Yeah. I will say this – I’d like to start with the defense first. If you change Wonder Woman’s costume, the blog sites blow up. There are some individuals who look at graphic novels as “canon,” and they cannot change in any way, shape or form, and that’s what makes them in some ways good fans.
I think we have to come to understand that core fans – and God bless ‘em, because they are core fans – they’re not enough to be drivers, in every sense. These worlds are bigger than just that core of fans. And at some point, if you want to remain relevant, whether it’s just comic books or moving into the TV space or the film space, you have to be cognizant of the world around you.
You know, you see that in plenty of films – the filmmakers go, ‘We’re living in a multicultural society, and if we want to survive, we have to start acknowledging that.’ Certainly as a kid, I grew up with Batman, Superman, whoever – they didn’t need to be black for me to relate to them.
But when a character like Cyborg came along, I got excited, because he looked a little bit more like me, his experiences were a little bit more like mine.
I still have my first Black Lightning that I got way back in the day, and my first Steel. And I proudly display those comics, by the way. I have a lot of comics, but those are among the ones that mean the most to me.
I look at my kids, and how they respond to films, and yeah, if there’s a Michael B. Jordan in the film, they’re going to respond differently – not just in terms of whether or not they want to see the movie, but in terms of seeing someone like them being heroic, someone like them with powers and abilities.
All those things I said to you in that earlier question about wish fulfillment – why should that be limited to a certain space and time? With comic books, Batman has remained the same age forever, Superman has remained the same age – yeah, he gets rebooted and this and that, but if you are writing in a space that is magical, and it is at the whim of the creators, and these stories change as they need to change way back from the early days of the ‘30s and ‘40s all the way up to the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s and today, my Batman is not the Batman I understood when I was a kid.
They change. Their stories change. And if they can change to the reality that they do change, why can’t they make that change (of race) as well? You know, there are people who are against people of color getting involved in politics, or there was a time when people were against their getting involved with sports.
The real world has changed and moved on. If we can make that change in the real world, we can make it in this fanciful world that exists beyond us.
And if people don’t like it – we’re not waiting for permission any longer to make these changes in real life, and we’re certainly not going to wait for them in storytelling. I never asked for permission.
So for those who are against it – I get it to a degree, but as a society, we’re moving on, and we’re not asking for permission.
The language of pathology, mental illness, madness, disease, and disability, has long been used to reinforce other existing structural oppressions like racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, binarism, cissexism, and ableism. And it is most disheartening when those who purport to work toward dismantling those systems still use ableism as metaphor. Ableist metaphor is all-pervasive in public discourse, academia, grassroots organizing, and left-leaning movements as well as in conservative, neoliberal, and nationalist movements. It draws on the language of disability to characterize, denigrate, attack, rhetoricize, and politicize—and it does so based on the presumption that deviation from typical thought, movement, emotional processing, communication, bodily/mental functioning, learning, remembering, sensing is evidence of defect, deficiency, disorder, and ultimately, moral failure.
To use psychopathy as the lens through which one views either systemic or individual violence is to reinforce the structural power of the medical-industrial complex at the expense of disabled people, poor people, and people of color.
My advice: Be precise in your language and say that oppressive structures are violent and manipulative. Say that those who abuse their structural positions of power act with reckless disregard for other human beings. Say that they are callous and unabashedly wielding the power that comes with their privilege.
“Most of our lives don’t feel like novels… Most of us have areas of our lives that we can’t even believe we lived them. It’s more like our lives are a bookshelf with 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 or 12 novels… We look back and are like, “Who was that? Did I even live that life?” … There are ruptures in our lives that I always thought were better represented by the connected short story… I feel like a short story is truer to what we experience. We get to the end of a short story and then that shit is done forever. There are ways that we live that. There are ways that we have loved people and have had places, that once we’ve experience them they are gone forever and they never come back. I think that the form was form for me was also an attempt to argue for an ethos about the way that we live that I didn’t feel that a novel could always capture as pursausively… This is an argument for how much easier it is to portray a life with those kinds of ruptures.”—Junot Diaz (via)