I want to clear something up about yesterday’s post, children of the glade, specifically, some of the parts about Wonder Woman.
This one’s for any Lynda Carter fans who felt cheated by yesterday’s post.
While lots of Wonder Woman’s history is full of weird sexuality stuff, I feel I misrepresented her creator, William Moulton Marston, as a sexist pig. See, that’s not true. He was into some freaky shit (at least by his time’s standards), but he was by no means sexist. Marston DID believe women were naturally submissive, but like I said before, he felt it was out of nobility, not weakness. He felt women were actually the superior gender, that their capacity for love was what made them amazing, and that utopia was a society completely run by women, one with no more war, crime, or any of mankind’s ills, a society of love and wisdom. Wonder Woman’s home, Themyscira, was also known as “Paradise Island”, a reflection of this belief.
See, here’s the key thing about Wonder Woman. Yes, she was supposed to be a strong female figure that girls could look up to. But it didn’t just stop there. Wonder Woman was also supposed to be a positive role model for boys.
Quick, let’s steal this kid’s presents while he’s still out cold!
Last February, Dwayne McDuffie, one of my favorite writers, died at the age of 49 due to heart complications. It was a sad loss for the comic book industry, as I feel McDuffie had the potential to be the next Stan Lee, and his most famous creation (who I’ll get to in a minute) had the potential to be the next Spider-Man. Dwayne McDuffie was a genius, having worked on great shows such as Teen Titans and Justice League, and was a huge proponent of diversity in comics. The thing is, for a long time, black characters were a novelty in comics. Black characters like Luke Cage and even (during his early days) John Stewart, (the black Green Lantern, not the prominent television comedian) were used as blaxploitation, rather than written normally.
Who’s the private black space dick that’s a sex machine to all the alien chicks?
Now don’t get me wrong. On its own, blaxploitation is not evil. Sometimes it works really well, and when written well, a black guy whose more stereotypical black behavior being an important part of his character works just as well as a woman whose sexuality is part of her character. But Dwayne wanted more. He was one of the founders of Milestone comics, and the creator of several well-received black superheroes like Icon, Hardware, and his most famous creation: Static.
I haven’t read the comics, but I did grow up watching Static Shock on TV. And as that was written by Dwayne McDuffie, I think it’s safe to guess that how Static was portrayed on TV is pretty similar to how he was portrayed in comic books. Static is a great character, and a good person. He’s smart, funny, has a good heart, is loyal to his friends and family, and while he makes mistakes, he does try to fix them. Sounds like the perfect role model for black kids, right? No. Static is a great role model for ALL kids.
I couldn’t really find a relevant picture, so here’s Static trying to, I don’t know, stop Richie from drunk scootering or something.
A minority character shouldn’t strive to be just a role model for people of their group, but for all people. That’s not saying everybody has to be the same. A character’s race can be a major part of their identity, as can their gender or sexual orientation. There is nothing wrong with who they are being influenced by what they are. But if a minority character is done well, they’ll be a role model to people not part of their minority as well. When I was a kid, I wanted to be cool like Static and level-headed like John Stewart, and the fact that I was white didn’t make me think I couldn’t be (though I have now accepted that I will never be cool for other reasons). I wanted to be confidant like Wonder Woman, and the fact that I was a boy didn’t have anything to do with why I admired that confidence. Because the characters are all people, (even if they’re aliens) and a good person is somebody everybody can look up to, no matter what kind of person they are.