I was going over Google Reader and saw an interesting post on When Fangirls Attack. The text just said “2008: The Year of Misogyny,” so, being a fairly bright and curious fellow, I clicked on through to see what was what.
The post opens with a cheesecake motivational poster and then outlines all of the terrible things that have happened to women over the past year. I’ve seen it linked in a few spots, so I figure it’s a Thing. It’s a pretty gruesome list, and a little hard to read. Shabby treatment of female characters, female characters getting brutalized, and so on. The author asks “Aren’t you angry? If you aren’t, then why? And if you are, what are you going to do about it?”
Well, let me tell you something. After reading it, I was pretty angry. I was angry and fuming and thinking and realized that, as a race blogger, I owed it to my people, black and american and both, to examine the plight of black people in comics in 2008.
As you can tell by the title of my post, I am not happy! The list below is non-exhaustive, as I’m sure worse things have happened, but these are the ones I know of or have read. You may wish to listen to this song or this one in order to make it through this terrible list.
Barack Obama- leader of Dark Reign, gullible enough to trust Norman Osborn
Barracuda- tried to save a white baby from a known mass murderer, was chopped into pieces for his good deed
Bishop- arm ripped off, viewed as “evil” by his former teammates, just trying to do the right thing
Black Captain Cold- terrible character, makes bad puns about black people and cold weather (self-hating racist)
Black Glove - has only one actual black person in it, making it more of a blackface glove, beaten up by a Rich White Male
Black Lightning- subjugated, enslaved, transformed into a Space Uncle Tom and forced to hunt a freedman (Tattooed Man)
Black Racer- killed in his hospital bed, god of death, looks ridiculous (when have black people ever skied?)
Black Nick Fury- arm ripped off (see also Bishop)
Blade- Wesley Snipes sent to prison
Brown Bomber- white man who turns into a black man, possible blackface?
Crispus Allen- killed his own son, has to have some old white lady re-ignite his faith in God after he tries to kill his best friend for being a lesbian, probably Pro Prop 8, forced to wear goatee as racial identifier, likely never-nude
Falcon- lost his best friend, hasn’t appeared in Captain America lately, was set on fire once
Flippa Dippa- jive talkin’ stereotype, murdered
Gabe Jones- 3/5ths of a person, member of SHIELD (a disgraced military/espionage organization)
Goliath- no longer called Black Goliath (removing racial identity), was not revealed to have been a Skrull when he died, still buried in a giant hole
Icon- drawn by Ed Benes
Haunted Tank- upstanding black man forced to contend with racist Confederate general (racial harassment)
Honor Jackson- Homeless, subordinate to Batman, drug addict, forced to sleep on paper bags, reminding him of the shame of failing a paper bag test
Jakeem Thunder- uncontrollable sexual deviant who lusts after each young classy female in the JSA, permanently stuck in ’90s fashion
Jezebel Jet- boyfriend freaked out and tried to beat her up, then possibly killed by boyfriend’s creepy stalker ex-girlfriend
John Henry Irons (Steel)- beaten up by Atlas, subordinate to Superman, not as smart as Lex Luthor
John Stewart- forced to “stay black and die” (???)
Lex Luthor- black on the award-winning cartoon, white in the comics
Luke Cage- beaten into a coma, aliens invade on his watch proving him to be a crap leader, shown that he can’t protect his own child when child is kidnapped by space aliens, previously runs off to be a superhero and leaves his wife alone with a baby
Manhattan Guardian- tossed aside the second a WHITE Guardian shows up
Martian Manhunter- murdered with a spear (martians count as black, see also Lil Wayne “We are not the same, I am a martian”)
Misty Knight- Afro cut, symbolizing the destruction of her racial identity and history
Mother’s Milk- big, strong black male, obvious stereotype, possible mandingo
Mr. Terrific- atheist, wears blackface, forced to live in the arctic (black people don’t do well in the cold), killed girlfriend to take control of evil robots
Natasha Irons- book canceled after her uncle calls her by the wrong name, disretrospecting her
Noh-varr (Marvel Boy)- Not black, would have been awesome if he was
Ron Troupe- possibly never married or divorced Lucy Lane, appears once every six years
Sentences- Not everyone read this book
Shades & Comanche- didn’t appear in comics in 2008
Shilo Norman (Mister Miracle)- killed twice, resulting in the idea that black men can never, ever escape their status without being killed/imprisoned
Spawn- blows own head off in own comic, promoting the suicide of strong and proud black men
Spawn (Michael Jai White)- Killed by the Joker in The Dark Knight, movie goes on to make a billion dollars
Static- evil, brainwashed, appears in Terror Titans
Storm- taken from high profile X-Men appearances to be a supporting character in some lower-selling book, forced into arranged marriage, needs Emma Frost (who once enslaved her) to call her names just so she can feel like she belongs somewhere
The Third Batman- evil, satanist, repeatedly beaten up and threatened
Tyler Perry- still not invited to write a Black Panther story where T’Challa remembers how his big grandma was the one that scared him into following the path of the warrior, leaving untold the story of Bg’mama, the true power of wakanda
Vixen- name suggests sexual immorality, has “animal” powers, suggesting that she’s little more than a savage
Vykin the Black- killed off panel by a white dude
War Machine- turned into a machine, in a stunningly cruel and racist reversal of John Henry vs the Machine, suggesting that the Black Man is inferior to the Machine and must use violence to get by like some kind of spear-chucking savage
Do you see how insane this is? All of this happened in the past year, maybe in the past year and a half or so. It’s terrible, isn’t it? All of these terrible things. My only regret is that I left out the one thing that Michael Paciocco left out of his post as well. Well, I also left out pithy motivational posters, but there is one more thing-
These lists of brutalization and despair are absolutely worthless without context. Otherwise, you’re just left with hollow talking points. Matt Murdock is a cheating jerk? Hey, guess what he realizes (and mopes about) in the very next issue? She-Hulk was cancelled? Congrats, it sells just barely above the rest of Marvel’s cancelled books and shed a third of its readers over a year. Wonder Woman brutalized in Final Crisis, a story about the entire planet being brutalized under the heel of Space Hitler, corrupted, and forced into mind control? Really?
I’ll give you White Tiger, though. That miniseries was dire.
Basically, my question is “do you read comics or do you just skim through it?” Luckily, Michael answered my question before I even asked it.
I really don’t buy anymore, prefering to get the pictures and stories via Scans Daily and other outlets.
Now I understand why there was no context, no information, and just a list of women who’d been “degraded and brutalized.” It’s because he hasn’t read the comic, so he doesn’t know the context.
Racism, sexism, and pretty much every other ism out there isn’t black and white. Not even close. It’s muddied and ugly and deeper than “he did a bad thing.” This surface level approach doesn’t even remotely cut it.
“Brian Azzarello and Garth Ennis use the word ‘nigger.'”
“Adam Warren draws black people with big lips.”
These statements are technically true, and I’m sure I could use it to convince some people to never read a work by those guys again. However, it’s missing context. Ennis and Azz both use nigger in situations where actual people would use it. Ennis in particular is good at writing both racists (casual and overt) and black dudes. Adam Warren draws black people with big lips, but hey look at all his other characters- big lips. Also? Awesome looking, and they work in his style.
Discussing this sort of thing without context doesn’t go anywhere at all. It’s just a list of meaningless acts that contribute to nothing but fearmongering and sensationalism.
The story matters and to leave that out of a discussion about comics is backwards. Whatever point you had just gets buried under the fact that you didn’t do the due diligence. Before you talk about something in public, pump your brakes and make sure that you know what you’re talking about.
I’d also like a moratorium on things like “ugh these creators of fanboyish virgin morons who probably have never even seen or talked to a woman in their entire lives” because a) it’s untrue, since most of these guys are old and married, b) their personal life is no one’s business but their own, c) it’s dumb, and d) it’s tired. However, it isn’t Christmas yet, so I think I’ll just settle for people to just do the barest minimum of research before trying to do any kind of analysis. Comics blogging and criticism is bad enough without that.