The Independent

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…Another White Hero!

Chuck Sipps

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You may not have heard, but you were supposed to boycott Marvel’s latest film “Captain Marvel,” because of its lead actress Brie Larson.

Don’t feel too bad if you didn’t know. Considering “Captain Marvel” racked in 153 million during its opening weekend, it would seem most of us didn’t get the memo. With the recent string of horrifying revelations about some once beloved artists, it wouldn’t be out of the question to ask what Larson did. Well here is the quote that lead to the calls to boycott the films.    

“About a year ago, I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed it appeared to be overwhelmingly white males. So, I spoke to Dr. Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, who put together a study to confirm that. Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive.”

Fairly innocuous stuff, but it is sadly becoming more and more frequent, a vocal minority of petulant “fans” have cried foul. Their cries are filled with the narrative that Larson hates all white men, that she is ruining Marvel and costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars.

While I don’t recommend it, a quick visit to the old Google machine can show you the hate and vitriol these “fans” spew in the name of “men’s rights.”

Full disclosure, I am a straight white male. I am a nerd. I love Marvel, Star Wars, video games, comics and all the nerdiest of the nerd stuff. I know more about the political maneuverings of “Game of Thrones” than I do about mathematics. Seriously, math is hard. I want to say to all the angry “fans” out there: “Bros, calm down.”  

Look, they can dress this up anyway they want. They can say the problem isn’t because the film has a female or minority lead, but we all know the truth of it. Whenever inclusion and diversity are brought up, it’s taken as a slight to white men. As if the positions or roles belongs to them inherently and the idea that they must share what is rightfully theirs is horrific. Toxic fandom is the true horror, and it will ultimately lead to the stagnation of the mediums we love so much.

I’m not saying that white men don’t have stories worth telling, I’m just saying that there are hundreds of years’ worth of stories told for the benefit of straight white men. A more diverse group of storytellers only serves to strengthen our stories. A look at modern cinemas shows little has changed in terms of gender or racial equality. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has racked in 15 billion at the global box office, making it the highest grossing film franchise of all time. There have been 21 movies released under the MCU banner and of those only two female character have had titular billing, that being the Wasp in “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Captain Marvel.”  Only one has been headlined by a non white superhero, “Black Panther.” When the most profitable film franchise of all time utilizes so little diversity, it must be seen as proof that white men have plenty of representation.

This problem isn’t unique to Marvel films. A common critique of the new “Star Wars” films is that they no longer feel like the films people grew up with. The reason for this criticism is “Star Wars” is moving away from traditional heroes. In both the original and prequel trilogies all the main heroes were white and most of them were men. For whatever reason, a film series that is supposed to span a galaxy is seemingly only inhabited by white men. In the Disney Trilogy, the cast is more diverse than it ever has been. The main trio of these films consists of Fin, who is black, Poe, who is portrayed by a Guatemalan actor, and Rey, who is a woman. This represents the start of a fundamental shift in the dynamics of modern storytelling.      

Change is usually met with resistance and the changing of the guard is no exception. Change is scary. Sometimes, when people are faced with the unknown, they act in ways they might not have otherwise. While many “fans” may not think they are being racist by accusing Disney of tokenism and bullying Kelly Marie Tran, an Asian actress in “The Last Jedi,” off social media, they are. These same ‘fans’ accuse Rey of being a Mary Sue, a female character that can accomplish more than her age and skill set should allow, despite the fact she has survived on her own in an inhospitable desert planet. They choose to ignore the fact the Luke, a farm boy, can also do the improbable during his own journey. Honoring a man while demonizing a woman for the same actions is sexist.

Whether they realize it or not, these “fans” are being racist, sexist and are clearly fearful of change. Change can lead to fear, fear to anger, anger to hate and hate into suffering. The way to the Darkside this is.

Possible Pull Quote: Toxic fandom is the true horror, and it will ultimately lead to the stagnation of the mediums we love so much.

 

   

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…Another White Hero!