Sometimes whites are the biggest victims today

April 22, 2011

By Avi Green

When DC Comics published their abominable Identity Crisis miniseries in 2004, some of the biggest victims were the white cast members. Especially when it turned out that part of the reason for destroying them was in order to replace them with minority group members, with the Atom, Firestorm and Blue Beetle being 3 of the leading examples.

While 2 of the 3 examples of this particular damage have been reversed as it became apparent that the whole pandering to minorities who werenít even asking them to do it wasnít working, things still havenít been fully repaired yet. (Ralph and Sue Dibny, as well as Jean Loring, still remain desecrated.) And tragically, thereís no telling if they ever will be. But that could also be because of the apologists in the comics-related medium who are making it worse by confusing the good and bad examples together.

Specifically, a writer for the pretentious Comics Alliance, owned by the leftist AOL, went and tried to justify their previous all-costs replacements of their minor white protagonists, without even making any clear distinction between what was done properly and what wasnít. And he used at least one word that was seriously alarming:
But now, the idea of a legacy character is being totally subverted. They're not roles that are passed down anymore, they're roles that are passed back up.

And much of the time -- not always, but enough that it's more than notable -- they're being passed back from a non-white character to an Aryan ideal. Jason Rusch is still part of Firestorm, but it's back to being Ronnie Raymond's Caucasian body. Kimiyo Hoshi is still Dr. Light, but that name's been permanently soured by "Identity Crisis" and the fact that James Robinson had the original Dr. Light threaten to rape her children on the Justice League Satellite. Even the regressions of ostensibly white characters often have racially charged consequences: Wally West's interracial marriage to Linda Park has been sidelined in favor of on-the-go suburbanites Barry Allen and Iris West, and Kyle Rayner (who was created as an Irish-American but later "revealed" to be the son of a Mexican-American CIA agent) has suffered the strange fate-worse-than-death of a fictional character who gets demoted from a starring role to a supporting one. He's still a Green Lantern, but he's not the Green Lantern.
The mistakes the writer makes here are at least 3-fold.
Iíll certainly admit though, that Dr. Lightís name may have been totally embarrassed due to that most execrable error from 2004. Yet that he sees nothing wrong with defaming and destroying descent white protagonists from the Silver Age Ė one of the leading problems with Identity Crisis Ė sabotages his argument considerably.

And is there something wrong with having created any major hero as white? By that logic, Superman is guilty solely of being white. Hey, Iím white! Does that mean thereís something wrong with me and Iím not kosher? Clearly, something is wrong here.

Diana West recently wrote about a case in Britain of a TV producer who was suspended for saying on a radio interview that he wouldnít want to change the setup of the program he works on, which is largely white. Now I really donít care for the series in question, Midsomer Murders, since its premise is really not to my tastes (the kind of chilling violence thatís in there does not appeal to me any more than Law & Order does), but there is something about her points that can make for one here too: Comics Alliance is technically saying that being white isnít good enough, or is totally worthless.

If this is what theyíre insinuating, Westís concluding line sums it all up perfectly:
It's not only rewriting the reality of the ("white") English village; it's damning it as illegitimate in every way. Thus, it is dehumanized.
I canít help but wonder if thatís just what Comics Alliance is trying to do here too: condone rewriting the white superheroes of the DCU regardless of whether itís done tastefully or not, damning them as illegitimate in every way, and dehumanizing them altogether. This is what Siegel and Shuster started a whole trend for?

Let's also consider whether minority groups in real life are actually asking DC and Marvel to change already established superhero roles by replacing them with minority protagonists. As someone from such a background in the USA, I most certainly am not, and I can say that, if they were to replace Ray Palmer with a protagonist who's officially of Jewish background, I would be the first to object. After what they did to Ray and Jean Loring in Identity Crisis, replacing them with even Jewish cast members in the Atom would be completely insulting to me as well. I am content with even minor heroes and their casts just the way they are, if we were to allude to something Mister Rogers' Neighborhood once said.

If you want to replace a white superhero in the same costume with a minority member, thatís one thing. But doing it solely for PCís sake is another. Also, not play PC advocate, but if minor white characters are to be replaced, then by that logic, major ones are too, and isnít it better to introduce some minority group protagonists as their own characters and not shoehorn them into someone elseís role just for the sake of it? Doing it that way only suggests they donít have confidence in the characterís ability to sell.

Thereís another major problem with todayís shattered industry: weíre no longer asked to care about the character; only the costume. That sure isnít any way to create good storytelling.

Copyright 2011 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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