So apparently superheroes are racist

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby K. A. Pital » 2017-05-12 01:58pm

Q99 wrote:Is there any useful conclusion to draw on that other than 'different group's ideal of man overlap' ? Like the ideal of man of Jews in the 1930s who stand against fascism... well, literally is Superman, that is his origin.

Yes, there is. First of all, the male-patriarchal ideal precedes fascism. That is true. However, given the heavy emphasis on male-dominated society, male action and male violence, fascism shone unprecedented light on what happens when the idea is taken to the pinnacle, its conclusion.
Q99 wrote:Note that this is also something of a goalpost shift, the discussion line started with 'are superheroes inherently fascist?'. Going to merely 'do they fit some part of the ideal *image*?' is a different, and much more minor, topic that doesn't have much deep meaning. And still wrong.

Not the heroes are fascist. The idea of a strong white males solving society's problems with their fists... that's a different thing.
Q99 wrote:Again the focus on image- or one part of image no less- over substance.

Superman very clearly works across national borders and clashes with nationalist sentiment- and additionally is an immigrant and who spends his time as a mild-manner reporter who stands up for the little guy there too. Wonder Woman is a foreigner and diplomat. Captain America fights Nationalists as, like, his number two most common foe, behind Nazis, and puts aside the flag when he feels the country gets especially bad, and his origin story is about him not being born a physical paragon at all, and the first image of him anyone ever saw on the stands was him punching a fascist. Those are the big 'flag' characters.

This is a very reductionist view that minimizes what fascism is and paints it only as an image. I don't think it productively links superheroes to fascism in any way other than "If you step back, squint, and don't pay too much attention to the stories or characters...".

I understand that you can make superheroes punch your preferred enemy, which can be Nazis or whoever you like, but it is still strong white males serving justice with fists.
Shroom wrote:The emergence of the far more perfect and less "fascistic" or at least less one-dimensional or more multi-dimensional figures like Spiderman, Professor X, Magneto, etc. are precisely because the genre reinvents itself by examining, criticizing, deconstructing and reconstructing its old roots. Watchmen gives us a great example of how this is done.

To prevent stagnation - which is pretty much gonna take one to lame ass depths that resorts to DC murderverse-style grimdarkery shock value that's pretty much fascism - the genre has to be introspective, unafraid to call itself out on its past bullshits, and thus be a living thing that likes to have fun even when being SRS BSNSS.

Stas should read All Star Superman.

I'm watching Legion right now. It is great, and you should watch it, seriously.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby ray245 » 2017-05-12 02:04pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:This notion of utterly unique individuality is two-fold. One one hand, as already discussed, it can serve as this utterly detached from reality wish fulfillment power trip fantasy for basement dwellers, a surrogate, a crutch, that can thus have misanthropic results, anti-solidarity that atomizes people into these sad sacks lost in their dysfunctions propped up by these ego-projections. This isn't just in the superhero genre but in all sorts of fiction and all sorts of... well, lifestyle choices.

On the other hand, we've also got counter-examples where the individuality, this whole non-conformist rebellion against the establishment and the norms, is presented... in unique individuals who nonetheless in their uniqueness still exemplify humanity, what we all can be. Even Marlon Brando's Space Dad spiel in Superman touches on this. And for the non-superhero genre, we've got the Hunger Games' Katniss touching upon this. It begins with this uniqueness but then it somehow paradoxically subverts it by showing how in the end all these people are going "I am Spartacus" and so it's actually an egalitarian solidarity thing.

It's a paradox, a duality, a Yin and Yang. I am supposedly working in media, sorta, and it's something worth looking into. A product - superhero, cigarettes, softdrinks, whatever - is meant to be marketed to individuals, to stroke their egos in that the product is somehow a unique thing that will make them special if they get it. Yet we all know it is being marketed to more than just one person, the lot of them are all subscribing to it so they aren't unique at all. Just like how we joke about "we are all the same because we are all unique" or "I am unique just like everyone else!"

The rugged individualism of the Marlboro Mang, welcome to flavor country. Same thing. These are not exclusive. For better or worse.


I think the lessons from superheroes like Superman is how do you deal with all the power in the world. Superheroes are generally heroes because they try and use their powers for altruistic goals. Superman could have easily taken over the world and make sure no one can challenge him. He could have imposed his will as law. It's his rejection and simple desire to lead by example, showing even the most powerful man can avoid the things people actively crave for ( power and wealth).

Lex Luthor is an excellent foil because he is a human being that actively craves all those things. Lex is someone who is an oligarch trying to shape the world to his desire.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-12 02:18pm

K. A. Pital wrote:Yes, there is. First of all, the male-patriarchal ideal precedes fascism. That is true. However, given the heavy emphasis on male-dominated society, male action and male violence, fascism shone unprecedented light on what happens when the idea is taken to the pinnacle, its conclusion.


Well there's a conclusion that doesn't show it's work. It seems to me you're making a massive jump from male-patriarchal view to fascism without drawing a link in between, and equating the two without analysis.

Again, there's other ideologies than fascism, other authoritarian and elitist ones even, and I feel trying to shoehorn everything into fascism is just watering down the word to try and score a rhetorical point and which downplays the actual dangers and downsides of fascism.

Rather than pointing out the problematic aspects that are there, you're more just drawing a line to the worst ideology around in a way that disservices both.

Not the heroes are fascist. The idea of a strong white males solving society's problems with their fists... that's a different thing.


Mm, again, you don't really seem to be drawing off the narrative there, just your boiled-down impression of it. Heck, many heroes aren't focused on societies' problems, so much as outside threats to it, and the ones that are- Wonder Woman's a diplomat who opposes war, the X-men are a minority who strive for equality and who are trying to show that humans and mutants can live side-by-side. The Fantastic Four is about exploration and family and rarely deal with ordinary criminals at all (note their opponents- Mole Man, Galactus, Skrulls, Namor, all people from outside our society in general, plus one Dictator in Dr. Doom), 'justice' is not their theme. These are some of the biggest superheroes on the planet.

Plus, while you can easily construct arguments on the problematicness 'strong white males solving problems from punching,' you should probably be doing that instead, as it's still not fascism, which is an actual ideology.

I understand that you can make superheroes punch your preferred enemy, which can be Nazis or whoever you like, but it is still strong white males serving justice with fists.


Which, dun dun dun, isn't fascism and I'm a big opponent of calling everything someone doesn't like fascism since it makes fascism not scary. Also, it's often not white or males, often has far more prominent themes to specific character's narratives, etc..

You've got a very reductionist view of it and it's a good way to downplay fascism. If your argument on why something else is bad involves downplaying why fascism is bad in order to do so, I believe that to be a bad argument.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-05-12 04:44pm

What if it's not a white mang but some multi-limbed elephant-headed mythic being hurling an astra at some demons from Sri Lanka? :P
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-12 07:49pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:What if it's not a white mang but some multi-limbed elephant-headed mythic being hurling an astra at some demons from Sri Lanka? :P


Or a tailed chinese martial artist fighting the celestial bureaucracy and then helping the translation of buddhist texts whilst fighting demons and monsters? (Sun Wu Kong)

Or a black supergenius fighting white imperialists trying to exploit the natural resources of his nation? (Black Panther)

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-05-12 07:54pm

Or the most electrifying being in Polynesian mythology. Who takes crabonis down to the Sea Bottom. Before hitting 'em with the People's Fishhook! Can you smell-la-la-la-la-la-laaaa what he is cooking?

And from the squared islands, Polynesia's Champion has... FINALLY come back to Hollywood! Now he's become quite fast and furious! Telling all these candy assed crabonis to know their role and shut their mouths!

Even the Lord Marshall of the Furians has gone ONE ON ONE with the GREAT ONE!
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-12 11:39pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:Or the most electrifying being in Polynesian mythology. Who takes crabonis down to the Sea Bottom. Before hitting 'em with the People's Fishhook! Can you smell-la-la-la-la-la-laaaa what he is cooking?

And from the squared islands, Polynesia's Champion has... FINALLY come back to Hollywood! Now he's become quite fast and furious! Telling all these candy assed crabonis to know their role and shut their mouths!

Even the Lord Marshall of the Furians has gone ONE ON ONE with the GREAT ONE!


Maui literally pulled down the sun and beat it up so it wouldn't move so fast.


Then there's Ti'iti'i of Samoa, who broke the arm off the earthquake god Mafui'e and forcing him to teach the secret of fire (also Mafui'e couldn't make as big earthquakes with one arm, so bonus!).


So if it hadn't been superhuman people using violence, the days would be too short, we wouldn't know how to make fire, and earthquakes would be worse!

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby FaxModem1 » 2017-05-12 11:41pm

So, according to Stas, Maui from Moana is a fascist?
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby K. A. Pital » 2017-05-13 02:57am

FaxModem1 wrote:So, according to Stas, Maui from Moana is a fascist?

Maui isn't white. :lol:

That aside, I always found Prometheus a better mythical superhero than most others, Sun Wukong included.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-05-13 03:04am

If the Polynesians became a hegemony then there's a possibility they would fascist-ify their mythic figures.

Like how Hercules is the Chris Benoit of Greek mythology.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby ray245 » 2017-05-13 07:07am

K. A. Pital wrote:
FaxModem1 wrote:So, according to Stas, Maui from Moana is a fascist?

Maui isn't white. :lol:

That aside, I always found Prometheus a better mythical superhero than most others, Sun Wukong included.


So all "white" superheroes are all fascist by default?
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-13 10:57am

ray245 wrote:
K. A. Pital wrote:
FaxModem1 wrote:So, according to Stas, Maui from Moana is a fascist?

Maui isn't white. :lol:

That aside, I always found Prometheus a better mythical superhero than most others, Sun Wukong included.


So all "white" superheroes are all fascist by default?


Remember that all superheroes are being generalized on this too.

Unless I am missing something big, I am seeing no useful commentary or observations on superheroes ('some of them are white males that punch stuff, many different groups idealize this, and other factors need not apply,' is less than insightful to say the least) nor a productive non-useless usage of fascism here.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Zixinus » 2017-05-13 02:13pm

If we analyze specific superheroes, we would lose the common features of the genre (white, male, perfectly athletic - certainly a reactionary view at the very least) in favor of specific backstories. There is no fallacy in describing these unifying features, and I did mention that some later-developed characters fall outside the canon image of the superhero.


Yet your proof is cherry-picking individual (and usually, long-standing which is even more cherry-picking) characters and individual traits of their backstory. Such as Batman being rich and calling it a class-war, which is just ridiculous.

A good proof would be if you took my two lists and see how much does it apply to the two big superhero teams in the industry: Avenger's and Justice League (just long-standing, consistent characters). Go ahead, you made the claim, prove it. I'm willing to accept primary sources being Wikis rather than pointing out individual comics or storylines.

The problem here is that the very story about superhumans is structured like this: male, white, strong superhero (super)human being an undisputed protagonist.


You have described, again, a great deal of escapist, power-fantasy Western literature. Also, something that has been slowly changing in superhero comics, with far more female, non-white leads now. The new Spiderman is black, Thor is a woman now (I think, I do not pay close attention to DC continuity) and other characters like Ms.Marvel (the only superhero comic I recently read) went from ideal blond white woman to a Pakistani immigrant.

You also have to keep in mind that mayor, lucrative characters are deliberately held in stasis partly to keep them "true" and because publishers are terrified that any change would destroy their marketing value (such as what happened when Captain AMerica said "hail Hydra").

He is protecting ordinary humans - the sheep. And he's always or almost always operating outside legal boundaries, and always or almost always solving the problem with violence. So the separation of the perfectly athletic male "heroes" and the sheeple who are just a human mass to be "saved" by the hero is present in most such narratives, and is classic. It does not matter what ideology the superhuman himself espouses - the story is structured in a way that is imbuing elitist direct-action power fantasies as a good thing in the minds of the audience, it is the domination of strong authoritarian males who act as they want.


Ah, so it doesn't matter what the actual story is, what the context is for the character's actions, what the author's clear intentions were, what the motifs and ideology of the story is, all that is needed to make a story fascist is that you could read fascism into it.

You seem to be of the opinion that a story can benefit fascism only by having its heroes give the Roman salute or walk around with the imperial eagle or a swastika. That's not so. The authoritarian strong white male power fantasy is deeply troubling, but the problem with fascism is that it also originated from western thought, and western culture, and there was - and still is - a very large demand for authoritarian or even fascist ideas in society.


No, I am on the opinion that for something to be called fascist, it has to actually be fascist and advocating fascist ideals in content and not vaguely resemble fascist.

If your definition of fascist is "everything that is right-wing" than your definition, and criticism, is meaningless.

Are there disturbing undercurrents, notes of authoritarianism in superhero comics? Yes. That is a valid criticism or at least observation. But authoritarianism by itself is not fascism. it is merely one of many building blocks of it. White, male power fantasy by itself is not fascist. I have given a working, check-able definition of fascism, one that you have not notably disagreed with. If it does not fit, it isn't.

It is not exclusive, but if you look down into history, you will find this ideal, this cult, in the historic predecessors and precursors which fascist though heavily relies on - the empires, dominated by unchained autocrats, who created massive states in their "perfect" image, in the militaristic cult of the strongman.


An element of fascist ideology =/= fascist.

What started as mockery of the fascist idea, is by now a militaristic superhuman character that serves to illustrate and enforce US global dominance. The US is a global empire, one of the last such things remaining on Earth.


Yeah, but that makes him a nationalist symbol, which he always has blatantly been. That does not make him fascist. You could easily TURN him into a fascist symbol, yes, but that does not mean that he is.

"Super-soldier" is also, itself, a horrible idea, and for a long time - at least in my culture - it was considered a fascist one.


While I agree it is a horrid idea, it is irrelevant to the discussion. What your culture considers fascist is also irrelevant, because we are talking about what can be objectively be called fascist, not subjectively. You seem to have the two confused, which would explain a lot.

Batman's physique dominates the image of him just as it does with Superman - when you see a panel with a strong brawly man, you don't think "intellectual!", so I guess there's that.


So they are anti-intellectual (and thus fascist?) because they are super-fit? Ignoring the fact that one of the consistent traits of Batman is being detective (even if it is often badly written) and that Superman has a reporter alter-ego (hardly a anti-intellectual occupation, is it?)?

But the fact that it is already a close match (and superheroes somehow always use violence to solve problems) is telling.


The only thing telling is that he is somewhat close but not a hit. Some depictions make him closer and some are far distant, but that can be more easily chalked up to diversity of authors.

Fascism refined and was created on a foundation of Western thought. It did not appear in a vacuum.


Irrelevant to the argument.

Not necessarily. The image of a strong man sticking it up to that evil smartass alone is an image, which has a certain meaning even in form alone. By making scientists an often-used villain type, it also betrays a certain intent.


But that intent is not necessarily anti-intellectual. The idea that a scientist-villain is a villain because he is a scientist does happen, but is far from exclusive and not as popular as it once was. Often villains are villains for their own crazy reasons and use science and super-science as a means of power.

What about it?


So what happens when the hero is fighting someone who actually more accurately fits the fascist superman criteria? Many of them are sadistic, enjoy violence and brutality for its own sake, masculine, disdain intellectualism (although some like Freeze are intellectuals themselves), non-romantic nor sentimental and disdain weakness (which should be on that list, shouldn't be?). The only other two elements, disdain of death (an odd criteria for fascist superman IMO) and virility (you can't show their children being caught up in the violence, although several often have women kept).

Very few of Batman's villains are wheelchair-bound weaklings (I can't think of any one of them), or if they are, they often have some mayor power or advantage that mostly negate that disability. Punching weak, disabled people is actually a mark of the villain in the superhero genre, not of a hero.

The villains are often ugly, yes. But a good deal of them are not weak, if not outright physically or otherwise superior to an average human.

But I think the very idea of an oligarch who fights crime on his own is very dangerous. In real life, such people make corporate or paramilitary death squads and kill undesirables. They become the real "men of steel" and real vigilantes, and then people say it is horrible. So the disconnect between the hero Batman and what really happens when rich people fight others in thier own way, is also interesting.


Only if you ignore other aspects of the story's context and focus exclusively on Batman's origin as a rich man. Bruce Wayne's wealth was not a defining trait of him, merely as a source and means for his gadgets and ability to gain expertise.

I do not disagree that the idea of "rich people can solve all societal problems like crime and poverty" is a dangerous idea to embrace (and frankly, I can't recall it ever being one that Batman comics, cartoons or even films advocate except perhaps the last one), but yet not really part of Batman's character. Batman is defined by going out and solving crime by personally (rather than by indirect agents) punching it in the face, not as Bruce Wayne the billionaire with wealth and influence. Yes, it has problematic ideas on its own but it is not fascistic nor class-warfare.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-13 04:04pm

Zixinus wrote:No, I am on the opinion that for something to be called fascist, it has to actually be fascist and advocating fascist ideals in content and not vaguely resemble fascist.


Extremely vaguely :)

In a superficial way on criteria that is ridiculously non-specific to any ideology, to the point it's present in most of the cultures on Earth.


If your definition of fascist is "everything that is right-wing" than your definition, and criticism, is meaningless.


It's not even everything that's right wing- it's far more general than that!

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-05-14 09:24pm

It would be more productive to talk about the source and consumers of the power trip mythologies (that can be appropriated by fascism)... namely, in this case, the comic book nerds that DO have a huge chunk of reactionary redpill/MRA asshole demographics.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby The Romulan Republic » 2017-05-14 09:32pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:It would be more productive to talk about the source and consumers of the power trip mythologies (that can be appropriated by fascism)... namely, in this case, the comic book nerds that DO have a huge chunk of reactionary redpill/MRA asshole demographics.


Indeed. One need only see the nigh-omnipresent objectification of the female gender in comic books to see who they're marketing their products to.

Again, though, I don't think that's something innate to the genre, at least no more than sexism permeates pretty nearly every aspect of human history and culture.

And my response, rather than condemning the genre, would be to try to reclaim it. There are many aspects of Right wing extremism's and related movements' tactics that I would not care to see my own side adopt, but one thing they've shown themselves to be very effective at is highjacking other peoples' media and movements and turning them to their own cause. That's ground I think the Left can, and should, compete in.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-14 11:34pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:And my response, rather than condemning the genre, would be to try to reclaim it. There are many aspects of Right wing extremism's and related movements' tactics that I would not care to see my own side adopt, but one thing they've shown themselves to be very effective at is highjacking other peoples' media and movements and turning them to their own cause. That's ground I think the Left can, and should, compete in.



There is also the matter that women have been present in comics pretty much from the start, were originally a huge part of the demographic (indeed, one of the effects of the Comics Code was shoving them out), and it's a rare time when there's not been left-pushing social messages in comics, a lot of the writers tended to lefties (but not always the editorials and such).

Like, Superman, aside from being made by a Jewish duo who hated fascists, was also a New Deal Democrat social activist. That car he's smashing on the cover of the first issue? It's not a car that was about to hit someone or escape vehicle of a supervillain, it was the car of some rich assholes.

Or, here's a famous EC Comics panel from '53:
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An astronauts visits a planet where two factions of robots discriminate based on their color, and decides the robots can't join the Galactic Republic as a result of the arbitrary and petty divide. Last panel reveals... the astronaut's black.

The comics' code authority threw a fit, but point is people have always been pushing for social messages in comics. I don't think it needs to be 'reclaimed,' just acknowledged that it's always been there and keep pushing for more titles that reflect reality.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby K. A. Pital » 2017-05-15 05:53am

The CCA did not just "throw a fit" - it made publishing unconventional stories like that unprofitable and extremely risk-prone, which sterilized the industry for probably decades.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-05-15 06:42am

That's a fair accusation.

Thing is, if you're focusing on the CCA, you're no longer really criticizing comics as a genre. You're criticizing the regulatory body that major comic book publishers created in a single country. One that was influenced heavily by pressures that came from outside the comic book industry, like the publication of Seduction of the Innocent.

There's a lot to criticize in all this- but the generalized conclusion "comics are fascist" falls apart.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby K. A. Pital » 2017-05-15 09:03am

Simon_Jester wrote:That's a fair accusation.

Thing is, if you're focusing on the CCA, you're no longer really criticizing comics as a genre. You're criticizing the regulatory body that major comic book publishers created in a single country. One that was influenced heavily by pressures that came from outside the comic book industry, like the publication of Seduction of the Innocent.

There's a lot to criticize in all this- but the generalized conclusion "comics are fascist" falls apart.

Comics are not fascist. How did this even go from "superheroes" to comics in general?

On the contrary, outside the superhero genre, comics and graphic novels have a lot to offer - from children's books to complex, adult stories.

I am not sure that one could connect the CCA to the dominance of the superhero genre as a "safe" story to use (all that stuff about crime-bashing heroes and less women, etc, certainly made it one of the safer paths to take when considering publishing constraints).

I dislike the superhero genre, not comics in general. Superhero, even if "fascist" is taking it too far, is at roots an authoritarian male power fantasy.
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby NeoGoomba » 2017-05-15 03:36pm

Shroom Man 777 wrote:
Like how Hercules is the Chris Benoit of Greek mythology.


Holy shit dude, I just spit water on my desk at that. Bravo.
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TheFeniX
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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby TheFeniX » 2017-05-15 04:11pm

K. A. Pital wrote:I dislike the superhero genre, not comics in general. Superhero, even if "fascist" is taking it too far, is at roots an authoritarian male power fantasy.
What is the definition of Power Fantasy? I really dislike this term, it so much a buzzphrase in my mind.

I've heard two:

1. Self-inserts. Like fan-fiction tier. Think Melllvar in Futurama's Where No Fan Has Gone Before. Or anything where someone inserts their person, or something very near, into established fiction. There are examples of this, but there are nearly all (as said) fanfiction or authors self-inserting (such as Twilight, but that wasn't established) so just not applicable. Self-inserts have their own problems, but being a Power Fantasy is just a part of that. In fact, that's usually what makes them bad. Wesley Crusher is an example of the writers trying to give kids (I assume) a self-insert.

EDIT: That Futurama episode might be one in of itself, what Sci-Fi fan WOULDN'T want to get Shatner and co together for their show?[/edit]

Really, this would only possibly apply liberally in video games where you take control of someone else and dictate their action, thus have ACCESS, to those awesome powers. Even if that power is "I get to be friends with Captain Kirk... wait, better example from Elite Force: I GET TO HANG OUT WITH THE CAST OF VOYAGER!" ::queue brutal sobbing:: (good game though).

2. The more accepted definition AFAIK: "I want to be that or have elements of that." This definition is so ridiculously broad and useless, why is it even a thing? Is Chris Evans the person one? He's handsome, in good shape, interviews charismatically, is funny, seems like a nice guy. His public face is like the definition of a Power Fantasy.

Here's one for me personally: Iron Jawed Angels. To have that kind of conviction to go through what they went through is enviable. NOTE: Going through what they went through is NOT. What about Seinfeld? The power to have so much free-time you can do nothing but get involved in ridiculous shenanigans each week? That's not enviable? Why is the emphasis on punching things?

Superman has unlimited power. Yes, that power is amazing, it would be cool to have. But would people watch/read his exploits splattering purse-snatchers? Bullying randos? What's the sell here? Superman needs a fight. He needs adversity. It doesn't and hasn't always been physical. Maybe it's mental or emotional. What about good people triumphing over adversity is a Power Fantasy (Actually, I fully buy that it is)? And why is that BAD?

Under definition #2: what ISN'T a Power Fantasy? To get rid of it, to stop people from wanting it. The only statement I can come up with is "STOP BEING HUMAN!"

Last Thanksgiving I saw this shitty movie on Hallmark (or whatever) at my Wife's parents house. I don't know WHY they put the TV on Hallmark (or maybe it was Lifetime). But it's about this rich architect (Hollywood fucking LOVES Architects) woman who comes back to her small town to visit family for the Holiday. She's STUNNINGLY beautiful. Smart. Witty. Kind. Her family live in a HUGE house. They have expensive everything. But she's sad because she runs into her old high school flame who ALSO is an architect and everything she is, but he is a he. So.. ROMANCE!

Long story: the tension is because he's leaving again to build houses somewhere because he's a good guy. But they... wait for it... FALL IN LOVE. YAY! A happy ending for the beautiful rich white people!

That movie wasn't bad because it was one long Power Fantasy about the perfect life becoming more perfecter. It was bad because it was fucking boring as there was no adversity. That's what a rather large part of non-comedic fiction (and reality) is about: overcoming adversity. People love adversity. Sure, an easy job with a stable paycheck is great, but a large portion of humanity SEEKS OUT challenges for whatever reason. They get into fields that are not easy. They DO THINGS that are not easy. Why? I don't fucking know, we just do it. We're dumb apes.

Superman may have faced none when it came to winning the genetic lotto. But his triumph over adversity in many other forms is what made him the hallmark he is.

And he's like the "worst" superhero in this regard. What people forget when they bash the "Male Power Fantasy" is that a big part of it is fighting (generally) something tougher or an organization bigger than you. Sure, Blade is a super-vampire ass-kicking machine. But that doesn't give him victory by default. No one would watch that outside of specific genre deconstructions which would exist because the former does. He has to WORK for it. Sure, it's easier for some and harder for others, but that doesn't make the Power Fantasy somehow bad as a matter of course.

If you don't like it, you don't like it. But I don't see how you enjoy nearly any non-comedy stories, fiction or non-fiction, if you hate the concept.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-15 04:28pm

K. A. Pital wrote:The CCA did not just "throw a fit" - it made publishing unconventional stories like that unprofitable and extremely risk-prone, which sterilized the industry for probably decades.


Sure, but they *also* threw a literal fit at the office when it came there.

K. A. Pital wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:That's a fair accusation.

Thing is, if you're focusing on the CCA, you're no longer really criticizing comics as a genre. You're criticizing the regulatory body that major comic book publishers created in a single country. One that was influenced heavily by pressures that came from outside the comic book industry, like the publication of Seduction of the Innocent.

There's a lot to criticize in all this- but the generalized conclusion "comics are fascist" falls apart.

Comics are not fascist. How did this even go from "superheroes" to comics in general?

On the contrary, outside the superhero genre, comics and graphic novels have a lot to offer - from children's books to complex, adult stories.

I am not sure that one could connect the CCA to the dominance of the superhero genre as a "safe" story to use (all that stuff about crime-bashing heroes and less women, etc, certainly made it one of the safer paths to take when considering publishing constraints).

I dislike the superhero genre, not comics in general. Superhero, even if "fascist" is taking it too far, is at roots an authoritarian male power fantasy.


Numerous counter-examples have been proven and your response has pretty much been 'it looks like one aspect of fascism,' an aspect as noted that's very common across many ideologies.

Despite the presence of anti-authoritian superheroes from literally day one (Action Comics #1, the cover- Superman smashes the car of rich jerks. It wasn't until awhile later he was more associated with the establishment), major women from not much later (Wonder Woman was not the first, it's debatable who the first was. Another contender is Fantomah, who mostly punished white imperialists trying to exploit the jungle), and all other aspects of the narrative.

The CCA was the darkest time for the genre in this respect, but it both arose decades after the genre began, and has been gone for decades now (and it's influence waned some time before).

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby Q99 » 2017-05-15 05:42pm

When one gets down to it, I'd say superheroes are among the most ideologically diverse genres out there. It's been deconstructed, reconstructed, continued on through a variety of other social movements which it changes along with, been a symbol of counter-culture (the Hulk? *huge* on college campuses in the 60s), and gone through literally thousands of writers of all colors, creeds, orientations, and genders.

A lot of them have very strong themes that people owe it to use their talents to the community. A lot are about fixing broken systems, or standing up to corrupt systems, or standing up and protecting good systems, of focusing on helping individuals and not being caught up in the larger picture, of focusing on the larger picture to help as many as possible, of minorities dealing with how the world views them, of broken people dealing with their own rough situations, of how love is the answer, of how one must sacrifice love to help others, of how superheroes are separate from and innately alien to normal people, of how superheroes are normal people, of how heroes exist to help get those who've escaped the legal system back under it's sight, of how heroes exist as a substitute for the legal system, and I can go on. None of the above are from single stories, but ones that are part of significant works that are either in many titles or specific long-running ones.

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Re: So apparently superheroes are racist

Postby K. A. Pital » 2017-05-16 03:21am

TheFeniX wrote:
K. A. Pital wrote:I dislike the superhero genre, not comics in general. Superhero, even if "fascist" is taking it too far, is at roots an authoritarian male power fantasy.
What is the definition of Power Fantasy? I really dislike this term, it so much a buzzphrase in my mind.

This is a fantasy where a male character (someone the man can identify with) gets super-powers, saves the girl from a supervillain, maybe saves the world as a bonus. Idolizing of the man of action, like I said before.

It is nothing more than a story like those army propaganda reels which offer young males "adventure" and "mission", and power (in the form of military technologies) to destroy the enemies of your nation.

Another aspect is that in this story, there is no narrative of world reform, world transformation, social transformation, cooperation of a human multitude. Instead, humans are passive onlookers who just watch as the hero (embodiment of the man of action) saves the world, saves them and the girl.

It is very much like Christianity and other religions, correctly dubbed "opiate of the masses" as they soothe suffering by offering a better afterlife, a life beyond life, to prevent humans from constantly rebelling against the conditions of their real life, to pacify them, but also numb their suffering.

Except the power fantasy is a more dangerous kind of opium. It breeds exceptionalism (the hero, with whom the reader identifies self, is exceptional), it breeds the cult of action (do first, think later - a common feature of many superhero stories is the ongoing fight against villain after villain, that seem to endlessly appear in society, but nowhere is the hero ever close to reforming society to reduce villainy, or even think about it, there is no end - eternal struggle and war). This eternal war and eternal action without end are the elements which make the genre so infused with authoritarian ideas.

Batman endlessly fights crime in Gotham, which never transforms from the antiutopia it is, but remains a crime-ridden hellhole. Superman fights the bad entity of the day, but another villain appears just after the the fight. There is no respite and no consideration of the bigger picture - audience is there to consume action, after all.

So there are two aspects to the authoritarian power-fantasy. First is a desire for action, which the pop culture reader, himself being a weak, disempowered member of the non-ruling class, no elite, is not capable of - but the escapism of the superhero lets him imagine self saving the world, and optionally save a feisty female along the road with hugs & kisses (the rest is up to the male fantasy - curtain, baddies are defeated, woman falls into hero arms...). Second is a desire of disempowered masses for a Great Man, for a man of action, Man of Steel (incidentally, there was a person calling himself that, Stalin) - it is the cult of personality and cult of great man. Although the theory of "great men" in history has been largely discredited, with us knowing much more about the complex eco and social systems of ancient civilizations, the power fantasy offers an authoritarian escapist dream : you don't need to do anything to reform society, because a hero can save you. And everyone. Or, in fact, the hero is endlessly battling evil and cannot win. If Superman can't change the world, how can you, weakling? Go back to sleep.

These two aspects are easy to see.

You are right that we are dumb apes, but self-aware indulgence in these little apish fantasy pleasures is different from a non-self aware one.

And I don't think the majority of lower-class consumers are self-aware of the escapist authoritarian nature of these fantasies.

The authors are often aware, hence the many deconstructions and reconstructions of the genre, its expansion in the recent two decades. But the consumers are not.
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