"But there was nothing about the little, low-rambling, more or less identical homes of Northumberland Estates to interest or to haunt, no chance of loot that would be any more than the ordinary, waking-world kind the cops hauled you in for taking; no
small immunities, no possibilities for hidden life or otherworldly presence; no trees, secret routes, shortcuts, culverts, thickets that could be made hollow in the middle – everything in the place was right out in the open, everything could be seen at a glance; and behind it, under it, around the corners of its houses and down the safe, gentle curves of its streets, you came back, you kept coming back, to nothing; nothing but the cheerless earth."
Thomas Pynchon, "The Secret Integration"
This is Ian Mathers' Tumblr. I live in Canada. I've written about music and other things for Stylus, PopMatters, Resident Advisor, the Village Voice, and a few other places. Hi.
regarding the article by Orion Martin: http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2013/12/what-if-the-x-men-were-black/
Here is my problem and what my problem has always been as a black boy and eventually a black man: discrimination is real but real-life bigotry is based on irrational fear. The “mutants” of the X-Men world are actually horrifying. They are monstrous. They can kill with a thought. They can kill even without a thought, many of these characters have killed people by accident. Because they are monsters with horrific powers that nobody can hope to contain.
The “mutant” metaphor does not work as a stand-in for bigotry because people in the comic book world have every right to be Absolutely Terrified about the prospect of being blown up, disintegrated, mind-controlled, crushed or slashed up by these superhuman creatures.
Also insulting is the Xavier character whose plea for “tolerance” centers around the assertion that he would convince these walking weapons of mass destruction to not cause harm to people while also insisting that the free exercise of these devastating abilities is a right that any individual would have.
I was a black boy and now I’m a black man. There are people who wish me harm and people who would do me harm. But I have no more ability than they do. Bigotry in reality is unjustified. In comic book land, people are (quite rationally) at least suspicious about people who have the ability—no scratch that—the tendency to unleash massive casualties, often by complete accident. Black people cannot blow your head off by just looking at you.
It’s an exceedingly offensive concept of how bigotry works.
That said, I’ve always enjoyed X-Men comic books and movies for what they were. Even though they are built on a terrible foundation, they’ve got some good and entertaining stories out of it.
ALSO, A L S O …
I MUST ADD because people keep making this mistake: the idea to make the X-Men explicitly about racism/bigotry wasn’t introduced until a little over a year into the series. In the beginning, the very first issue, you see the X-Men concerned with outcast status and being “freaks” (“freak”ism is a concept that pops up frequently in white speculative fiction) but as Grant Morrison once rightly pointed out, the X-Men’s initial push was more closely associated with generational fears and ideas such as the fear that the Establishment has of Youth, new ideas, new generations. The specific turn toward making the concept focus on racism and bigotry was introduced later, in the first Sentinels storyline (as far as I know).
All apologies to Orion Martin though, I was frustrated by the article because he takes so much of the stuff about X-Men at face value instead of probing deeper. One does not have to simply accept the construct as it is presented. One should question it. Professor X is NOT Martin Luther King Jr. Magneto is NOT Malcolm X. These are stupid and toxic ideas that were introduced by writers who didn’t mean harm but were still perpetuating ridiculous and ultimately disrespectful notions.
I don’t know, the premise of the X-Men is too shaky to critique it as-presented. One must cut past the nonsense.
it’s worth considering, maybe, who “i can kill you if my temper flares the wrong way but i’m a saint for saving you and how dare you fear and despise me” is actually a message for.
Strong, strong points all around, but for Tara’s last point, cf. this essay on Ender’s Game and who that story is a message for, too. I’m not sure there’s ever such a thing as a harmless power fantasy, but if there is, these aren’t it.
the problem with making “escapism” the central and overriding framework through which we view art is, art is about connection and escapism runs away; you can only connect to escapist art if you and the artist are already running away in the same direction.
Idlewild “4 People Do Good”
Remember when Idlewild were a punk band? This record is SO good. 100 Broken Windows is too. Their subsequent records were pretty decent, but the first two are epic. Wish these guys would reunite and just play those albums.
god, i love these two records so much.
There may have been a brief time when I would have told you that 100 Broken Windows was my favourite record in the world. (I’ll even go for The Remote Part, which was partially this and mostly just that album happening at the right time in my life.) I still get “Idea Track” stuck in my head on a regular basis, and “Roseability” is still an all-time great running song.
“I swear to every heaven ever imagined, if I hear one more dead-eyed hipster tell me that art is dead, I will personally summon Shakespeare from the grave so he can tell them every reason why he wishes he were born in a time where he could have a damn Gmail account. The day after I taught my mother how to send pictures over Iphone she texted me a blurry image of our cocker spaniel ten times in a row. Don’t you dare try to tell me that that is not beautiful. But whatever, go ahead and choose to stay in your backwards-hoping-all-inclusive club while the rest of us fall in love over Skype. Send angry letters to state representatives, as we record the years first sunrise so we can remember what beginning feels like when we are inches away from the trigger. Lock yourself away in your Antoinette castle while eat cake and tweet to the whole universe that we did. Hashtag you’re a pretentious ass hole. Van Gogh would have taken 20 selflies a day. Sylvia Plath would have texted her lovers nothing but heart eyed emojis when she ran out of words. Andy Warhol would have had the worlds weirdest Vine account, and we all would have checked it every morning while we Snap Chat our coffee orders to the people we wish were pressed against our lips instead of lattes. This life is spilling over with 85 year olds rewatching JFK’s assassination and 7 year olds teaching themselves guitar over Youtube videos. Never again do I have to be afraid of forgetting what my fathers voice sounds like. No longer must we sneak into our families phonebook to look up an eating disorder hotline for our best friend. No more must I wonder what people in Australia sound like or how grasshoppers procreate. I will gleefully continue to take pictures of tulips in public parks on my cellphone and you will continue to scoff and that is okay. But I hope, I pray, that one day you will realize how blessed you are to be alive in a moment where you can google search how to say I love you in 164 different languages.”
b.e.fitzgerald (Art is a Facebook status about your winter break.)
(this is, as always, a good perspective and not the right perspective (because that doesn’t exist), but as someone who literally fell in love over Skype I have some extra sympathy for it)