So apparently superheroes are racist

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-05-08 12:42am

Darth Yan wrote:That's kinda racist in itself. There's a lot of racism but all communities have problems. The problem with James Lamb is that he assumes "if you don't agree with me you aren't really black." That's...shockingly arrogant


I meant that being chronically exposed to that kinda crap one's entire life will lead to that assumption or perspective even if it ain't necessarily true. Unlike xenophobia with refugees, state authority and power structures have degrees of organization that boat people don't have.

Of course, if I was Tibetan or something then I'd have those assumptions about the Han Chinese in which violence, macho militarism and diet ethnic cleansing are inherently Han traits. Whereas self-immolation's a trait inherently for the...

So if some can presume that "truth and justice" are inherently part of their way, then on the flip side...
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby K. A. Pital » 2017-05-08 02:36am

Simon_Jester wrote:...You did not know? The character in the story you cite, and the character we now know as "Superman," have absolutely nothing in common, except for the words 'super' and 'man' in the name.

Indeed, nothing in common except for the overall concept (super-powered man) and the creator of the character? Why are you bitter?
Simon_Jester wrote:Superman's greatest and most notorious enemy, Lex Luthor, has more in common with the 1933 "Super-Man." At least Lex Luthor is bald and has an exceptionally powerful mind as his sole special ability.

That is the evolution of the concept. When Superman became the good guy, you had to create a bad guy for him. It didn't help, sadly, because Lex Luthor is an Earth intellectual, and Superman is a rural-grown superhuman. Strong alien punches bad smartass in the face, wow. Anti-intellectualism and a search for perfection among the rural folk were, unsurprisingly, both related to the fascist man.
Simon_Jester wrote:Your argument is as sad and crappy as those who claim that Naziism is a form of communism because Hitler's political party called itself the "National Socialists."

My argument is way less crappy and less sad than you'd think.
Simon_Jester wrote:Is the ultimate fascist ideal of the man a selfless servant of the public who devotes vast amounts of time and energy to defeating those who would violently enslave the public? One who makes no claim to rule or to tell others how to live, except insofar as he protects them from violence and criminality? One who sides with no political action? One who does not demand adulation or even recognition, and in fact actively hides his own identity so that he can go about anonymously doing good in his guise as 'Superman' while still living a normal life as a journalist?

Nietzsche would vomit at the behavior of Clark Kent, 'Superman.'

And in his earliest comics, Superman regularly took on racketeers, large corporations, and the like- organizations that fascists rarely opposed. Throughout his time as a fictional character, his greatest enemy has been the renegade technologist leader of a large, powerful corporation.

Nietzsche's concept of a superman was largely that of a human who derives his/her moral imperatives from his own intelligence, not from religion or tradition. I don't know if Nietzsche would have been dissappointed with Clark Kent.

That aside, the ideal of a heroic character who solves problems with violence, and by extralegal means, is not totally alien to the fascist ideal.
Yes, you really don't. The character of Captain America originated as a sickly American who wanted to fight Naziism by any means possible, even at the risk of his own life through undergoing dangerous experimental medical procedures to make him fit for combat. This origin story never changed. In modern times, the character of Captain America has repeatedly dissented from his own government whenever he felt that this government was behaving in a tyrannical or indecent fashion.

I think a part of the recent story had Captain America exposed as a deep Hydra agent or something. Which of course prompted an outcry. I said I did not know about the origin of the character, but by now it is just another typical male superman, with extreme militarism at base.
Stas, your argument appears to be that because physical fitness is an ideal revered by fascists, a fictional character of extraordinary physical strength is necessarily fascist. Or that because being 'a man of action' is an ideal revered by fascists, a fictional character that does things is necessarily fascist.

No, but if you combine many fascist ideals into one, you'd get something like that. The hero is male (fascists loathe females except as breeders and mothers and wives of soldiers, after all), militaristic and/or has rural origins, and is in perfect physical condition. This condition helps him fight against evil intellectuals. Anti-intellectualism, and glorification of burly rural men a-la pastorale are all related to the fascist search for the male aesthetic. You cannot pretend otherwise.
Are you going to argue that because Hitler was a vegetarian, vegetarianism is fascist?

Strawman.
This is why I challenged you to precisely define fascism first, rather than throwing a pile of vaguely related allusions and associations at me.

I would like to take my time to elaborate this argument.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-05-08 04:48am

Gandalf wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:The thing is, she does this after committing a massively anti-authoritarian act, exposing a vast international conspiracy dating all the way back to the literal Nazis, or rather to the group of Nazis that got kicked out of the Nazis for being too Nazi and mad-science.

She's not a fascist, she's an anarchist who's friends with the Incredible Hulk. There's a difference.
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"Do enlighten us."
"Because you need us. Yes, the world is a vulnerable place, and yes, we helped make it that way. But we're also the ones best qualified to defend it. So if you want to arrest me, arrest me. You'll know where to find me."


That's not anarchism. That's a superior class of people, immune to the law because of their specialness. It's the SHIELD/Avengers' world, we just live in it and hope that their next wacky project doesn't kill everyone.
The entire plot of The Winter Soldier revolves around Black Widow and Captain America finding out that SHIELD is massively corrupted and infiltrated by a literal fascist organization, one that explicitly plans to drag the world into totalitarian slavery. And deciding that the only way to do anything about it is to do a huge datadump of classified SHIELD files into the public domain on a scale that makes Edward Snowden look like a penny-ante 'anonymous source.'

When Black Widow says "yes, the world is a vulnerable place, and yes, we helped make it that way," she's talking to congressmen who are complaining because she just outed SHIELD and HYDRA. Because her actions neutralized the agency that was right up there with the CIA/NSA/etc. in the military-security-industrial complex.

She's talking about how she just actively fought (literally fought, with guns in her hand) to bring down one of the largest, potentially most oppressive agencies of state control and domination on the planet.

Is she responding with arrogance? With a claim to be specially privileged because her talents are needed? Yes, she is. But this is not the arrogance of a fascist. This is the arrogance of someone who just dragged the metaphorical king off his throne and threw him out on his ass in the street, because he was oppressive.

All I'm asking here is that we keep track of the difference between 'fascist' and other words that do not mean the same thing as 'fascist' means. "Arrogant prima donna" is not the same as "fascist." An anarcho-libertarian who thinks the world is better off being defended by private individuals than government agencies could also be arrogant and say that they were indispensable and therefore could not be punished or arrested.

I guess it was all fine, as not long after Stark builds/flees from/destroys Ultron, he is apparently put in charge of the superhero police.
Honestly, yes, I think they did wind up dragging things back into the "privileged special snowflake heroes" with that, but it's largely beside the point I originally made.
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K. A. Pital wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:...You did not know? The character in the story you cite, and the character we now know as "Superman," have absolutely nothing in common, except for the words 'super' and 'man' in the name.
Indeed, nothing in common except for the overall concept (super-powered man) and the creator of the character? Why are you bitter?
Stas, you have a choice. You can argue about "Superman," the character who dresses in blue and flies around Metropolis. Or you can argue about stories involving superhuman characters in general.

Right now you're conflating the two and it is not honest.

If you want to talk about "Superman," the character as such... Siegel and Schuster never conflated their 1933 "Super-Man" and their 1938 "Superman." The two individuals were obviously, massively different in every way.

If you want to talk about stories involving superpowered characters in general, fine... But in that case, you cannot claim that the idea of superpowers dates back only to 1933. You have to go further. You have to bring in every powerful individual with exceptional abilities in all of fiction. Talk about Doc Savage and Tarzan of the Apes. Talk about the Nyctalope. Talk about H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man. Heck, go back to ancient times and talk about mythical folk heroes descended from the gods.

Simon_Jester wrote:Superman's greatest and most notorious enemy, Lex Luthor, has more in common with the 1933 "Super-Man." At least Lex Luthor is bald and has an exceptionally powerful mind as his sole special ability.
That is the evolution of the concept. When Superman became the good guy, you had to create a bad guy for him. It didn't help, sadly, because Lex Luthor is an Earth intellectual, and Superman is a rural-grown superhuman. Strong alien punches bad smartass in the face, wow. Anti-intellectualism and a search for perfection among the rural folk were, unsurprisingly, both related to the fascist man.
Except it was never that simple. Other heroes were themselves scientists using their inventions for good, other villains were themselves ultra-powerful thugs.

As others have pointed out, superhero stories are about very simple things, and yet at the same time an enormous mass of supporting detail grows up around them. By cherrypicking the details, you can make them sound like anything. You can make the same story sound like communist propaganda, or fascist propaganda, or homosexual propaganda, or all three at the same time.

It's the equivalent of a Rorscach inkblot test: what you see in these stories tells us more about you than it does about the story.

Simon_Jester wrote:Is the ultimate fascist ideal of the man a selfless servant of the public who devotes vast amounts of time and energy to defeating those who would violently enslave the public? One who makes no claim to rule or to tell others how to live, except insofar as he protects them from violence and criminality? One who sides with no political action? One who does not demand adulation or even recognition, and in fact actively hides his own identity so that he can go about anonymously doing good in his guise as 'Superman' while still living a normal life as a journalist?

Nietzsche would vomit at the behavior of Clark Kent, 'Superman.'

And in his earliest comics, Superman regularly took on racketeers, large corporations, and the like- organizations that fascists rarely opposed. Throughout his time as a fictional character, his greatest enemy has been the renegade technologist leader of a large, powerful corporation.
Nietzsche's concept of a superman was largely that of a human who derives his/her moral imperatives from his own intelligence, not from religion or tradition. I don't know if Nietzsche would have been dissappointed with Clark Kent.

That aside, the ideal of a heroic character who solves problems with violence, and by extralegal means, is not totally alien to the fascist ideal.
Nor is it alien to the communist ideal, or to the anarchist ideal, or to the libertarian ideal. Or to any political ideology. Virtually every political ideology that has ever existed has been willing to resort to violence and extra-legal means to overcome threats and enemies.

I'll concede your point about Nietzche- but I hope you'll understand my real point, which is that Superman behaves extremely altruistically, respects others, does not seek to elevate himself above other people, and actively avoids dominating the world with his exceptional powers even though he could do so easily.

Calling this 'fascist' stretches the term 'fascist' so far that it becomes a meaningless word. Superman is a character we almost have to wish were real, because he would make the world an objectively better place. It is a disservice to those who rightly fought fascism in all its incarnations, to use the term 'fascism' to describe things that are good and that we would welcome if they appeared in our world today.

Yes, you really don't. The character of Captain America originated as a sickly American who wanted to fight Naziism by any means possible, even at the risk of his own life through undergoing dangerous experimental medical procedures to make him fit for combat. This origin story never changed. In modern times, the character of Captain America has repeatedly dissented from his own government whenever he felt that this government was behaving in a tyrannical or indecent fashion.
I think a part of the recent story had Captain America exposed as a deep Hydra agent or something. Which of course prompted an outcry. I said I did not know about the origin of the character, but by now it is just another typical male superman, with extreme militarism at base.
You can care about the origin of the character, or not. You can care about what has been done with the character during the seventy-five years of his portrayal in fiction, or not.

But you cannot just cherry-pick the few random details you happen to have overheard that support your preconceptions. Not while ignoring or simply not having heard of the mountain of details that contradict your preconceptions.

Stas, your argument appears to be that because physical fitness is an ideal revered by fascists, a fictional character of extraordinary physical strength is necessarily fascist. Or that because being 'a man of action' is an ideal revered by fascists, a fictional character that does things is necessarily fascist.
No, but if you combine many fascist ideals into one, you'd get something like that. The hero is male (fascists loathe females except as breeders and mothers and wives of soldiers, after all), militaristic and/or has rural origins, and is in perfect physical condition. This condition helps him fight against evil intellectuals. Anti-intellectualism, and glorification of burly rural men a-la pastorale are all related to the fascist search for the male aesthetic. You cannot pretend otherwise.
Okay, so let us take Superman.

Superman was raised in a rural area, but now lives comfortably in an urban area. His rural upbringing is not portrayed as making him superior in and of itself. His physical condition is 'perfect' in that he has powers and abilities like being able to fly and shoot laser beams out of his eyes; this is not quite the same as the fascist ideal of physical conditioning. Most of his enemies are NOT 'evil intellectuals,' they are simply criminals with exotic powers, or alien conquerors, or other beings that don't fit into your narrative. Lex Luthor is the exception, not the rule.

Or let us take Captain America.

Steve Rogers grew up in a city. He is portrayed as having an exemplary moral compass, because of his altruism, courage, and willingness to stand up to tyrants. His physical condition is indeed 'perfect' in a more reasonable sense of the term, but he was born a feeble and sickly man, and he was made into this powerful specimen by the super-science of men who were fleeing Nazi oppression. When the actual fascists try to create a similar 'super-soldier,' they create the Red Skull: an individual who is evil and hideous morally as well as physically. Most of his enemies are NOT 'evil intellectuals,' they are in fact the very fascists you claim that Captain America is one of, and this has been consistently true for decades regardless of what one random comic author happened to do in one story neither of us knows much about.

Are you going to argue that because Hitler was a vegetarian, vegetarianism is fascist?

Strawman.
Parody. There's a difference.

I was mocking your position because it strikes me as absurd. You are digging through enormous mountains of random minor facts in search of the specific correspondences that let you cherry-pick support for your position, while ignoring counterevidence or simply pretending it does not affect your conclusion.
_______________________

This is why I challenged you to precisely define fascism first, rather than throwing a pile of vaguely related allusions and associations at me.

I would like to take my time to elaborate this argument.
Given how very poor your arguments have been so far, and how much of them relies on rhetoric and on conflating unrelated or dimly related things... Maybe you should just stop advancing other arguments and wait until you are ready to explain yourself properly. To rigorously define fascism, and explain coherently how comic books fit into that definition.

And to do this while remembering that if comic books can be shown NOT to fit the definition, or if the definition itself is wrong... that can actually invalidate your argument, not just force you to walk away without changing your mind.

Because otherwise, all this conversation is just an endless string of opportunities for you to proclaim victory and get home before anyone calls you out on it.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Gandalf » 2017-05-08 11:06am

Simon_Jester wrote:The entire plot of The Winter Soldier revolves around Black Widow and Captain America finding out that SHIELD is massively corrupted and infiltrated by a literal fascist organization, one that explicitly plans to drag the world into totalitarian slavery. And deciding that the only way to do anything about it is to do a huge datadump of classified SHIELD files into the public domain on a scale that makes Edward Snowden look like a penny-ante 'anonymous source.'

When Black Widow says "yes, the world is a vulnerable place, and yes, we helped make it that way," she's talking to congressmen who are complaining because she just outed SHIELD and HYDRA. Because her actions neutralized the agency that was right up there with the CIA/NSA/etc. in the military-security-industrial complex.

She's talking about how she just actively fought (literally fought, with guns in her hand) to bring down one of the largest, potentially most oppressive agencies of state control and domination on the planet.

Is she responding with arrogance? With a claim to be specially privileged because her talents are needed? Yes, she is. But this is not the arrogance of a fascist. This is the arrogance of someone who just dragged the metaphorical king off his throne and threw him out on his ass in the street, because he was oppressive.


I think we're getting a proverbial wire crossed. Why does the evil of Hydra create a justification for the nature of SHIELD?

I guess it was all fine, as not long after Stark builds/flees from/destroys Ultron, he is apparently put in charge of the superhero police.
Honestly, yes, I think they did wind up dragging things back into the "privileged special snowflake heroes" with that, but it's largely beside the point I originally made.


Given the body count and near apocalypse, I'd argue that this goes far beyond privilege.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Crazedwraith » 2017-05-08 11:17am

To be honest, I think Black Widow's bit is only slightly more exaggerated than most action hero films. How often to action heroes ignore the law, break and enter, destroy property etc? Only for it to be forgiven or not even addressed because they're the hero of the piece. Like The Fugitive, it doesn't matter what laws you broke so long as you proved you were innocent of the original crime you were accused of.

So, I get why you don't like it, but I don't think it's an intrinsically or unique thing that superheroes do.

It's just 'why would you arrest me for something I did while literally saving the entire world?'

-

But yeah, Stark is a weird one because it's never even addressed why Ultron has not got him arrested. The only thing I can think is the public literally does not know.

Why he's in charge of registration. Well a) he's not Ross is and b) he's the only one willing to do.

I'm surprised you're not making more Hay out of Cap's attitude which is 'my personal morality trumps the Government's authority'. Which again is archetype of a lot of 'rebel' action heroes and not unique to superhero movies.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-08 03:25pm

Darth Yan wrote:I realized something that bugs me. It assumes that violence and macho militarism is an inherently white trait. He says that Jon Stewart should use his ring to make better housing. That's a temporary solution. It wouldn't address the poverty factor or the institutionalized racism. In the comics he seems to take offense that Cap scuttled the helicarriers and said he should have gotten involved in the political process....when the terrorists of hydra were about to KILL 20 MILLION PEOPLE.


"Heroes should face REAL problems like X," is a common criticism outside of racial discussions, and overlooks that giant robots are a real problem in this world. As are violent hate-groups which are, y'know, something many heroes fight.

There's a great Luke Cage moment where he basically says, he has punching-people powers, he *can't* solve inequality or cure diseases, but he'll carry the cure on his back through the desert if that's what it takes to help people.

And heroes do help on this other stuff not all that rarely for that matter, it's just not the focus because they're action series and heroes are crisis-first-responders which is itself a rather major job.


K.A. Pital wrote:That is the evolution of the concept. When Superman became the good guy, you had to create a bad guy for him. It didn't help, sadly, because Lex Luthor is an Earth intellectual, and Superman is a rural-grown superhuman. Strong alien punches bad smartass in the face, wow. Anti-intellectualism and a search for perfection among the rural folk were, unsurprisingly, both related to the fascist man.


I'll note that early Superman stories often focused highly on Superman outsmarting his foes, and him having to use creativity to find a way out of the trap that was set up so he couldn't just punch through. Lex wasn't just presenting his face to punch, he had super robots, hostages, depowering traps, etc..

Like, Brainiac, another smart Superman-foe, specifically had the gimmick of a force field too strong for Superman to fight. Or Mr. Mxyzptlk, who was too powerful for Superman to match in any way and had to be tricked.

Also, that plays a lot into the 'secret ID' thing. Which made up a large portion of Superman's conflicts and inherently had to be solved with cleverness.

Superman's own brains were heavily emphasized, and simple punching was often shown to not be sufficient. His job? Reporter, a job involving brains and a liberal arts degree.

Like Simon Jester said, a ton of early heroes were inventors too or got their abilities from science. Starman (creates a power source), Hourman (created a new drug), Flash (Jay Garrick was at a lab in university when an accident empowered him), the Human Torch (literally an android).

That aside, the ideal of a heroic character who solves problems with violence, and by extralegal means, is not totally alien to the fascist ideal.


It's not totally alien to most ideologies. Robin Hood, Che Guevara, yadda yadda.


Simon Jester wrote:Calling this 'fascist' stretches the term 'fascist' so far that it becomes a meaningless word. Superman is a character we almost have to wish were real, because he would make the world an objectively better place. It is a disservice to those who rightly fought fascism in all its incarnations, to use the term 'fascism' to describe things that are good and that we would welcome if they appeared in our world today.


Heck, fascism isn't just authoritarianism, and calling all authoritarianism or elitism fascism is still watering down the word away from it's real meaning. Fascism has a lot more to it, and it explicitly rejects many things Superman stands for. I mean, heck, Kal-El aside, Clark Kent, Daily Planet reporter, is a major foe of fascism for standing up for truth.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-08 03:39pm

Oh!

I just realized, we've left out the time that Superman beat the KKK.

No, I don't mean in a comic or show- though he did that too.

I mean, in real life. Superman played a key role in collapsing the KKK's legitimacy in the US and making it widely unpopular.

Superman takes down the Clan of the Fiery Cross

How Superman defeated the Ku Klux Klan


Superman the fictional character took on the real life KKK and won.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-05-08 04:06pm

Gandalf wrote:I think we're getting a proverbial wire crossed. Why does the evil of Hydra create a justification for the nature of SHIELD?
It doesn't. Black Widow is replying to a Congressman who's mad at her because she and Captain America just wrecked SHIELD. They didn't just release information on HYDRA, they released information on SHIELD too. Between that and the massive destructive infighting between SHIELD and its own HYDRA infiltration problem, SHIELD winds up being reduced to a rump organization. It is no longer the massively equipped world police force they were in the first Avengers movie.

Thus, after the events of The Winter Soldier the 'superheroes' are no longer trying to justify the nature of SHIELD. They just broke SHIELD.

Black Widow is arguing "You can't throw us in jail for breaking SHIELD to get at HYDRA. Because you need us to defend the world from HYDRA and from other, stranger threats, now that SHIELD is broken."

And you can totally use this as supporting evidence for the idea that Black Widow views herself and others like her as being above the law... But to go back to my original point, that's not the same as being fascists. Not all forms of extra-legal activity are fascist. In Black Widow's case, she is extremely cynical about governments and organizations, and moves away from being a (now-loyal) agent of SHIELD to being a more or less independent agent affiliated with the Avengers, a group that she is tied to by personal loyalties rather than institutional ones.

This is why I describe her as "an anarchist who's friends with the Hulk." That is not a strictly accurate description, I admit, but it's at least as accurate as calling her a fascist ten minutes of movie time after she helps destroy one of the largest components of the MCU's military-industrial-security complex for having become a force for oppressive tyrannical evil. A fascist Black Widow wouldn't have fought HYDRA during The Winter Soldier. She'd have shot Cap in the back, called Rumlow, and asked where she could sign up.

I guess it was all fine, as not long after Stark builds/flees from/destroys Ultron, he is apparently put in charge of the superhero police.
Honestly, yes, I think they did wind up dragging things back into the "privileged special snowflake heroes" with that, but it's largely beside the point I originally made.
Given the body count and near apocalypse, I'd argue that this goes far beyond privilege.
I'm just describing the characters.

"Privilege" has come to mean other things (like 'the set of special advantages you get from being part of the dominant class in society'), but what it originally meant was something different, and I'm using the word in that older sense.

Go back to the roots, and "privilege" meant literally private law- describing an individual who gets to make their own rules. That's a very accurate description for Tony Stark and the way he gets treated by the outside world. He's a man who gets to make his own rules, even after nearly causing an apocalypse. Sure, he feels responsible for what he's done and tries to make amends, but he's doing that because he thinks he needs to, not because someone makes him do it.

So I am describing Stark as "privileged" because he seems to get to make his own rules while ignoring everyone else's. No more, no less.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby TheFeniX » 2017-05-08 04:29pm

Simon_Jester wrote:And you can totally use this as supporting evidence for the idea that Black Widow views herself and others like her as being above the law... But to go back to my original point, that's not the same as being fascists. Not all forms of extra-legal activity are fascist. In Black Widow's case, she is extremely cynical about governments and organizations, and moves away from being a (now-loyal) agent of SHIELD to being a more or less independent agent affiliated with the Avengers, a group that she is tied to by personal loyalties rather than institutional ones.
Isn't that like the complete opposite of Facism? Maybe I'm a moron, but complete loyalty to the state/system is a rather large portion of fascism.

What even is Black Widow: a non-shitty Libertarian? Only parallel I can really think of, which matches a whole lot of fictional heroes, is "Chaotic Good." Literally doing whatever is right, laws and tradition be damned. Though more likely, Neutral Good for her and more than a few Marvel heroes: fully willing to work within the law until those in charge show themselves to be shitty.

On a personal note: I don't think this is too far out there considering the setting and I don't get people crying their eyes out about it. You see it all the time in more medieval themed fiction and no one really bats an eye when the Good Guys bash down a corrupt system or show through intelligence and action they are a better choice than said king/queen or whatever council of morons they have to uproot not be being evil, but for just being worthless.

And if one person or a small group wields the power to topple governments, then it'd be weirder if they did act like Joe/Jane Blow. Normal people put up with shitty laws because they have to.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-05-08 04:52pm

TheFeniX wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:And you can totally use this as supporting evidence for the idea that Black Widow views herself and others like her as being above the law... But to go back to my original point, that's not the same as being fascists. Not all forms of extra-legal activity are fascist. In Black Widow's case, she is extremely cynical about governments and organizations, and moves away from being a (now-loyal) agent of SHIELD to being a more or less independent agent affiliated with the Avengers, a group that she is tied to by personal loyalties rather than institutional ones.
Isn't that like the complete opposite of Facism? Maybe I'm a moron, but complete loyalty to the state/system is a rather large portion of fascism.
Ayup. That's pretty much my point.

What even is Black Widow: a non-shitty Libertarian? Only parallel I can really think of, which matches a whole lot of fictional heroes, is "Chaotic Good." Literally doing whatever is right, laws and tradition be damned. Though more likely, Neutral Good for her and more than a few Marvel heroes: fully willing to work within the law until those in charge show themselves to be shitty.
I think Black Widow's stance on Law/Chaos boils down to "eh, fuckitall."

She was raised by a bunch of Russian loonies who raised her from early childhood as an assassin and sterilized her to make her more committed to her missions. She fought as an assassin and agent for (presumably) the Russians for a while, then quit and joined SHIELD, then quit SHIELD when SHIELD turned out to be a HYDRA sock puppet.

By this point, I think she's just given up on even trying to participate in organizations, because she's been repeatedly used and (literally) abused by organizations that claimed to be telling her what to do for the greater good.

This is why I keep calling her an anarchist even though there's no evidence that she actually adheres to a political ideology of anarchism. It's because she believes in anarchy for herself personally; she no longer has any respect for politics or ideology, and instead simply does whatever she sees fit with her own abilities, refusing to be affiliated with anyone she doesn't feel personal loyalty towards.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-08 05:21pm

TheFeniX wrote:Isn't that like the complete opposite of Facism? Maybe I'm a moron, but complete loyalty to the state/system is a rather large portion of fascism.


Well, unless you're the one on top. Then you're the one everyone is supposed to be loyal to, the embodiment of the state.

But notably, while Widow wants to operate outside the law, she's not pushing for them to actually be in charge.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Zixinus » 2017-05-08 05:42pm

That should be an important distinction made about superheroes: while they operate utterly viligante-fashion with disregard for the law and society's approval in general, they are not (usually) trying to take it over, to become part of the law. Clean it up like Batman does with corrupt cops or cooperate with them (again, like Batman does), sure. But not become the law. They usually acknowledge passively, if not outright, their vigilantist nature.

It ties into individualist power fantasy of not operating as organization, of keeping themselves on the level of what they can do personally and not what they can do as an organization. It also makes better story because reading about one person's insane, direct actions is more interesting than reading about the years and months of slow, careful and likely dull work they're doing of managing people, resources, assets, etc. Batman going in and kicking some people or turning the table on them is more interesting than him creating and managing a spy network to gather informtion. That's boring, comics skip that part unless you can put dramatic action to it.
There's probably exceptions and whatnot, but there is for everything. Again, a medium that is nearly a century old continously producing stuff by so many authors for so many reasons.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Vendetta » 2017-05-08 05:45pm

K. A. Pital wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:...You did not know? The character in the story you cite, and the character we now know as "Superman," have absolutely nothing in common, except for the words 'super' and 'man' in the name.

Indeed, nothing in common except for the overall concept (super-powered man) and the creator of the character? Why are you bitter?


The overall concept of the super powered man is literally the oldest recorded fictional concept.

That's not an exaggeration. The oldest recorded fiction, the Epic of Gilgamesh, is about a demigod. A super powered man.


Anyway, modern superhero comics are incidentally racist because they're published in a faulty and failing model (expensive single issues) which drives conservatism in editorial approach (focus as hard as possible on the known audience and squeeze them for all they're worth with alternate covers and endless first issues), and they exist in a wider cultural context where the people who get to generate culture are predominantly white and male.

It's not an inherent to the concept, superheroes are the oldest concept in fiction and have been produced by basically every race and culture throughout history. It's an incidental expression of modern market driven culture.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-08 06:26pm

Zixinus wrote:That should be an important distinction made about superheroes: while they operate utterly viligante-fashion with disregard for the law and society's approval in general, they are not (usually) trying to take it over, to become part of the law. Clean it up like Batman does with corrupt cops or cooperate with them (again, like Batman does), sure. But not become the law. They usually acknowledge passively, if not outright, their vigilantist nature.

It ties into individualist power fantasy of not operating as organization, of keeping themselves on the level of what they can do personally and not what they can do as an organization. It also makes better story because reading about one person's insane, direct actions is more interesting than reading about the years and months of slow, careful and likely dull work they're doing of managing people, resources, assets, etc. Batman going in and kicking some people or turning the table on them is more interesting than him creating and managing a spy network to gather informtion. That's boring, comics skip that part unless you can put dramatic action to it.
There's probably exceptions and whatnot, but there is for everything. Again, a medium that is nearly a century old continously producing stuff by so many authors for so many reasons.


I will toss in, policing each other when they think they've gone too far is a major cause of the infamous superfights.

Civil War in the comics, though poorly done, was 'we're out of control and need to be under authority' vs 'putting us into one authority gives that authority way too much power to take over' to an extent.



Vendetta wrote:Anyway, modern superhero comics are incidentally racist because they're published in a faulty and failing model (expensive single issues) which drives conservatism in editorial approach (focus as hard as possible on the known audience and squeeze them for all they're worth with alternate covers and endless first issues), and they exist in a wider cultural context where the people who get to generate culture are predominantly white and male.

It's not an inherent to the concept, superheroes are the oldest concept in fiction and have been produced by basically every race and culture throughout history. It's an incidental expression of modern market driven culture.


Flipside, I can point to a number of different media which have been a lot slower to embrace diversity and which minorities have a harder time breaking in. A comic, ultimately, has lower entrance barriers than TV and movies (movies especially have been downright ridiculous with how much they push for the old status quo in some respects. Women directors get one mistake, men get half a dozen. Racebending the casts of movies based on existing properties, etc.), and while it's a higher barrier than novels, novels have their own problem (black writers have a tendency to have all their works put in a separate section regardless of genre, which limits market access). And minor publishers, while not offering as much exposure, do allow an easier route in with lower barrier too. Two of the longest running comics period are creator owned projects by minority writers.

Additionally, the floppy model is not nearly as failing as you may think- alone among magazines, it's sales have increased and on the whole comics has more or less been on an upswing for the last 20~ years, ever since the 90s comic bust. The advent of digital, it turns out, has largely supplemented rather than replacing physical copies to the pleasant surprise of many, while meanwhile presence in bookstores has also expanded... with the additional note that a lot of the more diverse comics are especially big hits in digital and/or bookstore market, so they're offering an incentive to change things and why you see things improving more recently.

Which is not to say that it doesn't have massive problems still- it does, and problems with sexism and racism come up regularly- this is more commentary on how much storytelling media in general tends to be borked on such things.

I think you have to go to webcomics to find something that isn't, and even then that favors the financially secure.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-05-08 07:32pm

It's a duality thing - for all the complaints I've stated, sure it also must not be understated how superhero myths also embody human goodness and inherent emancipatory humanistic stuffs. They've always been political, often in a good way. Captain America, Green Arrow, X-Men, Spiderman. The whole "hhhnggg take politics outta my comics cuz' they're for fun only" complaints of those who are all "hhhnnngg SJW" are thus false because iconic superheros in iconic comics are all about fighting oppressive forces and advocating for the plight of the marginalized.

AND the demigod mythological hero archetypal hero is also balanced by how a lot of the superheros are also channeling the people's folk hero figure, the Robin Hoods, the Clint Eastwood cowboys, the noir PI, wandering ronin/etc. - these are thus embodied in Batman, Daredevil, Green Arrow, Phantom, Shadow, Grey Ghost, Darkwing Duck, whatever.

The clever creator/builder, aside from the war profiteer Iron Man we've also got... Steel, Ant-Man, Atom, Mr. Fantastic, whatever science hero types, and this whole "witty person BUILDS things to surpass challenges" is an old trope too.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby mr friendly guy » 2017-05-08 09:37pm

What Shroomy said. Marvel was very anti communist when it had its resurgence in the 60s. The Fantastic Four were partially motivated to go into space to beat the commies. Sue Storm actually said that.

There are however some politics which just don't make any sense in comics. For example Thor's granddaddy ?Bor complaining about Israel. WTF? It makes no sense since he has been imprisoned in Hel for thousands of years and has no idea about human politics.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby TheFeniX » 2017-05-08 11:48pm

Simon_Jester wrote:This is why I keep calling her an anarchist even though there's no evidence that she actually adheres to a political ideology of anarchism. It's because she believes in anarchy for herself personally; she no longer has any respect for politics or ideology, and instead simply does whatever she sees fit with her own abilities, refusing to be affiliated with anyone she doesn't feel personal loyalty towards.
I don't think a lot of real-world labels exist for people like BW or even more powerful heroes because said heroes just do not exist in reality. I think what jives with a lot of readers is that said readers also like to view themselves as unique in their beliefs, just without the power to affect change like Superman could.

And it's not like the Power is the only draw here. Sure, supervillians are "popular," but aside from a few stand-outs like Darth Vader: they have nowhere near the popularity of their heroic counterparts.

Q99 wrote:Well, unless you're the one on top. Then you're the one everyone is supposed to be loyal to, the embodiment of the state.
Being unassailable out of fear of "I can destroy you with eye lasers" is a part of fascism as I understand it, but "might makes right" is not the end-all.

If the Justice League landed in the White House and said "fuck it, we run things now. Do something about it," then proceeded to implement multiple liberal economic policies and multiple progressive social policies such as equal rights. Then it's really more benevolent despotism as far as I can see.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby FaxModem1 » 2017-05-09 12:01am

TheFeniX wrote:If the Justice League landed in the White House and said "fuck it, we run things now. Do something about it," then proceeded to implement multiple liberal economic policies and multiple progressive social policies such as equal rights. Then it's really more benevolent despotism as far as I can see.


Which was the story of Injustice: God's Among Us. Superman went crazy from grief after the Joker killed his wife and unborn child, and took over the world with those who agreed with him. The comic is about Superman bringing about a LOT of reforms, and solving a lot of problems, while also being despotic. Liberty vs security being a key issue of the comic.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-09 02:23pm

FaxModem1 wrote:
TheFeniX wrote:If the Justice League landed in the White House and said "fuck it, we run things now. Do something about it," then proceeded to implement multiple liberal economic policies and multiple progressive social policies such as equal rights. Then it's really more benevolent despotism as far as I can see.


Which was the story of Injustice: God's Among Us. Superman went crazy from grief after the Joker killed his wife and unborn child, and took over the world with those who agreed with him. The comic is about Superman bringing about a LOT of reforms, and solving a lot of problems, while also being despotic. Liberty vs security being a key issue of the comic.



Then there was also the time the Authority took over the US (justified by the Wildstorm US being sooo incredibly corrupt and involved in evil conspiracies, but also leading to the Authority eventually stepping down and breaking up for a couple reasons).

In contrast you have, say, the CSA, the evil JLA from Earth-2, which is also a rule by might thing, but pretty much just a big protection racket. More mob bosses on a planetary level than fascism.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby TheFeniX » 2017-05-09 02:42pm

This is why I have to agree with Simon_Jester's comments about "watering down" the term. Same thing with the whole scene about Evans outrunning Mackie being taken as some kind of "show up the racist depiction of the athletic black man." Maybe that WAS the intent, I don't know, but I've found if you go looking for a negative way to take things, you're going to find it.

Switch the races: "Oh, so now the black guy has to be more athletic than the white guy?"
Make Cap outrun Black Window: "Showing off the male physical superiority."
Make Black Widow outrun Cap: "A woman has to compete with a man physically to be taken seriously?"

These are just a few examples off-hand and I've seen variations of them in a lot of pop-pieces. You know what works here? Two white guys showing each other up. Because, aside from exclusion: no one complains about that. And this mentality is a big part of why I believe movies and video games tend to be extremely risk adverse here. Why NOT just make white guys do everything?

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-05-09 03:18pm

This is made even more frustrating by the fact that Cap's physical performance is basically the product of super-steroids. Unless you're a robot, an alien, or some kind of mutant, then in-story you shouldn't in his league. In terms of raw physicality, it's impressively badass just to be able to keep up with him for a little while (like that crazy kicking guy on the cargo ship).

I can understand people being offended by the racism/sexism/whatever that they perceive in a straight-up physical competition between two normal individuals. But when one of the two individuals has unusual powers that boost their athleticism, and the other does not (having other powers and skills instead), then chalking up the boosted guy's athletic success to racism is just... It's like, at that point you're not even watching the movie, you're just waiting to find reasons to call it racist/sexist/fascist/whatever.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby TheFeniX » 2017-05-09 05:07pm

Simon_Jester wrote:I can understand people being offended by the racism/sexism/whatever that they perceive in a straight-up physical competition between two normal individuals.
I agree, but even this has it's limits: why can't two buddies of different ethnicity compete without racial tension, especially when they are portrayed as competing without said racial tension, unfortunate implications be damned?

One of my best friends in high school was the one Japanese kid who went there. Our friendship was based on living in the same neighborhood, nothing else really. He was top-10%, I was kind of a "fuck it, whatever" guy. But we both took programming (oh man, Pascal) Sophomore year when it was for Juniors and Seniors. For him, his mom wanted him taking the hardest stuff as early as possible. For me, it was "get credits out of the way early so I could fuck off Junior/Senior year."

He was better than me in many ways, he played 3 instruments, was fluent in Japanese, and was (don't know what belts) trained in Karate, Aikido, and some (I think) Ju-Jitsu (Jutsu? whatever the non Brazillian form is). But computers man, computers are my thing. I could wipe the floor with him in programming and I ruthlessly mocked him for this as I consistently got better grades than him in this one area. And this wasn't done in a vacuum just because I'm a dick, he used to rib me endless for being lazy.

Thinking about this as 30+-year-old me: make a boring movie about this and all the sudden "Asians be good at computers, how racist the white guy is better than him here." And then I ask: "How much of that racism persists because Hollywood and Television constantly portrays Asians as nerds?"

It's like, at that point you're not even watching the movie, you're just waiting to find reasons to call it racist/sexist/fascist/whatever.
Honestly man, at some point I have to wonder how many of these people even bother with researching what they are writing about for clicks. I can't tell you the number of "OMG, the thing is racist/sexist!" about a video game where the factual errors are so apparent, there's just no way they could have actually played the game and left that information out or missed it completely. I mean, provided they didn't just have an axe to grind.

And this isn't just bloggers, Fox News and other media outlets have been on this forever. The Mass Effect hilarity is just one example.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Zixinus » 2017-05-09 05:26pm

Are people with axes to grind and use whatever they stumble across even vaguely related, or people that need to write a story qucik and grasp for whatever thin straws they can grasp, really new thing in media?
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-09 06:52pm

Also, a thing about Sam Wilson vs Cap-

Yea, Captain America can run faster.

Wilson can fly.


By the end of the movie, who really wins a race?

(Also Ant-Man shows Wilson as being superior in a fight to a white guy with superpowers)


---

And you can always find someone to say anything. I'll note that these are not a majority opinion, and the op article is, well, the only one I've seen taking it that far. We are not talking about an epidemic of people calling superheroes inherently racist here, there are far more people who criticize based on race while being far more specific and on-point.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby K. A. Pital » 2017-05-11 03:30am

It wasn't just me who noticed that superheroes are a fascist concept, though.

https://medium.com/defiant/superheroes- ... 9241a862b0

https://www.themarysue.com/dawn-of-fascists/

Also, the idea that superheroes are inherent to any culture and therefore un-fascist, is not holding up to the reality. There are many collectivist cultures where only mass heroism (or heroism of quite imperfect, physically and mentally, individuals) is given credit, so the desire to have square-jaws, walking muscle mountain white male heroes is not "inherent" to all cultures and nations.

Moreover, one of the close concepts of superheroes that largely predates capitalism and mass culture is religion: that is where you have a superhero (Jesus) saving manking and passing judgement. And religion is a traditional element of fascist regimes and a dark, reactionary force.

If you do not believe the superhero is good, and has your best interests at heart, then you are a heretic to be burned. After all, God is also a superhero, and he even does not torture himself (as he is all-good, he lets his followers do that, and they can always fall on the "misguided" defence).

Superhero genre is a poisonous celebration of square-jawed mutant machos (Superman, Batman, Cap America and so on) and gigantic anti-gravity boobs that get tied by ropes in an endless BDSM-orgy (Wonder "Woman" - a story made by a guy with a peculiar fetish subset, objectifying women in the worst cliche ways, with a title that sounds like B-grade porn).

Fuck, do I really need to spend my time to explain that even when white males belonging to a "super-race" (actual description of Krypton from early comics) don't abuse their power because they're "good", it does not change the overall narrative characteristics? Fascists in their own propaganda are not bad guys. And even if they abuse their power a bit (like wreck fucking cities, murder ordinary humans by accident, or - through a clever plot by the genre creators - oppose any oversight over themselves because that oversight is of course a villainous thing - literally, advocated by Lex Luthor and such), they remain GOOD.

Goodify fascist imagery all you want, it won't change a fucking thing. The square-jawed inhuman muscle mountains belong to the front page of Der Stürmer. Full stop.
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