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Monday, May 13, 2013 

Indiana Gazette tears down on the Mandarin for the sake of political correctness

The Indiana Gazette wrote a ludicrous column in which they attack Iron Man's archnemesis, supposedly concerned about his being a stereotype of Asians, but I suspect it's really because they don't like how he was originally meant to reflect communist mindsets and Cold War adversaries:
“Iron Man 3” brings us The Mandarin, once the Armored Avenger’s greatest foe in the comics. But the Mandarin onscreen is considerably different than his comic-book counterpart — and that’s a good thing.
Oh I don't think so. Not if they're going to reduce him to a mere stage actor, which makes him less of a formidable foe for Shellhead. Interestingly, they don't even describe any of the changes made to the character.
The Mandarin first appeared in 1964, a mysterious figure in the mountains of China who was feared even by the Chinese government. Iron Man was dispatched by the U.S. military to gather information on this threat; in those days, anti-communism was a major part of the strip, and Iron Man was very much a Cold Warrior. The Mandarin implausibly could shatter steel — and occasionally Iron Man’s armor — with karate chops. He also had 10 rings, each with a different super power, which seemed to change with plot necessities. Later, it was explained that the rings came from a crashed alien spaceship.
Do they have a problem with surrealism? I guess they do. On the one hand, they miss the likelihood that the ten rings could give Mandarin the power to bust armor. On the other, they forget that awesome feats like those can be seen any time in any number of manga tales from the far east, so I don't see why it's such a big deal when American writers want to try that. They also don't seem particularly interested in congratulating Stan Lee and company for having the guts to confront communism at the time.

Now, here's where the article really starts to turn nasty:
A charitable reading of this character is that co-creators Stan Lee and Don Heck were going for a contrast with Tony Stark, Iron Man’s alias. You know, East vs. West, Asian martial arts vs. American technology, Stark’s thin David Niven mustache vs. the Mandarin’s long Charlie Chan-style face fuzz.

Less charitably, the Mandarin’s roots are planted deep in ugly American bigotry, nativism and xenophobia. He was, in 1964, simply the latest iteration of a phenomenon known as The Yellow Peril, a Western hysteria with a long pop-culture history snaking back through comics and pulp fiction to novels and stories of the 19th century.
Excuse me? This whole tear-down of how Mandarin was supposedly created is disgusting, and they seem to forget what they just said earlier, that even the Chinese government was scared of this commie-style conqueror in their midst. I don't buy their claim so easily, since it sounds more like an attempt to obscure how he was an allusion to the commies rising up in Asia at the time, even if he wasn't part of the Chinese government proper. I also find the declaration "American bigotry" offensive, since it reeks of a subtle blanket smear against Americans, which does not make sense given that America fought against Japan just as much because of their attack on defenseless Chinese in 1937 as for their attack on Pearl Harbor (and didn't Europeans also have their problems with stereotyping? Why does only America matter here?). By the post-WW2 era, the US showbiz medium largely cut out the negative sentiment towards Chinese (though admittedly the stereotypical imagery of Chop-Chop in Blackhawk still appeared at the time), and they even admit that with the following, yet at the same time keep putting down the Mandarin as stereotypical:
Speaking of Marvel, that publisher introduced the Yellow Claw in the 1950s, but also — perhaps indicating changing times — heroic Asian-American FBI agent Jimmy Woo. And Marvel gave us the Mandarin. A Chinese mastermind with long fingernails and longer mustache, he was just another Fu Manchu clone for years. Marvel has tried updating him now and again to excise the racism element (and make him more relevant), but because that’s the character’s core, it never really works.

But the makers of “Iron Man 3” came up with a unique solution to this dilemma. Will it work? I don’t know. For my money, the Mandarin should be retired.
It wasn't unique at all, even if the movie did make money, and I disagree that the Mandarin should be "retired". Nor do I agree that racism is his "core", because that's just propaganda for the sake of making it sound as though it's wrong to depict any race other than whites as crooks (and he doesn't have long fingernails or even slanted eyes on the coverscan I uploaded). The main problem here is that they completely ignore that not only whites can have totalitarian mindsets. Racism as we know it comes in many forms, and is not limited to just whites. So too does anti-Americanism, which is still prevalent in Chinese society long after Zedong Mao's regime and I was devastated to find out Jackie Chan's the latest example of an ignoramus who thinks America is corrupt but not so much his own country. Yet despite his disdain for even America's positive values, he had no problem taking their money.

And weren't Europeans just as capable of the stereotyping the Gazette spoke of? Tintin in Congo was a notorious example for its time, with black African engineers depicted as incompetent and the eponymous hero berating them for being sloppy (bewilderingly enough, while Herge apologized for that years later, he also apologized for criticizing the Soviets!). Mexico is not innocent either, with Memin Pinguin still a notorious example that could be worse than some of Europe's stereotyping. Why does only American stereotyping count?

Even Japanese manga has had its cases of anti-Americanism, and Osamu Tezuka was unfortunately guilty of this with Astro Boy. In the late 1960s, the original depiction of the black protagonist Pyunma in Cyborg 009 was stereotypical in design. By the early 70s, with criticism of these kind of depictions coming up overseas, they started abandoning this approach and going for more respectable drawings. Nevertheless, even European and Asian countries had their share of stereotypical renditions of minorities, so referring to the Mandarin as a product of "American" bigotry is making it sound as though only the US was ever a problem while ignoring even wider ones.

Those MSM leftists conducting these arguments may not realize it, but they're taking a considerable risk of damning decent folk as prejudiced fools, acting as though they didn't even learn lessons. And another big problem is that the whole argument the Gazette is conducting against the Mandarin stinks of a PC notion that it's wrong in every way to depict any race other than whites as baddies. By that logic, it was wrong to depict Moses Magnum as a terrorist, Tombstone as a mob enforcer and Black Manta as a mercenary too. All the leftist MSM are trying to do is dampen the impact of the Cold War stories by implying that they were solely built on racial stereotypes while dismissing the anti-communist themes as outdated or even completely wrong. And it only shows how they're trying to obscure the best critiques of communism from the 60s for the sake of their modern embrace of one of the worst ideologies next to fascism.

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Typical leftist nonsense from Andrew "Captain Comics" Smith. Another liberal who likes to trash the Silver Age and act all morally superior. So he's basically implying that the creators of the Mandarin are "racist?"

There's quite a bit of Japanese historical revisionism in its entertainment, stuff that glorifies its Imperial past. Some of the more sinister stuff involves it winning WW2. Imagine if German entertainment involved stuff that ...

The Mandarin was obviously influenced by Fu Manchu, as were a lot of pulp fiction and comic book villains (including Dr. No), but I doubt if any racist stereotyping was intended. Marvel had Asian good guys and bad guys (Jimmy Woo as well as the Mandarin), black good guys and bad guys (the Falcon and Luke Cage as well as Stone Face), and so on. Just as there are good people and bad people in every race in real life. Today, though, the PC party line is that only Americans (and then only Caucasians) can be bad, and all members of other ethnic groups are saints, without exception. (Well, a few exceptions; dispensation is sometimes granted to allow libs to criticize ethnic conservatives like Clarence Thomas or Michelle Malkin.) And the 1960s were the height of the Cold War. Communist villains were the natural adversaries for Iron Man and Captain America, just as super heroes fought Nazi villains in WWII.

What's even more pathetic is that Smith isn't the only comic book person going out of their way to defend the movie's version of the Mandarin and claim the original was "racist." Just type in "Iron Man 3 ruined the Mandarin" and you'll see what I mean.

And Hube, I know exactly what you're talking about. I've watched enough anime to know that it does contain those elements.

Some of the more sinister stuff involves it winning WW2. Imagine if German entertainment involved stuff that...!!!

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