Heavenly Blues Writer Ben Kahn on Representation, Morality in his Comics, & More
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In the world of superhero fandom, we’ve been seeing quite a bit of increased representation lately. With the success of Wonder Woman and Black Panther, and the excitement around upcoming films like Captain Marvel and Black Widow — not to mention the growing presence of LGBTQIA+ characters on shows like Black Lightning, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow — it’s a new day for fans of comic book movies and shows. But is that really a good thing? Not according to some fanboys. And in the name of being “fair and balanced,” I think it’s to give them a voice, because let’s be honest, straight, white, cis guys so rarely have the opportunity to make their opinions heard.

We should just have new characters

Any time a non-straight-white dude takes over the mantle of a superhero – like Jane Foster taking over as Thor or Sam Wilson as Captain America – we inevitably her a chorus of fanboys shouting, “Dude, I’m not against representation, but why can’t we just have new characters? Captain America is supposed to be a white guy, that’s his whole history.” And they have a point. Forget the fact that it’s entirely possible to create completely new, independent characters and have different characters taking over pre-existing mantles at the same time. The truth is, some of these 100 percent made up, fictional superheroes are just supposed to be white men. These characters —  who all came out of someone’s imagination –are straight, white, and male according to their objective reality. And there’s no changing objective reality. It’s not like thinking up new stories and characters is what writers do for a living or anything.

It’s not believable

The superheroes many fans are used to are big, muscle-bound, physically imposing  guys. And when a woman, for example, steps into the role of a superhero, a lot of fanboys don’t feel like it’s realistic, claiming she wouldn’t be as intimidating as a big, ripped dude when going up against a super villain. Of course, laser vision, super suits, and the ability to fly are completely believable. But a woman demonstrating any form of physical strength is absolutely where we should draw the line.

It’s just fan service

Ok, let’s be honest. Movie, TV, and comic book executives often pull a lot of crap just to increase ratings or sales. And this can cause the quality of the work to suffer. When executives and creators decide to pander to their audiences, it’s sometimes at the expense of a well written story. And that’s clearly what’s going on when women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ characters are introduced to a show, movie, or comic – because there’s no way they could actually make the story better. It’s completely unrealistic to imagine they could draw in larger audiences because they are in fact making stories more compelling. Come on, people.

Creators are scared of SJWs

In the era of Time’s Up, Me Too, and Black Lives Matter, it’s clear that writers and filmmakers are afraid of being seen as politically incorrect. So they add women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ characters to their stories to protect themselves against the social justice warriors who would otherwise bombard them with accusations of being misogynistic, racist, and homophobic. There’s a deep well of real superhero stories brewing inside the souls of these creators. Stories that exclusively center white, straight, male protagonists. But they’re afraid to tell those stories for fear of being lambasted by out of control liberals. We all know that’s exactly what’s going on here, right?

Fake geeks are ruining it for everyone

We’re in a cultural moment when “geek stuff” is becoming ever more mainstream. Comic books, science fiction, and fantasy are actually seen as cool by much wider audiences these days. And that shift has brought in a lot of fake geeks. I mean, that has to be the case because it’s common knowledge that there were no women, people of color, or LGBTQIA+ people involved in fandom before 2013. This new influx of supposed fans is really just made up of people who, despite genuinely enjoying the exact same comic books, shows, and movies as the rest of us, are not in fact real geeks. These people think they’re fans, but they just don’t get what geek culture is really about. They may go to the cons, create stunning cosplays, and religiously watch every episode or read every issue of their favorite shows and comics. But some of them didn’t get involved in their fandoms on the day they were pushed out of their mother’s vaginas. Nor can they recite by heart every single one of their fandom’s notable quotes or list off every single easter egg. So clearly, they have no clue what the hell they’re talking about and their thoughts and feelings are completely irrelevant. Yet they’ve had an inordinate influence on the direction in which shows, movies, and comics are going.  The result is the displacement of real heroes in favor of these weak characters in order to placate the fake geeks. Fandom just isn’t what it used to be in the 80s and 90s. Don’t you miss the good old days?


DISCLAIMER: This blog is satire.

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