Jump to content

Should comic book characters be more diverse?


Doom Saber
 Share

Recommended Posts

I am curious if anyone feels the same way as me. I would like if there are more characters of different ethnic groups and sexual orientation in comics. I understand some ppl might frown upon seeing more gay characters in comics, but imo, I think having characters of different backgrounds helps the readers relate to the characters more.

 

For example, I loved that DC comics introduced Ryan Choi as the Atom since there are hardly any positive asian male characters in comics. It is not being racist, but ethnic identity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When you try to make characters more diverse, you run the risk of being insulting to the same groups you're trying to be inclusive with. The reason is that instead of writing a character, you wind up writing a caricature of an ethnicity or similar group. Trust me, I've been insulted many, many, many times by a writer trying to include latino or native american characters. I usually wind up shaking my head and saying to myself, "Hey, it's the thought that counts. Even if that thought was reducing my entire culture to a stereotype."

 

It gets even worse for sexual orientation. Several of my gay friends hate, and I mean hate, Northstar. Not because he's gay, but because writers seem to feel compelled to write write him "gay" (using a stereotype), or push him to the background to avoid being offensive. Being gay doesn't determine anything except which gender you're more inclined to want to have sex with. Somehow, that doesn't really seem like a subject that would come up much when you're trying to save the world.

 

If a writer wants diversity, more power to them. But it's important that the characters' ethnicity or sexual orientation be just one part of their identity as a whole.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think as long as the character has pure, noble intentions behind his or her actions, their race, gender, or sexuality shouldn't be an issue. Most of the big name heroes were created prior to the Civil Rights Movement, thus they were white guys in costumes doing good deeds. It does feel forced when publishers feel that they have to diversify unless the characters are written properly as a normal person. A perect example of when diversity gone wrong is the cover of Justice League of America #173, where Black Lightning is turning down Superman's offer of JLA membership.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I agree that the superhero's deeds should be more important than their race and gender, I also think that the superhero should connect to the different readers, who otherwise feels alienated. Superheroes are made to be role models for children readers. In my opinion, by having different superheroes with different traits and size, it helps different readers relate to the readers.

 

For example, Sesame Street recently introduced a muppet with black curly hair. She was introduced to the series because one of the writer's adopted daughter felt alienated for having curly hair - most of the images she seen on TV were people with straight hair.

 

I am not saying that a comic book company should make a character that empathaizes his race traits or sexual orientation first, but rather make the focus on the character's heroic traits first like any other characters, but have his race or whatever be second. To clarify, characters like Apache Chief and Samurai from teh superfriends are offensive since the creators focused on their race more than their traits. However, I find characters like the asian guy in the Walking Dead an interesting character since they didn't focus on her race, but his personality as a human being.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll definitely agree on that. Diversity can make give a comic story depth that it otherwise might not have. When handled correctly, a broad spectrum of cultures in the story will feel natural because it reflects the world around us.

 

The Super Friends are great examples of the opposite of this. Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, and El Dorado make you feel like the Justice League went on a recruitment drive after they got sued by the NAACP.

 

(Strangely, I still want to get the Super Friends figures. Weird.)

 

So I guess to answer your question, I think writers should allow for diversity when creating interesting, story driven character, rather than setting out to create diversity as an end unto itself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I agree that the superhero's deeds should be more important than their race and gender, I also think that the superhero should connect to the different readers, who otherwise feels alienated. Superheroes are made to be role models for children readers. In my opinion, by having different superheroes with different traits and size, it helps different readers relate to the readers.

 

For example, Sesame Street recently introduced a muppet with black curly hair. She was introduced to the series because one of the writer's adopted daughter felt alienated for having curly hair - most of the images she seen on TV were people with straight hair.

 

I am not saying that a comic book company should make a character that empathaizes his race traits or sexual orientation first, but rather make the focus on the character's heroic traits first like any other characters, but have his race or whatever be second. To clarify, characters like Apache Chief and Samurai from teh superfriends are offensive since the creators focused on their race more than their traits. However, I find characters like the asian guy in the Walking Dead an interesting character since they didn't focus on her race, but his personality as a human being.

 

I totally agree. Like probably most guys who were kids in the 90's, I was a big X-Men fan. Wolverine was my favorite and I'm sure it owed partly to the fact that he was a short meaty guy with dark hair and a square jaw. I also liked that in his early years he was often portrayed as a beaten down world-weary alcoholic who managed to struggle onward and came through for his friends when it counted. Definitely my kind of guy ;)

 

I also liked how diverse the team usually was at that point as well. I've been quite fond of Bishop since I was about twelve or so. The fact that he was voiced on the old cartoon by the same guy that played Charlie on Highlander just makes him that much cooler. I like to think that a natural function of diversity is to break down barriers and bridge the gaps that can separate people of different cultures. That should just be a matter of rational application, I think, rather than anything overtly political. Unfortunately there will always be people who try to unjustly politicize everything. For example, I like Psych. I think it's a pretty great show. The lead actor, James Roday, is half Mexican. His birth name is James Rodriguez but he changed his surname while retaining the first three letters because that's a fairly common name. Believe it or not, he's drawn criticism for it, often from folks of a certain political persuasion, because the new surname doesn't "properly emphasize" the Hispanic portion of his heritage. I think the reason diversity can be such a touchy subject is because no matter how well you handle it someone will always find something to complain about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While I agree that the superhero's deeds should be more important than their race and gender, I also think that the superhero should connect to the different readers, who otherwise feels alienated.

I read that, and thought about all the black guys I've known who are Superman fans. I'm not talking casual "I'll catch Smallville if I have time" fans, I'm talking hard-core "wear the suit to comicon" types.

 

On the same token, do I have to mention all the white guys with purple light-sabers who have memorized every line ever spoken by Mace Windu?

 

Back in the '70's, studying karate became socially "IN." you know where this enterest came from? Billy Jack? Chuck Norris? No? That's right, baby, Bruce Lee movies.

 

The point is, a good character, a really good character, strikes a chord that goes way beyond matters of race. Everyone enjoys it on a purely adventure/escapeism level. On the flip-side, when you artificially inject race, sexual preference, religious faith, into the mix, you take away from that.

 

That's not saying you should'nt have those elements as part of a character, just not the defining part of the character.

 

The difference using black characters in your example is that they are more socially accepted in mainstream media than other minorities. There was a time when having black characters on television was considered too ethnic. It took time for people to accept them. Characters like Black Panther were praised by critics to be a positive superhero for kids during a time when there was hardly black superheroes. His race didn't define him, but rather his actions. What I mean is that during a time when black superheroes were speaking jibe and were depicted as former gangsters, the Black Panther was portrayed as a wealthy prince from a rich African country.

 

As I have said before, I am not saying that race should be the defining parts of a character nor to be added just added artificially. I am saying that such aspects can help people relate to the character. The thing is that a lot of good superheroes are made because of the political issues at the time.

 

I don't really understand the escapism/adventure level that people seems to make since a lot of comics nowadays deals with race, religion, sexual orientation, violence, and political issues. No offense, but it sounds like it is a way for people to say not to add controversial issues into a medium that was created for to deal with such issues. For example, the first american comic strip is called the "Yellow Kid", which dealt with racism at the time. The X-men were made during the civil rights movement; one of the biggest themes in X-men were mutant rights and how the general public treats them differently. Captain America was made because of World War II whereas Hulkling's and Wiccan's relationship was heavily explored in the comics and their were praised by straight and gay comic readers. I remember when those two characters were made, people were upset, stating that there shouldn't be gay characters in comics since they read comics to escape things like homosexuality.

 

The creator of Hulkling and Wiccan is gay and wanted to make gay characters since it was something that relates to him, much like how the duo behind Superman made the character to as a representation of themselves.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If having a diverse character suits the story, then fine, do it. Otherwise, what difference does it make?

 

Personally, I despise "diversity" for diversity's sake.

 

Not enough stories with strong black/hispanic/etc, characters? Then maybe someone who cares should write a few. If there's truly a market for them, they'll sell, and the creators will be successful; if not, then they'll fail.

 

It's like the WNBA in basketball. This league COULD NOT survive without revenue from the NBA because, in truth, NO ONE really gives a damn about womens' basketball...But for the sake of the sacred cow of "diversity", an entire league is subsidized. Yeah, it's private money, so who cares, right? But it happens too often with public money, too.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Find Action Figures on Ebay

×
×
  • Create New...
Sign Up For The TNI Newsletter And Have The News Delivered To You!


Entertainment News International (ENI) is the #1 popular culture network for adult fans all around the world.
Get the scoop on all the popular comics, games, movies, toys, and more every day!

Contact and Support

Advertising | Submit News | Contact ENI | Privacy Policy

©Entertainment News International - All images, trademarks, logos, video, brands and images used on this website are registered trademarks of their respective companies and owners. All Rights Reserved. Data has been shared for news reporting purposes only. All content sourced by fans, online websites, and or other fan community sources. Entertainment News International is not responsible for reporting errors, inaccuracies, omissions, and or other liablities related to news shared here. We do our best to keep tabs on infringements. If some of your content was shared by accident. Contact us about any infringements right away - CLICK HERE