Thursday, August 11, 2011

White is black, black is white and gets run over at the next zebra crossing

I already mentioned Yesterday the controversies about Perry White being black and Spider - Man being black / latino now. To elaborate a bit more on the point the first one came up when plans were revealed to cast Laurence Fishburne as Perry White in the next Superman movie.

Regarding Spider - Man it´s about the Ultimate Spider - Man not the prime Spider - Man. My brother had the book on his pull list but for unknown reasons he hasn´t gotten an issue in the last 6 months. So I´m not up to date with the whole DEATH OF SPIDER - MAN storyline after ULTIMATUM but as far as I know it´s something like : I´m Spider - Man. Everybody hates me. I´m Spider - Man. Everybody thinks I´m dead. I´m Spider - Man. I´m back and everybody loves me. I´m Spider - Man. I´m really dead this time. I´m the new Spider - Man. I´m black / latino.

Since J. Caleb Mozzocco went to all the trouble of writing a long post about it on his blog EVERY DAY IS LIKE WEDNESDAY I won´t bother you with the same comments. Instead I wanted to mention a few things about the issue and the whole controversy.

First up I´m surprised the whole black and white thing is still an issue. I somehow can understand the problem of casting a black dude as a white dude - especially if the white dude is called Perry White. But I grew up in the seventies in Germany and these were two of the most popular pop singers at that time : Roberto Blanco ( blanco meaning white in spanish )

and Roy Black ( Roy meaning king ).

You may have noticed that Roberto is not really blanco ( except for the suit ) and that Roy is not really black ( again except for his suit ). So ever since that I knew that you can´t make assumption´s about anybody´s skin color based on their names. There´s irony for you.

It´s not that Laurence Fishburn is a bad actor, or that the idea of a black newspaper editor is unheard of in comics ( just ask Robbie Robertson from the Daily Bugle ) it´s just that some people can understand a big person being called " Tiny " or a fat person being called " Slim " but not a black actor playing Perry White.

Another thing is this whole " Oh no, a superhero has been replaced by a member of a minority group " thing. Yeah, like we didn´t have that before with Jaime Reyes as the new Blue Beetle, the new Aqualad, Jason Rush as Firestorm, Miguel O´Hara as Spider - Man 2099, Michael Holt as Mr. Terrific, Steel as one of the Superman stand - ins, James Rhodes as Warmachine or John Stewart as Green Lantern. It´s not unheard of and it´s been done a dozen times before.

Heck, we´re not even talking about the real Spider - Man here.

Which is why I´m not buying into this whole " it´s so important that Spider - Man is now black / latino " hype. Maybe it would be IF this was still the real Spider - Man. IF the real Spider - Man was still the real Spider - Man and not post - Brand New Day Spider - Man.

Is is really that big an issue in this time and age that a major superhero is now black ?

I have read a few articles about how important this is because NOW some readers can finally identify with Spider - Man. Which sounds a bit weird to me. I´ve never had this dependency on the same racial / cultural background / sexual orientation to identify with a character.

I´m not canadian with a self - healing factor, a general bad mood and an addiction to beer. But I have always kind of identified with Wolverine ( rather than with this Loser Gambit ). I´m not a 14 year old girl whose father is the arcane protector of Devil´s Echo who can´t wait to be initiated into the family business. But I could identify with not being good enough in the eyes of your father no matter what you do. And I´m not an american orphan bit by a radioactive spider, a scientist caught in the explosion of my own gamma - bomb who now turns into a greenskinned monster every time his heart races or a norse god living among mortals.

I´ve never been any of those things and still I have always identified with those heroes. There are people out there - especially in marketing - who say that for young readers to identify with a hero the hero has to be the same age as the reader. That for readers to identify with their heroes they have to be from the same race, the same cultural background, the same sexual orientation. Which is absolute BS.

Come on, all you readers out there who were reading Batman as you were a kid ( or those kids out there who are reading Batman now ) with whom did you really identify ? With Batman or with Robin ? I know a lot of people who write articles say that Robin was introduced so that kids could believe it possible to hang with Batman. But who of those kids really played being Robin and who played being Batman ? I know I always wanted to be Batman. Even if he was at least 20 years older than me.

So, back to Spider - Man, one of the main reasons ( at least in my opinion ) why he was so popular was that he could have been anybody under the mask. White, black, chinese, spanish, green, blue, heck - even bavarian. That he embodied the everyday man because he WAS just like the normal guy on the street. It didn´t matter how he REALLY looked beneath the costume.

But maybe the rest of the world doesn´t tick like that.

Since everybody´s so excited about latino Spider - Man here are two clips, the first one the spanish opening for SENSATIONAL SPIDER - MAN and the second one is the first part of LA AMENAZA SUBTERRANO from the 1967 cartoon ( with mexican dubbing from the sound of it ).

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