Marvel hides in moral ambiguity presented as “complex heroes” to avoid dealing with the fact that all these characters, like Captain America, that they and the masses have been putting on pedestals for decades aren’t heroes at all.
What you’ll find in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from Avengers to Guardians of the Galaxy to Marvel’s Agents of Shield is that the “heroes” are only cleaning up problems that they caused in the first place.
So in this insane world, where heroes are not really heroes, what this has led to is masses of fans idolizing villains and anti-heroes instead! Insane! Fans aren’t given any real options because there aren’t any real heroes in the spotlight to begin with. Its exactly like how voters think and behave as if Democrats and Republicans are the only political parties in the U.S. Its one or the other with them.
It was never cool to be “a good guy” in the first place. To do the right thing. To help people. To fight for a better world. So its little wonder that people are confused about what a hero is. Its little wonder that I live in a nation of villains.
The Marvel Black Panther film looks nice. Black people are beautiful, what do you want me to say? Black is ever so beautiful. But…that’s the way Marvel wants it to look. Like anything the media flashes in your face.
Recently, I was asked about my thoughts on the upcoming movie. It was pointless to have this conversation with a passive, sleep-walking through life kind of person but I answered the question honestly. As usual, this sister let her silence speak. Either having nothing to say or treating me like a militant, angry Black woman without a real and actual cause. Don’t ask if you don’t really want to know. Most people don’t. They are not woke. I did not elicit an excited, simple answer so this person turned their brain off.
No offense to all these fine, upstanding, not-white actors, but how am I supposed to support a film wholeheartedly when I know Black people do not control the images and characters that I’m seeing and expected to endorse? Aren’t Black people’s bodies, culture, and voices in the media just used as avatars for whites to manifest their destiny, their perceptions, onto to the masses? White people have been manipulating images and perception across continents and lining their pockets with their exploitations for hundreds of years. Should I, should you, view the Black Panther film as any different?
I have written before about Marvel’s X-Men co-opting and appropriating from the Black Power Movement and the Black struggle. It seems we will allow anyone to represent us regardless of who they are and how they’re doing it as long as we’re not invisible. But that isn’t enough anymore. Not to me.
Some Black viewers and Black Marvel fans may be a little too obsessed with representation. Obsessed to the point that they no longer care where it comes from.
So I avoided and swore off Fox Network’s Sleepy Hallow, starring Nicole Beharie. Why? Because her co-star is a white man from a time period where Black women are enslaved. Nothing good can come out of that.
Then I watched Sleepy Hollow this week anyway to see if I was right to avoid it. Yes, I gave it a chance.
Tim Mison’s portrayal of Ichabod Crane has similar characterization to Johnny Depp’s portrayal of the character in Tim Burton’s 1999 film, which I appreciated and thought was adorable. Awkward, clever, and well-mannered.
Other than that, its occult themes, and the fact that there is a Black woman as a main character, I am not feeling the show and stopped watching at Episode 7 “The Midnight Ride”.
The show includes an assortment of actual historical figures such as U.S. presidents rendered in its fictionalized occultist story line. Which is probably the problem. Most of American history is an especially messed up time for First Peoples, Black people, other non-whites, and women. Whenever white writers (and their friends) in a white dominated media get some deluded idea in their head and want to jump in the literary DeLorean or TARDIS and present the world with some “clever” re-write of American history that includes vampires, demons, zombies, and aliens, that oppressive, violent history is still the same messed up history for everyone who isn’t white or white and male. It can’t be rewritten, revised, or dusted off. It remains the same for me as a Black woman and a Black writer. What was a fun or romanticized time in history for whites was not the same for us, it is a trauma and a scar on the face of our race.
This is where Sleepy Hollow lost me instantly: They started talking about Sally Hemings. Casually, too.
I refuse to entertain a romance with a (white) slave owner in an era where Black women were enslaved. And that’s most of American history where Black people were in chains and treated like a lesser life form by whites and those who shared their views, traded, and allied with them. I refuse to entertain the idea that it was “love” between a slaver owner and a Black woman who had no rights and no freedom in this country. I WILL NOT romanticize the situation. I don’t care even if there was some way to know that Hemings loved Jefferson even in such a twisted reality under those circumstances. I DO NOT accept revisionist or apologist versions of history, fictional or otherwise.
In Episode 6 “The Sin Eater”, there’s an entire scene that reeks of Ichabod Crane being absolved of sins against freed slave, Arthur Bernard. Because we all need to take a moment to make white people feel better for helping enslave and oppress people who aren’t white. Bernard wasn’t just being detained, beaten, and interrogated because the British suspected he was Cicero. Just being Black in those days was enough for whites to somehow uphold practices of extreme violence and cruelty and even murder.
Let’s not forget Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) spouting all that American melting pot bullshit over baseball. Behind her badge and inflated, totally contrived sense of American patriotism, Abigail Mills is a white-washed, white-owned, white-inspired character parading around in brown skin. End of story.
And that’s why I told myself never to watch Sleepy Hollow. I saw it coming. That’s American television for you.
Over at Ars Marginal, I guess I should have posted what I was thinking on my comment of the recent article “What I Want to See” instead of saying I don’t understand it because the author got low-key snarky. The point of the post was a desire to see women of color characters portrayed three-dimensionally and along all avenues of potentially, I get it okay. Look it up if you want to read it but this post is strictly for me to express something I’ve been wanting to say for a while so I’ll say it here in my own space so as not to disrespect or derail the author’s expression of what he/ze/she “simply wants to see”:
Loving ridiculously villainous characters is trendy, its a fad, and its also stupid. These characters are usually the kind of people you don’t even want to exist in real life, unless you’re morally unconscionable or privileged and bored. Or both. No matter how much time you spend fan-girling over them, there’s no way you really want them to pop up anywhere near you.
As a subscriber, I got the e-mail notification and wanted to see what the post was about. Lo and behold, Tumblr has followed me to WordPress and the post is written by someone who is obviously, indicated by their insistent desire, into what I call “bitch feminism” (don’t know if that’s a coined term or idea, whatever). I’ve been the unwitting victim of too many “bad bitch” feminists to find this perspective very amusing or agree with it to up to a certain extent. The bitch feminist type is, put simply, the type of person, woman, or feminist who upholds herself over everything and everyone. Good for her. But why the hell should I care about her as a character unless I want to be (like) her or kill her for doing something horrendous?
See how that works.
People are obviously so bored with representations of what doing good looks like in mainstream media and, I don’t know, everywhere, that they’re obviously turning to villains for entertainment and intrigue.
Take Slytherin House, my favorite example. In Harry Potter, the founder of Slytherin House is a flaming racist and many of its students past and present follow that tradition. What does the predominantly white Potter fandom do with this apparent information? Create an entire sect of fans where Slytherin House is celebrated and defended! What does J.K. Rowling do with this information? Have Harry name his son after a diehard Slytherin devotee whose only way of not being completely irredeemable is rooted in his obsessive love of Harry’s mother, totally selfish and doesn’t mean that he’s changed at all.
When I see a wonderful woman of color character portrayed at last, hopefully before I’m dead, I definitely don’t want to see some unapologetic evil bitch first thing. Y’all can keep that.
Hell, I might even be writing the ones that will win my heart right now. Forget these people, folks have completely lost their minds…
I feel like I should rename Elia’s Diamonds, this blog, “Where the Black Women At?”.
Because that’s pretty much what it comes down to for me even if I like the concept of a book/movie/game/television show. And if they’re there, how are they being portrayed?
I feel that images of us should largely be portrayed by us for us. By us, I do mean Black women. My sincere desire is to see Black women thrive on the page and off. With a little unity, togetherness, if that’s not too much to ask. Nothing less will satisfy me.
I’ve run across obnoxious people online before but I’ve never had them stalk me from blog to blog. This guy is fast becoming a wad of chewing gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe that I just can’t scrape off, the first point of contact being when I had the misfortune of visiting his blog in the first place. I have no idea why he feels the need to follow my blogs and comment when he knows I feel this way about him and also what I know about his brand of social commentary/expression of his opinions. I thought I made this very clear–
I have no interest in engaging with him. But I guess if enough people follow your blog and tell you you’re right, you start thinking everyone wants to hear what you have to say. I think he writes other things, though I’m not really interested in knowing more about an “opinionated” man who doesn’t know when to shut up and back off because his opinions aren’t wanted.
I view myself as a passionate person and while I sympathize to some minimum extent with what he so obviously thinks his blogging is about, what I do and what he does are too completely different things. What is the point of his online persona, other than to purposefully offend everybody and what does that give to the world? What is the point of glibly and unnecessarily challenging and disrespecting life experiences, thoughts, feelings, and struggles you obviously know nothing about and see fit to devalue? Because he is this way and makes a conscious choice to do what he does in complete blind and utter ignorance, there is no reason or way for me to engage or reason with him that wouldn’t be a waste of my time and energy, like so many of his predecessors.
So I was looking to see if this guy was for real, outside of face value, and ironically enough I came across a perfect article on what he is and how to deal with him.
Opinionated people are people who announce their opinions multiple times without being asked. Sure, sometimes opinions can just be slipped out, but if it becomes a habit then it’s a problem. These people are not bad, but they just earn the reputation of “annoying”. In life, we might come across a few opinionated people….
1. Understand what qualifies for “opinionated”. People who are opinionated usually have little or no respect/value for the beliefs of others, however, this varies. Also, opinionated people have an opinion on every single thing. They will announce their opinion in public, and get irritated or mad when someone else respectfully criticizes their opinion. Opinionated people will often assume that you care or are interested in hearing their opinion, and even if they know you aren’t, they still will announce it anyway.
2. Look at the below templates, as these will help you recognize more on the definition for opinionated. Notice how the second template is much more respectful then the first one.
Bad Opinionated: I like pizza, but people who don’t like it are stupid.
Non Opinionated: I like pizza, but if you don’t, then that’s fine too.
3. Show the person that you really don’t care. Listen to their view of things and respect it, but don’t think you are required to believe the same thing. You cannot “modify” the person’s behavior or opinions.
4. Speak up! This is vitally important. If the opinionated person says something that is offensive or disrespectful to what you believe, don’t let it pass by. Tell the opinionated person respectfully that your opinion are just as valuable as theirs. If they get “mad” about what you said, then it’s their problem to overcome. They shouldn’t be offended if you’re just standing up for yourself.
5. Try to avoid the opinionated person. This doesn’t mean you can’t spend any time with them at all, but keep your distance […] just remember, keep your distance.
I am quite weary of living in a society where the erasure, commodification, caricaturization, absence, and general dehumanization of my race is a normal thing. Being aware of it is hard to live with because once you know, you can never unknow.
One of the chief reasons I am unhappy and critical with most of what I see in the media is because of how my race is continuously reduced to fodder for white supremacy/white hero worship and the agenda of anti-Blackness, even by members of my own race itself. I want to see and read more work where this is not the case.
I am not a sponge, just indiscriminately soaking up any liquid I come into contact with.
I concern myself particularly with the portrayals and conditions of Black women and characters, or female/genderqueer characters of Color or non-white characters.
As I watch things or read things, I am constantly considering what I think and feel about it. That’s just how I am. When evaluating my issues or non-issues, ratio of love/hate, and like or dislike of many forms of media and entertainment, my mind searches for the answers to these questions:
What is the position of Black women? Are there even any present?
Are Black women main characters or side characters?
Are Black women three dimensional or poorly constructed caricatures, mammies to whiteness/oppressors, and antagonists?
How many racist cliches/stereotypes are tacked onto her?
Are there white people there? Why? What role do they play? What do they have to do with the sista (who should be the main character)?
Again, vital, what role do the whites play and what is their relationship to the Black characters? Are they in a position of power over them?
Is the Black female character reliant on or worshiping in any way shape or form a white, male, or non-Black character? Does her character hold up without these others or is her existence made to dependent upon them?
What is the Black woman’s characterization? How is she portrayed? Who is she? What kind of person is she? What role is she playing?
What type of people are around her? What type of decisions does she make? What is her background?
Does her situation seem realistic to me from the root of my subjectivities?
Is this Black woman character’s story only about the struggle?
Is the story restricted to stereotypical genres like urban fiction, slavery, and chick lit?
How does her story end? How does she grow? Does she achieve her goals or desires?
I don’t really count myself as a Whovian. I’ve seen it, I like stuff about it, but my criticism of it transcends my need to praise it.
If you ONLY want to hear what I like about Doctor Who, you are on the WRONG blog. I have exactly one post about what I like about Doctor Who and its not published or finished yet. It speaks in lovely butterfly volumes, compared to the usual kind of criticism I do of white-dominated media.
Doctor Who is an okay bit of fiction but it is by no means beyond criticism. I understand why its so popular, I even watched it myself.
But it is a perfect example of what is wrong with white people like most of what they produce and appear to imagine.
The Doctor is supposedly pacifist and is supposed to be anti-racist, believing in hope and blah-blah-yadda-yadda of mankind.
I get the message and I question who is sending the message and why, since it contradicts my reality, wreaks havoc with my ability to suspend my belief, and presents people worshiping a white male alien (time lord fairy, as I call him). A choice of poisons.
Please put down your prime time television crack, you sound like a bunch of addicts in denial.Doctor Who is okay, its brilliant in some aspects, but it is not above reproach, especially for a Black woman such as myself who can see through a bunch of scientifically imperialist, colorblind, neo-liberal bullshit from a mile away.
I can’t quite put my finger on why the Eleventh Doctor using “Geronimo!” as his catch phrase rubs me the wrong way.
Oh, wait, maybe I can.
It has something to do with him being white, British, and not Apache. It has to do with the whole white appropriating and co-opting of non-white culture and bodies, including names, language, and representation for fun and entertainment. White people are infamous for using non-white people’s own language against them, to villainize, oppress, justify acts of violence and racism, and malign them. Let’s not even talk about how they think they’re doing the First Peoples a favor and an honor by naming stuff they stole, colonized, use for destruction and war, sports teams, and commodify after them. Hella racist.
Why does the Eleventh Doctor have to have an American west theme? The theme is sexist, white supremacist, and its racist all at the same time.
I can’t help but think of the SUPPPERRR racist role and usage of “Indians” in Peter Pan and The Neverending Story. And American westerns? The whole time period– Oh my f**king goodness, don’t even get me started. So I’m not okay with special white time lord fairies from Gallifrey yelling “GERONIMO!” every time he’s about to do something stupid or something the producers think is supposed to amuse me. Him yelling “Geronimo” is like yelling “Red Skins” with white appropriation just slapped together like a poisonous jammie dodger.
Shoulda stuck with “Allons-y!”
Raining down injustice and suffering on non-white people for centuries, they have now contrived a very popular fictional world with a dude called the Doctor talking ‘bout some pacifism, which I view as a representation of their agenda whether its purposeful or not. Oh, so, now y’all want to be pacifist, you’re trying to present the pacifist patriarchal alien superhero. A world where they start the problem then end the problem , too, without really changing a damn thing. We don’t get to say when its over, they do. And that’s how they continue to assert their power over non-whites everyday and in fiction. By using manipulation and everyone’s desire for peace to commit an even greater crime—putting a big white band aid on a gaping wound, by ignoring the root of the problem and the impacts.
There won’t be peace until whites acknowledge and pay for their continued crimes. Why won’t they produce a show that’s about that? White people stop being racist oppressive douches—THE END.
Because no time lord fairy can “fix” the human race without placing himself as Earth’s god and becoming the ultimate oppressor himself.
That is where my suspension of disbelief, if I ever had it to begin with, ultimately ends.
As intelligent as the show may seem or try to present itself, the Doctor Who universe is yet another place where whites can pretend that the long history of injustices and crimes against humanity they have committed against non-whites (and continue to commit) don’t exist, with lots of interracial couples and timey-wimey science–and starting with the fact that the main protagonist, for all intents and purposes, is white and uses pacifism to ignore the root of conflicts or uses his power to manipulate everything around him when he can’t see himself as everyone’s hero in the end or just because he can. A very white supremacist tactic.
So now allow me, a white man who has helped and continues to help oppress and destroy your culture and people (and that of many others for decades), to use your now historical name as my catch phrase.
Of course its okay to portray a man as god and worship him especially if he’s white and has scientific imperialism to back him.
Lets count the many times the Doctor gets practically prayed and bowed down to in his last two incarnations
Dear writers and atheists producing Doctor Who, you’re not doing anything revolutionary or new by removing one patriarchal god’s religion (crosses and cock) and replacing it with another (science and cock).
In the hands of man’s interpretation and limited understanding, both are flawed. And certainly nothing to be worshiped.
The chief issue I take with atheism — that is, “atheism” here meaning the most common patterns of atheist discourse, not all the individuals themselves (although straight, White, and male atheists are particularly susceptible) — is that it does not oppose oppression. It opposes theism, and in doing so, it uses oppression and the suffering of others as a rhetorical tool for a smear campaign without actually showing real compassion or support for the targets of violence.