On Captain America and racism

First things first: I’ll keep this as spoiler-free as I can, and really, Episode 5 of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is not really an episode that can be spoiled, but something minor might slip through here and there if you haven’t seen the episode yet.

So, the whole thing about this show is this extended meditation– and, to put it out there, it’s a process I’ve very much enjoyed– on what the idea of Captain America is, and on what America itself is, and what it means when America’s so-called ideals don’t match up with America’s actions. We’ve been repeatedly reminded that the super-soldier serum makes you more of what you already were, and we’ve had the moral exemplar of Steve Rogers hovering over the entire show as someone everyone on the show is trying to live up to. Left unclear is whether Rogers is actually still alive; Sam and Bucky have both used the word “gone” for him several times, and everyone else thinks he’s dead, but I don’t know exactly what the situation is there.

They’ve done a good job of making John Walker a character who people can empathize with to some degree without making him sympathetic, I think, and it’s clear and getting clearer by the moment that he’s not up to the job of Captain America. But is anyone? Is Sam, who Steve Rogers actually gave the shield to, worthy of it? Is Bucky, for that matter, who doesn’t seem to want the job but also seems more than anyone else in the story to need there to be someone out there called Captain America? (Bucky, by the way, has served as Cap in the comics. So has Sam.)

And then there’s this specter of racism that’s hung over the entire show. Early on, Sam and his sister Sarah are denied a loan by a bank officer. He blames it on the effects of the Blip, and of course they leave that frisson of deniability in there, but you wonder. There’s Isaiah Bradley, a Black man experimented on in the process of developing the super soldier serum and later locked in jail and forgotten. Walker literally tells Sam to his face that America will never accept a Black Captain America– and, hell, judging from the reaction when he was Cap in the comics, America had a lot of trouble with a comic book about a Black Captain America. And then there’s Walker himself, a less-than-great white man propped up by a Black wife and a Black best friend, introduced to a screaming crowd by a Black marching band, and who only has the shield in the first place because a Black man gave it up and the government stole it.

All this is leading into me wondering why the hell Bucky and Steve aren’t big racists.

Now, okay, I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right: these versions of those characters can’t be racists, and that’s why they aren’t. Marvel needed Chris Evans’ Captain America to be all-caps-and-italics CAPTAIN AMERICA, and while Bucky is allowed his dark side, what with the decades of murdering, we still need him to be sympathetic and a hero. Both Rogers’ and Barnes’ man-out-of-time thing is played mostly for laughs and nothing else; Cap doesn’t understand pop culture references and doesn’t like to swear, and Barnes read Lord of the Rings when it first came out, because he’s a hundred and nine damn years old. So we’re just going to choose to ignore certain aspects of being a white man in 1945 who suddenly wakes up in 2015 (or whatever year Captain America: The First Avenger was set in) and is immediately confronted with a Black man in a position of enormous power and has absolutely no questions about it. Bucky Barnes grew up white in Brooklyn in the 1930s and 40s but he has a date with a Japanese girl in the first episode and has immediate chemistry with Sam’s sister in the fifth, and never once treats his Black Best Friend ™ with a drop of paternalism or condescension or anything.

Well, okay, he won’t move his seat up, but I don’t think that counts. And maybe you’re wondering Wait, Luther, are you seriously saying that every white person in the 1940s was a racist? To which my answer is, yes, I absolutely am saying that, at least by modern-day standards. And Steve and Bucky haven’t had eighty years of changing society to drag them along, they got plucked out of one timeline and dropped into another with no time to adjust in between.

But, to be clear: I don’t actually want Bucky accidentally dropping the n-word about Sam’s sister and having an episode where he apologizes. I don’t want Steve Rogers calling the Black Widow “Toots,” or blowing the Scarlet Witch shit for being Jewish, assuming she actually is Jewish in the MCU, which is sort of up for debate.

But it would be damned interesting to see a sort of What If? or Elseworlds-type series where Cap gets brought back by the type of person who is always holding up the forties and fifties as some sort of American Golden Age, something we should try to get back to, only to find out that the guy who was such a big hero in World War II is a massive asshole by anything approaching modern standards. The Ultimates universe leaned into this a little harder than the regular Marvel universe ever has; their Cap was jingoistic and a sexist and a whole lot of other things, but it was mostly played for comedy and/or shock value; what I’m looking for here tilts closer into villainy, and I want to see a story where America’s reaction to Captain America is part of the story. They got into that a little bit when Sam Wilson became Cap in the comics, now let’s see what happens when Steve Rogers himself is held up as this great guy and turns out not to be. What if Cap came back to modern-day America and rejected it? What if America rejected him, and said this is not who we want to be?

It’s been fun to think about, at least.


A quick social media note: I shut down my Facebook and Instagram accounts yesterday, at least temporarily, and as such blog posts won’t be shared there any longer. We’ll see if this hurts traffic or engagement on the site; you can still share posts yourself with the social media icons below, and sign up for email updates somewhere in that list of boxes on the right there.

On comics and candidates

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 10.21.08 PM.pngSo, Captain America’s a Nazi, supposedly.  And always has been.  He’s headed the Avengers for the majority of their existence and I think he was President once.  But right now is the big time to play that card.

Sure.

I’ve been reading comic books for a while, guys, and I’m old enough to recognize bullshit when I see it. Remember how people got all mad about the recent revelation that Han Solo was married during the original trilogy?  That was transparently a misdirect from the first panel and it got all sorts of people twisted up.  Now, I suspect the first panel of Steve Rogers: Captain America #2 is not going to be Cap saying “…Psych!” and that this will last a little bit longer than Solo’s “marriage.”  But for Christ’s sake, he got his original body back because a living embodiment of a Cosmic Cube decided to screw around with him.  (Comic books.  Shut up.)  So I suspect there are probably some shenanigans going on here.

Now, all that said, I really don’t like this direction, and making Cap a Nazi squicks for all kinds of reason that are more specific to Cap than, say, when they made Iron Man an asshole a couple of years ago.  Which, as it turned out, was a great storyline.  I was going to buy this issue, if only because I love the artist quite a bit, but I can’t reward this nonsense with my money.  But that doesn’t mean that I’m not fully aware that everything’s gonna get rolled back to normal in a few months.  And once it does, they can have my money again.


I think– and if I’ve said this before, it’s indisputably true now– that I’m officially tired of Bernie Sanders now, and it’s time for him to go the hell away.  There has not, to my knowledge, been a single debate between candidates of opposing political parties prior to the conventions in my lifetime, and there sure as shit hasn’t been one between the nominee of one party and the guy who came in second of the other.  And yeah, he came in second.  He lost.  He lost the second he decided he didn’t need to contest the South.  And it should have been obvious to everyone that he lost once New York happened.

It’s clear to me at this point that Sanders makes shitty decisions under pressure.  The first example was his fucking ridiculous family field trip to the Vatican, funded illegally by his campaign, so that he could bother the Pope for five minutes in a hallway for no clear reason.  And this “I’ll debate Trump” thing would be hilarious if he wasn’t clearly taking it seriously.  It’s also sexist as fuck; I refuse to believe he’d be entertaining this nonsense if the person who beat him wasn’t a woman.  Trump is transparently yanking him around by a chain right now and he doesn’t realize it.  It’s fucking pathetic.   And naming Cornel West to the platform committee at the convention is nothing more than a transparent attempt to blow the whole damn thing up.

Screw this guy.  I can’t wait for Al Giordano to announce his primary run for real so I can contribute money to him.


While I’m ranting, let’s cancel the Olympics before they turn Zika into a worldwide epidemic.  I think as soon as “the swimmers and boaters will literally be competing in human waste” became something that we just shrugged at they should have canned the damn thing, and that’s old shit by now.  Add in a planetary infectious disease that causes microcephaly in infants and I just don’t really see the need for the floor competition this year.  dt_160302_olympics_rings_zika_mosquito_800x600.jpg

#REVIEW: Captain America: CIVIL WAR

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And now, let me geek the hell out for a few minutes.

We’ll start with the tl;dr version: Captain America: Civil War: The Search for More Colons is the best Marvel movie.  You should go see it.  There’s really no reason to read the rest of this.  Just go see the damn movie.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.

Minor spoilers beyond the line, but nothing huge:

Continue reading “#REVIEW: Captain America: CIVIL WAR”

On the Spider-Man costume

So the last Civil War trailer just dropped, and it was super awesome right up until the point where Spider-Man and his godawful costume showed up: Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 2.45.16 PM.pngThat looks terrible, guys.  Somebody on Twitter compared it to a parade float, and that’s not far off.

Here’s the still Marvel released:

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I don’t know what the deal is with the mechanical black part of his eyes (they whirr!  And if you click for huge, which you can, you’ll see there’s actually telescoping parts in there!) but the rest of the suit looks infinitely better in this shot.  So I’m gonna assume they just hadn’t quite finished the CG or something on the shot that’s in the trailer.

The end.

REBLOG: Sikh Captain America: The Man Behind the Shield

I love this story, and the more attention it gets the better.

The Nerds of Color

Is America ready for a Sikh Captain America — a superhero fighting hate crimes and intolerance? In the wake of 9/11, the massacre of Sikh Americans in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and America post-Ferguson, my answer is a resounding yes! If superheroes can battle aliens, cyborgs, and fellow villainous superheroes, why can’t there be one that fights for social and racial justice?

In 2013, cartoonist Vishavjit Singh wore a Captain America costume for the first time with a royal blue turban to match his ensemble. The short documentary Red, White, and Beard is a quirky, lighthearted glance into Sikh Captain America and the man behind this growing phenomenon.

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