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I’m Sick of White Dudes

Back in May, when the news broke that Michael B. Jordan (star of The Wire and Fruitvale Station) was being considered for the role of Johnny Storm in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, let’s just say the internet wasn’t too happy about it. At the time, my friend and former editor Justin Aclin tweeted about it and then wrote about it on his blog. I’ve cross-posted the rest of Justin’s thoughts after the jump.

And come back later in the day as Justin will be my special guest on Hard N.O.C. Life where we’ll discuss his latest book for Dark Horse, S.H.O.O.T. First.

I’m Sick of White Dudes

by Justin Aclin | Originally posted May 2, 2013

When The Wrap broke the scoop this morning that actor Michael B. Jordan (who’s African American) might be cast as Johnny Storm in the new Fantastic Four film, I didn’t even bother waiting for the whiny tweets to start up before posting the tweets above. I knew they’d be coming, like clockwork.

Here’s the thing. I understand fearing change. I wouldn’t want to watch a Spider-Man movie where the character is a homicidal maniac, because that is contrary to the spirit of the character. But, and I’m going to put this in italics so you can tell I’m serious…

THERE IS NOTHING ABOUT THE CORE HUMAN TORCH’S CHARACTER THAT PRECLUDES HIM FROM BEING BLACK. AT ALL.

The only argument against Human Torch being black is that he wasn’t conceived as black. But guess what… NO superheroes were conceived as black when Human Torch was created. That is not a valid reason that he should be Aryan for the rest of eternity in every possible medium.

There’s nothing wrong with white dudes per se. Iron Man 3 opens tonight and it is an excellent movie chockfull of white dudes. (Even notorious Asian villain The Mandarin is played by Sir Ben Kingsley, but trust me when I say this is a good thing in every possible way.) [EDIT: It's been pointed out to me that Ben Kingsley is part Indian, which I didn't know. The Mandarin is still way awesome.] There are no shortage of superhero films fronted by white dudes. I’m ready to see something different.

And the fact is, it’s not just in my consumed entertainment. I’m tired of writing white dudes. At least, white dudes as default main characters. I’m not a black woman, or a transgendered person, or any other number of identification combos. But I’m interested in exploring the commonalities and differences I have with these people way more than just dropping in another white dude because I’m a white dude and I know how white dudes live.

I always joke that the reason there are so many advertising guys as protagonists in movies and TV is because advertising is the only day job that writers can picture themselves doing because it’s kind of like writing. As writers, we should be trying to move outside ourselves, at least a little bit. You know every character is going to be you in some way anyway. Isn’t it more interesting if they’ve at least got some major differences from you that you can explore?

So please, for the love of humanity, if you’re going to complain about a fictional character’s race being swapped on-screen… don’t. Don’t be that guy. Ask yourself, is the core of the character being compromised… or is my own sense of comfort and familiarity?

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37 thoughts on “I’m Sick of White Dudes”

    1. That actually depends on which comics you go for. In the originals Nick Fury was white, but in the Ultimates line they redid him as black looking like Samuel L. Jackson, with the agreement that SLJ got to play him in the movies if there were any. And lo, here we are.

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  1. Actually, Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury in the Marvel/Disney movies is based on Ultimate Nick Fury from the “Ultimates” comics by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, who was based his design on Sam Jackson.

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  2. Really? Well I didn’t know that!
    Any idea why was he based on an Ultimate when none of the others in the films were?
    (I’ve worded that really badly but hopefully you get what I mean!)

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  3. The Human Torch is the same weather white or black assuming the writers don’t stray into racial stereotypes. It would be refreshing if the only thing that changes about the Torch is his skin colour.

    Remember his true skin colour is Flaming ORANGE!!!! LOL

    Happy Fandom!

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  4. Well, I’m a 46 year old black guy and have read and collected comics for 36 of those years. I’m all for diversity but instead of trying to re invent the wheel why not come up with some new characters and stop trying to make known characters a minority just so more minorities might come see the flick. People that make movies about comics try to appeal to many demographics instead of concentrating on making the best possible movie. One more peeve is why the origin story? every franchise gives there take on a story thats already known.

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    1. @Darrell

      That is what Hollywood has ALWAYS done—gone by demographics to target their target audiences–it ain’t nothing new.. As the country gets even more multicultural, they’re looking for that new audience. I don’t see a thing wrong with changing a character fro white to black, and who the hell said they had to stay white anyway? And frankly, I as a black person would like to see someone who looks like me in the movies playing a lead role for once, and not just the white lead’s sidekick or best friend or whatever.

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  5. Does this mean that they’re going to make Sue Storm (Johnny’s sister) black as well? This could prove interesting, if only because then it would make the Richard/Sue couple one of the few interracial relationships out there on film these days. Though I am leery of the backlash that would come about about the whole “What’s this supposed to mean, with the black woman being ‘invisible now!!!!” bs that would start.

    As for the issue over making Johnny black…if being “born/created” white isn’t reason enough to have him be white, then I suppose there’s nothing wrong with him being played by a black guy. Certainly, it has worked out well for Nick Fury and Heimdall, so they’ve proven that changing the race can be done well and respectfully. Of course by that logic, one could make the argument that it would be perfectly okay for say Luke Cage to be played by a white guy, since the fact that he was “born/create” as a black person is not grounds to remain that way…

    Personally I think the motivations for the “race change” are what causes the issue more than the actual change. See, if it was approached with the same ideas as the “What if?” things in comics it could be good. So if they were doing it as a way to explore the Fantastic Four in a “What if Johnny and Sue Storm were Black?” way, it would be cool. The fact that it’s approached as a “There’s too many White Guys, so lets go make Johnny black and screw 60+s of comic book cannon just so we can look racially progressive…” is what pisses people off. It’s not exploring or delving into what a Character could be, it’s going in and driving a tank over someone’s memories for political points.

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  6. Wow, I can see why you hate white dudes. Luckily he had absolutely nothing to do with Marvel surviving this long, nor with the FF and all the money they generated. Hacks, do it yourself, stop stealing. Hacks, you’re all hacks trying to steal someones elses work and glue a cut out of your face over everyone lol.

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  7. As an artist, the predominant amount of characters I drew, resembled me. That’s not to say I didn’t draw other ethnicity, but, I drew what I knew first. If i drew characters like me (non-hispanic,non-black) for fifty years and they decided to make a movie out of it, only they wanted to change where my characters come from, I’d be insulted. Stop stealing.

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    1. ” If i drew characters like me (non-hispanic,non-black) for fifty years and they decided to make a movie out of it, only they wanted to change where my characters come from, I’d be insulted. Stop stealing.”

      Oh come off it. Comic book characters have changed practically every decade—it’s only when a character’s color is changed that you want to trip out about it. Just admit you don’t see yourself in black character and be done with it. Which is funny,because when I watch Hollywood movies or TV shows or read comic books, most of the time i don’t see anybody that looks like me in the leads, but that’s because I know how Hollywood works. If I can see myself in a white character, why can’t you see yourself in a black character? What the hell would be so insulting about that? Black people see through the eyes of white people ALL the time in the movies because most Hollywood flicks are made BY white people, but God forbid white person be forced to look through the eyes of a black person in a film for more than five minutes.Also comic books aren’t written in stone–they change all the time, and just just because someone’s been doing something for 60 plus years dosen’t mean they should still keep on doing the same damn thing forever on and on and on again.

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  8. It all comes down to this, and this is the message were sending, it’s uncool to be white these days. Wow, our children are gonna love the future. God save us all.

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    1. I’m really sorry you’re understanding the message this way. Life as a pessimist must be difficult!

      I had read this as it’s cool to be whomever you are these days. Sounds more like a blessing than a plea for salvation to me. ;)

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    2. @Joseph’

      Cut the BS. White people like you are just pissed off that you’re no longer dominating every damn thing like you always have in this country,and that there are just as many people of color out there who can do the same thing you do, and also that you now have to compete with them for a change. Get over it, and get over yourself arrogant self,please.

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  9. Everyone, everyone, there’s gonna be a Chronicle 2…it’s working title is fantastic four reboot. Thanks Josh whatever the * ya name is lol.

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  10. –“So please, for the love of humanity, if you’re going to complain about a fictional character’s race being swapped on-screen… don’t. Don’t be that guy. Ask yourself, is the core of the character being compromised… or is my own sense of comfort and familiarity?”–Is your own sense of comfort and familiarity compromised? the answer must be yes, you wrote this article instead of a superhero story with a black lead? you seem talented, i doubt you want to spend your time whining you wish your favorite superhero was black…i love the lead in Alphas, i never wished he was white…lol

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