Countdown to Awkward

Having had some time to mull it over after a few quick, snarky Twitter posts, I thought it might be worth the time to unpack my frustrations with number seven on Newsarama’s recent The 10 Biggest Questions the MARVEL/NETFLIX Deal Raises:

[W]e can’t help but wonder will Marvel stay faithful to the comic book and make Iron Fist a blond-haired, blue-eyed martial arts expert?

Let’s be clear here, we know NOT all Asians know martial arts and there is absolutely no reason a Caucasian can’t be a martial arts expert. We’re not going there. In truth, the reason we bring it up isn’t a “diversity” issue … it’s a following the money issue.

I don’t believe the item is meant to sound racist. I’ll admit I can see the intent there, but great oogly-mooglies is it buried under a whole mess of awkward.

First of all, that whole “stay faithful” phrasing sort of can’t help but land badly. Faith is a loaded word, and pretty instantly pitches the question with an implied correct answer. Richard Dawkins notwithstanding, most people see faithlessness or a loss of faith in a negative light. It qualifies the question in a way that leans heavily in the direction of said blond-haired, blue-eyed territory. So in the end, what probably wanted to be value neutral comes across as some kind of “respect Iron Fist’s important Caucasian heritage.”

Speaking of value-neutral-that isn’t, the followup doesn’t help matters overmuch. The author kind of bends over backwards trying not to piss off the don’t diversify my comics crowd. Again, I realize there’s a lot of folks who are likely to storm off into NerdRage at the idea of diversity, but as I’ve said before, scare quotes imply an allegiance, whether you want them to or not.

Diversity is real. Its existence is not in question, but treating it with quotation mark insulation so you don’t have to touch it means, well, maybe you aren’t really ready to talk about it?

The write up probably doesn’t do itself any favors by choosing as its possible extra-diversity character the martial arts guy, and suggesting he could maybe be Asian. At least they admit the cliché, but with everything else already kind of piling up in the wrong column, it’s hard not to have that feel like a lot of flopping about and stumbling. If you aren’t saying you only think of Asians as martial artists, why is the martial artist the only one you’re suggesting be Asian? I mean, we do realize there’s nothing inherently Caucasian about women or blind, Roman Catholic men, yes?

So, there’s that in a bigger-than-nutshell. I think there was a fair amount of good intent there, but in the end, the execution makes some really painful missteps. The result is an incredibly tone-deaf attempt to discuss the topic of diversity in media that I think muddies rather than contributes to any real discussion of same.

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It’s the little things that hurt

I shouldn’t be surprised, but once again am disappointed at this tidbit over at Newsarama:

Thursday artist Kevin Maguire announced via Twitter that he had been unexpectedly “fired” from Justice League 3000, the upcoming ongoing series reteaming him with former collaborators Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis set in the 31st Century.

And while declining to comment on the reason for the change, DC has revealed exclusively to Newsarama that former JLA artist Howard Porter will be the series’ new artist, and its debut has been bumped from October to December 2013.

Oh, for the love of…

I would have just shrugged and called this par for the course on what seems to be happening at DC these days. Yet another last-minute change-up of staff is practically expected at this point. But there, in the middle of that first paragraph I excerpted. Those little marks around the word fired? That’s the nonsense that rubs me the wrong way.

Scare quotes cast aspersions on Maguire’s statement for no good reason. Apparently he’s only really fired if DC makes a public announcement that this was firing, and doesn’t choose to throw some buzzy spin on their word choice? Seriously, when the guy who was doing the job is suddenly shocked to discover he isn’t doing the job any more, when he clearly didn’t quit the position? He was fired. That’s the word for it, people. The only reason to add sarcasm / scare quotes is to paint a picture of Maguire as some kind of suspect who’s willfully mischaracterizing something. It sounds like nothing so much as Newsarama covering their asses against bad feelings from DC’s PR department, since that’s one of their primary sources of “news.”

See how you just added sarcasm and insult to that last word when I used the quotes myself? You just made my point.

I can’t say that I’m best pleased that the article largely brushes quickly by an industry veteran getting the sudden boot and turns into Look At The New Shiny. It seems to me there might actually be a story there that’s being missed for the sake of expediency. But the Howard Porter announcement is, as they themselves point out, their only exclusive bit of information, so I suppose there’s a traffic-driving imperative for them to focus in on that, since why is anyone leaving Twitter otherwise?

At the absolute least, however, I think I should be able to expect this glossing over to be free of implied insults against the glossed.