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25 June 2007 @ 07:41 pm
BY THE GODDESS!  

 Well, isn't that just like a woman.

Earth goddess, X-men Leader, Morlock champion, rebel punk, and master thief......but we all know what really matters.

Fantastic Four  #547
Written by: Dwayne McDuffie
Art by: Paul Pelletier

!

"You can tell Michael Collins that my hair is completely natural."
"This is NOT  a weave!"





Please , let that character be a skrull. I call on the goddess of comics and the saint of fangirls- let that character be a skrull...
 
 
 
Humph: ebonbird Storm (punk)spiralsheep on June 27th, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
It's just a little hard for those of us a little further from the demographic to read the message.

You know how some men want female characters to be written for the benefit of male readers? And you've seen that problematic stereotypes result from that?

Well, to me, you appear to be saying that you want black characters to be written for the benefit of white readers. And if you think about it for a few minutes you might understand why so many of the commentors on this post have a problem with that. Especially as it's merely two pages out of a whole comic which you're having difficulty understanding.

And I'm only here commenting because I think that most of manstreamcomics readers are capable of thinking about these issues. :-)
Jkarabellajkarabella on June 27th, 2007 07:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
Yeah, I hate female characters who are written to be male fantasies, and I wouldn't really want Storm to be specifically written for the benefit of white people.

I just tend to think comics, like science fiction, are a great opportunity to painlessly educate.

Though I'm glad I did shoot my mouth on this one, it's been very educational. :)
delux_vivens on June 28th, 2007 03:22 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
Painless for who?
Jkarabellajkarabella on June 28th, 2007 03:56 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
Whoever finds it educational. In this case, since Fantastic Four is a book aimed a wide diversity of backgrounds internationally it would make sense to assume quite a few of them don't know about the problems that come with being black, female and having long hair.

Making an in joke just for that demographic doesn't make a whole lot of sense, particularly when it can be easily misread and is centred on a guest character.

If it were in a Storm comic or a Black Panther one, yes I could expect it'd be fair that if the audience doesn't know they should look it up.

As it is, I see it an opportunity missed.
delux_vivens on June 28th, 2007 04:05 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
I see it an opportunity missed.

This may be surprising, but there are times when people dont really want to have everything revolve around educating folks...
Jkarabellajkarabella on June 28th, 2007 04:32 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
Hey I'm not advocating lynching the author or boycotting the book, I'm simply saying that while it worked out great for one group who saw it as a hero moment for Storm, for the ones no connected to that group it was a zero moment.

If you like the moment, good for you, but understand some of us still see it as poorly presented from our perspective.
Humph: ebonbird Storm (punk)spiralsheep on June 28th, 2007 02:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
::repeats previous comment ad infinitum::

"You know how some men want female characters to be written for the benefit of male readers? And you've seen that problematic stereotypes result from that?

Well, to me, you appear to be saying that you want black characters to be written for the benefit of white readers. And if you think about it for a few minutes you might understand why so many of the commentors on this post have a problem with that. Especially as it's merely two pages out of a whole comic which you're having difficulty understanding."
Jkarabellajkarabella on June 28th, 2007 04:04 pm (UTC)
No, I don't want black characters to be written specifically the benefit of white readers. Nor for the benefit yellow readers, brown readers or red readers. I do want to be written in a way black readers can relate to and frankly I think superhero comics in general needs more black skin in their line up.

However, when a story is published for an audience, it is storytelling that the whole audience understand the story. So if it's a comic written for anyone and everyone, then anyone and everyone should understand the whole comic.

I'm not bothered by the character having what is apparently a realistic response, I'm actually very happy that black women enjoy this moment so much.

I don't consider it good story telling on his part that it required to understand it, especially if it gets misread if you don't have it.

I don't consider it a huge problem, I wouldn't write in to Marvel comics about it, I wouldn't post a blog about it, it wouldn't change my decision to buy or not buy the comic.

It's just room for improvement.
Humph: ebonbird Storm (punk)spiralsheep on June 29th, 2007 11:53 am (UTC)
However, when a story is published for an audience, it is storytelling that the whole audience understand the story. So if it's a comic written for anyone and everyone, then anyone and everyone should understand the whole comic.

And it has been explained on this very post why, with a multi-cultural readership, not everyone can expect to have their personal understanding catered to at all times:

http://manstreamcomics.livejournal.com/9608.html?thread=130440#t130440
Jkarabellajkarabella on June 29th, 2007 08:36 pm (UTC)
What I've been told over and over again is black readers don't want Storm written for the benefit of white people.

What you're missing is Storm is not the only thing in those panels, the writer has a huge array of tools available to him to communicate with the readers.

Now if I were to tell you "Well it's not always possible for writers to learn about the cultures of all their characters." as a justification why she is frequently written as a dark skinned white woman then I'm pretty sure (hopeful actually) you would tell me that's nonsense. You want to write a black character you write them as black. No excuses.

Likewise, if they write for Fantastic Four, they have a similar obligation to write for a multi-cultural readership. That doesn't mean he must avoid all cultural references or use one that say... non-Americans don't get because we don't see your television.

What it means is, if the scene hinges on a specific cultural reference, he needs to consider how it will or won't be understood by people outside the culture while remaining true to the character. It's not a one or the other scenario, there's room for both.
Humph: ebonbird Storm (punk)spiralsheep on June 29th, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC)
Likewise, if they write for Fantastic Four, they have a similar obligation to write for a multi-cultural readership. That doesn't mean he must avoid all cultural references or use one that say... non-Americans don't get because we don't see your television.

What it means is, if the scene hinges on a specific cultural reference, he needs to consider how it will or won't be understood by people outside the culture while remaining true to the character. It's not a one or the other scenario, there's room for both.


I'll set aside your incorrect assumption that I'm American.

The first bit seems to be saying that your think writers should be allowed to use specific cultural references: "That doesn't mean he must avoid all cultural references or use one that say... non-Americans don't get".

The second bit seems to be saying that no comics writer should ever use any reference that every English reading person in the appropriate age-group on the entire planet will immediately understand: "if the scene hinges on a specific cultural reference, he needs to consider how it will or won't be understood by people outside the culture".

I have no way to decide which of those you intended but if you decide on one then feel free to let me know. Although I personally don't want to read comics written with an extremely narrow range of approved cultural expression so if that's what you decide you want then we're unlikely to agree because I prefer genuine multi-culturalism which embraces diversity (as in Britain where I'm from) instead of global monoculturalism which caters to the narrowest common range of cultural referents.
Jkarabellajkarabella on June 30th, 2007 12:04 am (UTC)
My bad on the American assumption.

It's not a matter of cultural diversity, it's a matter of communication. Cultural references people don't get that don't effect the core story are inconsequential. A reference to someone liking a band, dressing a certain way, having a favourite author, using a colloquial term you can understand by implication etc.

We're going in a lot of circles. I'll try to formulate an example:

I writer decides that some part of knowledge from a book that is an iconic work will be a characters motivation for an action, and they want this to be understood by the whole audience (not just those familiar with the book).

If they show the character reading a copy with a plain cover with just the title and the author's name, we have no indicator as to the content of the book beyond the title and the character reading it. That doesn't work, it requires the audience to know something about the book.

If they show the character reading a copy of the book with promo blurb on the back of it with a couple of key words highlighted for easy reading, and a front cover with imagery that sets the mood, then people who have never heard of the book get a solid impression of what it's about. They probably won't guess the specifics, but they'll be able to connect it.

This applies if the book is A Brief History of Time and Space, The Prince, Das Capital, The Kinsey Report, Thus Spoke Zarathustra or The Souls of Black Folk. It applies whether you're writing a character is white, black or purple. It's part of storytelling, helping you audience understand the story.

Not every incident needs to be thus explained, just the ones that have great story importance or confusion. Indeed, I think it is better if the character has aspects of their culture that are not explained such. It makes others curious and avoids overtelling.
Humph: ebonbird Storm (punk)spiralsheep on June 30th, 2007 12:33 pm (UTC)
It's not a matter of cultural diversity, it's a matter of communication. Cultural references people don't get that don't effect the core story are inconsequential. A reference to someone liking a band, dressing a certain way, having a favourite author, using a colloquial term you can understand by implication etc.

I'm glad you finally agree with me that a two page scene about a black character's hair doesn't need to be explained for the benefit of people who don't understand why it's rude to make personal comments and why the person being commented on is angry about those personal comments.
Jkarabellajkarabella on June 30th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
Well since that was the core of the story of those two pages, I would have liked a hint. Does that make me a bad person?
The Event Horizon of Awful Thingsthetathx1138 on June 28th, 2007 02:33 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
Yeah...one problem with that. When I walked in the front door and saw those two panels, I had no context. Until today, I had no idea white people were so weird around black people's hair. I'm pretty much completely ignorant of the black experience in America.

So not only will I not get the joke or the writer's motives, I'll probably totally misconstrue them, which is why I've been hammering away at this.

Reading this issue would not teach me a damn thing. Reading these comment threads and attached links HAS, but a comic book shouldn't need detailed online footnotes. McDuffie wanted to get a point across, great. But there were better ways of doing it, both from an educational and a humor perspective.
FIERCENESSpolymexina on June 28th, 2007 03:08 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
do you understand that you're speaking from a position of privilege here? basically, you're saying that situating a character of color AS a character of color means that you are confused. you being confused is sloppy writing. BUT, writing a character of color as an exotic, majestic other is better writing, because even though it's less realistic, it's easier for you to read.
delux_vivens on June 28th, 2007 03:19 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
*thank* you.
Jkarabellajkarabella on June 28th, 2007 04:03 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
Actually in this case it's a conflict of privilege. We have the privilege of never having to worry about someone pulling on our hair to see if it's real. You have the privilege of getting the joke in the comic.

Now, I'm not advocated Storm should be any less black or any less outraged at how people speculate on her looks, just that the scenario could have been written to allow to communicate all that to a larger audience.

She could have been outraged, they could have changed a few words of Black Panther's or hers and it would have had the same atmosphere and character, but implied it was part of a broader problem.

Instead, unless you've had the problem happen to you or someone close to you, it just reads as Storm has a bug up her butt for no apparent reason.
The Event Horizon of Awful Thingsthetathx1138 on June 28th, 2007 05:33 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
I'm assuming you would be very upset if I made a series of assumptions about you because you have chosen to present yourself as a woman of color on this forum.

So why do you assume I won't be upset when you do precisely that?

Moving on:


"Harmony Lot? In a mole's eye! There aren't any hippies on Harmony Lot!"


"What's the point of this gibberish?" I'm sure you're asking yourself.

Well, I'm not going to tell you.



Frustrating, isn't it?


I will cheerfully agree that giving context is problematic whenever you're writing about something that isn't going to concern your whole audience. Nor is McDuffie in an ideal position to do so: he's on deadline, he's got a lot to cram into the book, and he's probably got editorial handing him mandates.

Nor, for that matter, should tutoring his audience about race issues be his job. I sincerely doubt he signed up at Marvel to do so.


But here's the thing: with no information whatsoever, there is nothing here to indicate to me that this is a racial issue. This could well be McDuffie's intention, or perhaps he simply doesn't view it as something people wouldn't be aware of.

But that's problematic because to readers who AREN'T in on it, it comes off like Storm being vain. That's inconsistent with her character.

So on the one hand, maybe McDuffie's trying to teach his audience, but since they have no context, they don't even know they're in the classroom. Or on the other, McDuffie is just assuming we all know the underlying issue here, and the scene just doesn't play as intended.
Humph: ebonbird Storm (punk)spiralsheep on June 28th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
So on the one hand, maybe McDuffie's trying to teach his audience, but since they have no context, they don't even know they're in the classroom. Or on the other, McDuffie is just assuming we all know the underlying issue here, and the scene just doesn't play as intended.

You say that as if there are only two possibilities so I'll point out another. Maybe McDuffie's telling a story and some white people don't understand two pages out of a much larger story and that's not a problem because there's no reason why Ororo as a character should be written to cater to white people.
The Event Horizon of Awful Thingsthetathx1138 on June 29th, 2007 12:23 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
First off, try "non-black" people.

Secondly, this really has nothing to do with race; we're talking writing mechanics. It's not that Ororo has to cater to non-black people, it's that, as this journal that hosts us has proven non-black people will completely miss the point and misconstrue the scene. We would quite literally NOT be having this conversation if this weren't the case, because this journal entry wouldn't be here.
ill-literatefourel on June 29th, 2007 02:10 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
Is that the writer's fault or is it the reader's fault?

Is it the writer's fault that someone is ignorant of something, and should he cater to the lowest common denominator, just in case?

That's what you're suggesting, I think. Toning down the references, in case someone will completely miss the point and misconstrue the scene.
The Event Horizon of Awful Thingsthetathx1138 on June 29th, 2007 03:55 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
Not at all. I certainly don't claim it's easy, and you're dead right, it's very easy to go the other way (exhibit A: Mark Millar) and that's probably worse. McDuffie has the added problem of not using his own creations, and writing a very popular comic with a pretty large readership.

This is pretty much my last word on the subject. I've said all I can really say.
Humph: ebonbird Storm (punk)spiralsheep on June 29th, 2007 11:46 am (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
First off, try "non-black" people.

No, I've only seen white people expecting that black characters should be written to cater for them. Most non-white people living in white-dominated cultures such as the U.S. are used to not everything catering to them as has been explained on this very post:

http://manstreamcomics.livejournal.com/9608.html?thread=130440&style=mine#t130440

But even the fact that white people demand that non-white people explain white privilege is another example of white people demanding that black people must cater to white people before they even consider beginning to listen.

Secondly, this really has nothing to do with race; we're talking writing mechanics. It's not that Ororo has to cater to non-black people, it's that, as this journal that hosts us has proven non-black people will completely miss the point and misconstrue the scene. We would quite literally NOT be having this conversation if this weren't the case, because this journal entry wouldn't be here.

So if it's not about race, which it clearly is so I don't understand why you're trying to deny it, then why are you talking about white people's reactions seperately? Answer: because it is about race. And if you're talking about this post, which you are, then, as far as I can see, you're talking about white people's reactions differing from the reactions of people of colour (not all of whom are black by the way) so, again, it's obviously about race even according to you in the same paragraph as your attempt to deny that it's about race.
Humph: ebonbird Storm (punk)spiralsheep on June 28th, 2007 02:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Reposted because lj is messing up my comments
Did you even read the comment you're supposedly responding to?

"You know how some men want female characters to be written for the benefit of male readers? And you've seen that problematic stereotypes result from that?

Well, to me, you appear to be saying that you want black characters to be written for the benefit of white readers. And if you think about it for a few minutes you might understand why so many of the commentors on this post have a problem with that. Especially as it's merely two pages out of a whole comic which you're having difficulty understanding."

If you did read that and think about it then why are you still demanding that black characters should be written for your benefit?