Race & sex in cultural media


This is always a vehemently-discussed topic when it comes to movies, games, comics… hell, literally everything. I really don’t understand what the big deal is though.

There’s been a swathe of reboots and character changes in comics and movies lately. From the soon-to-be-released potentially terrible Ghostbusters movie, Thor’s position being taken over by Jane Foster, up to the newly announced Iron Man now being an Iron Teenager. I have no problems with any of it if I’m honest… I couldn’t care less if the Ghostbusters aren’t guys, or that the new Iron Man is a 15 year-old black girl.

Deliberate incitement by Marvel
Deliberate incitement by Marvel

What I have a problem with most of the time is the reasons for making a change like that. Lets take Captain America for example. It recently came out that he was a Hydra agent, which shocked the internet & comic-reading world (me included… I was practically outraged!). Marvel took a lot of hits about it, with the worldwide media even reporting on the change.

Then just about a week ago (ish!), it came to light that he’s not actually a Hydra agent (though he believes he is), but he’s had his mind altered instead. This came as a relief, but lead me to wonder what the point was? Marvel prettymuch deliberately pissed off a lot of people, just for publicity.

This kind of thing I can kind of understand – there’s no such thing as bad publicity, so it got a hell of a lot of people talking about it.

Now… moving on to Ghostbusters. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for a new Ghostbusters movie. I loved the original (it’s still a classic, even to this day… and I recently introduced my kids to it, who love it), and even it’s not-so-good sequel with Viggo the Carpathian and the statue of liberty strutting down Main St, New York.

The new movie has an all female cast, with the only male being the receptionist (to be honest, if he’s going to have a broad Brooklyn accent and answer the phone as “Ghostbusters, whaddya want?”, that might make me chuckle). This, to me, just looks like a stunt, especially with some of the new TV spots that have been released showing things like a female Slimer. Honestly, what is the point in remaking a movie when the only reason behind it is because it had an all-male cast? It just seems ludicrous, and almost childish. It’s like when your kids argue about “boys being better than girls” or visa versa. It’s all bullshit, but crap like this new Ghostbusters just adds fuel to that.

Valid reboot, or pandering to social peer pressure?
Valid reboot, or pandering to social peer pressure?

When it comes out, if it’s terrible then it’s only a matter of time before some stupid twonk comes out with “it’d be better if it was done with men”, or some such shit. The same is going to be said if it ends up really good – you’re guaranteed to have someone say “it was better because it was done with women instead”.

I hate it, like, completely hate it. This persistent sexism and racism that present nearly everywhere just infuriates me. Even with stupid crap. Lets take the car insurance company “Sheila’s Wheels” for example. They’ll only insure women, which is blatantly sexist, but no-one bats an eyelid for some weird reason.

Sorry, I digress. What I’m really trying to say is; if you’re going to change something about a beloved character or movie, make sure there’s a good reason for it, or that it at least makes sense. I’m going to refer to the newly-announced Iron Man, Riri Williams, in this respect. From what I’ve read about the character, and how she’s going to come in to take over from Tony Stark, it really makes sense.

A good reason for change is always welcome
A good reason for change is always welcome

In terms of spoilers, if you’re reading Civil War 2, then you might want to avoid the next bit, though it doesn’t spoil a load: Riri takes over from Tony when he walks away from hero work at the end of CW2, as a result of some harrowing experiences. In my opinion, this is completely justifiable in the comic run. I’m hoping Stark will appear every now and again to advise Riri… maybe act as an Alfred to her Batman (so to speak).

When there’s a logical reason for making a change, as opposed to pandering to social peer pressure (Kevin Feige, I’m looking at you) I really couldn’t give a crap what happens. I mean, some changes could be really amazing (say James Bond changing from  a white guy to a black guy? Idris Elba, we need you!), and some changes really don’t make any difference to a character – like Sulu in Star Trek Beyond being announced as gay, as a nod to George Takei. I honestly think it makes absolutely no difference to the character in any way, so why would it matter?

Anyway, sorry for going on – I really just needed a rant to be honest! What do you think?

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