What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

The place to talk about your favorite novels, comic books and web comics.
User avatar
Batgirl III
Posts: 2429
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:17 am
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by Batgirl III » Sat Jul 21, 2018 6:20 pm

Snarking? Briar, I quoted the goddamn dictionary at you.

We get it, you don’t like the idea of a fictional girl having a happy homelife in a comic book targeted at children and teens. Fine. My advice to you would be that you don’t read it.
BARON wrote:I'm talking batgirl with batgirl. I love you internet.

User avatar
Ares
Site Admin
Posts: 2105
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:40 am

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by Ares » Sat Jul 21, 2018 8:30 pm

Batgirl III wrote:
Sat Jul 21, 2018 6:20 pm
Snarking? Briar, I quoted the goddamn dictionary at you.

We get it, you don’t like the idea of a fictional girl having a happy homelife in a comic book targeted at children and teens. Fine. My advice to you would be that you don’t read it.
I don't think that's what Briar's saying at all. What's being said is that the portrayal of a Pakistan Muslim in that book does not match up Briar's personal experience with and understanding of the culture. That isn't the same as "stop having fun guys".

Now to go along with that, the Muslim community is made up of individuals, some groups who are more progressive and tolerant than others. And then you've got the . . . other kind. The argument being made is that the fictional portrayal of a real world culture does not match someone's real world experiences, nor touch on real world issues that culture might face while integrating into another culture. That perhaps the struggles associated with that culture are not being accurately represented. And I think that's fair.

As a real world culture, it's probably important to show the good and the bad, to have a genuine understanding of the realities of it, otherwise it's not really doing anyone any favors. You can wind up with how Marvel is trying to portray modern America as the land of Nazis lead by literal Hitler, or you exoticize the culture in the way Japanophiles do of Japan. Saying there's nothing wrong with Muslim/Pakistani culture is no more accurate than saying everything is wrong with American culture. It likely goes along with how, in current year, it feels like any criticism you could make of Islam or Muslim culture is Islamaphobic / racist / etc. Basically the religious/cultural version of "Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda".

At the same time, a Muslim superhero that can be a model to young girls of all ages, be appreciated by everyone and show a positive example of what the culture could move towards (similar to how Captain America was, until a few years ago, an example of how Americans should act), is a good idea. I think that every culture is capable of making positive change within itself and that heroism knows no limits on gender or race.

I think if they wanted to have Kamala be Muslim, a better idea might have been to make her a third generation Muslim, one whose grandparents moved in, whose parents had to undergo the trials Kamala probably should be going through, and Kamala herself is how she appears to be in the comics: a thoroughly Westernized young woman who just happens to be Muslim. Her parents could then be the ones to tell stories about the good and bad of their culture in a way that no way reflects on Kamala, and how her parents decided to be a part of the more progressive Muslim community.

But again, I say this as someone who has only seen reviews of Kamala's own book and her portrayal in other books that were less flattering. I've seen people that love her and her series, and people beyond those in this thread that do consider it propaganda. Which is why I posed my original question.

BriarThrone
Posts: 424
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:33 am

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by BriarThrone » Sat Jul 21, 2018 8:41 pm

Batgirl III wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 8:25 am
You have a very different definition of “propaganda” than most.
This is why I joined the conversation. This is what I referred to as "snarking about the definition of 'propaganda.'" You can tell, because I posted right after this post about said definition.

Also, you are misrepresenting my position. I know that you are smart enough to comprehend what I'm saying. I can only conclude that this is deliberate. Stop it, please. Ares has very ably restated my position, but I think my post was clear enough originally.

Edit: Also:
Batgirl III wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:15 pm
The OED defines propaganda as “[t]he systematic dissemination of information,
Marvel Comics, as an example of a broader effort of mainstream culture, with the further specific examples of Hillary Clinton and MTV, preaching that criticism of Islam is "Islamophobia" and if not specifically racism, certainly the same type of thing.
Batgirl III wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:15 pm
esp. in a biased or misleading way,
Depicted as the experience of a child of Pakistani immigrants to America. Fails to depict some very fundamental things about said experience as explained to me in person by two Pakistani-American communities, plus scholarly research on immigrant integration.
Batgirl III wrote:
Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:15 pm
in order to promote a political cause or point of view.”
The political cause or viewpoint is that Islamic immigration has no downsides because they all share our values and there's really no incompatibility and there's nothing preventing integration.

User avatar
Batgirl III
Posts: 2429
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:17 am
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by Batgirl III » Sat Jul 21, 2018 9:22 pm

Yes it is an idealized portrayal of life as a Pakistani-American, but that's not atypical of the medium (cf., Billy Batson, Peter Parker, Clark Kent) nor of any fiction targeting the "tween" demographic (cf., the entire output of the Disney Channel since the Nineties).

You're looking at Ms. Marvel and seeing a work pushing a "viewpoint ... that Islamic immigration has no downsides[;]" I'm looking at it and seeing a pretty innocuous teen superhero adventure. You look at it as "biased [and] misleading[;]" I'm looking at is as idealized and aspirational. You seem to be expecting it to deal with serious sociopolitical controversies and complicated matters of immigration, integration, and socialization... I'm expecting it to deal with a girl in a bright costume punching giant robot-apes.

There are works of fiction on the market that deal with the subject in the way you seem to expect Ms. Marvel to deal with it, but, well, they aren't Ms. Marvel.

Do you get worked up when Superman doesn't talk about the opioid epidemic that's sweeping through the exact sort of middle American small-town that Smallville is meant to be representative of? Shouldn't Pete Ross be cooking meth with Professor Potter, shouldn't Chief Parker be taking kick-backs from Intergang-affilated bikers muleing PCP through Kansas? Shouldn't Lana Lang have six kids by four fathers and struggling to pay the lot rent in her trailer park?

No one expects that in a Superman comic. We expect a guy in a bright costume punching giant robot-apes.

Sometimes a funny book is just a funny book.
BARON wrote:I'm talking batgirl with batgirl. I love you internet.

BriarThrone
Posts: 424
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:33 am

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by BriarThrone » Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:32 am

Ah, I see the problem here. You're buying the "It's just a superhero comic!" line they're peddling. Unfortunately, it's right there on the cart alongside "This character represents Muslims in America and is a hero for them to relate to! It is an opportunity to show American audiences that Muslims aren't so different, really!" Trying to have one's cake and eat it, sort of thing. If it was just a superhero comic, I would agree with you. Unfortunately, Marvel and its creative teams have made their intent clear.

If there was, as you say, a story about a Midwestern hero, I would honestly not care what they did with that background, up to the point where the creators started talking about depicting the Midwestern experience. Once they did that, I would absolutely want them to show the drug issues, the poverty, the industrial flight, the petty tyrrany of small-town judges, the echoes of Mafia control, the refugee ghettos and their crime problems, the sex offender villages, all of it.

If the creators talk about representing the Midwestern audience, then give us a silly-but-generous caricature that exists as nothing but a backdrop for a funny book, while insisting that they are really representing Midwesterners well, there's something shady going on.

MacynSnow
Posts: 3185
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2016 2:56 pm

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by MacynSnow » Thu Jul 26, 2018 7:58 pm

BriarThrone wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:32 am
Ah, I see the problem here. You're buying the "It's just a superhero comic!" line they're peddling. Unfortunately, it's right there on the cart alongside "This character represents Muslims in America and is a hero for them to relate to! It is an opportunity to show American audiences that Muslims aren't so different, really!" Trying to have one's cake and eat it, sort of thing. If it was just a superhero comic, I would agree with you. Unfortunately, Marvel and its creative teams have made their intent clear.

If there was, as you say, a story about a Midwestern hero, I would honestly not care what they did with that background, up to the point where the creators started talking about depicting the Midwestern experience. Once they did that, I would absolutely want them to show the drug issues, the poverty, the industrial flight, the petty tyrrany of small-town judges, the echoes of Mafia control, the refugee ghettos and their crime problems, the sex offender villages, all of it.

If the creators talk about representing the Midwestern audience, then give us a silly-but-generous caricature that exists as nothing but a backdrop for a funny book, while insisting that they are really representing Midwesterners well, there's something shady going on.
I'd like to get my own opinion out on this,if i'm allowed to interupt this Friendly "Shouting match" that is....

Now let's first start with the White Dragon in the Room:What i'm going to refer to as "The Ms.Marvel double-standard".
There's 2 sides to what Marvel is doing with it that's causing all this mess.On one hand,the creative team itself is putting out a fun,teen superhero story(they tried this before with Power Pack and their 'Young Adult' line awhile back,if you remember) that could honestly work better if they didn't make her out to be so condensating(but that's just a personal grip 'bout the writing,so ignore it).On the other hand,you have Marvel's PR Department that seem's to be determined to show how 'Woke' they are by tossing in commentary and their OWN agenda into books that need to stand(or fall,if sales are bad enough) on their own.Add into all this Mess Marvel Editorial that seem's to want to Destroy the Company and even the Industry of Comics,and you have one of the most Volitial industries to work in since being a Soldier duting The Civil War.

Brian,you have to understand something;BG,myself and a couple of others on this board grew-up reading Comic's during what i like to think of as "the Glorious Decade"(to put this into perspective,i'll turn 42 on December 20th this year).The Comic Industry at the time didn't care about being "Politically Correct","Woke",or anything else for that matter(though they would occasionally poke fun at it or have a SPECIFIC comic address the subjects).They just cared about putting out a Good Comic.Didn't always succeed,but at the least they didn't blame the readership....

BG,you know me well enough by now that you know i don't always agree with your point but will try to understand it,at the least.You have to look at this ftom Brian's perspective.A lot of people nowadays expect a dose of Honesty with what they hear and read,especially if it's news outlet's and the like.Much older people like ourselves were taught(and if in/formerly in The Armed Services,you Seadog you! :P)from an early age to take everything we see or hear "With a Grain of Salt" and double-check everything.Not everyone believes that,however.....

Now that i've stated MY OPINION,you may all go back to what you were doing befor.Thank you for your time...

BriarThrone
Posts: 424
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:33 am

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by BriarThrone » Thu Jul 26, 2018 8:42 pm

It's an interesting idea, except that it's not the PR department exclusively doing this. The book's creative team is, I assume, being honest when they explicitly tell us about their goals to "represent" a certain type of demographic, and "teach" the rest of us that said demographic isn't so different really. In doing so, they represent the demographic poorly and so the lessons they offer are false.

Comics of the last several decades, at least, have not been politically neutral. The X-Men are obviously a story about minorities and bigotry, for example. The problem is that the ideology overtaking mainstream entertainment is getting nastier, and the writers these days aren't skilled enough at subtext or weaving a narrative or much of anything, really. Instead of a subtle message that most readers can get behind, they're shouting extremism through a bullhorn, at the expense of good story and characterization.

User avatar
Batgirl III
Posts: 2429
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:17 am
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by Batgirl III » Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:55 pm

The problem is that the ideology overtaking mainstream entertainment is getting nastier, and the writers these days aren't skilled enough at subtext or weaving a narrative or much of anything, really. Instead of a subtle message that most readers can get behind, they're shouting extremism through a bullhorn, at the expense of good story and characterization.
This I will most certainly agree with as a general trend, I'm just not seeing it with the Ms. Marvel comic itself.
BARON wrote:I'm talking batgirl with batgirl. I love you internet.

BriarThrone
Posts: 424
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:33 am

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by BriarThrone » Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:55 pm

Batgirl III wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:55 pm
This I will most certainly agree with as a general trend, I'm just not seeing it with the Ms. Marvel comic itself.
And from an "author is dead" perspective, those paintings of happy Soviet farmers with bountiful harvests were just telling a fanciful story, not trying to convince people that life under communism was great.
Last edited by BriarThrone on Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BriarThrone
Posts: 424
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:33 am

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by BriarThrone » Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:55 pm

Oops

User avatar
Batgirl III
Posts: 2429
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:17 am
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by Batgirl III » Thu Jul 26, 2018 11:50 pm

I judge individual works as individual works, not as part of some Social Justice gleichschaltung. I have only read the first four or five trades of Kamala’s solo title and a trade or two where she appeared in other books. I see them as idealized and aspirational superhero fare, as was commonplace at Marvel during in the Silver Age.

Other people seem to see them as some sort of propaganda... Which doesn’t make much sense to me. I doubt many Americans read them and somehow think the ISIL spokesman in the black BDUs decapitating people on C-SPAN is somehow not a threat because the fictional girl with the magic shapeshifting powers is friendly with Spider-Man.

I’ve never met any Jemaah Islamiyah pirates who joined the terrorist organization because of an American comic book. Tell you what, though, next time I get into a firefight with them, when they’re done trying to kill me and I’m done trying not to die, I’ll ask them what they think about Marvel Comics.
BARON wrote:I'm talking batgirl with batgirl. I love you internet.

BriarThrone
Posts: 424
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2016 7:33 am

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by BriarThrone » Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:12 am

The creative team behind Ms. Marvel is open and explicit about it being propaganda. Of course, the word they use is more commonly "educate," but that's what you do when it's your own propaganda.

You, on the other hand, are either being dishonest, or are oddly ignorant on the subject.

If someone was writing about North Ireland in the mid-1970s and depicts it as a place of sweetness and light where the nastiest thing that happens is a handful of old men arguing about religion in the park over games of chess, and most of the rest of the characters are indistinguishable from 2018 Portland Progressives, I would wonder why the fuck they chose to tell a story like this set in the middle of the fucking Troubles. I would wonder if they were entirely ignorant of the setting. Pretending that important elements aren't really a "thing" isn't idealizing, it's wrong. If the creator were then to make public statements about educating their audience on the subject of the Troubles, well, that's called "propaganda." That's what you call persuasive material intended to make people think or feel a certain way on a certain topic. Usually, said material contains falsehoods. I can't read minds, so I'll have to take the creators' statements about their intent at face value. Therefore, propaganda.

What is this shit about pirates? How is that even relevant? Are you just not following the conversation, or was that a deliberate straw man?

User avatar
Ares
Site Admin
Posts: 2105
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2016 8:40 am

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by Ares » Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:35 am

Lord, why did I even bring this up?

I can understand both sides of the argument. I certainly understand wanting a good, old fashioned superhero comic with a good protagonist doing good things and not being a bundle of angst. I also do like that they can show that being a Muslim does not automatically translate into being some kind of monster, and that every group is made up of individuals. There's absolutely no reason we can't have a fun little superhero fangirl who smiles as she fights crime, who also just happens to be Muslim.

I can also understand wanting a more accurate portrayal of the realities of a community, rather than an idealized one that could perhaps be construed as, at best, misinformation, and at worst, propaganda. There are genuine concerns with the Muslim community right now, and the effects it's having on parts of Europe and even America, as well as an inability for anyone to speak openly about it.

I think that Ms. Marvel really should have taken the approach the original Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle took, giving us a similar kind of hero. The creators wanted to tell a story about a Mexican-American superhero and family, but they also wanted to avoid any issues such as illegal immigration. So they just bypassed that by having had the Reyes family come to America legally, sidestepping the whole issue and allowing them to tell the story of a fun young kid with an alien battle suit fighting bug monsters from outer space, and having his mom put Guy Gardner in his place.

Ms. Marvel would have been better off with her being a third generation Muslim whose parents had to deal with all of the things she should logically be dealing with, and decided as adults to be more progressive Muslims who avoid a lot of the negative things associated with aspects of Muslim culture.

User avatar
Batgirl III
Posts: 2429
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:17 am
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by Batgirl III » Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:44 am

Northern Ireland in the 1970s is a far cry from Hoboken, New Jersey in 2018... But there's actually a fair few Northern Irish films -- as in they are about Northern Ireland, were made in Northern Ireland, star mostly Northern Irish talent, and mostly have Northen Irish behind the camera crews -- that have absolutely nothing to do with "The Troubles." Just off the top of my head there's With or Without You (about a married couple trying to have children), Mad About Mambo (where a teenage boy decides to learn samba dancing to get better at playing football), Cherrybomb (a teenage sex-party-rave dramedy), Battle of the Bone (a zombie flick), and Best (a biopic about soccer star George Best). I'll confess to not knowing anything about Northern Ireland's comic book industry. Hell, I couldn't even say for certain if they have one. I mean, I assume they must have something, but I don't know... So I'm afraid that films are the closest comparison I can make.

I very much doubt the creative team behind Ms. Marvel has said they want to make a comic book about the subject of al-Wahhābiya terrorism, radicalization of American-born Muslims, or other such issues. I'm willing to bet all they've ever said is that they want to make a superhero book where the Muslim lead character deals with the standard comic book tropes of balancing a normal life with being a superhero with the twist that she's a Muslim daughter of immigrant parents. Which, let's be clear, is a perfectly normal thing in this day and age. The suburb where I went to high school has a population that's around 30% Arab, mostly Chaldean Catholics but a not insignificant number of Iraqi and Kuwaiti Muslims were their too. (The Muslim community was centered around Dearborn, the Chaldeans around Warren, we were kinda in the middle.) My graduating class had fifteen Muslims and thirty Chaldeans, out of 100 kids.)

(Jemaah Islamiyah, or rather al-Jamāʿah al-Islāmiyyah [but that's much harder to type on my phone], is an extremist al-Wahhābiya terrorist group active across Southeast Asia. The Bali nightclub bombing of October 2002 was when they came to the attention of most Americans. I've mostly dealt with them in the context of investigating piracy and missing ships in the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Sumatra. Many, but not all, of the pirates and maritime gangs in the region are associated with Jemaah Islamiyah. I've been involved in two firefights with these guys in the past.)
BARON wrote:I'm talking batgirl with batgirl. I love you internet.

User avatar
Batgirl III
Posts: 2429
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:17 am
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: What's new with the big two: Marvel and DC Comics discussion thread.

Post by Batgirl III » Fri Jul 27, 2018 4:48 am

I think a comic exploring the issues integration, radicalization, culture clash between first-, second- and third-generation Muslims, culture clash between Arab and Non-Arab Muslims, and so on and so forth could potentially be a very good comic book...

But I don't think that Ms. Marvel is that comic book, nor do I think it was ever intended to be.
BARON wrote:I'm talking batgirl with batgirl. I love you internet.

Post Reply