Superheroes tend to be pretty racially homogenous. To put it bluntly, every caped crusader I can think of is white. So it was a refreshing change when, earlier this week, Marvel Comics announced that the new Spider-Man would be Miles Morales, a biracial teenager from Brooklyn, New York. Morales will replace Peter Parker, who died at the hands of the Green Goblin in a recent issue of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe Spider-Man.
“We just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if Spider-Man was biracial?’” said one of the comic’s authors. “Somebody different than the comic book norm – who represented New York more.”
Critics applauded the change. ”The very narrative of the comic book superhero is about secrecy, it’s about needing to hide and preserve something special about yourself,” said Jeff Yang of the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s about feeling important even when the world rejects who you are.”
But Glenn Beck was less happy about the idea of racial diversity in the superhero world. On his radio show, after repeatedly telling listeners that he “didn’t care” about the new superhero, adding that Spider-Man is just a “stupid comic book” (although he loved the musical), he finally said what was on his mind.
After playing an audio file in which Michelle Obama said, “we’re going to have to change our traditions,” Beck explored the theory that Michelle Obama was behind Marvel’s new scheme. ”I think a lot of this stuff is being done intentionally,” he said. “What was it that Mrs. Obama said before the campaign? Because it’s strange how so much of this seems to all be happening.”
As Cynthia Wright observes in the Atlanta Post, Beck’s reaction and the many other racist responses that have been bouncing around the internet show just how necessary it is to have more diverse characters in our pop culture landscape.
“Blatant ignorance aside, it is hard not to be offended by some of the reactions regarding Morales’ ethnicity,” explained Wright. “With the current demographics of New York being so diverse – it would make sense to have someone akin to Morales. It is about time that minority characters are given more precedence instead of being relinquished to the only role that seems deserving—the sidekick.”
Photo from The Rocketeer via flickr.