My Bigot-Sense is Tingling
Marvel Comics has revealed the identity of the new Ultimate Spider-Man: a half-black, half-Hispanic teen named Miles Morales.
For those of you who believe racism is dead, or that the geek community is somehow accepting and welcoming and open to all, read on…
Larry Doherty of Larry’s Comics responded with the following:
You can see more of Larry’s Tweets and comments at http://graphicpolicy.com/2011/08/01/the-comicmarket-problem/ if you’re feeling masochistic. But don’t worry. Despite his “nigga” Tweet and other comments, Larry assures us that he’s not racist, and these were simply good-natured jokes. (Why can’t you people take a joke?)
Bleeding Cool News rounded up some of the comments on the USA Today article about the new Spider-Man. Please keep in mind that these are comments that weren’t removed for being too offensive. Here are a few:
That’s just dangerous. With spider powers, just think how much stuff he could steal, if he was not so lazy.
What will he say when he runs into a criminal? “Sup Foo? Dis is MY ‘hood!”
Shame on Marvel Comics! This is not diversity; this is a disgrace! Spiderman was Peter Parker, and Peter Parker was white. Create a new character if you want to prove that Marvel Comics is “diverse”. Minorities are typically less than 18% of the population, but they seem to get nearly 100% of the history. Why should white children not have a comic book hero that they can identify with?
That’s right, Marvel comics! Where are all the white heroes? Shame on you for discriminating against us poor, underrepresented white people.
Though I admit I found, “I want to see his birth certificate” amusing.
Click here to read more, if you can stomach it.
Unfortunately, these are not isolated comments. There’s much more out there along similar lines.
Don’t tell me racism is dead. Don’t tell me people are overreacting, or that this shit is just “good-natured joking.” Don’t tell me how the geek community is so much more accepting.
And circling back to Larry’s Comics, does anyone have any recommendations for comics retailers that don’t encourage racism and general douchebaggery?
August 3, 2011 @ 9:41 am
I believe “Geek Community” is a misnomer. We are a number of fractured communities based on a very diverse set of interests. And some are, in this sense, better than others. Sometimes.
August 3, 2011 @ 9:45 am
Between this, the politicians, reality television, and that guy in Australia claiming he’s Jesus, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.
Jim C. Hines
August 3, 2011 @ 9:52 am
True. Geeks are no more a uniform population than any other group.
Jim C. Hines
August 3, 2011 @ 9:52 am
I want my moonbase!!!
August 3, 2011 @ 9:58 am
While I applaud steps towards racial diversity (it’s so hard to find Asian Americans in US pop culture), I admit I sympathize a bit with the comment about Spiderman being Peter Parker and Peter being white.
It’s not unheard of for minority characters to be made white (The Last Airbender movie showed us that it’s not over even in this “modern” day), so I can understand someone who is white being upset that their white character is now another ethnicity. If I can be upset about an Asian character being remade into a white, I can’t fairly deny that feeling to another person just because they’re in the majority.
Ideally Marvel would throw their weight behind a new property that is wholly their new multi-ethnic hero from the ground up, but I realize that requires a lot more work and there’s no guarantee the audience will buy it, whereas Spiderman has built-in name recognition.
August 3, 2011 @ 10:05 am
I want to add … Miles Morales? Really? Something about that just feels freakin’ weirdly obvious. It IS a comic, but it just seems like “And his superhero name is Blacky McLatino!” I don’t even know why Miles seems like an unimaginative name to me – maybe because it is so iconic, like naming a superhero after Rosa Parks. The character better live up to it.
Jim C. Hines
August 3, 2011 @ 10:08 am
I’m going to quote a comment from funwithrage over on my LJ:
“Like Green Lantern is Hal Jordan, except when he’s Kyle Rayner or Jon Stewart. Like Batman is Bruce Wayne except when he’s that kid in Batman Beyond.”
Morales is the character who takes over in Ultimate Spider-man after the death of Peter Parker.
August 3, 2011 @ 10:14 am
But this isn’t in Marvel’s main universe. This is their Ultimate one where things do tend to be different. Peter Parker, as far as I’m aware, has given up the Spiderman mantle in this series, hence the new Spiderman. Peter Parker is still Spiderman in the other universes (I think), it’s just this one where this new guy comes into being. The Ultimate universe, as far as I’m aware, tends to be more open to minority characters. I think Colossus, from the X-Men, is gay in his Ultimate incarnation, but I could be wrong about which universe it is.
I do agree with some of your whitewashing points, though. Whilst the cast of the upcoming Hunger Games film has a lot of diversity, they’ve whitewashed Katniss a little, but also bumped her age up. That, to me, is bad. I don’t think white people have much of a standing to complain about minority-washing, though. It happens so infrequently that it’s rarely worth mentioning. I personally can’t think of an instance where it’s happened.
In this case, it’s not a “reverse whitewash”, because Peter Parker is still white and he still exists. It’s just that a mixed-race kid is donning the spandex and title.
August 3, 2011 @ 10:15 am
Oh, I didn’t realise Petey is dead in Ultimate Spidey. Ah well, no loss. He was a bit of a whiny twerp.
August 3, 2011 @ 10:16 am
Any time I hear “what’s the big deal? It’s just a joke,” I know there’s trouble. Funny how few people realize that when they make a joke, they usually reveal their most underlying assumptions about the world and the people in it.
August 3, 2011 @ 10:22 am
Okay, I can roll with that then. I don’t follow the different comic book universes that closely.
August 3, 2011 @ 10:33 am
So who is he named after?
August 3, 2011 @ 10:37 am
Myths and legends (which is really what comic books are at this point. The retelling of stories over and over again to tell lessons and entertain audiences,) need to be changes when societies morals and ethics change. We don’t tell Cinderella’s story with the stepsisters cutting off their toes and heels anymore. Change is good, like… say… With the Princesses in your series. *grin*
Our modern culture needs more diversity. Our myths must change to accommodate. If comics don’t change, we continue to support the white male centered bullspit. I LIKE Peter Parker. I’m still very much okay with Peter Parker dying so that Miles can shift the center away from the white male. I imagine if he were aware, and aware of his role as a heroic myth, he’d look down from wherever awesome dead comic book heroes go and cheer Miles on. (Besides, no one stays dead for long in comics. And GOD KNOWS every time a new set of writers takes over, they erase the PoC characters and bring the whites back. Go ask Green Lantern about that.)
I’d love to see a group of comic store owners coming forward to say ‘come to our shop, we know racism isn’t a joke.’ Make a list of stores who vow to be equal and open to everyone and anyone. Boycott places like that.
August 3, 2011 @ 10:38 am
Some key differences, mind — Hal, Kyle, Guy and Jon were all recruited directly or indirectly by the geriatric smurf brigade that commands the Green Lanterns as much as anyone does and they have the legal and moral right to assign whoever they choose.
Likewise, Terry inherited the mantle from Bruce with Bruce’s consent and with a generation’s passing between it.
A closer simile would be Jaime Reyes as the new Blue Beetle — who got off to a slightly rocky start with certain of the previous Beetle’s friends as well as a fandom that originally hated him not for being latino, but for not being Ted Kord. There is a crucial difference.
Yes, the comments you quoted there are definitely racist assholes, but please don’t make the assumption that everyone who objects to or has reservations about the new Spider-man does so out of racism.
I liked Ultimate!Peter, and feel his death was… contrived, to say the least.
And having someone take up the mantle almost immediately just sounds uncomfortably much like “Hey kids! We want to show you how diverse we here at Marvel are so we’ll just whack this well-liked long-standing character and have a racial twofer pick up the mantle! Aren’t we tolerant and hip?”
I’m willing to see where they take the new character, even if I’d have preferred to see, oh, let’s say Ana Corazon to pick a random name out of a hat.
August 3, 2011 @ 10:47 am
Ultimate spidey is much less of a whiny twerp than his 616 incarnation, and prior to his death was just about the only likeable Peter Parker remaining.
If they’d done this with the 616 incarnation and have him decide to hang up the mask and spend the rest of his life with his new girlfriend, then have Miles pick up the mantle after acquiring the powers, I’d cheerfully wish more power to him.
Jim C. Hines
August 3, 2011 @ 10:49 am
“…please don’t make the assumption that everyone who objects to or has reservations about the new Spider-man does so out of racism.”
I don’t think I’m making that assumption. There could certainly be other problems with the storyline, the character, and so on.
“Hey kids! We want to show you how diverse we here at Marvel are so we’ll just whack this well-liked long-standing character and have a racial twofer pick up the mantle! Aren’t we tolerant and hip?”
This is where I get frustrated. Because if they had gone with a white character, nobody would have asked this sort of question. Because white is the default. Any time they stray from that default, the choice is criticized or questioned or dismissed as a deliberate attempt at publicity or whatever.
August 3, 2011 @ 11:04 am
The thing is… You are talking DC heroes not Marvel. Dc has built into it legacy heroes. Since the silver age of comics started DC has consistently created heroes based on the legacy of others like Hal Jordan, who is the second Green Lantern after Alan Scott of the Golden Age Era, or Barry Allen the Silver Age legacy of Jay Garrick, or even Ray Palmer the Silver Age Al Pratt aka the Arom! Also Silver age since the Silver Age reinvented Green Lantern, there has never been just one Green Lantern but an entire corps made up of aliens from all 3200 sectors of the galaxy. For the last several years, all the green lanterns of earth have been active. Even Wonder Woman has become a legacy in recent years as Diana’s mother, Hippolyta took over as the WWII era Wonder Woman. That is part of DC.
Marvel, however, does not have a history of legacies. There is a few heroes here and there that
have earlier incarnations or have had several people use the name but it is NOT typical for Marvel’s
heroes. There is ONE Spider-man. There is one Iron Man, one Dr. strange, one Captain America.. Etc. Others have briefly filled in as Iron Man or Captain America but the name always goes back to the original when they can reassume the role.
Here is the other problem.. Peter Parker has always been Spiderman except when his clone, who took the name Ben Reilly, was Spiderman briefly. A version of Ben Reilly has appeared in the Ultimate universe and he is a young African American man. Why can’t HE be Ultimate Spiderman? Why can’t this new guy be like countless other heroes and assume his own identity based off spiderman? Or what about using the Latino Miguel O’Hara from the 2099 universe? Or
Pavitr Prabhakar the version from spiderman India?
See part of the problem people are honestly going to have.. No matter what race they are is this stinks of a publicity stunt. Just like when DC announced that Batwoman, a character created
originally to confirm Batman’s heterosexuality, would be a lesbian. It just seems like a ploy to get people to buy their comics over something natural and organic IN the comic. And let’s face it.. marvel WANTS you to focus on the characters race.. The same way they want you to over look their decision that just because Storm and Black panther were both African, they should be married.
August 3, 2011 @ 11:06 am
Sorry for the formatting issues, was using my iPad.. Probably not the best for this discussion
August 3, 2011 @ 11:06 am
Hunh. Larry’s is in Lowell — I didn’t realize you were in Massachusetts.
As for Friendly Local Comic Book Shops, I’ve had only good experiences at Million Year Picnic in Harvard Square (http://themillionyearpicnic.com), with the possible downside that the store is often packed to the gills.
August 3, 2011 @ 11:07 am
It’s Ultimate. If people die, they tend to stay dead.
August 3, 2011 @ 11:31 am
I was holding out for Mars, and now some scientist is trying to rain on that parade too. Well that’s where I draw the line. I will have my Martian colony! *shakes fist in the air*
August 3, 2011 @ 11:44 am
Jon Stewart has not erased. His history as. Green Lantern has never been taken out. It has always remained and he is currently an active green lantern. In fact, he killed mogo single handedly. So they idea that they erase the poc is wrong. The new Blue Beetle is still Latino despite his title being cancelled and he’s getting a new title. Mister Terrific is still African american and is getting his own title and recognition that he is the 3rd smartest man on the planet. Hell, Storm has lead the X-men for over 2 decades!
August 3, 2011 @ 11:44 am
Perhaps Miles Davis, the African-American jazz musician.
August 3, 2011 @ 12:36 pm
If the Miles Morales character is “in line” with the moral & ethical qualities Peter Parker built into Spiderman, there’s no reason for him not to take up the webs. But that’s the only “criteria” I’d have for anyone else becoming Spidey.
If, however, the current controlling forces are Marvel are doing this just to ‘demonstrate their sensitivity to diversity’ then it’s garbage – a knee-jerk politically correct marketing ploy that will end up driving away long-time readers. Marvel has always pushed the social-standards envelope – they had strong characters from every ethnicity on the planet, strong charactes of both genders, and (if memory serves) at least one homosexual… all before it was politically correct to do so.
They don’t need to do this to make the PC police happy. If Miles Morales is Spidey material, then get the guy slinging webs!
August 3, 2011 @ 12:37 pm
Yeah, that’s right up there with “I’m not racist, *but*…”
August 3, 2011 @ 1:37 pm
What are the “spidey” morals? With great power comes great responsibility? Because Miguel O’Hara/Spidey 2099 was not obsessed with that at all. And why couldn’t Marvel use ESTABLISHED minority characters LIKE Ben Reilly or Miguel O’Hara? Why can’t Miles Morales be ANOTHER hero? Why does he have to be Spiderman over other characters?
As for Marvel’s cutting edge, well.. they had ONE gay hero who was very closeted, angry, and kind of a man whore for years! I love Northstar but.. They USED him as their token gay. He has never had an on page boyfriend! And there is implications he and his father figure Raymonde Belmonde were in a sexual relationship. They tried to kill him of AIDS once then turned him into A FAIRY! Ok a freaking Light elf.. Still. They have NOT been that forward. They have had more gay characters recently but they are mostly teens and refuse to allow them to KISS! Meanwhile they kept the relationship between Rictor and Shatterstar as strictly heterosexual for YEARS even though it was heavily implied to be more.. It took Peter David to do it. It is also odd that most of the gay male heroes have to be mutants.. It should also be noted that DC is the ONLY company to have an openly gay character headling a title (and no Dakken doesn’t count since by all accounts he is more opportunistic with his “desires” over actual romantic desire) and of course that character has to be a lesbian…
August 3, 2011 @ 3:20 pm
Though it’s a bit out of your way, I’ve always liked “Vault of Midnight” in Ann Arbor.
It really makes me grind my teeth when the response to a minority character is the dismissive, “It’s just a publicity stunt.” The assumption that a creator isn’t inspired by wondering what a different set of life circumstances would mean for the expression of heroism is downright insulting.
Jim C. Hines
August 3, 2011 @ 3:21 pm
That’s the second recommendation I’ve seen for Vault of Midnight…
August 3, 2011 @ 3:52 pm
Speaking of “odd coincidences” when it comes to homosexual characters… While I read Marvel comics, I noticed that any character who was lesbian was either a space alien, or raised by space aliens.
August 3, 2011 @ 4:05 pm
Nerds are just as willing as any other group of people to play the pyramid games.
I’ve long been amused by the fact that, for many “serious” computer gamers, they consider MMOers beneath them.
The general MMO community considers RPers to be beneath them, because they’re a bunch of froots who are pretending they’re REALLY their characters.
Lots of mainstream MMO players will also fringe off PvPers as being mouthbreathing griefers, and of course, there’s nothing a PvPer hates more than an RPer. (Woe betide those of us who are both!)
And all MMOers pretty much universally deride LARPers as being utter and complete freaks.
People will break down whatever sub-group they’re in into “but I’m not like THOSE people,” and “THOSE people are the REAL freaks.” Any sub-set of nerds – gamers, fan-ficcers, furries, Trekkers, Star Wars fans, etc – will point out another sub-group and say “well, at least I’m not like THEM!”
Which is really pretty funny, when you think about it.
August 3, 2011 @ 4:23 pm
In the past few years, they have had Northstar, on screen, with his boyfriend, even to the point of him complaining of not seeing him often enough, and trying to keep their relationship in order.
Really, X-Men, under Matt Fraction, was a lot better to him than anyone had been in years. You might find it better.
He also de-jerkified Tony Stark, which was a heck of a piece of work.
August 3, 2011 @ 4:46 pm
Surely it’s Miles Vorkosigan.
August 3, 2011 @ 4:49 pm
If they’d gone with a white character, I reckon the outcry would be in the same order of magnitude as vocal — and then there wouldn’t even be a *reason* for killing & rehiring.
August 3, 2011 @ 5:31 pm
Oh, those were the days…
PlonkerElf: omg guyz ltz do dunjeone
Me (via whisper): Hi, this is an RP server, would you mind talking in character? Thanks.
PlonkerElf (via whisper): wtf u on bout stfu n00b fk u stp harasin me rp is 4 fgs
Me (via whisper): Might I suggest moving to a non-RP server? And enjoy your report!
Five days later…
PlonkerElf: guyz rp is whel gay thy shld kepe it 2 thmsleves
Ah, I how I don’t miss playing on a WoW RP server. Those places stunk of ignorance and elitism. I was a bit elitist myself, I’ll admit. OK, very elitist, but I took the Randian soapbox and proclaimed it was for the Greater Good. Yeah, my attempts at improving the server got me ostracised. Trying to do good on those servers is pointless, because most of the server doesn’t give two flying chipmunks about the server rules, and nor did those who were supposed to enforce the rules (i.e. the GMs).
August 3, 2011 @ 5:33 pm
Vorkosigan was my guess, too.
August 3, 2011 @ 5:34 pm
August 3, 2011 @ 6:33 pm
I just re-read my entire run of AF this last week and I have to strenuously object to that characterization of original-run Northstar. *facepalm* And I don’t just mean “for the times”. Also, he never had HIV/AIDS, he was dying because he was in the wrong world, which is a strong theme throughout AF, no more than Aurora was dying when she went to the US by accident once.
August 3, 2011 @ 6:34 pm
Aurora, no. Snowbird, yes.
Too much wine with dinner, I see.
August 3, 2011 @ 7:15 pm
I would say that holds in 616, but they’re not killing off main universe Peter Parker, they’re killing Ults Peter Parker. They also killed Wolverine and he stayed dead. Ults doesn’t follow 616 rules.
See part of the problem people are honestly going to have.. No matter what race they are is this stinks of a publicity stunt. Just like when DC announced that Batwoman, a character created originally to confirm Batman’s heterosexuality, would be a lesbian. It just seems like a ploy to get people to buy their comics over something natural and organic IN the comic.
Except that Batwoman turned out to be a fantastic character and her run on Detective Comics was one of the best that title has seen in the last ten years. A lot of people* were calling it the best comic DC was publishing and the hard cover sold extremely well.* She now has her own title.
I’m really not sure where you’re going with that analogy. Big Two publisher makes big deal of increased diversity and actually increases diversity by introducing a great character that everyone loves? Sure it’s a play for sales, but I’m inclined to reward them for actually doing what they say they are.
I hope that Mile Morales does as well as Kate Kane.
*precise and highly scientific measurement.
Andrew Zimmerman Jones
August 3, 2011 @ 9:32 pm
Egads. You know, I get that people don’t want their characters messed with, but it’s not like they just suddenly decided to turn Peter Parker into a minority (other than Spider-American) to increase their diversity. The storyline killed him off and a new character is stepping into the role.
Oddly, I just recently had a similar moment of discord. I heard a rumor that Lawrence Fishburne was cast as Perry White and my immediate thought was, “But Perry White isn’t black.” I wasn’t offended at the choice or anything, it was just clearly not *my* Perry White. (The irony of Perry’s last name didn’t even occur to me until just now, as I typed this.)
A few years back, before Daniel Craig took on the role, I remember hearing a morning radio show repeating a rumor that Cuba Gooding jr. was under consideration to be the new James Bond. Again, I was like, “James Bond isn’t black!” immediately followed by “Cuba Gooding Jr. isn’t British!” Again, the idea of Cuba Gooding as James Bond wasn’t *my* James Bond (although I was raised on Connery, so it’s been a while since any of them were “my” Bond).
The difference is that this isn’t supposed to be “their” Spiderman, this is supposed to be an entirely new Spiderman. That’s kind of the point of killing him off … in an alternate reality. They can replace him with whoever they friggin’ want (in an alternate reality).
If you really want to be frustrated at narrow mindedness, go to The Daily Show archives and search for the segment they did on Batman’s new French ally, who is a Muslim. (True story.) People are really stupid.
August 4, 2011 @ 10:22 am
(Irrelevant sidebar: DCU Green Lanter continuity has 3600 sectors in the universe. Well, plus in more modern times, sector 3601 which is off-limits to GLCorp, and Oa may or may not be in any sector. And I think there was a sector ‘0’ during Zero hour, but I mostly ignored that storyline.)