Friday, August 05, 2011

Spidey Derangement Syndrome

Meet Miles Morales. According to this story in USA Today, he's the new Ultimate Spider-Man, replacing the Ultimate version of Peter Parker, who was killed off in "Ultimate Fallout'.

Miles' co-creator, Brian Michael Bendis, says he was inspired by "Community" star Donald Glover's recent tweet campaign to get a screen test for Peter Parker in the latest Spider-Man movie. (Which is living proof that your efforts can still foster positive change, even if it's not the positive change you originally intended.)

Not surprisingly, this was a hot topic on the blogosphere.

Adding kerosene to the fire was The Daily Mailer's headline misinterpretation of this quote by Miles' artist and co-creator, Sara Pichelli:

"Maybe sooner or later a black or gay — or both — hero will be considered something absolutely normal."

Which the Mailer's headline turned into:

Marvel Comics reveals the new Spider Man is black - and he could be gay in the future

Fecal matter, meet rotary oscillator. Let the shitstorm commence!

Me? I think many people are overreacting to this.

First, it's not even the regular Marvel 616 canon; it's an Ultimate book.

Second, I'm a hell of a lot more upset that the powers-that-be had the 616 Peter Parker make a deal with the goddamned devil just because they didn't want to write him as married.

Third, I don't exactly have a drought of white male heroes, including the 616 Peter, to identify with.

Fourth, and most importantly, I like the idea that Miles is half Hispanic as well as half black for personal reasons. Because he shares the former trait in common with my wife. And because I have nephews who are predominantly Hispanic and are fellow geeks. And now they have another hero who shares their heritage. I should also mention that my wife teaches a at a predominantly Hispanic school with a minority African-American population. That's a lot of present and future potential readers who just found a more relatable hero.

Many on the Net felt as I do and expressed it. Many other internet denizens went apeshit crazy. Much in the way that Barack Obama's ascent to the presidency caused many white Republicans to develop "Obama Derangement Syndrome", the news of a half-black/half-Hispanic Spider-Man has caused an outbreak of something I can only call Spidey Derangement Syndrome.

Some of it's simple fanboy/fangirl geekery: Essentially, Miles is like Kyle Rayner or Ryan Choi, a new character taking the place of a long-established character in the latter's superhero identity. That's understandable. I'm not immune to it. My posts on the Superman reboot are proof of that. I love Spidey, too. I get it.

But some responders' problems with Miles ran deeper.

USA Today's comments section was full of remarks that Miles looked like Obama or Tiger Woods, as well as many complaints about a "politically correct" or "PC" agenda. Obama comparisons by the ton, including speculation that Miles would be a community organizer. The usual crap.

Here are some comments captured by the "I'm Not Racist, But.." blog:

Larry Doherty from Larry's Comics tweeted this gem:


Ha-fucking-ha, Larry.

And, of course, no summation of apeshit crazy reactions would be complete without hearing the two cents of the man whose name is synonymous with "apeshit crazy". Yes, I'm talking about Glenn Beck. The man who somehow tied this news to some kind of conspiracy led by Michelle Obama. Whatever, Glenn!

The reactions weren't all bad. We had this touching commentary from Sue at DC Women Kicking Ass, as well as this hilarious lampoon from Colbert. Very many reactions were positive.

But too many echoed the sentiments like this:

I find this whole "Woe is me, I'm a white person" trip extremely annoying. And I AM a white person.

I remember Dennis Miller making a joke like this once about whites now technically being a statistical minority a few years back, ending with "And let me tell you, I am SICK of dealing with 'The Man'!!" But Miller was just joking. Some of these guys take the "poor oppressed white people" schtick seriously.

If you're white and you actually believe this, then allow me to respond with the words of Livia Soprano.

Take it away, Livia!