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Old 07-12-2013, 05:32 PM   #1
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Default Multiculturalism and Civil Rights in the X-Men

The X-Men is a science-fiction superhero comicbook about a diverse group of mutants fighting "for their share of the world" or, in other words, for the equality and tolerance of their minority. It involves questions of sexuality, race, religion, civil rights, genocide, segregation, exclusion, persecution, etc., all of which are relevant to all of us as human beings.

In my case, I never grew out of liking the X-Men, because, in comparison to works like Avengers for example, the X-Men have much more substance, a genuine message for the reader.

I certainly wish that Marvel (or Fox, for the movies) would explore the social aspects of the X-Men comic books. I know Professor X (leader of the X-Men) and Magneto (leader of The Brotherhood of Mutants) have been compared to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X in the comics, but it doesn't feel like they've taken advantage of the social value that these comic books could have. Take the issue of race, for example. There is a British character known as Psylocke who experiences a racial switch in the comic books. Her mind is transferred from her British body to the body of a Japanese assassin. However, this transfer is never really addressed in the comic books and instead the writers choose to objectify her through her sexually-explicit outfits (this from an online critique of the character).

There are a few X-Men comic books that have explored these aspects and they're considered some of the best ones, for example "Days of Future Past" on the aspect of genocide, as well as "God Loves, Man Kills" (the basis of X-Men 2), however, to my knowledge, the list doesn't get much longer.

It would be amazing if they could create a new line of X-Men comics grounded on its social and cultural aspects. Many people already write about the X-Men from an academic point of view on similar topics (for example there's a literature review on about Storm and the X-Men as racial projects and I'm sure there's tons of other academic works on the X-Men). I think it'd be worth developing a socio-culturally relevant comicbook from this series. I mean, this was the reason Bryan Singer decided to eventually make X-Men 1 after years of begging on Fox's part, right? What do you think? Do you like when comicbooks acquire deeper meaning?

Last edited by Roguefan; 07-25-2013 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 07-14-2013, 07:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: Multiculturalism and Civil Rights in the X-Men

In some ways, that's what the Ultimate line has tried to address throughout its various re-amps.

And Grant Morrison's entire NEW X-MEN run talked upon those issues, as well as Whedon's Astonishing, with The Cure.

The interesting thing to note, for me, is that though the X-Men make up an incredible array of different sexes, races, cultural backgrounds, socioeconomic standings, and sexuality, the most well known, and most utalized ones, are pretty generic.

I'm especially referring to sexual orientation. I did an entire paper about this in University, categorizing about 100 X-Men, on the basis of all the things I mentioned above, and THEN made a list of all 100 X-Men who had been dead/depowered/disappeared. Of the 14 or so gay characters, only 2 of them WEREN'T on that list. For African and Native descent, only 2 and 1 (respectively) WEREN'T on that list.

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Old 07-22-2013, 05:43 PM   #3
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Default Re: Multiculturalism and Civil Rights in the X-Men

I think they should review key X-Comics that have been published in the past and pick key themes, storylines and characters for a limited series (like House of M) that deal with social and political issues. Of course, add some sci-fi, good writing, and good art and I think you could establish a classic, not only for the X-Men, but for the comic book genre. And consult academics that study comicbooks as literature, historians, writers of scholarly literature/comics, etc. I think it could be done, since it will expand on stories that already exist,but it would have to be carefully planned. It could be a landmark in the history of comicbooks.

P.S. Usagicassidy You should share that paper with us!

Also some links (I haven't read all of them carefully):

Psylocke's Character Analysis:
"...The idea of the X-Men is simple: they are mutants, who are feared and hated by normal humans, but they have sworn to protect the world that fears and hates them. The central theme here is obviously racism and other types of prejudice. Having one character to have literally changed race over the course of her history should make for an interesting idea. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, this really goes unexplored...
...In a series about prejudice, what does it say that the one woman who should have more to say than anyone doesn't say anything at all? Most of the time, Psylocke's transformation from white to Asian is barely commented on..."

Emma Frost Character Analysis:
A generally positive review of the comic book character. Unfortunately, it doesn't apply to the character in Fox's films.

An academic literature review on race focusing on Storm:

More on sexism: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources...its-not-equal/

Some links on Nightcrawler's religion:

I'm not sure about her comic book development, but in Singer's films, this character has had a few interesting scenes. As a shape-shifter, she has the ability to blend in with non-mutant humans, to be whoever she wants to be. However, Mystique has an admirable ideological conviction that she should be allowed to be the way she was born: blue-skinned and yellow-eyed:
X2 scene with Nightcrawler:
X1 scene, as a terrorist working under Magneto kidnapping Senator Kelly:
(If anyone knows other cool scenes, feel free to post!)

This one is on her Baptist upbringing and Remy's Catholocism.
I'm still searching for something on Rogue's identity as a minority (she's the Southern Belle) as well as another key aspect to her character, the isolation that is brought to her by her mutation, the fact that she can't touch people without hurting them. It makes her an isolated character within a group of already isolated characters...

There's also Beast, sometimes drawn as a brute or an ape, but surprisingly well-read and intelligent. There must be stuff on this out there... I'll keep looking

Last edited by Roguefan; 07-25-2013 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 07-24-2013, 10:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: Multiculturalism and Civil Rights in the X-Men

Cool stuff.

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