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Saturday, November 28, 2020 

Fox News is just as pandering with social justice when they cover the Other History comic

Fox News interviewed screenwriter/comics scripter Ridley in another item covering his Other History of the DCU, and they explain perfectly why they're losing their title as America's number one news source:
EXCLUSIVE: Fans of comic books or the multitude of film franchises they’ve spurred will be hard-pressed to find a series as critically anticipated as “The Other History of the DC Universe.”
Surely that isn't telling just what's wrong with this whole fishy tale? Who really trusts critics anymore? Mainstream, anyway. They take knee-jerk positions the late film reviewer Pauline Kael didn't always take when she was around, and if critics are the ones looking forward to this comic, it's possible many will greet it with glowing reviews largely devoid of any objectivity or questions of taste.
The five-issue DC Black Label miniseries written by Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley (“12 Years a Slave,” “Guerrilla,” “American Crime”) is a run which delves deep into the backstories of DC’s most under-represented superheroes and heroines, all of whom carry histories which rival those of Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent and Diana Prince.
Would that happen to include Metamorpho? It's not like he ever had a sustained ongoing series past the one where he debuted in the mid-60s, which ran less than 20 issues. Say, what about Geo-Force? Surely he isn't under-represented as the prince of the fictional eastern European country Markovia? Why do only POC matter, but not characters underrepresented in terms of noticeability and recognizability?
...in addition to telling the story of Jefferson Pierce, he also wanted to encapsulate the histories of Pierce’s daughter Anissa (Thunder), Mal Duncan (Herald) and his wife, Karen Beecher (Bumblebee), Renee Montoya (the Question) and Tatsu Yamashiro (Katana).
And again, I'm wondering why he believes a vision Tony Isabella didn't approve of is such a big deal, rather than create a relative like a niece or a cousin, which would be more plausible? Also note they superficially cite Montoya's replacing Vic Sage as the Question, another early example from the 2000s of social justice pandering. Those who think it began with Marvel would do well to remember it began even earlier when Dan DiDio oversaw replacing the Atom with an Asian character, shortly after dehumanizing Jean Loring in the Identity Crisis miniseries, Firestorm with a black character, and Blue Beetle with a Latino character. Today, it's clear even Marvel's not exactly interested in letting go of these failed experiments.
“Each of these characters come from traditionally marginalized backgrounds,” Ridley explained of the fan-favorite superheroes appearing in the graphic series. “I really wanted to treat them as though they were people first and costumed individuals second because the prevailing culture oftentimes thinks so little of us, that the biggest struggles we have is sometimes how we view each other and there are so many people in our community who are so freaking accomplished.”
This decidedly sounds fishy too. Is he perpetuating the propaganda angle of the USA being inherently, unalterably racist? And Fox is willing to accomodate such a dreadful viewpoint? Well, like I said, Fox has been going down in quality, and this is evidently but a sample of their decline. Ridley also told them:
Fox News: The backstories in any hero title are oftentimes what set the stage for what a hero will ultimately become. Why did so many stories of Black superheroes go untold for so long?

Ridley: I think you make a really good point in that there's always a hero who can run fast or is invulnerable or has heat-vision. And it's these backstories – it's where folks come from, just like in real life, that really give an insight into who they are. And unfortunately, with graphic novels, same as television, same as film, same as almost any industry – for decades, people didn't see the need.

We as people of color, people from different backgrounds, we consume culture
. It was sometimes disheartening to not see us but we'll go see 'Superman,' we'll go see a 'Batman' movie or go see a western or whatever. But as we continue to come into ascension and you see the stories that try to take on a greater impact, you know… obviously we lost an incredible talent [with] Chadwick Boseman this year and he played Jackie Robinson, he played Thurgood Marshall. He played James Brown – played them brilliantly but think about the impact that he had as T'challa as 'Black Panther' globally. People could not give their money away fast enough to be part of that experience. The same as 'Wonder Woman,' the same with 'Captain Marvel.'

So I think we're finally arriving to a place where companies – I love DC, I think they're a wonderful company and they've given me nothing but support – but there are companies that are looking at the landscape going, 'Older white male leaders is not a growth industry.' And people of color, women and people from traditionally marginalized backgrounds, we've been there.

Bruce Wayne is a White guy. Superman is a White guy – hey, it's entertaining. We certainly rallied around our 'Black Panthers,' rallied around our 'Falcons' and these characters. But we said, 'Hey, we're there,' and now that we are coming to an ascension, there's also the realization that White folks like 'Black Panther' too and guys like 'Wonder Woman,' too. So it's unfortunate that it's taken decades. You can certainly look at any industry and say it's taken too long… but folks are going to vote with their dollars and vote with their time and with their interests and it's just very fortunate that 'The Other History of the DC Universe' just happens to be right there in that space.
If they vote with their dollars on everything, then Other History can't be any different. He fails to recognize that there were significant landmarks for Black society in entertainment - for example, Greg Morris in Mission: Impossible, and the Jeffersons, which spun out of All in the Family, and almost every Eddie Murphy movie back in the day - and acts like comicdom was almost literally different. Granted, he does acknowledge POC will check out many different aspects of culture everywhere. And he actually acknowledges whites will check out BP and men will check out WW. But what he seems oblivious to is that merit matters to POC as much as to everyone else. And then he has the gall to back up a PC viewpoint coming from companies stating that "older white male leaders" don't contribute. But what about younger white male leaders? Trouble is, there's been, for some time, an effort to make them less talented their their predecessors.

And based on the troubling politics Ridley goes by, that's why Other History may not be a very fortunate development at all. And then, Fox asks him a query that's just what a PC advocate would want to hear:
Fox News: Why is it that people can be so protective of fictional hero characters like a Peter Parker in ‘Spider-Man,’ but struggle to understand that because the superhero is fiction, he or she can be whatever race the storyteller wants to them be, alas a Miles Morales?

Ridley: It's sort of interesting. If you take George Washington or pick any White guy in history and say, 'We're going to make him a Black person' -- you look at 'Hamilton' and how powerful that is, it's wildly popular and just really flips the script. Within the show, they say, 'Immigrants will get the job done,' and it has a whole different meaning.

You're asking a great question because there are people who say with Miles, he’s not Peter Parker. That's the only Spider-Man who exists. But if you look at mythology, there's a shifting of this mythology as it moves from region to region. So mythology changing to set a different time or different era or a different region, that's not new. This goes back to the beginning of humanity. And there are people right now who are like, ‘Things have to be this way.’ And you make a really good point. This is not real. This is mythology. And historically, mythology has changed to fit those people who are telling the story. And it's no different now than it is then.

And I've had people, in arguments say, 'OK, fine, you want to change Bruce Wayne, what about Black Panther? How would you feel if Black Panther were a White guy? And my answer would be, it's not just if you're a White guy. What is the story? And how does that change? And there have been White people born and raised in Africa, and certainly, those are very particular narratives. But tell me what the story is and then I'll tell you whether I think there's value in that story.

Tell me what the story is, and then I can have a discussion with you about why it matters. And by the way, people got all upset about Miles Morales, as I'm sure you know – and now he is one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe. So this idea that it's going to change and nobody is going to want it, they're making a 'Spider-Man' movie. They're making Miles Morales movies, he's the new Spider-Man in the video game. Yo, guess what? There are enough people out there who want to consume entertainment that you can make these shifts and everybody can be happy.
So if Stan Lee preferred Peter Parker remain the white guy he was originally created as, that's wrong? We're learning more about Fox's cascade into poorer quality news coverage leanings every day. It's worth noting that Lee, in his time, encouraged his fan base to care about the characters he came up with in some way or other, and if they're saying Lee's own fans are wrong, they're saying he was wrong as the creator to have ever dared encourage support for cohesion. Here's the issue: if Morales had replaced Peter Parker wholesale in any shared universe, would that have been right? The simple answer is "no". It would've been seen as a declaration that Parker is invalid because he's a white guy, much like Quesada declared Mary Jane Watson invalid because marriage somehow makes Peter an old geezer. Yet I'm sure Quesada would replace Peter wholesale if he'd thought it easy enough, and almost did via the Inferior Dr. Octopus, which was overseen by his successor as EIC, Axel Alonso, and the insufferable Dan Slott. I guess they figured that so long as MJ was kept firmly apart from Peter, everything would be dandy. But the crude approach to the proceedings is why it was all so shoddy.

Regarding Morales, what Fox omits is that he began as part of an alternate world, the Ultimate line, and shortly after, he wound up replacing said alternate universe's own Peter Parker. Ultimate Spider-Man was probably the last of that line to get cancelled in the past decade, a very overrated product, considering Brian Bendis was one of the engineers, as was Mark Millar, who wrote Ultimate X-Men and the Ultimates. If Morales had replaced the 616 universe's Peter altogether, that's why the audience would really have been upset, and they were probably banking on intimidating them with the prospect, though even that strategy eventually grows tired, especially in an era where much of the fan base has already been driven out by poor writing and art. But though Morales may not have replaced Peter wholesale in comicdom, it does look as though, similar to what's happening in DC adaptations today, he may be replacing Peter in extended merchandise and animation. Not helping matters is that whatever entertainment value the live action Spidey movies once had, they've since lost it, as traces of social justice propaganda are turning up, and those produced since Sam Raimi left have lost the edge. Fox's failure to do any deeper research here compounds the image of modern journalism as the dismal example it's become.

And if Ridley's trying to dismiss concerns over turning BP into a white guy, that's no improvement either. His comment sure is elusive, and again, because of the politics he espoused previously, that's why I'm wary of whatever he says.
Fox News: How is inclusion factored and worked into the creating of “The Other History of the DC Universe?”

Ridley: I think you have to start with Black Lightning for all the reasons that we talked about because he was so instrumental for me in becoming a storyteller and a creator and he sort of neared my existence at this point, we would have been around the same age. Then, it gets more challenging as the stories progressed –immensely challenging when I start getting outside of my lived experience but still want to represent communities and individuals that have largely either been ignored or marginalized in the storytelling. So after that, we have Mal [Duncan] and Karen [Beecher]. And I thought it was really important to include them because to have a young Black couple who are committed to each other, who are there for each other, who just struggle as a young couple. And certainly, for Mal, I never thought he was handled very well as a character. But Karen Beecher, I thought she was handled fairly well. She's bright, smart, sharp, a young lady who's just a STEM genius who becomes her own hero.

And then in the third issue, we have Tatsu Yamashiro, who is Katana but would have been a Japanese immigrant arriving to America in the 1980s at the height of the anti-Japanese xenophobia in America. And what was that like for her? She's a character who was in 'Suicide Squad.' I think she had maybe three lines in the movie, if at all. But in the comic books, she's a mother and a wife who lost her family and who is just looking for solace as she travels the world.

And then with Renee Montoya, who started as a side character in 'Batman, the Animated Series' but who is a Latinx, gay police officer – I mean, just those factors alone, what is that story and how do you tell that story in this day and age when we have such friction between police and communities? And I thought it was very important to tell that story from that perspective and then rounding it out is Anissa Pierce [Thunder], who is Jefferson Pierce's [Black Lightning] daughter. Pierce is a father, who again, is a very real person and was heroic in many ways, but had blind spots and a very particular blind spot with a daughter who is young and queer and trying to figure out who she is and he’s an older father who has a little bit of trouble accepting that. I just thought those stories, they were certainly representative of the DC Universe.

“They were representatives of characters who were very impactful to me. I thought they were hopefully broadly representative of those communities. And really a good way to hopefully start these conversations on being different is not a negative, it's a positive. You can be different or you can be singular. You can be ‘an other’ or you can be unique. And it starts with how one views themselves. It's an important story for anybody of any age group.”
But does writing merit matter? It's just not clear here. What is clear is that Ridley makes no distinctions between older, better written stories, and newer ones from a time when writing (and art) was going downhill. Nor does he seem to consider that when Montoya first appeared in the comics, she was anything but lesbian, until SJW Greg Rucka retconned her into one around 2003, and they've since refused to come off it, because SJWs demand characters of their choice remain that way till the bitter end of time. Even Ridley's description of Jefferson Pierce as a guy having trouble "accepting" his daughter's lesbianism sounds fishy, like Ridley sees the potentially conservative leaning characterization as a mistake. It's honestly ridiculous to describe Jeff as a "real" person, when he's really a fictional character. All that aside, as I'd noted before, the mid-2000s story element of Anissa being Jeff's daughter is something Tony Isabella was not impressed with, so again, pretty mysterious Ridley considers it canon to be fully embraced, regardless of merit, or lack thereof. (And why doesn't Ridley think Mal was handled well? Because he was once in a romance with Lilith Clay/Omen? I don't get it.)

From an entertainment perspective, this is one article that certainly reveals how badly Fox is deteriorating and derailing. Donald Trump says Fox is becoming unwatchable because of all the fawning over Democrats now occurring there, and this isn't much different. If a writer can't determine or distinguish what's good or bad in terms of writing efforts over the years, what good is the finished product he's got in development, truly?

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Anissa is part of the Black Lightning tv show continuity, and Tony Isabella loves that show.

The social justice pandering through race and gender swapping began long before this century. Why are people so little incensed about how the male Zatara the magician was replaced by the female Zatanna in the 1960s, or how the Hank Pym Goliath was shunted aside in favor of Black Goliath in the 1970s? The all-white X-Men were tossed aside in favor of a diverse cast in the 1970s as well. DC's Firebrand was made retroactively gay in 1980s All-Star Squadron and replaced with a female Firebrand; Wildcat was replaced with an Hispanic woman in the same series. The old stock British Black Angel was replaced by a black American Black Angel in the 1980s, thanks to Chuck DIxon, who also replaced Green Arrow with an Eurasian kid. The Eurasian comic strip character Modesty Blaise became Italian in the 1960s movie. This has been going on for a long time.

No one needs to buy this. Reading about it is enough.

In fairness to Fox, it is hard for them to discuss the merit of the series when it has not been released yet. Once it is published, the reviewer can talk about whether it is worth reading or not. RIght now, they can only go by the concept, which seems intriguing.

"The social justice pandering through race and gender swapping began long before this century. Why are people so little incensed about how the male Zatara the magician was replaced by the female Zatanna in the 1960s, or how the Hank Pym Goliath was shunted aside in favor of Black Goliath in the 1970s? The all-white X-Men were tossed aside in favor of a diverse cast in the 1970s as well. DC's Firebrand was made retroactively gay in 1980s All-Star Squadron and replaced with a female Firebrand; Wildcat was replaced with an Hispanic woman in the same series. The old stock British Black Angel was replaced by a black American Black Angel in the 1980s, thanks to Chuck DIxon, who also replaced Green Arrow with an Eurasian kid. The Eurasian comic strip character Modesty Blaise became Italian in the 1960s movie. This has been going on for a long time."

Nope. Not even close.

Don't forget how Colossal Boy and Mary Marvel became retroactively Jewish in the 1970s, and Wildman of Sgt Rock and the Ray Palmer Atom did the same in the 1980s.

If you liked the Marvels series by Ross and Busiek, you will like The Other History. It is basically the same idea, retelling the history of a superhero universe through the eyes of someone connected with the everyday, no big multi-page fight scenes but giving you a fresh sense of how powerful and strange these characters would seem if an ordinary person was in the room with them.

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