PSA: X-Men Is Still Our Story. DEAL!!!!!!

So this weekend, X-Men: First Class hits theaters. In fact, I’m on my way to go see the film after I finish with this post.

But before I do I felt the need to make this public service announcement:

Dear Racefailers,

On behalf of Negroes everywhere, X-MEN IS STILL OUR STORY!!!!

Oh yes, I am harshing your fanperson squee.

It amazes me how everyone from Stan Lee to Rebecca Romijn have explained in detail how X-Men was primarily based on the struggle blacks endured to attain equal rights. Stan Lee has repeatedly explicated how Magneto was based on Malcolm X and that Charles Xavier was based on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Do you know that when I point this out to a lot of white folks, they STILL argue with me even after I point them to interviews and other evidence where Stan Lee and other creators specifically state that the Civil Rights movement was the primary inspiration for X-Men?

For years I thought the Civil Rights references to X-Men was too on the nose: Raven is my slave name, the chickens are coming home to roost, Magneto stating to handle matters “by any means necessary,” Xavier’s dream of a peaceful co-existence between mutants and humans.

But apparently peeps still don’t know their history. Not only that but too often they flip their shit when the obvious is pointed out to them. They act is if  giving credit to black people = the combination of defying the laws of physics, punching a kitten and pissing on the Bible all in one fell swoop.

These are the same people who will praise Magneto for fighting back against his oppressors but then in the same breath will denigrate black folks for being angry about racism. That’s right. Too many white folks would sooner empathize with a fictional race rather than showing any modicum of human dignity to the people whose stories they’re watching.

Don’t get it twisted. X-Men now stands as the story for all marginalized people battling institutional oppression and that is awesome. POCs are not disputing that or opposed to that. Our contention is that in American society, every time POCs, especially blacks, inspire or make some notable contribution: Alexander Dumas, President Obama, Halle Berry, Rock & Roll, or X-Men, suddenly people are chomping at the bits to diminish or dismiss our contributions.

Why can’t something be inspired/created/or feature a black character/or feature black culture/history and still be something for everyone to appreciate?

Further proof why the minority metaphor is not enough.

So to the Racefailers, when you’re in theaters this weekend watching the latest installment of X-Men, just remember that’s our story. And you bastards are the people they’re fighting against.

Smile motherfuckers.

_______________________

Also……another reason why I love my friends and my readers and why they are the awesomest awesome ever to awesome.

A while back, the lovely [info]lisaquestions and I had an excellent discussion on the Civil Rights themes that permeate throughout X-Men.

Thought provoking discussion is thought-provoking. GO READ NOW!!! No really, go read now.

http://lisaquestions.livejournal.com/3558.html?thread=404966#t404966

http://neo-prodigy.livejournal.com/738404.html?thread=5763684#t5763684

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14 thoughts on “PSA: X-Men Is Still Our Story. DEAL!!!!!!

  1. The fact that people can deny this simple fact is utterly beyond me.

    However.

    I would like to know your opinion on the current film’s storyline featuring Darwin, along with Shaw’s ‘recruitment’ speech to the newbie X-Men which includes a reference to “enslavement”…. and a long, lingering close-up on Darwin. As a WoC, I actually found it kinda offensive in a “we’re going to pay lip-service to this civil-rights-slavery-mutant-connection link”, but on the other hand, I can’t decide if it was supposed to invoke the civil rights discourse we know *should* be circulating, since the film is set in the early 1960s.

    Overall, I thoroughly disappointed with the way that they used Darwin in the film, particularly because he and Angel (played by Zoe Kravitz) are the only PoC in the film. Angel’s character grates on me (sexy one-note former stripper with an attitude!), though maybe it’s just Zoe Kravitz’s acting. Granted, one can make the argument that the original X-Men lineup was pretty Wonderbread White, and that racial/ethnic/national diversity doesn’t come about until the 2nd team…

    Anyway, those are a few of my thinky thoughts after seeing the film the other night.

    • Yeah, I noticed the whole panning to Darwin with the “enslavement” comment.

      While I had a problem with that obvious move, what irritated me more was the complete lack of historical context with the civil rights movement.

      They made Darwin into a complete house negro. Seriously, why the hell would a Black man in 1962 put life and limb in danger for an operation run by a government that denies him his rights as an American citizen? Clearly, Xavier didn’t put the mind mojo on him, so what convinced him to say yes? I needed to see that conversation to see Darwin’s involvement as more than a token gesture. But I didn’t get it, so his presence felt hollow. The overall story made him into a symbol and plot device, but the characters – particularly Magneto – treated him like a person.

      However, I liked how Magneto’s understanding of the mutants’ situation proved to be correct and how his stance of resistance against oppression was viewed as reasonable considering who they were dealing with and what they were up against.

      • While I had a problem with that obvious move, what irritated me more was the complete lack of historical context with the civil rights movement

        I think they were trying to be clever/subtle in this department and simply failed.

  2. Saw it last night.

    I liked how overtly political it was, and this film is the one that comes closest to the MLK/Xavier and Malcolm X/Magneto parallel. Yet, at the same time, it’s clear that they represent White people’s understanding of MLK and Malcolm X (as beautifully analyzed in this article).

    There were a lot of layers to take in, and I’m probably going to watch it again to figure out a few of them. One of the things that really stuck out is how Xavier’s and Magneto’s experience with oppression (or lack thereof) informed their worldview and their strategies for resistance.

    Charles Xavier came from mountains of privilege. He’s rich, White, male, straight, cisgender, and able-bodied, and relatively neurotypical (his mutation actually enhances his ability to take advantage of his privileges). His experience with systemic oppression is virtually nil. He is, in almost every way, a member of the oppressor class. Despite his obvious intelligence and benevolence, he has huge blind spots about things that are obvious to people who have faced systemic oppression. Because of this, he honestly believes that if mutants cooperate with humans, if mutants prove their moral worth to humanity, that humans will see reason and stop oppressing them. As a result, he makes some pretty bad judgment calls that endanger the people and the cause he cares about.

    (Note: I know that a lot of people compare Xavier to MLK, but at this point in the story, he has more in common with Booker T. Washington.)

    Magneto is a completely different story. A poor Jew in Nazi-occupied Poland who was sent to a concentration camp and experimented on, he is fully aware of what people in power will do to those they fear and hate. Naturally, his stance is one of resistance. As someone who is oppressed, he has no use for peace that is merely the absence of tension. He wants justice, freedom, and equality. Yet he knows these things cannot be requested; they must be demanded. Ironically, this is more along the lines of what the real MLK believed.

    • Thank you for posting that article analysing Professor X & Magneto as a white person’s take on the civil rights leaders. It really crystallised something that’s bothered me for years now about the X-Men universe, but I hadn’t really managed to pin down.

    • (Note: I know that a lot of people compare Xavier to MLK, but at this point in the story, he has more in common with Booker T. Washington.)

      LMAO

      *e-highfive*

      Amusing to see another person marks Prof.X as more of a Booker T. than a MLK. It feels far more apt given his stance and opinion over most of the continuity. And the XSE that exists in one of the X-Unisverse futures seems like a likely conclusion because of his and most of the X-teams behaviour whenever it came to mutant rights or human-mutant relations. The XSE being a police/SWAT force that polices other mutants.

  3. Yeah, I noticed the whole panning to Darwin with the “enslavement” comment.

    Made us roll our eyes in the theater.

    While I had a problem with that obvious move, what irritated me more was the complete lack of historical context with the civil rights movement.

    They made Darwin into a complete house negro. Seriously, why the hell would a Black man in 1962 put life and limb in danger for an operation run by a government that denies him his rights as an American citizen?

    $64,000 question.

  4. If the creators say so, then it’s so and it’s beyond foolish and into rude to argue about that. But can I offer a viewpoint from across the Atlantic that might explain why someone not from America might not get it as the primary referent? One, there wasn’t a visible black civil rights movement for people to be familiar with (instead student riots, poll tax riots and generic class warefare that surely has a race component but where race is not the primary connotation) and two, there’s at least a UK tradition of mutants as discriminated others in science fiction that goes back at least as far as John Wyndham and the Chrysalids. I’d only casually come across the X-Men before the films and I was picking up on the ‘excluded class’ without ever noticing the civil rights movement references so I can buy people not expecting that to be more than a casual parallel (but as I say, you don’t get to keep disagreeing once there’s evidence). Thanks for posting 😉

    • As a fellow Brit… erm, what?

      I’m finding it hard to actually grasp what you’re trying to say, so I’ll just pick on the one thing that really knocked me for six. That being that there wasn’t a ‘visible’ civil rights movement in the UK. Because, well, there totally was. It’s not as prominent in our collective history as that of the US for a tonne of reasons, but the UK had both peaceful protests and massive big bloody race riots. They may have gotten overshadowed by the violence of the poll tax riots and the miners’ strikes, but they happened.

      Even if they didn’t, you don’t need to be from the US to ‘get’ the references to the Civil Rights Movement. That’s a shabby excuse.

  5. To me (as an asexual, POC and many others) X-men is the story for everyone who has been discriminated because they are different in one way or he other.

  6. I loved the xmen first class movie, and I do agree with the sentiment that Xavier was highly niave in a lot of his views. Magneto’s motivations are genuinely understandable and I honestly did agree with a lot of his arguements (if I were in magneto’s shoes, having nearly gotten blown up by the same ungrateful bastards whose life I tried to save, I’d make the same choice he did.) however, he made it quite clear that he never wanted equality at all. When Shaw was ranting about how Mutants were the future, and how humanity is utterly inferior by comparison, Magneto ultimately winds up agreeing with Shaw in his “humans are scum who need to be crushed under our bootheel” arguements. This is what makes Magneto’s fall into darkness so tragic. There is a differnece between demanding equality and actively trying to assert domination. In essence, Magneto became so consumed by his desire for revenge and his desire to avoid a repeat of the holocaust that he essentially became exactly like Shaw, the monster who took his mother away from him. It’s like how with Israel the population started to opress the local palestinian populations by forcing them out of their homes to build settlements, denying access to water, and allowing settlers to attack them (in essence the people who were bullied now turned into bullies themselves.) two wrongs do not make a right, and magneto’s solution to the fight between humans and mutants is not the way to truly ensure peace. xavier is highly niave, and saying that xavier is booker t is an apt comparison, yet magneto is nowhere near a martin luther king. his methods are not the way to go

    • Oh wow, you’re still here? By the way, you are now banned–again!–from requireshate and you’ve done very little to discourage the notion that people who enjoy Jim Butcher uncritically are racist, sexist little cockstains.

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