The media has predictably worked itself into a frenzy over the news that the new Spider-Man of Marvel Comics's Ultimate line is going to be half-black and half-Hispanic, with right-wing commentator Glenn Beck bizarrely attributing the character to First Lady Michelle Obama, and the Drudge Report even more bizarrely suggesting that the character "could be gay." I mean, I don't know. I guess he could be gay, in the same way anyone you meet at random could potentially be gay. And yet I so rarely drop that after an ellipsis when describing pictures of strangers, probably because homophobic pandering just isn't my bag.
There's a little more to dig into with the Beck commentary; you can listen for yourself below, but just in case you want to save two minutes of your life, I've transcribed the salient parts:
The new Spider-Man is really quite great. He looks just like President Obama... This one is half-Hispanic, half-black. Do I care? Half-hispanic, all-Hispanic? Half-black? I really don't care. Half-gay, all gay? I don't really care. I don't care. It's a stupid comic book. However, what I do care about is the fact that I think a lot of this stuff is being done intentionally. What was it Mrs. Obama said before the campaign? Because it's strange how so much of this seems to all be happening. Where she pointed out that we need to change...
[plays clip where Michelle Obama says "Barack knows that we're going to have to make sacrifices. We're going to have change our conversation. We're going to have to change our traditions."]
...I know this is just one stupid example of it, but really? We now have a half-Hispanic, half-black, half-gay Spider-Man?
Aside from the mathematical puzzle of exactly how many halves Beck thinks people have -- and the fact that calling someone "half-gay" is a facepalm in and of itself -- this is a truly bizarre little interlude to deconstruct.
The weirdest part about it is how fervently and repeatedly Beck feels the need to assert that he "does not care" about the race or sexuality of the new Spider-Man, not just because it is an indicator of exactly how much he cares, but because I don't really understand what he's trying to communicate with that statement. "I definitely am not angry that minorities exist in the world!" Are we supposed to think that's gracious?
Also, no matter how many times you insist that you're not hatemongering about race, if your statement ends with you expressing total indignance over the fact that a character exists and is a minority you're still being racist. Further, I have no idea why the idea of changing the conversation or changing our traditions is a negative thing when you consider how many racist traditions have existed in this country, including but not limited to slavery and segregation. I'm sure the people shouting racial slurs at black schoolchildren in the South during the 1960s were pretty upset about their traditions changing but that doesn't make it a defensible argument.
And let's not forget that Beck's primary complaint is that this change in the status quo "is being done intentionally." Yes, obviously this is being done intentionally because comic books are fictional stories constructed by the specific choices of numerous artists, writers, and editors, not actual chronicles of superhuman adventures transmitted from alternate dimensions. While Beck and his co-host dismiss "comic book geeks" rather derisively, arguing about a comic book plot point under the assumption that the fictional events somehow just happen instead of being intentionally crafted by human beings is the most ridiculously fanboyish thing I can imagine someone saying.
Fortunately, we also have faux-Conservative commentator Stephen Colbert to the rescue, to protest this "terrible precedent of superhero diversity":
ComicsAlliance is where comic books and pop culture collide, superheroes battle through movies and video games, and graphic novels steal the headlines.
For the latest news on Marvel Comics, DC Comics, comic downloads, comic book movies, digital comics, free comics, and comic book movies, check out Comicsalliance.com.