“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet,
then you must write it.” ―Toni Morrison
The one thing that I’m personally learning this month is that there are a plethora of people who feel the need to create work because there is absence of something or because there is a void that needs to be filled. With that being said, here is today’s guest blogger, Denny Upkins:
They say necessity is the mother of all invention and by extension, creativity. As a storyteller I’ve certainly found that to be true for the narratives I penned.
As a queer geek of color, I’ve learned early on that geek culture is for white people for a number of reasons, and to be a PoC or an LGBTQ means to be treated like a pariah.
More than that, countless marginalized characters are endlessly undercut and buried due to the rampant bigotry that pervades the media. Extraordinary characters such as Storm (the First Lady of Marvel), Renee Montoya, Regina Mills, Freedom Ring, Midnighter, Cassandra Cain and countless others who have been lightning rods for racism, misogyny, and/or homophobia by fandom and the industry alike.
But as any artist will tell you, inspiration can often come in the unlikeliest of forms.
My online better half and partner in crime, playwright Shawn Harris and I were having a discussion one day about how bigotry can often be the best muse. We’re often empowered to tell the tales that white supremacy, homophobia, and patriarchy refuses to acknowledge. For example, if the comic book world is hellbent on not giving the proper shine to Cassandra Cain and Midnighter, then I would simply have to pen an original adventure honoring the spirit of these heroes and hopefully in the process educate, entertain, and empower neglected and marginalized audiences.
Make no mistake, this is about power. It always has been. Not only is there power in the narrative but power in controlling the narrative. Why do you think so many whites work tirelessly to block us out of spec fiction or the media in general? Power. Case in point, there’s a reason why even though the m/m slash romance genre for and about queer males, it is dominated and run by cis-gendered white women. It’s difficult to be heterosexist, homophobic and fetishistic about queer males in a genre where we’re empowered to share our truths. This is why harassment, stalking and death threats of queer males is the norm with these sociopaths in that genre. See how it intersects?
Ask yourself this. Even though X-Men is based on the Civil Rights struggle of blacks (ie OUR STORY), how many black writers have actually written for Marvel’s flagship title? For that matter, how many writers of color? Again, power.
And while their bigotry has paid off for a season, it will ultimately prove to be media’s undoing. Insiders can’t understand why Hollywood continues to hemorrhage money while Kickstarters, web series and other online media initiatives continue to gain ground. To quote Jack Harkness, it’s the 21st century, everything changes. The internet allows us to exchange ideas, information, and other resources to circumvent a crumbling and corrupt industry. We get to share our stories our way and connect with our audiences on our terms. In other words, we take our power back and excel in the face of adversity as people of color tend to do.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another epic adventure to write.
And they say there’s no new tale to tell.
11 thoughts on “The Unlikey Muse: Bigotry in Comic Books”
It is very frustrating that the big two are not very diverse or representative (or inclusive) of fandom, but if you look at publishers beyond them (Image in particular but others as well), there are many books that positively feature, and/or are created by, minorities. Supporting these titles (disclaimer, I work on one) shows all publishers that there is a demand for these kinds of stories and their creators.
Reblogged this on Graphic Policy and commented:
This a 1000 times over. Well said.
Reblogged this on Hand of Ananke.
Interesting article. Lost me when you attributed the American civil rights movement to “Blacks.”
Especially when you’ve gone out of your way to distinguish yourself as Latin. Afro Latinos may have joined the African American civil rights movement and been contributors, but they were already joining a narrative that existed before the ostensible end of slavery in the 1865.
The X-Men, whether it is Magneto trying to be X and the professor trying to be Malcolm, neither were telling YOUR story.