martinraybourne wrote:Demanding representation is the same, whether your magic number is just one person (tokenism!) or X number to fit the category.
They are comic book characters, people. If I had a dime for every time a writer decided to make Charles Xavier able to walk and then somehow he ended up back in the wheel chair I would have myself a nice piggybank. My point is the fact that characters radically change virtually every aspect of their personality and appearance is not evidence of sexism, or ableism, or what have you, it's just the comics industry. People who look for more insidious reasoning are failing to apply Occam's razor.
Put it another way: if comic book writers weren't given license to re-imagine character's pasts and personalities, most of the gay, etc. characters would still be straight as that's how most were originally conceived. Nick Fury wouldn't be black (and we wouldn't have Samuel L. Jackson in the movies), Colossus wouldn't be gay in one continuity, and most of DC's new push for greater representation would be restricted by past continuity. I don't see how it's so offensive that some of these traits get reset or subverted, because it happens to everything else.
Do you think I imagine DC's offices to be smoke filled dens where they discuss, "how to best screw over differently abled people." It's not a matter of me failing to pay attention to occam's razor about the creator's intent, it's more that I don't think intent is magic.
I really do recommend reading that link.
I am aware that comic characters get reinvented all the time, and for the most part I accept that. Some changes I enjoy, others I dislike (I'm still mad at Bendis for changing Jessica Drew's origins in such a way that almost completely disvalidates her original series). I've watched people not get the characters and write them ooc and contrary to any prior character development, only for them to bounce back again later. This is as you say, how comics have been how they always will be and it's rather unavoidable in a medium where characters are passed from one hand to another on a frequent basis.
The problem is that these characters do not exist in a vaccum, and we live in a society that favours men over women, straight over gay, cis over trans, abled over disabled.
And did continuity need to be pushed aside to make room for the diverse characters DC is bringing to the table? Lets see most of the characters are already established characters like Firestorm II, Blue Beetle III, Mr. Terrific II and so on so I don't see that much continuity rangling going on, on that end.
Here's the thing if suddenly Nick Fury in the main Marvel universe became black, I'd upset because you just don't change that aspect of the character in the normal universe on a whim, and very few changes of that nature are ever made. The only example I can think of is when they changed Magneto from being Jewish to being a gypsy (to use their term), since they didn't want people to think they thought badly of Jews... oops missed the unfortunate implications on that one.
The thing is when you change a disabled character to an abled one, or a black or asian character into a white character, or a gay hero into a straight one, something is lost that isn't in the reverse. There's lots of representation for white/straight/cis/ people in comics or any other english speaking medium, so for Nick Fury to be black in film,the Avengers Cartoon and the movies... well the entire Avengers team is still white. When Heimdle is turned black in Thor, all the other characters are still White (oh no wait I'm sorry Hogun was still asian, so we got two "ethnic" characters in that movie).
I'd say there are some white characters you can't touch, Captain America for example... the fact that he's blonde haired and blue eyed actually fits into his whole mythology because he is the Nazi ideal but he's not a natural product, naturally he's a weakling and not superior, and he spits on the Nazi ideals.
On whole, though, if a character or two is changed to be black or asian or latino or whatever, there's still going to be a dozen more roles that white people can fill. If you take that role away from a person of color, disabled person, or a queer person then it's a precious spot that'll be sorely missed.
That's the problem with Barbara here, first off we're not talking about an alternate continuity so all arguements of Nick Fury and Gay Colossus drop to the wayside, because they aren't comparable, this is Barbara in the main DCU; I'd very happily read about Barbara Gordon as Batgirl in an Allstar book or Elseworlds. So the only example that we both brought up that is comprable is Proffesor X.
Let me ask you this, for all the times it's happened does being able to the walk really add anything to the proffesor's character? He's a guy who usually stays behind at the base and uses his psychic powers an leadership skills the come out on top. Even the physical fights he gets into during his walking periods are usually sparing and most of them could be handled without the use of legs. So why do they keep restoring his legs, well partly it's in homage to the first time it happened but if we go back to that time... They must have thought it added something to his character, and really that's the insulting bit that somehow he's a less compelling character, or that he's more limited in what he can do in the story, because he can't use his legs.
I'm just an aspiring writer though, so I'll leave you with an industry proffesional's take diversity in comics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u16sKK-1oLQ