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Friday, December 30, 2016 

Stereotypes of campus figures in science tales

The Times Higher Education site wrote about some examples of how minorities are portrayed in past storylines at universities, but don't pay much attention to anything outside of academia:
Given that “masses of young people have consumed repeated messages about higher education from comic books since the 1930s”, the paper also examined some of the assumptions and absences.

For instance, the authors found only three female professors in their whole sample, and none fares particularly well.

One is mauled and killed by Dracula on the very first page of the comic in which she appears. Another is “bullied by students about her looks” and, unconscious after an accident, “given a physical transformation without her consent by Supergirl’s under-the-sea Atlantean friends”. A third is accidentally blinded after being taken “into space to witness an astronomical event for her research” and explodes into “an intense, sustained, exaggerated and irrational fury” revealed through “distorted facial features”.

Two of the three “men of colour” the authors discovered in their sample comics are also “harmed” in some way. All are also relatively light-skinned and foreigners in the US: a Japanese professor in the 1940s, a Latino professor in the 1970s and a Brazilian professor in the 1990s.
I'll admit those don't sound like good examples of representation for guests and co-stars. But if they need great examples of women or people of different skin color in prominent jobs, Jean Loring as a lawyer and Black Lightning as a school teacher are pretty close. Why, in fact, what about Black Panther, established decades ago as a guy who'd been educated at the best of universities and later came back to his fictional homeland of Wakanda to make it one of the most advanced lands around?

In fact, what if the crafters of the study paper cited didn't do as much research as they could've? What if there's some non-superhero comics out there from smaller publishers they never bothered to look up? I'm sure there's some early examples from places like Dark Horse that were never included in the study. And if not, their research is a joke courtesy of what it leaves out.
Completely absent are “Americans of colour portrayed as academics”. The Brazilian, moreover, is shown as “an untrustworthy figure” who reduces a student to tears, presenting a “stark contrast with the predominantly saintly if sometimes affectionately mishap-prone portrayals of white, male professors”.

Such comics, reflects Dr Reynolds, “over-exaggerate the dominance of white men. That can be quite dangerous and is perhaps part of why women and minorities get more pushback in real life.”
Oh please! This leaves out white mad scientist types like Doctor Octopus who were far from being depicted affectionately. Even Norman Osborn as the Green Goblin wasn't portrayed very flatteringly by the Bronze Age when he murdered Gwen Stacy. There was even an early example in Batman called Doctor Death, who debuted a few issues in. But if it's somebody with the title of "professor" they're really looking for, how about Miles Warren from the Spider-Man books, who became the Jackal and cloned both Gwen Stacy and Peter Parker in 1975, and tried to set a bad trap for the latter? How come he doesn't figure into this?

Still, if "pushback" is such a concern to them, how come we don't see them bringing up loathsome products like Identity Crisis, which featured quite a bit of girl-bashing? Even the 2nd Mr. Terrific, who's black, may have fared badly in that disgusting story. And they don't dig very deep to find those stories, which do make for very challenging subjects? As a result, this sounds to me like just another joke research topic coming from universities that aren't particularly interested in showing they're capable of looking in the most ideal places for details to analyze. No wonder academia's suffering from such a lack of intelligence.

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Wanna bet they deliberately discounted superheroes, supervillains, and their supporting casts so they could try to have more accurate data in other comic magazine genres?

So when they say sample, does it mean every single issue from each title selected or just a few random issues from each title selected in equal amounts (like five issues per title for example)?

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