prej·u·dice [prej-uh-dis] noun, verb,
1. a preconceived judgment or opinion
2. Deciding a comic book is racist before you’ve even read it
Earlier this year, DC comics released this image of a new version of the Green Lantern. The cover of Green Lantern #0, which depicts a dark-skinned Green Lantern holding a pistol, became an object of every viewer’s worst fears and left Internet morons rushing to judgment quicker than the Flash on Adderall.
For some, the image was their worst, most racist nightmare. His mask looks like a ski mask! Why is he holding a pistol? DC comics must really hate black people! Wait, is that an Arabic tattoo on his arm? DC comics made a TERRORIST superhero! Those bastards!
For others, the image, and the new Arabic character are further examples of DC forcing *GASP* diversity into its stories. One article weirdly claims that DC comics hates America and that the design of Green Lantern’s mask looks like a burqa. Why on earth an Arabic MAN would wear a burqa is beyond me, but hey, whatever. Maybe he’s supposed to be a cross-dresser.
Most of this flapping of the gums happened before a single story with the character was even published.
Granted, the gallons of premature Internet ejaculation are not entirely unwarranted. It wouldn’t be the first time that the entertainment industry has lazily pumped out dumb racial stereotypes in lieu of writing actual characters. Remember the oh-so-a-sneaky Asian aliens in Star Wars Episode 1? How about the illiterate, jive-talkin’ black robots in Transformers 2?
As for the people claiming that DC is pandering to minority groups, well, over the past year DC has gotten a lot of shit for sexist storylines and a lack of female writers. I’m not sure there’s a direct connection between the fallout from that and their sudden burst of gay and minority capes, but a little pandering sure would help them score some PR brownie points.
Here’s a quote from their blog.
"We’re committed to telling diverse stories with a diverse point of view. We want these adventures to resonate in the real world, reflecting the experiences of our diverse readership."
How’s that for some corporate wankery? "Make sure you hit the minority & female character quota in your books this month, guys. We need to make sure our diversity is so diverse that we out-diverse the assholes over at Marvel."
Thankfully, Green Lantern #0 finally came out last week. So which is it? Is the character a big, offensive, racial stereotype or is he a shitty, forced, insincere attempt at diversity?
Surprise, assholes! He’s neither.
The new Green Lantern is a Lebanese-American who steals cars to support his dead brother’s family. He ends up being framed as a terrorist and is taken to Guantanamo Bay, where some shady government agents attempt to use "enhanced interrogation" on him. When he resists, they try to kill him, but he’s saved by his own transformation into a Green Lantern.
You can’t really accuse DC of playing it safe with this issue. After all, their arab superhero is a car thief. He’s a criminal who has a tattoo which is banned by his own religion. He’s hardly the squeaky clean, innocent, boring character they would have used if they were just trying to pander to an arab/islamic audience. This should be no surprise, since the book’s author, Geoff Johns, is half-Lebanese himself. On the flip side, the character is nowhere near the black or Arabic stereotype people have been decrying since the issue was announced.
So all you overreacting Internet idiots, here’s an idea. Next time, why don’t you read at least one issue of a comic book before you get your cape and tights in a bunch? Comic books are supposed to be fun. Chill the fuck out.