Asgard: Whites Only?

16Dec10

Although it is usually seen as an unusual choice, Thor is my favorite comic book hero.  (Come on guys, he’s a fucking Norse god.)  Every time I see new information about the upcoming film, I get excited all over again;  I’ve been anticipating this since they started the Avengers movies.  But alas, all this is ruined, because Heimdall is being played by Idris Elba!  At least, the Council of Conservative Citizens would have us think so.  (I’m not linking the utter ridiculousness that is their website, but it’s easy enough to find.)

Guys, I can’t even articulate how ludicrous this is.  A quote from the Council:

It seems that Marvel Studios believes that white people should have nothing that is unique to themselves.

Hahaha…oh, man, I am dying over here.  We white people are so downtrodden!  We have no movies with only white people!  It’s not like our entire culture works to privilege us above everyone else!

The Council is a white supremacist group, so this really isn’t surprising from them.  However, I have the sneaking suspicion that some comic book fans might use the same logic.  “But it wasn’t that way in the original comics!”

It’s true that the Thor comics are inundated with white people.  It’s true that, classically, there is a great deal of segregation and underrepresentation of everyone who is not white.  But shouldn’t we now be making up for that?  Using the argument that it’s never been that way is a weak excuse.  Perhaps it hasn’t, but when it comes to fiction it is not our duty to uphold the racism inherent in the originals.  Rather, it is our duty to work toward changing it.  The fact that a comic started in the 60s focuses intensely on white people (as well as the light = good, dark = bad dichotomy) is not surprising.  But shouldn’t we now be taking a stand against that?  Shouldn’t we be working to make our media more inclusive, and to rid it of the tendency to whitewash everything?

I don’t think this act is too much, I think it isn’t enough.  The majority of the actors in this film are still white people.  The majority of the actors in every film are still white people.  Anyone who isn’t white tends to be slotted into a particular trope — fiery Latina, scary black man, smart Asian.  Hardly anyone notices the underrepresentation of everyone who is not white.  Hardly anyone actually notices that, when there is a small bit of representation, people of color are pushed into the same stereotypical roles.  And yet everyone notices when a black man plays a strong, non-stereotypical character.  We shouldn’t notice, because this should be a common occurrence.  And when what should be happening constantly (but doesn’t) actually comes about, we should be excited, not worried that a racist legacy may be altered.

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