Diversity in Comics

I wonder if people had to be dragged into the 20th century kicking and screaming?

I’m not into politics. I don’t put a lot of stock in yelling at people over differences in opinion. I don’t have a problem with someone else finding the major issues of today being something worth discussing, so long as that discussion can be held without raised voices and pointing fingers.

Last Friday, a landmark decision was reached in the Supreme Court, legalizing same-sex marriages across the country. Millions celebrated, with the hashtag “love wins” taking over the interwebs. There were others that raged against the decision, fearful of the impact such a ruling could have upon their religious freedoms.

As per the usual, I remained silent. That’s how I roll. I have an opinion on the matter, of course, but that opinion should have no bearing upon how anyone else feels. In contrast, another person’s feelings holds no weight over me. Every person is entitled to their own feelings. It’s how things should be.

That said, there has been a public outcry over diversity in entertainment over the course of the past few years.

It started when the Spider-Man mantle was taken by a black-Hispanic teen.

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Then Captain America became a black man.

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Thor was suddenly a woman.

Iconic X-Man Bobby Drake – better known as “Iceman”, was outed as gay.

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As one might imagine, chaos followed. I still can’t imagine why.

Look, I love comics and movies as much as the next guy. But these are fictional characters. They don’t really exist. That said, as these characters get passed from writer to writer, there’s bound to be some fresh, new ideas to keep the characters relevant.

The arguments against such changes hold little to no water. People claim that writers could create a new superhero that was black, or female, or gay. Yet these same people need to understand that creating a new character won’t possibly help share as meaningful or mainstream a story as one starring an established character. A new gay mutant – and there have been plenty of those over the years – doesn’t carry the same weight as one of the original X-Men coming out of the closet. And while outing Iceman didn’t lead to any pride parades, it did send an important message to gay comic readers: we want to help others relate.

Changing Captain America from white to black sends the message that the representative of this country doesn’t have to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed. Making Thor a woman helps express that strength isn’t exclusively male. Creating new characters could have sent the same message, it’s true, but it would have been a message heard by few rather than many.

It’s important to understand that while you might not agree with these changes, they’re happening. There is no room in our society for a revolt against these changes. It’s important to accept them, both in comics and in reality. These fictional characters are meant to be a representative of the society around them, and it is past time that the white-washing ended.

Here’s hoping that these revised characters are more than just a gimmick. If the writers veer away from these social changes, it will totally cheapen what they’ve done and make the characters seem like a flash-in-the-pan moment, when in reality, it could be a sign of how we have changed.

Vaya con Dios,

JP


All opinions are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Deck Ape...or anyone else. Arrr!

Jonathan Praise

Jonathan Praise is a writer, in the sense that he occasionally sits down in front of a keyboard and punches buttons, turning the blank page into a collection of letters and words. He rarely finishes anything, so the reader should feel somewhat special for actually witnessing the completion of this article. He is currently working on CLEAVE and THE ADVENTURES OF SKULLBOY when he isn't being a husband and father of dubious quality.

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