Contemplating "X-Men and the Civil Rights Movement"

"Halle Berry is unworthy of Moi."
Do you know I still have to explain to people how X-Men is an allegory to the Civil Rights movement?

It amazes me how everyone from Stan Lee to Rebecca Romijn have explained in detail how X-Men was primarily based on the struggle blacks endured to attain equal rights.

Stan Lee has repeatedly explicated how Magneto was based on Malcolm X and that Charles Xavier was based on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Do you know that when I point this out to white folks, they STILL argue with me even after I point them to interviews and other evidence where Stan Lee and other creators specifically state that the Civil Rights movement was the primary inspiration for X-Men?

For years I thought the Civil Rights references to X-Men was too on the nose: Raven is my slave name, the chickens are coming home to roost, Magneto stating to handle matters “by any means necessary,” Xavier’s dream of a peaceful co-existence between mutants and humans.

But apparently peeps still don’t know their history. Not only that but too often they flip their shit when the obvious is pointed out to them. They act is if giving credit to black people = the combination of defying the laws of physics, punching a kitten and pissing on the Bible all in one fell swoop.


Comments

  1. To coin a popular phrase, "DUH!".

    That was obvious to me from the very first X-Men episode I watched when I was 7. 7! I'm not even an American (never even visited the country) and his source material was as clear as a bright blue summer sky.

    The only ones who don't see it are those who blind themselves to the truth.

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  2. Some modern fans (such as direct Bryan Singer himself) even equate X-Men to the current gay rights struggle. Hence Sir Ian McKellen's interest.

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  3. A world that hates and fears them indeed.

    And yes, modern X-men stuff tends toward the gay rights struggle, but you really want some well done parallels read Grant Morrison's run on New X-men which took place before the massive mutant depopulation, in which it explores the subculture mutants have developed around themselves.

    I'll add a shout-out to Alan Moore's Top Ten, which is both a great read and does something similar with robots standing in for various minority groups.

    And Dust:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_%28comics%29
    My current favorite X-lady.

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  4. They act is if giving credit to black people = the combination of defying the laws of physics, punching a kitten and pissing on the Bible all in one fell swoop.

    THIS so much. And it is applicable to so many other situations where people do not want to give credit or associate anything positive or innovative with black people

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  5. I really wanted to know more about it. Everything I know is just a mix of stories from different series and movies. But, of course, it's always been clear it's about civil rights. They're my favorite superheroes.
    Also, as I said before in other post, I believe these kinds of stories should be portraited by people from the minorities in movies and series. But they still continue to do it wrong (True Blood).

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  6. @ akantis

    Thanks for the heads-up on Dust - the rare positive Muslim character in comics, as Wikipedia says.

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  7. this is why I really just prefer to read the comics, because Hollyweird just chops and screws it. Like Neo said its mainly because of this...

    "They act is if giving credit to black people = the combination of defying the laws of physics, punching a kitten and pissing on the Bible all in one fell swoop."

    its so natural that some people do this, that its disheartening sometimes

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  8. beatlefan17612/1/10, 7:34 AM

    I specifically remember Stan Lee at the San Diego Comicon talking about the conversation between Storm and Beast that was in both the movie and the comics. Storm is advocating that non-mutants are not all bad people, that they need to get to know them. Beast responds back with, 'Yes, dear lady, but you can walk amongst them undetected, if need be.' Stan himself said it was a reference to the art of passing. Lots of gay and Jewish children identified with it because they too could walk amongst White America and unless they made an accidental slip, no one would realize they were the other. It was meant to convey the terror that people felt even though they were enjoying societal freedoms. Why do nerds want to deny Stan Lee? I thought in this world, Stan Lee and Gene Rodenberry's word was law.

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  9. Honey, their word is law until the laws start saying stuff the "fans" - not nerds - don't like.

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  10. Some people are blind to the truth, but I some choose to ignore the truth because the truth is painful to take in. So, they prefer not to even take a glimpse at it. The parallels are obvious, but some people made the decision to avoid it in hopes that it will "go away" somehow.

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  11. thought in this world, Stan Lee and Gene Rodenberry's word was law.

    I've said in several posts on LJ that White Trek fen would NOT like the Trekiverse at all! If there's no racism then guess what! There's no White supremacy or White privilege to fall back on. No giving the ol' high sign and wink-wink-nudge-nudge-say-no-more to your fellow Whiteys to hook you up with that job, interview, university slot or whatever to help you get ahead. No unwritten rules about how "those people" really aren't Startfleet material or really don't fit into the Federation. They'd actually have to compete with other folks. And that MacLean article bullshit shows how well Whites actually take that.

    But not only would they have to compete with other non-White humans, they'd have to compete with non-humans as well and with species that could do stuff way better than we could and have abilities we don't. When Whites, especially settler-nation Whites, see where they'd REALLY fit into Trek society, they'd be screaming and begging and trying to do all sorts of botched experiments to alter space-time to get themselves back to this time and this world!

    Some people are blind to the truth, but I some choose to ignore the truth because the truth is painful to take in. So, they prefer not to even take a glimpse at it.

    The only people who find it "painful" that Stan Lee based the X-Men off the Black American Civil Rights Movement are anti-Black racists, period. So I really don't give a shit about their alleged "pain."

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  12. So bookmarking this post.

    @Leoprincess. That puts you ahead of most people because there are still white folks (even well meaning ones) who honestly don't know about the allegory and are floored when I point it out to them. Also, I'll be sending you that list of graphic novels we discussed in the previous post.

    @K. I think that's why Singer did such an excellent job with the first two films because as a gay man, he can relate. The scene where Bobby "comes out" to his parents. "Have you ever tried NOT being a mutant?" What LGBTQ hasn't had that discussion.

    Also, co-signing on Dust being a wonderful, awesome character.

    The thing is, it's not even Hollywood that's failing here (at least not as much), it's comic book fandom and writers.

    You bring up the Civil Rights analogy and you have legion of whites arguing "No it's based solely on being Jewish" or "No, it's based solely on being gay." Not saying there aren't parallels or heck even a factor, but it's like whites will accept ANYTHING other than acknowledging blacks for anything positive. Yes, X-Men has come to stand for Jews, gays and other marginalized people but so has Civil Rights as it's been the blue prints for other anti-oppression struggles.

    And the writers and editors aren't much better. Back in the day when X-Men was the no.1 selling series of all time (yes the comic book based on the Civil Rights struggle was the no. 1 best selling series of all time only to be beat out back then by Spawn, another comic book featuring a black guy. OH EM EFFIN GEE!!), there was actual diversity. One of the things that made X-Men unique was that you didn't have to be the leader to be important and any character could take center stage at any time. All of the characters had unique and diverse backgrounds. Young, old, men, women, boys, girl, black, white, Latino, Asian. And more important, any character could take center stage in a front burner storyline at anytime. Be you Nightcrawler, Rogue, Bishop, Archangel, Psylocke or Storm.

    And speaking of Storm: A black woman that is regal, intelligent, and sophisticated and beautiful. Never happens. A black woman who becomes the leader of a comic book company's flagship superhero title, never happens. A black woman who became the first lady of Marvel comics. Never happens. A black woman who beat WONDER WOMAN in the DC vs. Marvel crossover. Never happens.

    And yet all of that happened.

    Storm's popularity transcended the X-Men and yet she's never had an ongoing series while Wolverine has 12. not only that but her presence has been diminished while Marvel pushes Ms. Marvel and Emma Frost heavily. White blonde privilege much?

    The X-Men has now been reduced to Wolverine and his 150 sidekicks show. And the titles revolve around Scott Summers, Emma Frost and Wolverine. And as much as I love Scott (he's my favorite character along with Storm), there are other characters in these book who deserve screentime. Characters like Dust, or Bobby or oh I don't know, STORM!!!!!

    I agree wholeheartedly with what Witchsistah says save for one thing. Anti-Black racists DO experience genuine pain when they witness anything positive about us. In fact it's like a taser to the balls only 1000x worse.

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  13. "I agree wholeheartedly with what Witchsistah says save for one thing. Anti-Black racists DO experience genuine pain when they witness anything positive about us. In fact it's like a taser to the balls only 1000x worse."

    Muahhahaha!!!! *Good* :)

    But that's what's so frightening. It really is as if their sense of identity, their existence and their very lives depend on specifically negating us even while they're drawing off of us like vampires, while insisting on the right NOT to credit us for anything.

    It's such bizarre, twisted act of double-think that shows of their strange psychology. And I've definitely noticed that while African-Americans were primarily the ones who created the Civil Rights framework, people want to use that framework, insert themselves into it and then erase the creators from view while associating it with someone else.

    @Witchsistah:
    Exactly. But they imagine because they invest so much into their positive self-image and tjeir hollow rhetoric about how much they like equality and how fond they are of level playing fields. Yet in practice they hate things like equity, fairness, meritocracy, mutual respect with the fire of a thousand suns. Even they know it (on some level). We definitely know it. Nobody's fooled.

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  14. @ Neo-Prodigy

    Thanks for stopping by; we all owe you big for this.

    @ nynorika

    But they imagine because they invest so much into their positive self-image and tjeir hollow rhetoric about how much they like equality and how fond they are of level playing fields. Yet in practice they hate things like equity, fairness, meritocracy, mutual respect with the fire of a thousand suns.

    This was what I was trying to convey to readers on the Narrative. POC are not ignored nor truly considered worthless by whites because we're a threat.

    Human Behavior 101: you don't negatively obsess over someone if they don't matter.

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  15. Storm's popularity transcended the X-Men and yet she's never had an ongoing series while Wolverine has 12. not only that but her presence has been diminished while Marvel pushes Ms. Marvel and Emma Frost heavily. White blonde privilege much?

    Makes my afro hurt.

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  16. How did I not see this before! drrr.

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  17. @ Neo-Prodigy - Thank you! :D

    Emma Frost...*shudders* That character never sat well with me. Something about her turns me right off...I just can't put my finger on it.

    Edit - And, yes, my friend agrees with your sentiment about Halle Berry and Storm.

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  18. What the hell were thinking casting Halle Berry as Storm?

    Halle Berry is fine, but she's mostly hype, and when I think of an "East African goddess", she doesn't come to mind.

    Iman does, though. Can I get a "Hail, Goddess" on that?

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  19. @leoprincess Emma Frost always reminded me of the white girls I knew growing up in the suburbs. Spoiled, hateful, and just a mean, nasty person.

    I'm actually glad Storm isn't with the X-Men. After garbage like Xtreme X-Men her getting with Black Panther was an improvement. I love how her getting married to T'Challa pissed off some fans online because they were all like "OH THEY ONLY GOT TOGETHER BECUZ THEY WERE BLACK" like as if black characters should never interact with each other. That mindset is disgusting and makes no sense to me. It's like some comic book fans want black characters to be seen (as wallpaper or stereotypes) and not heard (as three-dimensional characters). Shame Marvel f'd up with Doomwar.

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  20. @K. HAIL GODDESS!!!!

    I agree that Iman would've been the obvious choice. This is something we comic book fans said for decades in our fantasy casting, but seeing as they were going with a younger cast (like they do with everything else), that's probably why they went with Halle, that and she seems to be the only black actress Hollywood has ever heard of.

    While Halle wouldn't have been my first pick, I think she did an excellent job as far as a Halle Berry portrayal of Storm goes. And all things considered, they could've picked a far worse actress, so I'm going to count my blessings. And by virtue of Dorothy Dandridge and her other efforts to showcase and celebrate black actresses, I try to keep that in mind with my assessment of Halle. But the next person's mileage may vary.

    That being said, my top two picks for Storm (aside from Iman) would've been Gina Torres (my boo) who is a goddess in her own right or N'Bushe Wright who I definitely think would've held the role down like nobody's business.

    @Leoprincess: Here's my problem with Emma Frost. Don't get me wrong. Back in the day, she used to be the shit. Hellfire Club, Emma Frost, you couldn't fuck with her. Generation X Emma Frost, badass doesn't even cover it. But the moment she hooked up with Cyclops, she became a fucking joke. She's so obsessed with being Queen Bee (which she's only in charge because she's fucking Scott, because she sure as hell hasn't earned anyone's respect like say STORM did) that This is also why Emma has clashed with every major female X-Man who she's deemed a threat: Rachel, Kitty, Dani, Wolfsbane, Storm, X-23 (essentially all of them) in an attempt to establish herself as Queen Bee. And when she lives on an island with hundreds of people and her man Scott has to go to the mainland and hire people (see Heralds) to be her friend for her birthday because everyone hates her ass, THAT should tell you something.

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  21. @AnotherPupil. The biggest problem with X-Treme X-Men or any horrible portrayal of Storm can be linked back to Chris Claremont who is the Uwe Boll of comics. They keep letting him write her (because for some reason he's been credited with her success which is bullshit) and he is the shittiest writer in comics (and that's saying something).

    We won't mention the one-shot comic X-Women written by Claremont where Storm and the other X-Women are stuck on an island in bathing suits where they've lost their powers. This nasty ass troll of a pirate keeps trying to sexually assault Storm and she acts all amused by it...Yeah, it was that bad.

    As much as I adore both T'Challa and Storm, I have not been a fan of their marriage which came across as an over-hyped publicity stunt and Marvel's rendition of Pair-Up The Negro. While the two had a brief past, the way it was reintroduced just came out of nowhere. And the fact that interference (and cockblocking) was run on Storm almost becoming romantically linked with Wolverine, Marvel's golden white boy mary sue, doesn't sit well with me either. To me it came across like, LOGAN IS ABOUT TO HOOK UP WITH THAT UPPITY BLACK GIRL. OH NOES!!!!!!

    While Storm and Wolverine have been romantically linked in the Ultimate universe and other alternate realities, I have no doubt that despite the few interracial relationships in comics, this high profile pairing would've resulted in some serious Racefail in fandom. Marvel's top hero is in love with a black girl OH NOES!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If T'Challa was going to hook up with a super heroine, he should've married Monica Rambeaux imho. They actually have history that doesn't come off as contrived or forced. If the powers that be were hellbent on going through the pairing of T'Challa and Ororo, what should've happened was that they should've allowed the romance to build up for at least a year, if not longer before even delving into the marriage. I think the biggest problem was the execution.

    But I won't lie, Storm's dress (which was designed by the costume designers of Guiding Light) was off the chain.

    Also, you might be interested in reading my review of Doomwar and how I think it could've been epic.

    http://neo-prodigy.livejournal.com/833908.html

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  22. I remember when the casting of the first X-movie was made, and my friend bitched and moaned epically over Halle's selection. My friend's a huge Storm fan and she used to take issue with how certain artists would draw Storm in the books - so I knew she was going to flip a switch at the casting. With me, I knew Hollywood made a business decision with casting Halle - she's black (enough), female and A-list. Cha-CHING!

    The chief reason why I gave up comics back in high school was the deteriorating quality of story lines, followed by the artwork taking a nose dive. Mix those with comics getting more and more expensive, and it no longer seemed worth it to pinch out of my meager allowance each month to but them - and I only supported 2 titles back then: X-Men and Uncanny X-Men (they didn't carry many titles out here back in my time, and it's worse now). I bowed out shortly after the Trial of Gambit, and I haven't looked back. Colour me surprised, though, when I heard they killed Jean for good(!) and paired Cyclops with Emma Frost(!!!!). Storm's wedding came out of left field for me too; it just smelled of a publicity scheme that Marvel was trying to pull - and the fact that I had no idea who T'Challa was made it worse (remember: limited titles in Jamdown).

    Having left comics, I got into graphic novels and manga. You have your crap ones in that genre as well, but I appreciate the fact that once an arc is done - it's done. Once a series is done...well, you get my point. :D

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  23. @ Neo-Prodigy

    I read your review of DoomWar. I agree with most of the points you made (though if they reveal Emma is a Skrull in the future I will scream; I can't stand the Skrulls. They are right up there with the Yellow Space Mantis in Green Lantern.) I would like to talk to you more about my views about Storm's marriage but I do not want to go too far off topic. I am on LiveJournal so if you want to talk just message me. I would send one to you but I rarely use it so I'll have to figure out how to first.

    As for X-Men and it's basis on the Civil Rights Movement, here's an interesting essay from several years ago:

    http://www.playahata.com/pages/morpheus/xmen.htm

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  24. In Ultimate X-Men Storm and Wolverine are a couple, and Colossus is gay and in a relationship with Northstarr.Too bad they ended Ultimate X-Men though.

    T'Challa and Storm: it was botched in execution but it made sense on a number of levels. Wolverine and Storm would never work for me as they are written in the main Storyline even though I ship them to death in Ultimates. It works in ultimates because all the characters are younger, even the professor is.

    Storm is so badass in Ultimates it's not even funny.

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  25. *While Storm and Wolverine have been romantically linked in the Ultimate universe and other alternate realities, I have no doubt that despite the few interracial relationships in comics, this high profile pairing would've resulted in some serious Racefail in fandom. Marvel's top hero is in love with a black girl OH NOES!!!!!!!!!!!!*

    Storm is too good for Wolverine's lame ass. Except in Ultimates! And you're right about the race fail thing.

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  26. I think Angela Basset would've made a good Storm(think her as Tina Turner) because as an actress she exudes wisdom and strength which are the qualities I associate with Storm , or Sanaa Lathan if they wanted someone younger.

    Halle Berry.......maybe if they had actually followed the WANTED comic she could've played FOX whose character is black in the comic but is played by Angelina Jolie(aesthetically a fail and plot wise a fail) in the film(among other divergences)

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  27. N'Bushe Wright, Angela Bassett, Sanaa Lathan, Gina Torres - damn, these are good choices! Storm is legend, therefore you get a LEGEND to play to storm.

    I maintain Iman was the "duh" choice. *sigh* I just hope I live to see a better portrayal.

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  28. Yeah, this is always the problem with fandoms (at least ones with a significant percentage of white followers). However, how one couldn't draw the connection between X-Men being an allegory for the Civil Rights Movement or any other minority struggle is beyond willful stupidity to a point where you have to wonder how such a person could maintain life sustaining activities.

    *Sigh* C'est la vie avec les cons, non?

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  29. @AnotherPupil. What's your LJ handle, I tried to PM you but your LJ didn't come up. Hit me up on LJ and let's geek out and chat about DoomWar, Storm, T'Challa, etc.

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  30. @ Neo-Prodigy I'll get back to you in a few days. I've been swamped with work lately. Do you have facebook?

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