The Sunday Edition: Nerds, SJWs, and Pandering

j_annoyedj_annoyed That’s a picture that was taken at my wedding. We’re not the first couple to ever do this at a wedding, but it’s something I have wanted to do since I ever considered taking a girl to prom, let alone down the isle. It’s an iconic depiction in comic books. Peter Parker is an awkward nerd, Clark Kent is a mild mannered reporter, and Tony Stark is a billionaire businessman… but tucked just underneath those shirts… there’s something more. And I think that’s the appeal of comics for nerds, ‘something more under the surface’. There’s depth there, and Tommy Jackson is going to pants you anyway if he sees you in the hallway so have a seat in Mr. Anderson’s English room and go to town on some Alpha Flight and a sandwich. This is how it’s always been of course. Mainstream culture is for people who fit in, and the ones that don’t, well we have some fringe things for you guys. A jock wouldn’t have been caught dead reading a comic book even when I was in Highschool… then the other day I saw this picture…

(Click the Picture for the Original Article)

And while I am generally loathe to guarantee much of anything, I promise you if anyone had done this when I was at prom, they would have had their asses handed to them and there’s no way the dates would have agreed to it. But that’s what happened. My nerdy niche of the world has become mainstream and it’s cool now to like superheroes.

And honestly, I’m not as OK with it as I’d like to be, but probably not for the reasons you think.

The nice thing with Comic books in the 90’s and early 2000’s was that nobody was really paying that much attention to it. I mean, it really sucked for businesses because they were barely breaking even on a good month, but it also meant a lot of freedom. Story tellers could write the stories they wanted to write and nobody really said anything. But that’s not like that now. With comic books now entering the mainstream, it’s also getting mainstream attention… and criticism.

When Marvel began the Marvel Cinematic Universe SJWs (Social Justice Warriors) were starting to make enough noise that people needed to pay attention to them. Sites like Salon were bemoaning daily about how the media needed to have more rolls for women and minorities. And on the surface I really had no issue with this. Absolutely there should be more diverse movies. Go for it. Not that you needed it, but you had my blessing. And then Idris Elba was cast as Heimdall. For those who don’t know who that is or why it’s important Heimdall is the guardian of Asgard, he watches over the bifrost bridge (the only way in or out of Asgard) and has the power to see everything. Nothing escapes his gaze… He’s also supposed to be white.

And this race change was a big deal at the time especially for the nerds. See the thing is while people in the mainstream were beginning to accept the nerdiness, us real Nerds have been living it for our whole lives. We know Heimdall is supposed to be white, we know what the pips on the collars mean in Star Trek, we knew what powered lightsabers before Chirrut ever said anything to Jyn Erso. The race change was also the first major change in a blockbuster movie with a fandom. And if you missed it, the shit-storm was eternal and nothing and no-one escaped it’s hell-fire. But SJWs INSISTED this was a good thing. That it was important to have diversity. Of course Heimdall had all of 15 lines and maybe 3 minutes of screen-time so I’m not sure anything was really gained. But after watching the movie it made sense. They had changed much of the mythos of Thor and Asgard, designing them more to be aliens who were in the habit of adopting other aliens into their culture. OK. Fine. I mean, the easiest way to do that is to show an Asgard with some different ethnic backgrounds. We got some Norse, some scotts, a frenchman, a Mongolian (I think), and a big hulking black guy with crazy terrifying eyes. I’m sold…

But that wasn’t enough. The SJWs continued to demand more and more and they got more and more… but it went from including diversity in films, to pandering. The demand for diversity got it’s biggest “success” in the casting of the reboot of Fantastic Four featuring Johnny Storm as a black kid. And this, pissed me and a lot of others off. It pissed me off because this wasn’t diversity, it was pandering. Because if they really wanted to be diverse, what they should have done is included one of several diverse characters they have available to them. And of course the movie was absolute garbage made even worse by the fact when attributing Johnny Storm’s characteristics to a black kid it’s just a whole bunch of racial stereotypes and tropes. Johnny Storm actively chooses to ignore his talents and live a life of crime. Johnny Storm is easily manipulated by the government. Johnny Storm is the dumbest person on the team… It gets really bad, really quickly. And there’s literally no doubt in my mind that the race bending casting cost the film in the box office. But the pandering didn’t just ruin Fan4Stick, it’s creating huge problems for everyone.

If you’ve read the Dark Tower something that Stephen King spends a lot of time on is explaining that Roland Deschain, the main character and the titular Gunslinger, looks almost identical to Clint Eastwood. It becomes a major plot-point throughout the series along with his skin color in general as another main character constantly gives him grief for being white. He also needs to look like he might be related to Stephen King himself but that’s for another time. The thing is… I don’t know anyone in Hollywood who looks even remotely close to Clint Eastwood. And ignoring appearance altogether, I don’t know anyone with those same grizzled chops that Eastwood had. The kind of man who looks at you and a little pee comes out. I don’t think he exists in Hollywood… except for maybe Idris Elba. Being honest, I don’t know anyone in Hollywood right now in the right age range who walks and talks bad-ass like Eastwood or Elba. And here’s the thing, I think there would have been a contingent of fans who would understand that, who could get behind the idea that you have to cast the character before you cast the man… But the media has spent so much wasted time pandering that nobody wants to hear it. “Oh, ANOTHER move towards diversity? How did that work out in Fan4Stick?”

So much time was spent on needlessly pandering that the one time you need a break from fans, you’re absolutely not getting it. But of course the media is just making it harder on themselves. Cinema Blend wrote an article when Elba first looked like the front runner, and while claiming to be a fan of the books Kelly West does nothing but demonstrate she’s clearly never read the books as she insists that the character’s race is only “suggested”. No lady, he gives a guy in a theater a heart attack when he sees Clint Eastwood on the screen because he looks identical to Roland. J.K. Rowling did this as well with the casting of a black woman to play Hermione Grainger in a Harry Potter play. She insisted she left the race ambiguous so there was no problem… except she really didn’t. She makes mention of Hermione’s physical appearance several times throughout the series, making it clear that she’s pandering, not actually being diverse.

Diversity in our culture, especially cinema is important. No group should be marginalized or type-cast based on race or gender. White, Hispanic, Black — whatever — let’s make sure we all have a piece of the pie. And if you want to change a character, change a character; but make it make sense, and be honest about it. Pandering doesn’t help the people you’re trying to lift up, and it just pisses off the people whom you are hoping will see your movie.

– Have a Good’er