Saturday, December 04, 2010

What do you mean “we” Paleface?

There is an old joke about The Lone Ranger and Tonto being surrounded by Apaches and The Lone Ranger saying “Looks like they have us surrounded, my friend.” And Tonto responding, “What do you me ‘we,’ Paleface?” I always thought that was a funny gag. These days, with so much “Real Americans” talk going around the country (the Bush camp couldn't denounce Colin Powell fast enough when he came out as supporting Barack Obama for President, stating that “Real Virginians” were for McCain).

I kind of thought that sort of subtle racism was absent from comics, then a friend of mine pointed me to this article where the author talks about the “rewhitening” of the DC universe.
But it's there, and it's becoming increasingly hard to ignore. And it's particularly prevalent in DC Comics because no other company so relies on legacy characters. There's no other company that has the idea of super-heroic roles being passed from one generation to the next quite so hardwired into it. They've been doing it since 1956, when Barry Allen took the place of Jay Garrick and ushered in the Silver Age. And because most of their popular and enduring characters were created in the early days -- the '30s, '40s and '50s, when the only minority characters were outright racist caricatures like Ebony White and Chop-Chop -- they were white. 
All I can say is with the dumbing down and “unmarrying” of Spider-Man it can only bode ill for my beloved hobby.

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