Flame On, Indeed!

« May 2015 »

Memo to white nerds: LET IT GO.

In the new Fantastic Four movie, Johnny Storm is black. The actor who plays him, Michael B. Jordan, recently addressed the fact that white people, especially white nerds, are mad about it. He was kind. I will not be kind.

First, we need to go back almost exactly one decade, prior to the release of the first shitty Fantastic Four movie. Jessica Alba, an actor of Hispanic descent, was cast to play Sue Storm. Sue Storm, mind you was not being changed to Latina. They just cast Jessica Alba to play her. This led Fantastic Four artist and cranky old nerd fuck John Byrne to post the following to the Internet, where everyone could read it. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Hispanic and Latino women with blonde hair look like hookers to me, no matter how clean or “cute” they are."

If you just think that, you're creepy and weird and yes, kind of racist and also have some weird ideas about sex work. If you think it's OK to say this, publicly, well, you're even more fucked in the head.

Ten years later, and nothing's changed. One member of the F4 gets ethnically recast and white nerds flip the fuck out because they're racists. That's all there is to it, no matter what "rational" arguments they try to marshal to try to prove it's something else. It's racist.

And the reason it's racist is that we're dealing with legacy characters here. Johnny Storm was created in 1961. DC superheroes go even farther back, to the 1930s. This means that most iconic superheroes are white, not because they're supposed to be, but because they had to be, because we were even more racist back when they were created.

So, to keep the Human Torch white because he's always been white is to deliberately maintain the incredibly racist proportional representation that was in place when the characters were created. Maintaining a racist system out of tradition is, you guessed it, racist.

Now nerds, I hope you were paying attention to that last paragraph, because you're about to make the "reverse racism" argument and say that if they'd recast, say, Black Panther or Luke Cage as a white guy, people would be upset. And they would be. And they'd be right to.

Back in the day, when black characters were created, they were created as Capital B Capital C BLACK CHARACTERS. African princes. Jive street-toughs. Guys with electrical powers who nevertheless ended up with the word "Black" in their name. Even more recent innovations like the Milestone line (which gave us Static) and Miles "Spider-Man" Morales were very deliberate attempts to make superheroes more diverse, and represent more ethnicities.

This is the price you pay for 80 years of white being the default. If you're white by default, that means you're not white for a reason, and if you're not white for a reason, you don't have to stay white. If you're not white, you're not the default, which means you're not white for a reason, which means you have to stay not white. Get it? No? That's because you're a racist white nerd. But that's OK.

You're just going to be angry a lot at "political correctness" in the years to come. And that's your right. Even if what you call "political correctness" is really just "being butthurt over something that you're used to being taken away", and your anger is really just petulant whining. You'll survive.