Thursday, May 23, 2013

Face punching JF Sergant redux: Educating the young.

Well, I had some comments on Five Reasons I Should Punch JF Sargent In The Face. One for, two against.

First, the two against. Lets look at their arguments.

Kier said some things.

First: "So disagreeing with someone over pop culture is license to punch them in the face now?"

An extremely passive/aggressive method of claiming my argument to be of no value, which is notable in how completely it misses the point of what I said. This is not an argument about pop culture, this is an argument about JF Sargent's claim of racism against a large group, of which I am one member.

Then: "Even in the words were meant as an insult directly to you (and they certainly weren't) that's all they are-- words."

Again, the passive/aggressive calling into question of me, my argument, plus a new assertion that "words" are of no consequence. No support for his assertion of course, we're just supposed to take it on faith that words are of no consequence.

And finally: "As for punching the author in the face just because you perceive an insult that's not even there, no man. That's ridiculous."

Finally, an actual strong statement. My perceptions are incorrect, there was no insult, and I'm ridiculous for wanting to punch JF Sargent in the face. Argument from invisible and unstated authority. "Everybody knows" that's ridiculous.

The other guy is "anonymous", his argument is much lamer. First: "Yeah... you know he wasn't specifically addressing you right"

Um, yeah. I know. He's addressing a class of numerous individuals. Of which I am but one. We covered this.

Second: "But 1960 was during Jim Crow, so..."

This is just stupid.  FF#1 came out in November 1961. The laws that finished all the Jim Crow bullshit were the Civil Rights Act of 1964[1] and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The movement to finally end discrimination against Black people had fully taken over the country by 1961 when Lee and Kirby published FF#1. The only holdouts were hard core Democrats.

So to recap, "words are just words", "he wasn't insulting you personally anyway", and (being generous) "the 1960's really were racist".

Words are just words.  By extension, comics are just comics and movies are just movies. Except when they're an attack on the character of an entire class of people. Except when movies are two hundred million dollar instruments of propaganda, being used to further a particular political agenda.

Looking at what JF Sargent said, piece by piece (and leaving out the lame asides and feeble jests):

"News has broken that Michael B. Jordan is being considered to play Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. Naturally, comic book fans across the Internet are furious... because Michael B. Jordan is black. And in the comics, Johnny Storm is white.  But these Fantastic Four fans aren't mad because they're racist (they insist). No, their reasons are much more complicated, because ..."

#5 "It's Not About Race."  See, these complaints aren't about the character's race; they're about not changing the character's race. If that sounds confusing and contradictory, that's because it is.

Except that it isn't. Sargent quotes two different fans (alleged anyway) who make the argument I did, that Hollywood execs constantly do this chopping and changing stories, and it always sucks. One example of  a book bastardized beyond recognition by Hollywood springs forcibly to mind, Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Sticking a black guy in as Johnny Storm is the same crap they always do. It never works, and its always annoying to fans who just want to see the damn book/comic/whatever done as it already exists. They don't want to see some schmuck's bright idea of how to stroke all the right target groups in some marketing campaign. Every time a popular book or comic crashes and burns as a big budget movie, this shit is why.

What does that piece of historically verifiability get us here?

"Revealing that a big chunk of our fans are racist cockholes" doesn't seem like a great publicity stunt to us, but that's probably why we're not big-city publicists."

#4. "You May as Well Just Change Everything Then!"  ...making Sue taller and changing Reed's hair color don't sound that weird to us because, you know, they're fictional people.

Yes they are. From a storyline that's been going on since 1962. That's the story we want to see, not some bullshit that got thrown together based on some executive's lame-ass, warmed over re-do of the same thing that sucked last time. But if you think that's true, you're a "racist cockhole."

Definitely need to punch this asshole.

#3. "This Ruins the Lore!"  Since Sue Storm (the Invisible Woman) is Johnny's sister, many objectors have pointed out that making Johnny black will mean that Sue must also be black, at which point the Earth will apparently explode...  ... which you should probably be thankful for, actually, because once people start trying to defend why having a black Sue Storm is a bad idea, things get awful pretty fast...

In other words, if you liked the Fantastic Four the way it was written, and not the New Improved Fantastic Huxtables that Mr. Sargent is all excited about, you're a "racist cockhole". 

#2. "It's Unrealistic!"  "If the silliest part of a movie about interdimensional gods with magic lightning hammers is that one of them is black, you are clearly racist."

Or maybe, just maybe, people are complaining its unrealistic because its a glaring non-sequitur. As in, it doesn't follow from the story line. Having one character be black in a white family -for no discernible reason- disrupts the narrative and makes the movie annoying. Why is Heimdall black in the Thor movie? Because they needed to stick in a black guy for marketing, not because it follows from the plot. Its Norse mythology, there are no black guys. Glaring plot hole, adds nothing to the story. Why is it there? Racism. People are afraid of being smeared with it.

#1. "Why Don't We Make Black Characters White, Then?"   "...because everybody likes comic books, not just white people."  "So actually, maybe racist nerds do have a good reason to be angry -- they're angry because the comic industry has outgrown them."

Why don't we make male characters female then? Why don't we make them ponies, everybody likes ponies right? Why don't we change every possible detail about the story to fit whatever bullshit political and marketing strategy the green-light guys come up with? Because then it won't be the comic book everybody likes. It won't be John Carter of Mars the famous and successful classic book, it'll be the Disney John Carter which lost so much money it nearly broke the studio. 
But I can't have that opinion, JF Sargent said. I'm a RACIST NERD for thinking that.

That's five things you'd get punched for if you said them to a random stranger in a bar. People really do get punched for saying shit like this. I've knocked guys down for less, and I'm not a particularly violent man. 
Because this isn't about a movie. Its not about race. Its about leveling a dire insult at an entire group of people because you think you're better than they are. Smarter. More moral. Racists are people its ok to hate, to revile. You label a whole group like that and make it stick, you can do pretty much anything you want to them. Beat them up, take their stuff, whatever. Hey they're RACISTS, they deserve it.

Words have meaning. They have weight and power greater than any bullet. Ask a Japanese man who lived in Canada during WWII, they'll tell you. Ask any Russian. Ask a Jew. They know.
Questions, comments from the hipster gallery?


JF Sargent said...

This is the funniest goddamn thing I've read all week.

The Phantom said...

Ah, Mr. Sargent graces us with his august presence.

Care to share any insights on the source of your amusement, or is this just more passive/aggressive hipster bullshit?

Anonymous said...

The Phantom seems to be doing the same thing that he accuses Mr Sargent of here, stating that all who oppose him are 'hipsters'. I don't think a black Johnny Storm would be too much of a big change. Its not like they are completely changing everything, just one minor detail. And if you argue that it isn't a minor detail, it is. The skin color of Johnny Storm does nothing to the story except raise questions about why his sister is white. Huh. Multiple-colored parents or something. Either way, not watching it because they changed some tiny detail is kind of petty. Not racist, just petty.

The Phantom said...

Did you read that whole thing and still miss the point that badly? I must be slipping.

The point is not that some goof wants to change the characters in a movie. The point is that JF Sargent says that anyone who objects to the chage for any reason is a "racist cockhole".

If you called somebody a "racist cockhole" in a bar, don't you think they'd punch you in the face?