she sure of that? Maybe more to the point, is she claiming Muslim men from any background don't exist in any number who dictate what a woman may or may not wear, or that there aren't Muslim women who're either scared, or indoctrinated enough and lack self-esteem? And even if they don't wear a hijab, that doesn't mean they still don't adhere to any other awful beliefs. Next thing you know, she'll be saying the majority of Satmar women don't wear wigs and even cut away their hair just because the degrading leadership dictates it.
And stuff about her family. We didn’t want to shy away from conflict but at the same time we wanted to show love and affection. Just the basic day-to-day family scenes that we don’t see a lot of in depictions of American Muslim families. Where it’s not always politically charged stuff. There’s a diversity of thought and opinion. That not everybody in the same family believes or acts in the same way and that was very important. That was at the heart of shaping her civilian identity.
She also fails to acknowledge that we don't always see what can happen in a Muslim family where the father - and mother - can be abusive, and commit honor murders. Indeed, if she's claiming the vast majority of Muslim family portraits in showbiz is literally bad, that's naive and dishonest too. The interviewer then goes on to note:
Fun fact: That first issue of Ms. Marvel… I read it and it didn’t sit well with me specifically because Kamala makes a joke about bacon. That “Mmm… infidel meat” moment and immediately in my head, I’m like, “A Muslim wouldn’t say that. That makes no sense. Why would we ever say, ‘oooh, pork smells amazing or bacon does.” It wasn’t until I read issue two and let some time pass that I realized what I wanted out of Kamala was an ideal. I wanted her to be the perfect Muslim so that… less for me because I myself am not the perfect Muslim. I don’t wear the hijab and I personally struggle with that in terms of what that means to me. So I’m definitely not the perfect muslim and it was weird to expect that from Kamala. Then I realized it [the ideal] wasn’t really for Kamala or even for myself but mostly for other people because Kamala was supposed to tell other people, “Look, this is what a muslim is. We’re not terrible.”Are they saying they're supposed to be saints? Well it sure comes close to that. She goes further with her ignorance in the following:
GWW: We’re not supposed to be flawed.
GWW: There’s so much scrutiny on the community that it’s like you can’t put a foot wrong. You have to be the perfect American. The perfect Muslim. Never question anything. Do the right thing always and I see people breaking under that pressure because it’s not fair. Especially younger kids who’ve grown up in the post-9/11 world. It’s like they’re carrying the honour of the whole community on their shoulders. They always have to be upright and be the perfect Muslim. It’s something to me… we had to push against it somehow. We have to make it okay to be flawed. You shouldn’t have to be a perfect Muslim or a perfect American to feel safe. You should be allowed to be flawed. An important part of creating Kamala was to say… She’s not flawed in the sense of being morally flawed but flawed in terms of having things that you do well and having things that you do not so well. It’s a big issue and there is that burden of representation where you’re sort of… there’s this pressure to lose particularity of experience to get to some sort of universality that doesn’t actually exist.Unfortunately, she fails to acknowledge that many Muslims do believe you have to be perfect in every way. It can be like that in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities too; they expect you to follow the customs they dictate perfectly, even though it's idiotic to think one can follow everything on the dot to perfection. Interestingly, the interviewer also notes:
With Ms. Marvel as a superhero and a Muslim, I wonder if you find yourself negotiating with religion like with particular story elements. Do you go, “Man if I write about this magical mischievous Loki… well, should I?” Because some people could be like, “Ugh, magic”. Magic has this place in Islam… it’s kind of frowned upon. As a Muslim woman who is also a writer, I’ve wondered about that.No matter how much they themselves may deny it, there are Muslims out there who not only abhor magic (and by extension, Tales of the Arabian Nights because of its own magical stories), they even conducted witch hunts. Though theoretically, belief in magic does exist in various Muslim countries, a lot of clerics condemn it, and/or view the concept of magic negatively. So there may be another reason why some Muslim may not even read a book set in a world involving magic and sci-fi.
GWW: It’s an interesting balancing act and sometimes I’ll get these snarky questions on Twitter like, “How could you be a Muslim writer and write about… in the marvel universe, there are gods…” and I’m like… number one, even within the Marvel universe, the Asgardians don’t consider themselves as actual gods. That’s one. Number two, in Islam, anything with a body that can be killed is by definition not god. I feel like comics are, in many ways, in the vein a lot of classical Islamic fantasies like the Alif Laila [aka The Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One Nights], The Conference of the Birds and a lot of that older stuff where there is sorcery in the world and genies and communing with the unseen. It’s frowned upon but it’s there and it’s also part of something larger.
There was one commentor on the interview who said:
Disappointing that she did a storyline in Pakistan and didn't address the persecution of religious minorities but I guess that would clash with the softball narrative she's pushing.Yup, there's people out there who aren't fooled one bit. In fact, was this interview even aimed at a wide, diverse audience? I get the weird feeling it wasn't, and ultimately, it's just a lot of boring hot air, that doesn't get anywhere.