Look, kids. CAPES!

I know, I forget he’s supposed to be bisexual as well. That’s because of how the entertainment industry is currently approaching representation. Push back against any of it and you’ll be called racist, sexist, homophobic, or some other flavor of bigot even when that isn’t the part you’re complaining about. I don’t discuss “woke” because to me that’s only a symptom of a larger issue in entertainment right now, the same old “not the existence of A but the absence of B” scenario, and it’s not even being done right or for the right reasons…or the reasons defenders of woke media influences think it’s being done.

The Critical Drinker just dropped a video defining what “woke” actually means, something lost in the sociopolitical culture war that’s going on. To quote a certain swordsman “I don’t think that word means what you think it means”. I’ve seen certain people not part of the culture war following the misunderstanding of the term to believe it means simply having a non-straight white character but as with most things in arguments between idiots that’s not so simple. So let this video explain the definition and then I’ll tell you why defenders of this stuff, and even some critics, are being played by the failing entertainment machine for cheap bucks or their own egos.

Catch more from The Critical Drinker on YouTube

Let me emphasise a few points. Being “woke”, despite what you’ve been told, has nothing to do with a character being of a different race or gender. There are a bunch of articles on this site highlighting black, female, and black female characters who are among my favorite characters and heroes growing up. They didn’t need to “look like me” because they were using their powers, gadgets, or other skills to fight the forces of evil, something a bullied kid like myself could root for. (For the record, my bullies prefered psychological torture rather than Hollywood’s traditional “I want to beat you up” variety. Most bully stories I hear are more my experience than Hollywood’s, though some of my old antagonists matured, reformed, and I even get along with today.) I wanted to be more like those heroes–brave, smart, clever, funny, caring, and loved. Black people or women could mentor white people and I didn’t think twice about it. If anything, I’ve become MORE aware of people being of a different color than I did when I was a kid because I never know who is an activist looking down on me or part of the more…let’s call them over reactionary movements out there because politics is not what you come here for. You come here for storytelling, and therein lies the problem.

These stories I grew up with had any people of color or femininity go through the same character arc and adventures as their white male counterparts. They weren’t treated any different than any other character in the story. Now they are…and they’re boring. I look at people of color or women heroes, or even women heroes of color I grew up with and are still important to me and how I see heroism and I don’t see that in the heroes of today. Being a “Mary Sue” has nothing to do with politics and from the inception never did. It’s a character, sometimes a self-insert or at least bearing the traits the author either has or wishes they had, who is loved by everybody except the character we aren’t supposed to like, is proficient in everything whether it makes sense or not, and their flaws have no bearing on anything and is only a flaw to the audience, not to the world the story takes place. Making that character a white male would get him called boring, but don’t you dare make fun of the girl or the LGBT+ character with the same lack of personality, traits, or struggle.

Astra, practically the leader of two dudes that formed her team. She had cool powers and most of the plans for fighting evil. Skin and gender were irrelevant to the Space Sentinels.

Then you have the recent trend of characters being retconned into gay or bisexual. I’m not going to get into “queer coding” or any other type of coding because that’s just stereotyping nonsense…and I only use the word “nonsense” because I’m not a drunken Scotsman. Bobby Drake was forced out as gay by a time-displaced Jean Grey (some critics actually accuse her of making him gay as a joke and that isn’t really part of her powers at any age) and then the stories were about him being gay rather than being the mutant/human protecting superhero Iceman. This kind of started a flood of retconned bisexuality because critics made the mistake of stating that would have least made sense given his history with women, and we can see the thoughts in his head. Jon Kent, Superman Junior, was made bisexual for no discernable reason while Tim Drake was made bisexual and forced to drop his straight relationship with Spoiler off-panel because the fanshippers want to get him together with the other Superboy, Connor Kent. What, you thought this was all done for overdue representation? That’s the part where you’re being played.

While that isn’t to say that forced representation, as in not done organically or because you had a great character in mind that happens to be gay, trans, or some other skin color, isn’t a thing, because for activist writers it most definitely is, for others it’s their ego. They want to be praised, get an award from some activist group, or from their peers. They also use the race, gender, and orientation cards to protect bad stories. My philosophy is “if the character was a white male would most of the same complaints fit?” then it’s not racist or sexist, it’s calling out a bad story and you’re defending a bad story. You’re essentially saying being a gay black trans woman would be enough because they don’t know how to write a good superhero story or just want to write some slice-of-life story about a gay black trans woman and they believe making a DC or Marvel character such will ensure they end up in a movie because of why Hollywood’s inclusion is so blatantly not out of the goal of representation. Comics By Perch has a good take on this.

Catch more from Comics By Perch on YouTube

I don’t know. I think I’ve seen better product placement in minicomics that came with the toys.

They’ve had black, woman, and gay characters forever, as the Drinker noted. Not all of the depictions were necessarily good but now none of them are treated as even good for the time. Hollywood Shuffle showcased how stereotyped black characters were even in the 1980s, and this continued even with black directors like Spike Lee. Whatever Bill Cosby was doing in real life, the fact that he portrayed a comfortably well off black family (he was a doctor, his wife was a lawyer) was considered revolutionary because they didn’t involve street gangs or “the hood” as the only depiction of life as a black person. The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air managed to combine both the streets and the upper crust lifestyle as if saying “not every black person has the same experience in life” and we need to learn from each other rather than look down on each other for not sharing that experience.

The studios and the quotas inflicted by award shows now are only in it for the same reason as the comic creators. They want to look good to their peers, get the pats on the back, and unless you actually live that lifestyle or know someone who does you won’t realize that the depiction is itself racist, sexist, or covered in stereotypes. Miles Morales Thor for example. They don’t really care about the cause, they just want to look good, the “cause du jour”. It makes them feel better about themselves while still living in the same echo chamber. These are people who can’t even read a map of another state before telling their stories set in a state they’ve never visited. And they’ll use the race shield to protect themselves from criticism. They don’t care about the cause. They’re actors who live in gated communities with armed security, make more money in a day than the average person makes in a year and still thinks they can identify with the poor, dress in disguises they know the paparazzi has learned to see through because they secretly want to be caught and fawned over, and have no idea what goes on in the suburbs, never mind urban areas. You actually think they care? They still hold the antiquated notion that tomboys are girls who want to be boys, and now they’ll sacrifice tomboy characters to the altar to prove how much they care. You can’t care about what you don’t understand.

Let me repeat this for the people running around screaming about woke media: having a black woman as the lead doesn’t make it woke, and being not woke or “anti-woke” (whatever that means) won’t make it any less crap. This isn’t about the culture war, as much as this stuff is being weaponized for the culture war. It’s about good storytelling. It’s about storytellers who don’t have to be fans to care about a good adaptation, who doesn’t have to praise their fans to death with false platitudes making people who actually do thank the fans for their low-budget shows and comics succeeding look bad, and who doesn’t hide behind some civil rights group to hide how little they care. They want two things, money and ego-stroking. They’ll even limit competition by using civil rights and “proper representation” as buzzwords to actually keep people down. Don’t be fooled. They don’t care about you. They care about themselves.

Woke does not equal bad and it does not equal “girl”. Woke is using an agenda to hide bad storytelling. I’ve enjoyed stories but hated the message and I’ve hated stories but liked the message. Learn how to use the term correctly before your offended or go on a rampage. The goal should always be better storytelling and promoting understanding. Not whatever it is we’re doing right now in this debate.


About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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