Hudlin Entertainment Forum

General Category => General Discussion => Topic started by: Kristopher on May 07, 2010, 06:34:08 am

Title: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Kristopher on May 07, 2010, 06:34:08 am
The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling

(http://www.blogcdn.com/www.comicsalliance.com/media/2010/05/atom.jpg)

In this month's comic book solicitations, it's been revealed that Ray Palmer is making a return to comics as the Atom, following in the footsteps of characters like Hal Jordan and Barry Allen in what I like to call "regressive storytelling." These are stories that look to the past instead of the future, setting things back to the way they were rather than progressing them to what they should be next, rendering huge swaths of their fictional universe irrelevant because they didn't star the One True Version of a character.

In a lot of ways, it's an unavoidable aspect of the way comics work, in that most creators started out as (and presumably still are) fans first. And for fans, the One True Version of any given character is the one that made the biggest impact on them when they were growing up, be it Cary Bates' Flash or Adam West's Batman, and by and large, the fan mentality doesn't lend itself to innovation. Instead, it prompts the same desire that leads to fan-fiction: They want to play with their favorite toys, and if the universe they're working with doesn't allow that, then it's the universe that has to change, not them.

"The Good Old Days" have become a driving force in the comics industry in particular and DC Specifically (and Geoff Johns even more specifically, as DC's Creative Director who is personally responsible for regressing Green Lantern, Flash, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Hawkman, Aquaman and others), and it's all built around a desire to recapture a feeling these creators got when they were kids. And that's not necessarily a bad thing -- I'm certainly not an exception to fan culture, and there are stories that push my "Oh hey, I remember that" buttons as hard as anyone else's -- except that the form it takes ignores that much of what made Jack Kirby or Cary Bates or Alan Moore or Frank Miller so exciting wasn't what they were doing, but that they were doing things that hadn't been done before. Instead, we're in an industry right now that wants to constantly reset itself, running on nostalgia rather than innovation, moving backwards instead of moving forwards, and while I complain about it both often and at length, it seems to be what the majority of comics readers want, no matter how wrong-headed I think it is.

But there's an unintentional side-effect to all this regression that often goes ignored: The piece-by-piece white-washing of the DC Universe.

Before I go any further, I want to make it absolutely clear that I'm not suggesting that creators like Geoff Johns are racist, or that their stories are consciously motivated by racism in any way. I don't think that factors into what they're doing at all; the motivation is one of nostalgia and resistance to change, not race. I don't think the racial consequences of what they're doing even cross their minds, which is an entirely different, and in some ways, more insidious problem.  (more here) (http://www.comicsalliance.com/2010/05/06/the-racial-politics-of-regressive-storytelling/)
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 07, 2010, 03:15:24 pm
great story and a perfect critique of DC's racial problems.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: jefferson L.O.B. sergeant on May 07, 2010, 06:06:52 pm
I've used Reggie's " Comics are the Deep South of the entertainment industry" quote on several occasions to describe the state of diversity in mainstream storytelling. While it got the usual reactions i.e. (Hudlin is always bringing up race) ( Hudlin is a racist)  it gains validity with each passing moment.

If one juxtaposes the rise of Rap music along with the comicbook industry from 1988 on, the distinction is astounding. While an entire generation of Whites have gravitated to the image of: strong, wealthy, confident Black men in rap, the average White comicbook fan has derided every powerful depiction of a Black superhero during the same period.

Will Smith is the biggest movie star in the world; as well as being the biggest action movie star in the world and yet a Black superhero has never topped the charts during his era of success. That is probably the biggest indictment of the industry as a whole. A Black man is a global action/superhero icon of cinema and yet the fans of the smallest segment of the entertainment industry can't embrace a single Black hero without claims of tokenism.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Afro Samurai on May 07, 2010, 06:41:38 pm
I've used Reggie's " Comics are the Deep South of the entertainment industry" quote on several occasions to describe the state of diversity in mainstream storytelling. While it got the usual reactions i.e. (Hudlin is always bringing up race) ( Hudlin is a racist)  it gains validity with each passing moment.

If one juxtaposes the rise of Rap music along with the comicbook industry from 1988 on, the distinction is astounding. While an entire generation of Whites have gravitated to the image of: strong, wealthy, confident Black men in rap, the average White comicbook fan has derided every powerful depiction of a Black superhero during the same period.

Will Smith is the biggest movie star in the world; as well as being the biggest action movie star in the world and yet a Black superhero has never topped the charts during his era of success. That is probably the biggest indictment of the industry as a whole. A Black man is a global action/superhero icon of cinema and yet the fans of the smallest segment of the entertainment industry can't embrace a single Black hero without claims of tokenism.

Sir, I have to disagreed with that rap part of your statement. Most famous rappers are doing negative stereotypes of themselves (imma drug dealer, pimp, imma named myself after a white man, light skin women in their videos, nigga this & nigga that).

Alot of white ppl view the rappers as animals in the zoo for their amusement. It's not a respect thing, it's more of a jester thing.

But you are right abot black superhero flicks not really selling. Blade & Spawn sales were just all rite........not really huge.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: jefferson L.O.B. sergeant on May 07, 2010, 07:35:21 pm
I've used Reggie's " Comics are the Deep South of the entertainment industry" quote on several occasions to describe the state of diversity in mainstream storytelling. While it got the usual reactions i.e. (Hudlin is always bringing up race) ( Hudlin is a racist)  it gains validity with each passing moment.

If one juxtaposes the rise of Rap music along with the comicbook industry from 1988 on, the distinction is astounding. While an entire generation of Whites have gravitated to the image of: strong, wealthy, confident Black men in rap, the average White comicbook fan has derided every powerful depiction of a Black superhero during the same period.

Will Smith is the biggest movie star in the world; as well as being the biggest action movie star in the world and yet a Black superhero has never topped the charts during his era of success. That is probably the biggest indictment of the industry as a whole. A Black man is a global action/superhero icon of cinema and yet the fans of the smallest segment of the entertainment industry can't embrace a single Black hero without claims of tokenism.

Sir, I have to disagreed with that rap part of your statement. Most famous rappers are doing negative stereotypes of themselves (imma drug dealer, pimp, imma named myself after a white man, light skin women in their videos, nigga this & nigga that).

Alot of white ppl view the rappers as animals in the zoo for their amusement. It's not a respect thing, it's more of a jester thing.

But you are right abot black superhero flicks not really selling. Blade & Spawn sales were just all rite........not really huge.

While your assesment of the personas adopted by several rappers is correct, it does nothing to negate my point.

Crime fiction has always been a hallmark of American entertainment. From the outlaw in the dime novels, to prohibition era gangster, mafia movies etc. The positive nature of the depictions have largely been irrelevant in terms of the success of these projects.

As I stated earlier, the notable change starting from around 88 is that the Black man was now the outlaw, gangster and mob kingpin and White audiences accepted these depictions and purchased them in record numbers.

In more than 2 decades, comics has never experienced anything close to this phenomenon.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: jefferson L.O.B. sergeant on May 08, 2010, 03:50:58 pm
http://forums.millarworld.tv/index.php?showtopic=93159

Highlights so far, comic fans are not racist but "Conservative" and I'M racist for pointing out a blatant reality.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 08, 2010, 09:24:29 pm
Wow, what a boring conversation.

The bigger point is:  we're talking about white characters who failed, replaced by black characters, who are then replaced with white characters. 

The bigger point is these characters failed.

Sometimes a massive rethink can make a concept work (X MEN) but that's mighty rare. 

Truth is, HAWKMAN doesn't sell.  Has never sold.  It's not a commercial concept.

The same is true for THE ATOM. 

Instead of trying to please a tiny fanbase of existing comic book readers, why not reach out to the folks who made the BLADE movies 300 million in ticket sales?
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: KIP LEWIS on May 09, 2010, 08:58:55 pm
<<Instead of trying to please a tiny fanbase of existing comic book readers, why not reach out to the folks who made the BLADE movies 300 million in ticket sales?>>

That's simple; Blade will NEVER suceed as comic for two reasons--1). Wesley Snipes is the magic of Blade.  No adaption of WS's Blade will ever convey what WS brought to the role, even if Marvel bought WS's likeness.  2). Blade cannot suceed until they write Blade like they wrote the movie--he is a horror movie/comic character, not a super-hero world character.  Until they bring back horror comics, he will always be toned down and that will never attract a large scale audience.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Kristopher on May 10, 2010, 07:36:01 am
Instead of trying to please a tiny fanbase of existing comic book readers, why not reach out to the folks who made the BLADE movies 300 million in ticket sales?

I'm guessing...laziness? Christopher Priest once wrote:
Comics have never successfully penetrated the African American market, so the numbers don't encourage the major companies to pursue what is, statistically, a dead end. I see that as more economics than racism. There's just not a viable enough audience to sustain black-themed comic books, and that is the watery grave that awaits all "black" books until the major companies finally learn how to market to audiences outside of their traditional comic shops. Sean "P Diddy" Combs is about as untalented as they come, and he makes millions if not billions per year. There's SO MUCH MONEY out there in the minority community, but to go after it, Marvel and DC and everybody else is really going to have to reinvent themselves, change the way they do business and operate way, way outside of their traditional orbit. It would help if they'd actually hire some minorities and consultants on distribution channels for minority-focused products. Until they make a real effort with this, "black" books, "minority" books and female books (other than the gross T&A variety) are doomed out of the gate. Comics, as we know them, have, for 65 years, been produced by middle class whites for middle class whites. There's greater potential sales in the Latino community alone than in the entirety of our known distribution channels combined. One real Latino hit would, potentially, outsell everything on the racks if it were *good,* if it didn't insult the intelligence of the community it proposes to entertain, and if the companies could figure out how to get that book into the distribution channels that service that community.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on May 10, 2010, 07:38:23 am
Once again, Priest for the win.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Greg on May 12, 2010, 12:28:05 pm
And of course DC kills New Atom. Good going.   ::)
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Hypestyle on May 13, 2010, 11:34:39 am


Truth is, HAWKMAN doesn't sell.  Has never sold.  It's not a commercial concept.


Say... I just had a thought.. what with the Hawkman mythos so supposedly steeped in Egyptian mythology, why not have a black or Arab Hawkman?
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Francisco on May 13, 2010, 11:38:36 am


Truth is, HAWKMAN doesn't sell.  Has never sold.  It's not a commercial concept.


Say... I just had a thought.. what with the Hawkman mythos so supposedly steeped in Egyptian mythology, why not have a black or Arab Hawkman?

Didn't you know Egyptians were white Europeans who emigrated south to build the Pyramids?? ::)
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Mastrmynd on May 13, 2010, 01:06:05 pm
And of course DC kills New Atom. Good going.   ::)

the asian dude is dead?
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: KIP LEWIS on May 13, 2010, 02:05:21 pm
Asian?  I thought he was Hispanic, but I admit, never really bothered with the dude knowing he was nothing but a place holder.  Ray Palmer wasn't even dead; just on a sabbatical.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Vic Vega on May 13, 2010, 02:44:40 pm
Yet again D.C. walks back a commitment to youth and racial diversity to appease a bunch of 40 year old fanboys.

Ray Palmer hasn't had a solo title since the freaking early 90's.

This is so ill-concieved its embarassing.

They have no idea how to get new fans so they do stuff like this.

How much longer can they milk nostaligic 30-40 somethings?

I am pretty much the target market for this sort of thing but I just find it embarrassing.

I may drop DC books altogether.

They don't want people like me as fans.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: KIP LEWIS on May 13, 2010, 05:14:55 pm
Something I've noticed about this "return to the silver age".  Unlike the previous "next generation", the modern day versions aren't signicantly different than their Silver Age counterparts.  Compared to the Golden Age, the revamps were more tangible.   The Golden Age Atom was completely different than the Silver Age Atom, but the modern era Atom was basically the same character, power and costume.  Or no one would ever confuse the Golden Age Flash for the Silver Age Flash, but visually Wally and Barry are interchangable.   John Stewart, Kyle, and whatshisface are identical to Hal in power and sometimes in costume, but there is sufficient differences between Alan Scott and Hal.

Or think about Hawkman;  while his storyline changes from the golden age to the silver age, visually he didn't change.  Then the Modern Age Hawkman had a new costume, but the same storyline and ultimately DC ended up merging all versions of Hawkman into one. 

But compare them to Blue Beetle, each version is radically different than the previous in costume and power;  even though his title was canceled, the Modern Day Blue Beetle remains.

Or take a look at Marvel,  most of their next gen versions of heroes end up with new costumes and names.

Perhaps rather than creating a new Atom who has the same powers and visually looks the same, they should have created a new Atom with new powers or at least a easily recongizable costume, so when anyone sees him, they know he's not Ray Palmer.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: mayday on June 01, 2010, 05:54:55 pm
i know yall are talking DC but check this.....


Twitter Campaign Wants 'Community' Actor to Be First Non-White Spider-Man

Could the movies soon have the first African American Spider-Man?

If thousands of Twitter users get their way, the star of Sony's upcoming reboot of the franchise will be Donald Glover, best known from his role on NBC's "Community." This weekend the Twitter hashtag "donald4spiderman" became the #3 trending topic in the U.S., and the campaign is still gaining steam.

The origins of this latest attempt by social media users to influence casting decisions occurred last week. After surveying the five mostly unknown white actors said to be vying for the role, Marc Bernadin, a writer for the sci-fi site io9.com, called the choices "bland" and asked, "In this day and age, why does Spidey have to be a white guy?" In response, commenters threw out Donald Glover's name as a possible contender, and a Twitter campaign was born.

A unique aspect of this latest fan campaign is its wholehearted support by the subject in question. Glover seems to like the idea (though he makes it clear on his Twitter page that he's interested in auditioning, not just being handed the role without first having to prove his worthiness). While he had nothing to do with its inception, Glover himself has been promoting the campaign, instructing fans to tweet the #donald4spiderman hash tag at strategic times to keep it trending.

In years past, an Internet petition of this kind might not be given much credence, but given the overwhelming success of the recent social-media uprising to get Betty White a hosting gig on "Saturday Night Live," this could be Glover's ticket to director Marc Webb's tryout room. He and his fans will have to act fast, though: The Hollywood Reporter is already forecasting the five most likely contenders for the role, and Glover is not on the list


Glover, a comedian and former writer for "30 Rock," has starred in only one movie so far: "Mystery Team," a comedy he co-created with his sketch comedy team, Derrick Comedy, which came out in 2009.

One hurdle Glover's fans will have is in his presumed bankability as a movie star: "Mystery Team" brought in a meager $89.4 thousand in domestic box-office sales
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Catch22 on June 01, 2010, 06:18:24 pm
Wow...if that happened, 80% of current comic buyers would either, have heart attacks, stroke out or commit suicide.   It would be like Scarlet Witch uttering "No More Geeks!"  ;D
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Battle on June 02, 2010, 12:08:38 pm
It would be like Scarlet Witch uttering "No More Geeks!"  ;D



Which would have a probability of a 99.9999999% chance of happening! ;D


Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Rockscissorspaper on June 04, 2010, 05:38:18 pm
Asian?  I thought he was Hispanic, but I admit, never really bothered with the dude knowing he was nothing but a place holder.  Ray Palmer wasn't even dead; just on a sabbatical.

He was Korean.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Kristopher on June 07, 2010, 07:31:46 am
DC COMICS SENIOR STORY EDITOR IAN SATTLER ON ďGREEN, PINK, AND BLUEĒ HEROES

Regarding the recent death of minority characters like Ryan Choi:
Itís so hard for me to be on the other side because itís not our intention. There is a reason behind it all. We donít see it that way and strive very hard to have a diverse DCU. I mean, we have green, pink and blue characters. We have the Great Ten out there and I have counter statistics, but I wonít get into that. Itís not how we perceived it. We get the same thing about how we treat our female characters. - as quoted in Newsarama, June 6.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Reginald Hudlin on June 07, 2010, 07:44:07 am
DC COMICS SENIOR STORY EDITOR IAN SATTLER ON ďGREEN, PINK, AND BLUEĒ HEROES

Regarding the recent death of minority characters like Ryan Choi:
Itís so hard for me to be on the other side because itís not our intention. There is a reason behind it all. We donít see it that way and strive very hard to have a diverse DCU. I mean, we have green, pink and blue characters. We have the Great Ten out there and I have counter statistics, but I wonít get into that. Itís not how we perceived it. We get the same thing about how we treat our female characters. - as quoted in Newsarama, June 6.
I have heard the "green" argument from senior DC management before. It's so sad.  At this point they are not capable of change.  There's isn't a financial incentive to do so. Their job is to keep old IP alive until they make a movie or TV show out of it, and Hollywood will always reinforce racist presumptions of the audience desires.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: KIP LEWIS on June 07, 2010, 08:15:59 am
I thought it was bizarre he gives the green argument then remembers the Big Ten.  It's almost like, reflex comment then he remembers, I have a reargument for diversity. 

Of course the Big Ten run the villain-hero route.  Heroes when it suits the story, or villains when it suits a different story.  They were introduced fighting GL and the rest.
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: KIP LEWIS on June 07, 2010, 08:18:16 am
Edit previous comment--that was supposed to say "real argument" not reargument.  (Can't edit on my BlackBerry).
Title: Re: The Racial Politics of Regressive Storytelling
Post by: Catch22 on June 07, 2010, 01:10:08 pm
Yeah, I can see bizarre being the word here.  It was like he went the "pink, green and blue" route then all of a sudden remembered the Great Ten.  DC won't ever change.  They figure, they've given us Mr. Terrific and that's enough.  John Stewart fades back into the background and the Milestone Heroes would have been better off left in limbo until DMcD could have found a better home for them.  Instead of Brightest Day they should have named it Whitest Day.