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My Bigot-Sense is Tingling

Shego - Facepalm

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…

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?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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snapes_angel
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:38 pm (UTC)
It's all show business. Smoke and mirrors. They put up the idiot comments because it's the fan vase; even if the "fan base" doesn't appear to be able to say anything constructive, or valid. And if the responses are moderated, I sure as heck don't want to see the ones they cut for sheer offensiveness!
jimhines
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:41 pm (UTC)
Didn't get a great night's sleep last night, and brain isn't fully awake yet. Can you clarify what you mean by it all being show business and smoke & mirrors?
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beccastareyes
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, lordie. I don't really have a coherent response to this.

Though it is good to see Marvel considering 'why do all of our iconic heroes have to be white guys?' I mean, Spiderman is pretty much 'supposed' to be a geeky guy who suddenly gets cool powers and decides to do something with them. His backstory and powers don't strike me as being race/ethnicity specific. Hell, not even gender specific besides the name.

(Also, given how many reboots Marvel does, I don't think you can argue they have sacred cows that cannot be altered. What backstory is Wolverine on now?)
jimhines
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)
It took me several drafts to get anything approaching coherence...

"Also, given how many reboots Marvel does, I don't think you can argue they have sacred cows that cannot be altered."

::Grin::
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shashalnikya
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:43 pm (UTC)
Racism, sexism, homophobia: you name it, American geek culture has a major problem dealing with it. The relative anonymity of the internet makes it worse: sites like Reddit are just packed full of white male privilege.

And then they turn around and wonder, every once in a while, why they aren't more women or minorities into gaming, comic books, etc.
jimhines
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, it's obviously because women and minorities just don't like gaming and comics. That's why there are no female or minority fans in fandom, right?

::Headdesk::
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silk_noir
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:44 pm (UTC)
My brain is stuck on "100% of the history."
jimhines
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:54 pm (UTC)
Your brain lasted longer than mine did. Mine broke before I made it through the Larry's Comics crap.
funwithrage
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:45 pm (UTC)
What the actual fuck?

I mean, I can actually respond to that third comment:

1. Yeah, "Spiderman is Peter Parker". 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 the TV show. Superheroes have a pretty well-established history of changing who's behind the mask.

2. Indeed, pity the white kids who are only left with...Superman, Supergirl, Batman, Robin, Wolverine, Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, Jean Gray, Rogue, the Wasp, Captain America, seventy-five percent of the human Green Lanterns, Wonder Woman, Professor X...yeah. (I will also note that only four of those are women and only one has any sort of disability, unless you count Wolverine's unfortunate sideburns, but that's another can of worms*.)

*Except: why do the only human women on the good side of the Lantern spectrum get stuck with the love rings? Ew?
beccastareyes
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
1. Terry Jones.

And how many Robins have we had now? Tim, Stephanie, Dick, Jason...
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shveta_thakrar
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:48 pm (UTC)
I'm not surprised, but it still breaks my heart.

I'm not even sure what to say to this: "Minorities are typically less than 18% of the population, but they seem to get nearly 100% of the history." Uhhh?

Or this: "Why should white children not have a comic book hero that they can identify with?"

Because most other comic book characters aren't white? And because white children can't be expected to see brown people as people?

*facepalm*
jimhines
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC)
Women and non-white people are supposed to learn to identify with the white male heroes, don'cha know?

Expecting white men to identify with women or non-white character? That's just madness!
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jaguarx13
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:56 pm (UTC)
There have been similar reactions to DC's decision to make the French Batman a muslim immigrant.
barbarienne
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC)
Knowing nothing at all about the Batman comic books...

Are you making a very elaborate (and clever) joke, or is there really a French Batman?
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sylvanstargazer
Aug. 3rd, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)
Make the joke about a white person. Is it just a non-sequeter? Then it's racist.

This isn't rocket science.


Marvel has already has Isaiah Bradley, so it's not like this move is out of character for them. It makes a lot of sense for the character and after breaking up The Marriage they needed to do a real revamp, lest the character be stuck as a perpetual man-boy.

(Side note: I'm still pissed at Glee for the whole "Mercedes is lazy" thing. Sometimes modern racism, even in fandom, just isn't subtle.)
cathschaffstump
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:07 pm (UTC)
For reference, theferrett has a post on this as well that combines not only the racism angle, but also generally what happens to recast superheroes. The history of comics bears this out.

http://theferrett.livejournal.com/1646101.html

I'm going to link him here in the comments as well, and I'll probably have some words about this today myself.

Cath
jimhines
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that link. I'm not a huge comics fan, so I wasn't aware of that pattern, but Ferrett's pre-rage makes sense...
orlacarey
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:13 pm (UTC)
First I should say I don't follow comics so I have no idea what is going on in the world of Marvel. But I have a bigger problem with the idea that Spiderman isn't Peter Parker than I do with him being a minority.
jimhines
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC)
funwithrage comments on this up above.

The background: "Revealed in Marvel Comics’ Ultimate Fallout Issue 4, out Wednesday, the new Spider-Man in the Ultimate universe is a half-black, half-Hispanic teen named Miles Morales. He takes over the gig held by Peter Parker, who was killed in Ultimate Spider-Man Issue 160 in June."
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harmfulguy
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:14 pm (UTC)
If you're not racist, you generally don't have to explain that to people.
sparkymonster
Aug. 3rd, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
A bazillion points to you
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wolfsilveroak
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:23 pm (UTC)
From what I understand- the new Spidey is from an Alternate Dimension where Peter Parker died and this guy took up the mantle.

So yes, in OUR dimension, Spidey is still Peter Parker, still very much alive.

The rest... well, I got nothing but that my little faith in humanity has been further reduced.
jimhines
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to pin my faith on the folks pointing to these comments and asking "WTF is wrong with you people???"
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nyxalinth
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:26 pm (UTC)
This really sucks! My first thought on reading of a half black, half hispanic Spiderman was "Hey, that's really cool! That will be awesome." The other bs never came to mind for me.

You might check into Mile High Comics:

http://www.milehighcomics.com/
cscottd
Aug. 4th, 2011 10:59 am (UTC)
I used to buy my comics from "Mile High Comics"... although admittedly, that was quite a few years ago.
seanan_mcguire
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC)
If you're looking for a comic retailer who's not an asshole, bigot, or other bad bit of alphabet, I highly recommend Flying Colors and Other Cool Stuff in Concord, California. The owner, Joe Fields, was the creator of Free Comic Book Day. His wife is there all the time. The store is clean, well-lit, friendly, and was among the first to practice active gender and racial parity in hiring (at least in Northern California).

And yes, they will ship.
megabitch
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC)
1. I hate when they change "my" superheroes for any reason. Don't break the back story - if you need new heroes, create new heroes, don't screw with the old ones.

2. I don't understand the KFC comment. Or why it's racist. I like KFC and, last time I looked, I was still a middle-aged, English, white female. Sokeone please explain it to me? Is it an American thing?
megabitch
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:28 pm (UTC)
*someone (dammit, I need new fingers)
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joycemocha
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
Oh dear God. The stupid, it burns. Good grief.

I couldn't stomach further tweets. The ones you've put up here are enough to make me simmer. Yeesh.

As a corollary, just imagine if they'd recast Peter Parker as black, Hispanic...and female. That's the only way I could imagine the comments being even more toxic. Grrr.

But I'm not surprised. I've had middle school kids whose families are half Latino being racist about Latinos. Ticks me off big time.
smiko
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:37 pm (UTC)
There seems to be this idea that a) white, male, straight readers cannot (or in some cases, refuse to) relate to any characters who are not white, male and straight. I don't think this is always the case, obviously, but that's the sort of noise that gets tossed around.

and b) if white, male, straight readers cannot "relate to" EVERY SINGLE character, because one headlining character doesn't fall into one of those characters, SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG. Apparently white children require EVERY character to be exactly like them and POC children should be content with the one token who almost never gets to be the leader, or something. Note that the people making these claims are not usually children themselves, or at least not literally children...
jimhines
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:53 pm (UTC)
Re: point a, it's definitely not always the case, but sometimes it is. (At least based on some of the e-mail I got when I started writing the princess series...)
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ionaonie
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
This reminds me of when people got all pissy when it was suggested that guy who is in Community and name escapes me (Donald Glover - thank you IMDB) would make an awesome Spidy.

That this could still be people's reaction depressed me then and it depresses me now.

The main thing about Spiderman is that he's a geek, not that he's white. I'd be more pissed if Spiderman was suddenly a jock.

Edited at 2011-08-03 02:46 pm (UTC)
mtlawson
Aug. 3rd, 2011 03:20 pm (UTC)
The main thing about Spiderman is that he's a geek, not that he's white. I'd be more pissed if Spiderman was suddenly a jock.

I'd also argue that Spidey is a man driven by the need to atone for his own failures. That is something anybody can relate to, no matter what race or gender Spidey is.
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lizziebelle
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:55 pm (UTC)
Most racists don't believe they're racist. It's a self-perpetuating cycle. :(
jimhines
Aug. 3rd, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
Also, it's apparently *more* insulting to call someone a racist than it is to say racist things.

I wish I was making this up...
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apricot_tree
Aug. 3rd, 2011 03:07 pm (UTC)
The geek community and the internet community are not all the same thing. That being said, there are a percentage of racists in everything. Also trolls. For some reason, it is considered permissible to state these sorts of things in internet forums. Whereas in RL Most people wouldn't dream of saying this stuff out loud. It's easy to chalk it up to vicious anonymous posting. But I kind of wonder what makes people want this kind of outlet.

From what I've seen, Chuck from Mile High Comics seems to be an upstanding fellow.
barbarienne
Aug. 3rd, 2011 04:43 pm (UTC)
I'm actually surprised what people will say in RL. When I moved from New York to Philadelphia, I suddenly had people saying veiled racist comments to me, and assuming that I would naturally agree with them because I am white.

I had several times where I just flat-out said, "You know, I'm a liberal from New York. I don't actually agree with you." Then there would be some mumbling and a bit of "Well, I don't mean anything by it, I just thought you would be able to get the joke."

And I would say, "Yeah, you might want to consider that making assumptions about people because they're white isn't really a good idea." Subtext: you're a reverse-racist, too. Suck on that, buddy. I hope it got some people thinking about what it means to divide people up as "us" and "them."
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kilks401
Aug. 3rd, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
Just had a real life encounter where my own unconscious racism made things significantly more annoying for the other guy. I may work to not do or say racist things, but the idea that racism is dead is incredibly stupid.

(not commenting on the post more directly because what I would say has been said by Jim and/or the other commenters)
mtlawson
Aug. 3rd, 2011 03:16 pm (UTC)
That is so full of fail that it isn't even funny.

You know how you're trying to hit home about how a rapist isn't some construct that people subscribe to, Jim? It's the same thing here: people have this image of a racist being a guy shouting epithets at the African-American schoolkids integrating a school in Arkansas in the 1950s, but most racists aren't like that. They have families, and love their kids, and do things like coach and volunteer. In short, they are complicated people, and often people you know. That's what makes it so insidious.
robinskij
Aug. 3rd, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
The remarks are sickening.

What I would like to see more of, would be some new superheros that are written as blacks or hispanics or any of the other poorly represented segments of society. Yes, Peter Parker was originally a nerdy white guy: I'm really not a huge comic fan so I don't know if you can just change his color without changing the original persona. And that seems to lack artistic integrity. Oh look he's still a nerd, he's just a nerd with brown skin.

Why not write a comic character who actually is an authentic person of color, not just a historically white person that they tweaked to have color. We certainly need more diversity but it seems to me that the way to celebrate diversity in superheros is for it to be okay to write one who isn't white in the first place.

Stupidity and prejudice are equal opportunity maladies, no group is exempt, sadly.
robinskij
Aug. 3rd, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC)
btw if any of my remarks are unintentionally racist please do point it out. I am still exploring the idea and am open to discussion about it. It just seems to me that just grafting a skin color onto a white hero isn't necessarily being completely inclusive. I kind of like my hero's not to change. I wouldn't like a black character to be turned into a white character, either. But I do deplore that it's so terribly anti-anything-but-white-males and would like to see real diversity in the comics.
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temporus
Aug. 3rd, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
I'm not current on my comics, having stopped collecting a number of years ago. My understanding is that this isn't a swap out as if Peter Parker never existed. But that in this version of the Marvel universe, PP dies, and this new character is taking over the role. I don't see how that's any different from the various other characters that have been replaced over the years.

I'm trying to wrap my head around why people are getting upset. I guess I'd be annoyed if you took Luke Cage and suddenly made him white. But it's not exactly the same thing as what they are doing with Spider-man. They aren't changing Peter Parker. They are changing the person behind the mask of Spider-man, and that kind of thing happens all the time in comics. And it's in the Ultimates line, which isn't the main core Marvel Universe. If there's anyplace where this kind of tweaking and changing *should* be acceptable, it's in this alternate history version of the Marvel Universe.

At the end of the day, if they do it with a good story, that should be what matters to the readership. I wish I had some suggestions as to where you can buy comics, but the only places I know are local to NJ.

peri_peteia
Aug. 3rd, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC)
And all of that bullshit is why I've just been trying to look forward to Miles as Spider-Man and ignore everything else. :/
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