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I’d Apologize, But I’d Be Lying.

March 15th, 2008 by | Tags:

congobill.jpg
monthly, from dc comics!

I have got to stop talking to this guy. I’m going to get into trouble.

david: I want to start a new line of faux Golden Age comics like Congo Bill and Tarzan
david: about one lone white dude standing vigilant against the dark skins of the inner city
david: Compton Bill
pedro: ha ha
pedro: compton bill is awesome
pedro: oh god
david: i might have ot make another cover :(
pedro: i want that comic so badly
pedro: but compton bill should be about an old dude who joins the bloods
pedro: it’s the only way to survive in the neighborhood

For those who do not get the joke: Tarzan, Congo Bill, every jungle girl movie ever, Jungle Book, and other stories were essentially all about what Rudyard Kipling called “The White Man’s Burden.” Bringing peace, light, knowledge, and lots of guns to countries populated by brown skins and shooting them until they give up.

Sorry, that was a little cynical. I don’t read Kipling for the same reasons I don’t read Lovecraft. Let me let wiki tell it:

At face value it appears to be a rhetorical command to white men to colonize and rule people of other nations for their own benefit (both the people and the duty may be seen as representing the “burden” of the title). Because of its theme and title, it has become emblematic both of Eurocentric racism and of Western aspirations to dominate the developing world.[8][9][10] A century after its publication, the poem still rouses strong emotions, and can be analyzed from a variety of perspectives.

The trope of “One Lone Lantern-Jawed White Guy (and possible Jaguar Skin Clad Lady Friend) Kicking Savage (or Gorilla) Butts In Africa” used to be a common one in movies (hello 10,000BC how are you doing while I am over here not watching you) and even more common in fiction.

I just thought I’d update it a little bit. You know, revamp, reboot, and relaunch with a new #1. It was brought on by this, wherein we find out that James Robinson is getting a new Justice League series and introducing a ’90 year old Congo Bill.

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5 comments to “I’d Apologize, But I’d Be Lying.”

  1. *Reads about Johns and Robinson’s bonding*

    Urgh. Please don’t suck. PLEASE don’t suck…


  2. I totally parsed “The trope of “One Lone Lantern-Jawed White Guy” as “One Lone Green Lantern Guy.”

    I need to get out more.


  3. Oh snap!


  4. It is pretty sad just how many weird racist relics get to hang around comics and get “rehabilitated” just because of the community’s inexplicable fascination with old things.


  5. Um, no. The Jungle Books are not about “the White Man’s Burden”, even if people who proceed from the preconceived notion that if Kipling was an imperialist, everything he wrote must be imperialist and colonialist propaganda. However, in his stories and poems he expressed a multitude of points of views, some of which seriously question the fond beliefs of British imperialism. For instance, Queen Victoria apparently was not amused by RK’s contribution to her Golden Jubilee, “What the People Said” (1887), a poem about a Punjabi plough-man who sees the British as merely the latest in a series of conquerors, not the first to conquer the North of India and not fated to remain in place:
    “Mogul, Mahratta and Mlech from the North,
    “And White Queen over the Seas –
    “God raiseth them up and driveth them forth
    “As the dust of the ploughshare flies in the breeze;
    “But the wheat and the cattle are all my care,
    “And the rest is the will of God.”

    The idea of Mowgli’s relationship to the animals of the jungle is an allegory of colonialism simply does not hold up to scrutiny. Mowgli (who by the way is Indian by birth, not white) does not go about imposing his law and civilization onto the jungle, he survives and succeeds because he learns to conform and to submit to the Law of the Jungle which existed before he was born and which is unaffected his actions. In this process he becomes so assimilated that he later finds it almost impossible to fit in with human society again. In the jungle he becomes an associate of the Seeonee wolf-pack but not its leader, in the end he leaves the jungle, essentially as it was before, to rejoin Man. (In the Mowgli stories human society is essentially Indian village society). By the way, The Second Jungle Book also contains the interesting and much-discussed story of a synthesis of Western and Indian traditions, “The Miracle of Purun Bhagat”.