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Wednesday, November 06, 2019 

A Forward columnist goes soft on Bendis

A writer for The Forward recently addressed Brian Bendis' upcoming unmasking direction for Superman, in a query whether the Big Blue Boy Scout will still be Jewish without his secret ID:
But as with any great institution, disruptions are inevitable. Two developments in comics, one confirmed and one rumored, are now challenging foundational elements of long-established canon. Both of these moves strike at the Jewish ethos endemic to the form. That’s not a bad thing, though. In fact, these changes mark yet another triumph for the art as its stories attain the status of modern myths.

First, for the confirmed report. On December 11, Superman will reveal his secret identity, Clark Kent, to the world in Issue 18 of the new “Superman” run by Brian Michael Bendis. This is the first time in his over 80 year history that the Last Son of Krypton will go public with his alter ego. The development will send shockwaves through the DC universe, as Bendis insisted, in an interview with The New York Times, that the self-outing will not be a “fake-out,” like so many short-lived comic gimmicks.
It's clear this writer isn't an expert on comicdom, and didn't even read the NYT article properly, or he'd know Clark Kent's secret became public 4 years ago via Lois Lane, and while I haven't read every Superman story out there, I'm sure there's at least one from the pre-Crisis era where Superman's secret was exposed, even if it didn't become the norm. I know the Silver Age Hawkman's secret ID was revealed in the mid-60s, but that was considered slapdash and quickly ignored.
For a bullet-proof man, keeping both identities separate is largely a means of protecting the more vulnerable people in Kent’s non-superpowered life. But on a deeper level, Kal-El is really defending himself from the fear of being labeled an outsider.

Of course, the culture of 1938, the year Superman was first seen heaving a car on the cover of Action Comics Number 1, is different from the world of 2019. Actors now appear under their given, Jewish-sounding names. Jews, while still a minority and still at risk, are more open about their faith and now boast decent numbers in states and towns that resemble Smallville more than Metropolis.

So, perhaps the question in Superman’s mind, as presented by Bendis, is the right one: “Who was he lying to protect?”

In a world where being openly Jewish is less fraught — or at least more protected — does Superman’s parallel of a private cultural life and public-facing professional one apply to Jews today?

Definitely. It is hard to imagine a time in America — or any country other than Israel — where Jews won’t have to face the dissonance of presentation that Superman so clearly signifies. And beyond the Jews, his predicament speaks to other minorities, to immigrants — to anyone, in fact, who feels the need to hide some of themselves away.

It’s precisely because this dynamic has spoken to so many that Bendis’s plans for Superman are an urgent and welcome evolution. Rather than losing something in the central dualism of Superman, we will gain stories of acceptance, pride, truth and the pitfalls of coming out to the world. No more longer will Superman be a closeted Kryptonian, but, in Bendis’s words, “the best version of himself.”
Let's see if I have this right. It's so much more important Superman reflect a metaphor of whether Jews should be open about their background than whether the Man of Steel's hiding his ID as Clark Kent to avoid all the attention supervillains and organized syndicates armed with high-tech weapons would give him regardless of ethnical/cultural background, that Superman must unmask entirely for the sake of a horrid writer's dreadful visions for what entertainment should be like? Please. I won't say it couldn't work, and it certainly did in the Flash during the 90s. But even if we don't get heaped with tales of Supes and Lois Lane being targeted by so many villains they have to live in the Fortress of Solitude, we're still bound to get some awfully pretentious tales laced with Bendis' contempt for the audience, to say nothing of leftist social justice pandering, which he seems to have taken up lately.

And as for Superman lying to protect anybody, it would be more his ability to roam freely and operate as a journalist in his Clark Kent ID, without worrying he'll be set upon by crooks who could be wielding Kryptonite and/or sorcery-based weapons, recalling there have been times when Supes was ideally depicted as vulnerable to magical energies. In years past, the reason he didn't reveal his secret to Lois was in order to protect her from being targeted by the same villains who'd target him in their cowardly efforts to strike at the Man of Steel in revenge for the justice he meted out, with not the least of the bunch being Lex Luthor. Why, IIRC, Kitty Pryde often kept her identity as a mutant secret for many years for similar reasons, so it's not like Superman's the only one whose background is either Jewish or a metaphor maintaining a secret ID to avoid the wrath of criminals driving them into living in an isolated camp.

I don't think it's a good idea to start drawing metaphors like this for real life, and certainly not when Bendis already proved he's a bad lot. And it's not the only one - the writer also addresses what may be a rumor at this point commented upon by a Times of Israel contributor: Magneto being race-swapped to black in an upcoming X-Men film:
The second major shakeup in comics with large Jewish implications is still hearsay, but is already stirring up strong feelings. Recently, there have been whispers that X-Men villain Magneto, a Holocaust survivor whose persecution informed his views on mutant separatism, might be recast as a black man in upcoming films.

The Times of Israel ran an op-ed by Thomas Brown wondering “ Would a race change for Marvel’s Jewish Magneto be anti-Semitic?” His conclusion was, essentially, “No, but…”

Brown writes of Magneto: “His identity as a survivor of the greatest genocide in modern history became inseparable from his identity as a Mutant and informed his violent crusade against the persecution of Mutants.”

(Of course, Magneto could also be black and harbor similar feelings, and many believe that the character, whose Jewish roots were a later development - as admitted Brown admits - was modeled off of Malcolm X.)

After suggesting that Magneto might be a Jewish and black or a survivor of a more recent genocide somewhere else in the world, Brown argues that the casting of a non-Jewish Magneto, while well-meaning and something he’d welcome, sends the wrong message in regard to representation.
There's just one little thing: in the comics, it was indicated - at least during the 80s or 90s - that Erik Lensherr was of Romani descent, and his 2 children, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, certainly are. It actually is mentioned in the op-ed, although Brown describes it as a "revelation", even though Magneto's a fictional character. And if Erik was established as Roma a few decades ago, then the casting of a non-Jewish character in itself is a moot point. I'd argue it's just whether Erik is race-swapped to a non-white that we should consider it ludicrous, both in comics and films.
Given that plans for Magneto’s casting have not been verified, any motives that might be ascribed to Marvel Studios are speculative. Accordingly, Brown’s thesis falls at times into straw man territory, but it does give us something to consider: To what extent can Jews still claim these characters and stories as proprietary?
Say, here's a good query that leads to a vital point: the comics creations originally developed by Jews in the Golden/Silver Ages have since been hijacked by people who, no matter what their background, have no respect for their classic creators. Captain America's surely a leading example in this regard, what with the way Kirby/Simon's GA creation was exploited for the most rabid leftist platforms since the turn of the century.
It should, instead, come as a source of tremendous pride that less than a century into the form’s creation, superhero comics have become a part of a global mythology. They are a format to be re-imagined, reworked and re-calibrated to a moment in time, probed for new truths and challenged on their essential premises. What could be more Jewish than that kind of Talmudic rethinking?

The urge to change the understanding of Jewish comic canon is not a threat. Rather, it’s a sign that we have made ourselves understood.
Sigh. No, we haven't, and I don't think this should be compared to Talmudic thinking either. If the guy were smart he'd notice and acknowledge that today's superhero comics have been hijacked for leftist causes, with Marvel's Secret Empire crossover representing the worst of the more recent iterations. I'm guessing he doesn't respect "Truth, Justice and the American Way" as a slogan in Superman either, which could suggest why he thinks a "global mythology" is acceptable, even if it means draining much of what makes the creations work in the first place, such as core values. This is a leading reason why Captain America may never recover. "Globalism" isn't just an ambiguous concept, it's one of the reasons why sane societies collapse, as they did due to "multiculturalism", which made no distinction between what constitutes a sane belief system and ideology and what makes for barbarism, as does the Islamic religion.

I don't like how the Forward reporter who wrote this item is apparently using the argument of Jewish metaphors to justify what Bendis does in his writing, mainly because it's not story merit-based. If it wouldn't be a good idea for other segments of society to do that, then even in mine, it obviously isn't either, and it doesn't guarantee solid storytelling. In fact, I wouldn't be shocked if the Forward reporter doesn't even bother to review Bendis' stories a year or so from now to see how well it all turns out artistically. Even though, as Bendis has proven in the past, his scripting is perfectly dreadful.

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The Magneto: Testament series has established, or re-established, that Magneto was Jewish in Marvel continuity. Magda, the mother of Wanda and Pietro, was Roma. The problem for the movies is the passage of time. For him to be a survivor, he would have to be in his eighties by the time the movie is released.

Secret Empire began based on extreme right-wing ideas: Evil Steve Rogers as ruler was the right-wing militia's expressed fears about Obama, that he would take away everyone's guns and not give up the presidency. No-one had Trump in mind back then. But history caught up with the project; Trump began acting like evil Steve, not the other way round. I thought Steve's speech to the UN in Secret Empire was way too over the top to be credible; and then Trump made some just like it.

<"Globalism" isn't just an ambiguous concept, it's one of the reasons why sane societies collapse, as they did due to "multiculturalism", which made no distinction between what constitutes a sane belief system and ideology and what makes for barbarism, as does the Islamic religion.>

What sane societies are you thinking of that have collapsed due to globalism? In the Middle East, the arab countries and Iran have suffered from a lack of multiculturalism. The societies have gone into bad decline with the expulsion and persecution of the Jews and Bahais and the other minorities and the enforcement of fundamentalist religion. They were a lot better off when they were more multicultural.

"The societies have gone into bad decline with the expulsion and persecution of the Jews"

Everyone is better off by doing whatever the jews want. The problem with Muslim countries is that they aren't queer, feminist or communist enough. There aren't enough people with diametrically apposing values to Muslims in the Middle East. They need to have their religion ridiculed and deconstructed and need to be discriminated against in favor of non-Muslims. Making the Middle East a land of immigrants is the key to prosperity. Muslims need to abandon their concept of a society where everyone shares the same faith. Practicing their faith should be a regulated privilege, not a right. Mosques should be secular places where progressive values are taught. We must deny people the ability to form homogeneous communities. Except, for Israel. Multiculturalism would destroy the Jewish state.

"The problem with Muslim countries is that they aren't communist enough"

no, they're not capitalist enough. they need to embrace individualism, and globalization. The free market is the key to happiness.Once one has the right to consume what she or he wants, she or he has rights.

Ah yes, if only America could be more like Saudi Arabia, we would all be so much happier....

The idea that Muslims wanted a society where everyone shared their faith is a new one. Islam ruled multicultural societies for centuries. Muslim Spain was multicultural; the Catholic Spain that came after was not. The Jewish minorities in Iraq, in Egypt, in Iran, were there for centuries. The Bahai are native to Iran, a religion that began in Iran. Islamic monocultures are new, products of the India-Pakistan wars and the dislocation of the Middle East after 1948. Muslims were on top before in the Middle East, and there was discrimination to varying degrees at different times, but they were not alone and did not see the need to purge people who believed in other religions of the book.

In Ivanhoe, Rebecca decides to leave England and go to the Muslim world because jews are better accepted there. Sir Walter Scott had reason to write that.

And Israel is a multi-cultural society, certainly the most multi-cultural country in the Middle East; even Lebanon does not come close. Hate to sound like a travel brochure, but -- Israel is the world center of the Bahai religion, it has a population one-fifth Arab, they are governed in part by sharia law courts, and the rest of the population is split between recent immigrants and families that have been in the Middle East for centuries. It is a major world center for French-language publishing, it has a large African minority, a large Russian population, a vociferious fundamentalist religious minority, a significant angloamerican minority, a group of Vietnamese boat people and their descendants, more polyglot than any place in America outside New York.... That doesnt mean there is no discrimination there; but it is not a bland boring monoculture, from which the good Lord preserve us.

Historically, most major countries and world powers were multicultural; this idea of one nation and language, one culture,for one state, is a new thing, and a new thing that comes out of 19th century European nationalism, not out of Islam.

"Ah yes, if only America could be more like Saudi Arabia,"

Saudi Arabia is one of Israel's only allies in the Middle East. This may be hard to understand, but given several decades of forced regime changes, it is clear that Muslims don't want to adopt Western forms of government or cultural values. They take pride in not being progressive.

There is a difference between tolerating other faiths and giving them equal treatment under the law, which Islam has historically not done in areas where they dominated. In Muslim dominated societies, non-Muslims were treated like second class citizens. Forced conversions to Islam and discrimination against non-Muslims was common for hundreds of years.

"Historically, most major countries and world powers were multicultural"
History shows periods of multiculturalism in the FEW areas where civilization developed.

Multiculturalism is new and not natural to humans, who have lived in tiny homogeneous societies for most of their time on Earth. Urbanization, high tech, "human progress" in not only unnatural, it is ecologically unsustainable.

Israel tolerates minority groups as long as they very little power. They do not want Palestinians voting to make certain settlements illegal and regain some of the territory that was taken from them.

Tolerance and multiculturalism are two different things. Learn the difference, dipsh*t.

Dont know if Saudi Arabia is an Israeli ally; more like established enemies who understand each other and collaborate on some things, or like the girlfriend you pretend not to know when your wife and buddies are around.

You as one particular Muslim may not want Western cultural values and take pride in not being progressive, but other Muslims do not necessarily feel the same way you do, and you shouldn’t claim to speak for all your co-religionists. The men and women marching on the streets of Egypt during the Arab Spring seemed pretty keen on democracy. The kings of Jordan have all been pretty keen on British values and British military culture. Turks prided themselves on being westernized.

It sounds like you are saying that multiculturalism was necessary to, or part of, the development of civilization, but that before civilization and for most of prehistory we lived in caves in isolated groups so we are not deep down and instinctively used to it yet. I don’t know if that is true; we don’t know enough about very old pre-literate culture to be able to say. We do know that there was a lot of diversity in more modern pre-literate societies. North American Indians developed sign language so that different linguistic groups could talk to each other; they had a lot of cross-cultural contact between native groups with very different lifestyles and social structures. Africa had great diversity, racially and linguistically and culturally, before Europeans started to buy out their minority populations from them.

Multiculturalism is just a recognition of the messy way most people have lived for centuries; it doesn’t mean they all sing kumbaya together, just that they don’t sterilize society in the name of uniformity the way white nationalist radicals want to do. It takes a lot of work and pain and bloodshed to create an ethnically and racially and ideologically uniform society, and they never seem to last for long; human nature is to disagree with each other over something.

"Multiculturalism is just a recognition of the messy way most people have lived for centuries"
so chaos and social division is a good thing. life is too boring--we need manufactured drama created by cultural clashes.

No, it's not. multiculturalism is the exception, not the norm. Conformity is the norm.

" society in the name of uniformity the way white nationalist radicals"
Are you capable of thinking outside of what liberal elites tell you to think?
What white nationalists wants is nearly identical to what any nationalist want--self rule. What they want is nearly identical to what many primative societies want--to be left ALONE. If Europeans had never embarked on global-scale imperialism there would be very little multiculturalism. Yes,there was cultural diversity to some degree but you need wealth to make different types of lifestyles (king, slave, nun, solider) possible. Without a large agricultural surplus to support "Diversity" i.e. SPECIALIZATION, most people in an area lived very much the same lifestyles.
You see the history of the human world as the history of cosmopolitanism--which is a very small part of human history. For most of human history--humans lived with limited contact with people of different cultural values.

Go do something worthwhile with your worthless life. You aren't winning anyone over with facts, here.

". It takes a lot of work and pain and bloodshed" it took a lot of work and pain and bloodshed to bring blacks into the Americas, to destroy barriers to trade, to carry out any Revolution in the name of freedom and equality. Making people do things they don't want to do requires force. Saddamm in Iraq was used to force various groups that DID NOT want to be one people together, by using force.

Sure, but left alone from who? If some Americans want to be left alone by other Americans, who has the higher right and where does it end?

Did anyone give a listen to Richard Spencer’s drunken post-Charlottesville rant that was released recently? He was one white nationalist who did not want to be left alone. He wanted subservience to him of the lesser peoples. White nationalists in the US don’t seem to want to be left alone; they want to radically reshape national identity, extinguish national community and replace these things with something new and ugly.

The craziest part of it is that the language we are all writing in was created by multiculturalism. Engish did not come about all on its lonesome. It is a mash-up of Germanic languages with Celtic, Scandinavian and Latin and a whole lot of Norman French. The English gene pool has all of those mixes as well. Sure, if the Normans hadn’t invaded England the country would be less multicultural and the language a lot purer; but do you really want to go back a thousand years to before 1066? And yes, if the Vikings hadn’t invaded there would be less Scandinavian influence and if the Christian missionaries hadn’t come there would be less Latin influence and the English would speak a lot purer language that would definitely not be English, and English society would be a lot purer and less multicultural and certainly not Christian; but then you have to go back about 1300 years. And if the Teutonic tribes had not invaded 1600 years ago, the English would probably still be speaking Basque languages.

Let’s hear it for the days when people had limited contact with people of different cultural values.

"Israel tolerates minority groups as long as they very little power. They do not want Palestinians voting to make certain settlements illegal and regain some of the territory that was taken from them."

Not exactly.



Multicultural contact goes back a lot further than you would ever have imagined:





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