Dear Comic Fans, Don’t You Have Better Things To Do With Your Time Than Whine About Racebending?

Last year, I said I wasn’t going to do this again.

I made a whole thing about it.

I was going to pretend that y’all were capable of seeing a racebent character – usually played by a Black character – and not going into a frothy rage. Y’all were going to pretend that it’s not about race, but that redheads/blonds/people with freckles all deserved representation that couldn’t come from a Black person in a wig or with a stellar dye job playing them.

I had an entire post planned out where I’d talk about racebending done right and what I wanted to see from the future of film as more and more racebending happens.

I was good.

But now I’m not.

Y’all are why I can’t just pretend that this isn’t happening. The shit that gets said about and to Black actresses like Candice Patton, Anna Diop, Zendaya, Ashleigh Murray, and Jurnee Smollet-Bell in defense of fictional ass comic book characters… that shit is horrifying.

I had a post half-drafted after #NotMyAriel happened in response to Disney announcing that Halle Bailey, half of the duo Chloe x Halle, would be playing Ariel in the company’s live-action take on the Disney Classic.

You absolute walnuts trended a hashtag and tried to come for Halle because your childhoods – that you’ve already had and wasted, mind you – would be ruined by her playing this character in 202X.

Is Disney going to retroactively go back and replace the version of Ariel that Jodi Benson voiced with one that looks like Halle? Will local stores suddenly toss out and/or burn all of the merch where Ariel doesn’t look like Halle?

If you didn’t lose it and trend a hashtag about how Emma Watson and Lily James weren’t your Belle and Cinderella – despite the way those films took liberties with the princesses’ look and their stories – you don’t have a leg to stand on with Ariel.

And you know what, let’s talk about the latest shit from comic book fans specifically: the absolutely bananapants response to the rumor that Westworld actor Jeffrey Wright is in talks to play commissioner Jim Gordon in the latest Batman reboot.

Like with Laurence Fishburne’s Perry White in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this would be another gruff authority figure racebent to be played by a Black actor.

But here’s the difference that I know has a lot of you nerds steamed: if James Gordon is Black, Barbara Gordon might be as well. And like I’ve covered endlessly across the past five years, part of what fuels you nerds’ rage towards racebent characters especially when they’re played by Black women is that well… Black women absolutely ruin the fantasy you’ve built up in your heads around these characters.

For dudebros freaking out about losing a fantasy figure if Barbara Gordon is now Black, you find it hard to find Black women attractive sites for desire. For non-dudebros who want to be Barbara (some because of her relationship with Dick Grayson), you can’t imagine being her.

We saw both of those things when Anna Diop was cast as Koriand’r for Titans and then harassed endlessly for it.

It’s not about representation for redheads or a serious fear that your redheaded kids won’t be able to identify with a Black woman in a wig or with a fancy dye-job.

It can’t be.

Not when you don’t give a shit that half the time, in Jim Gordon’s case in particular, he doesn’t even have red hair. Even in Gotham, he’s not really rocking the red. It can’t be about wanting accuracy when none of the actors playing Barry Allen have ever had blond hair.

If the only time you seem to care about representation is when white characters get racebent, you don’t actually care about representation. If what triggers your rage isn’t that marginalized people of color are underrepresented in Western media, but that a Black person is in a wig or has dyed their hair for a role, you are in the wrong.

I have been documenting racist reactions to racebending for five years now.

It is not getting better.

Why?

Why don’t you have anything better to do with your time in fandom than screech about the one form of representation you pretend to care about? Get a hobby that’s not racist and do something with your lives.

Need a suggestion? Go make some redhaired superheroes since they’re so important to y’all.

You’re welcome!

xoxo

gossip stitch

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About Zeenah

Zina writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
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4 Responses to Dear Comic Fans, Don’t You Have Better Things To Do With Your Time Than Whine About Racebending?

  1. I’ve never understood how changing a fictional character’s skin color might “ruin someone’s childhood.” It’s so stupid. I grew up with Disney’s Ariel (loved to draw her, watched the movie a thousand times), yet I don’t mind at all that Halle Bailey was chosen to play her. Oh, well. Critics are rarely doers, indeed.

    Like

  2. L.J. Lee says:

    “Ginger genocide” has to be the single most hilarious expression to come out of this mess.

    Like

  3. Agent_Z says:

    You would have thought that after all the wailing and gnashing of teeth of Kory not being orange, people would have had a lot more to say about the original Aqualad being depicted as blonde-haired and green-eyed instead of black-haired and purple-eyed.

    Like

  4. Orin Bellizio says:

    My favorite fan outrage was The Hunger Games, where people freaked out that a black actress was playing Rue even though the author made it pretty clear in the novel that Rue was black.
    And the actress playing Rue looked like a baby angel! What is wrong with people?

    Like

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