Podcast #383-Race and Spider-Man

podcast383picIn this special episode we take a look at race and Spider-Man. Our friend Donovan Morgan Grant returns for this episode to join in the discussion with Brad and George. There are some several topics we discuss in this episode. Those include:
*Is it racist to want to keep Spider-Man the same race?
*Why Spider-Man? Why not change the race of Superman or Batman?
*Why does changing the race of the Kingpin or Heimdall seem ok, but not Spidey?
*People freaked out about changing the Human Torch’s race. Why?
*Can you change the race of Luke Cage or Black Panther? Why not?
*Why have Miles in the same universe as Spidey?
*Stan Lee says he doesn’t want to change Spidey’s race, who are we to argue?


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If you missed the other August show here it is. 
Podcast #382-Friday Night Kingpin Fight

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(25) Comments

  1. Shawn

    I said my piece about this episode over on the Facebook page, but I'll just say again, good job Donavan, it was great to hear you again and I'm so thankful they got you to come on and say your piece on the subject. Good job.

  2. Ivan A.

    I tend to agree on certain points that both Don and George have. I personally prefer that Peter be white and i relate with some of his experiences instead of his race and I'm Latino. But I understand what Don is saying with that you can't change a POC's race yet, because there aren't that many to begin with. I wouldn't be bothered if they changed Peter Parker's race in the comics because well the comics haven't been good since the marriage was retconned. I would prefer to see more minority heroes being given their own series or opportunity to shine instead of race changing major character. I very much enjoyed this episode.

  3. Jack

    Yes, Don several time did the "poisoning the well" fallacy, as well as some ad-hominem fallacies like the one #22 mentions, though he wasn't hateful in tone about it. There is nothing honest OR dishonest about a person saying, "I prefer that the Peter Parker character remain a Caucasian" then giving reasons. The only thing that could be "dishonest' is if you knowingly used logic-fallacies or knowingly used falsehoods in promoting the opinion (since you can't be "dishonest' if you err unintentionally). But it might be that Don meant that the pro-tradition reasons are fallacious. In the end, it's a debate over good/better/best, rather than a provable dispute over factuality.

  4. Mace

    I haven't gotten all the way through this but I have to say that I'm finding it very difficult; I loved that the episode began with the intent to prove that these discussions can be done while also being civil but as Don (who I'm not familiar with from earlier episodes) keeps throwing around the "intellectually dishonest" adjective, I think the episode is proving otherwise. I don't mean to insult him and clearly both he and George are passionate about the topic but I think that is an insult and if I were either George or Brad I'd be insulted (even if I think they aren't defending their points as well as Don is). As for my thoughts on the subject, I always think there's a reason why things should be a certain way and the reason Spider-Man is white is the same reason we credit Steve Ditko with co-creating him. He's a character that is defined visually and that visual definition includes being white.

  5. Ronny

    Oh & I didn't like Clark Duncan as kingpin. To smokey eyed. not the clean cut look of a sneaky politician which makes it believe able he could seem like a good guy to the public. I actually thought they made him be a stereotype of what they think a black kingpin would be when they should of just made him clean cut. Charming, classy. Which MCD could of done well also. So my personal opinion is never change an iconic classic. You can change other of their characters & I welcome that & it actually works better to make the world real. Look at cw the flash, spectacular spiderman, avengers with Nick Fury. Hmm guys & what about bruce banner & actually he s more known but it works I don't hear too much negative about it...& Psylocke is a character who's race was changed permanently in the stories from white to Asian & she s a very popular character

  6. Ronny

    Wow you guys are great for doing this. Great way to reflect on some of the voices out there. However @Donovan by definition someone's opinion can only be based off their perspective. Yes a perspective can be narrow, one -sided, misleading etc etc. 2) I think there are a lot of people that relate to Spiderman for many different reasons @george too. In fact I bet there are people even the same race as Miles that relate to Peter Parker more. (Maybe even vice versa I've always found miles bland personally. I find the concept of his powers interesting but still feel it's a waste because I do believe he will be held back by not being peter or at least an offspring of his.) I'd rather see characters with there own unique power set. I think Luke cage has personality but a bland default power set that holds him back. I think black characters that should be pushed more & bring more to the table are Blade, Storm, Bishop. You're right in a perfect world there would be as many black, asian, Hispanic, etc as white that would be cool but I've always hated having them be a copy as I think that s what holds a character back. Like Rhodes with ironman, she hulk & the hulk, It'd be better to have another character with a different power set/ abilities but I know a lot are taken up so that's another problem. iI kind of agree with @george for the most part except the spectacular spiderman. Donovan is right on that one in my opinion. If that did not make at least some of those supporting cast a different ethnic origin it would look like a segregated school. Lol. No one today can relate to that & more important it doesn't at all reflect people & especially kids in high school's world today. However I feel Well known characters should have their same look. I'd hate it if Spiderman were blonde. Yes its a pref & sometimes their look & voice is part of what they're known for. Like Gambit as an example for me. @jack #10 & everyone of course Peter Parker out sells any other spiderman. I'm definitely one that feels if he doesn't look like, sound like or is peter parker he's not Spiderman but here's an interesting question if he was exactly the same but colored in a different skin color would you stop reading it cause of that honestly? I say no , not cause of that but I'd be really annoyed just as if they were to make him blonde or 4 feet tall or really really bulky. @wolf bashing someone in nasty way about you not wanting to change a comic book character is not any bit better than the finger you are pointing. If you want to maybe give people a different perspective or view try reason & classy as these men did. Disrespect will get any of us as people nowhere

  7. George Berryman

    @16 - We can make our arguments here without calling one another names, wolf. Especially calling someone a "racist" here. First warning. We're better than that here. Stick to the issues and the merits of the discussion; avoid the namecalling. Especially when it's directed at someone this site considers to be a friend.

  8. aGuy

    The problem with introducing the new character (whatever they are PoC or not) is that only the original writer seem to care while every other just care about playing with the shiny toys (Spiderman, Superman...etc) and completely ignoring any of the previous stories or at least until they need some cannon fodder to show how serious and evil a villain is. You can see that especially in X-Men "Oh you are fan of [insert character that used to be B-Lister] well now you see a small panel of them drinking coffee in the background, now be happy because this is the last time you will see them for the next three years until they are killed in super-omega-universal crossover that totally changes everything (like give Peter a fancy moustache)"

  9. wolF

    "I don't need to relate to any comic book character." George And this is all that had to be said. If you're black and you actually give a shit about changing the skin colour of established characters because you need to have some precious "representation", get out of tumblr and get a life. Manga rarely have Japanese looking characters, even when they have Japanese names. I haven't seen or heard anyone in Japan complaining about that. "The underdog factor of a minority." Don America has a black president. Whatever underdog factor you think exists, it's only in your mind. Oh, and it's not like someone who is not a minority can EVER be an underdog, right? "What is it about Peter Parker that demands to be white." Don Because Stan Lee and the audience demand that. If you need any more reasons, you an insecure racist. "*Why does changing the race of the Kingpin or Heimdall(or Batman or Superman) seem ok, but not Spidey?" Because no one on tumblr or in San Francisco really cares about those characters. Anyway, congrats for having a legit racist on the podcast. I know this wasn't your intention and you likely don't believe that, but to anyone with a brain listening to his arguments, that's the only logical conclusion they will reach.

  10. Cheesedique

    Great podcast dudes, I listened to most of it today at work. I will say that many if not most comic fans are very territorial over their favorite characters. I think Marvel is doing it the right way at least with Spider-Man, by having both Peter and Miles. But Miles is still rather boring to read. I think when someone other than Bendis starts writing him and they do some more daring things with his character, he'll be more compelling to read about (or is it, for me, that he's a kid?). Anyway, good points on this podcast from both sides; definitely got me thinking.

  11. Ryan3178

    I really enjoyed this, 2 hours though, wow! Still, I completely agree on many points that were brought up. Well done guys, and Don, great to hear you you on the podcast again.

  12. BD

    Because I turned off the jet pack plugin. I updated it and it crashed my front page. I tried to go back to the previous version but nada. Hopefully they'll fix it . It also took away my mobile version of the site.

  13. Jack

    Here's what I thought, after listening: There is a behavior that clouds up this discussion: the accusing of all Caucasians in general of hating minorities. It is very, very annoying to be slandered. This specific presumption-of-guilt accusation makes it impossible to talk. Accusing all members of an ethnic group of bigotry is itself bigotry. In fact, unjust accusations of racism encourage racial hostility in hearts where it might not have existed before. I appreciate Don's points about how minority response to popular media is undeniably different from the majority. I think he is right. This is the same reason why there should be multi-ethnic dollies for girls (I think the American Girl company does this). But Don's arguments regarding Peter Parker, at the bottom, were just as much founded on preference as George's. So a decision would need to be based on other criteria (like sales). I came to think, during the podcast, that the creation of Miles Morales actually made any racial changes to Peter Parker far **less** likely. In other words, Marvel already has two mixed-race Spider-Men (Miguel O'Hara and Miles Morales), and two mixed-race female Spider-Women (Cindy Moon and Anya Corazon). And ASM still outsells them. As far as character diversity goes, Marvel doesn't "need" any more. And Marvel was the industry leader in the area of continuously introducing non-Caucasian characters, so all this hatred being piled on them is unjust. I partially agree with Brad: theoretically, anyone could be Spider-Man. However,1990s fandom for the most part rejected Ben Reilly and demanded the return of Peter Parker. Why? Because ASM is the story of **Peter Parker.** Back in the 90s they even briefly re-titled the magazine "Peter Parker, The Amazing Spider-Man", because that's how strong and central the civilian character is.

  14. Donovan

    I appreciate your comments Alex. "Black people aren’t a monoloth, but it’s a fact that they all like Spider-man, X-Men, and Dragon Ball Z?" Don't forget Street Fighter. Admittedly I was being a bit jocular with that statement, but based on my personal life experience and the ones I share with friends and relatives throughout that life, that is my informed opinion. :) "People are not wrong, but their opinion is?" Opinions can be wrong if they are not informed. "People are being intellectually dishonest by not okaying their favorite characters’ race being changed, but no black character can be white?" In the case of the comics, you cannot subtract from a minority. In adaptations, as long as that initial adaptation remains true to the non-white character's minority status, later interpretations free up chances to alter their race with time. But that won't be necessary, and shouldn't be done, for a very long time when it comes to the ratio of colored vs. white heroes as it stands now. In my opinion the intellectual dishonesty comes from the scenario when concessions with supporting characters are made and people are okay with it, acknowledging that the character's personality and motivations were kept intact and that their white skin wasn't integral to maintain that, but won't bring those same considerations to their favorite character. Again, preference is fine, but come to recognize that the same legitimacy to the character who has been race-changed before like in the case of MCD's the Kingpin would ideally stay with a main character like Daredevil if he was made to be Puerto-Rican instead of White-Irish.

  15. BD - Post author

    Al, I forgot to make a message board thread before I went to bed. It's now fixed. http://spidermancrawlspace.com/wwwboard/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11078

  16. SteveGrez

    No disrespect to Donovan but he came off to me very foolishly. Especially when asked if Black Panther or Luke Cage could be white. His response was basically "No. Don't touch black characters because we need more of them. Until the quota is filled- all white characters are up for change." He also back peddles about how there is nothing inherently white about all these characters like Peter- but when given the same hyperbole with Luke Cage- he insists that everything about the character is because he's black. Evrything Donovan said was so double standard and agenda fueled, I couldn't take his argument seriously especially after he showed his cards with the quota statements and tried to guise them as "equality". It was very "McLiberal".

  17. Alex

    Sorry, when I said "feet for hands" I was just trying to get the point that I don't care how anyone looks like. It's a topic I'm passionate about, so I wanted to write something right away so I wouldn't forget. I'll just clarify, because I'm worried that I'll get misinterpreted. When it comes to a new interpretation of a character, I don't think race matters unless it's intrinsic to the character themselves, like Steve Rogers/Captain America, Black Panther, or Sunfire. I agree with Donovan that it is unfair to say that a beloved character's race should not change because that's not fair to all the other characters. If you can change Kingpin's, you can change Batman's race (Batman is my personal favorite superhero). Dononvan, I want you to know that I respect your opinion. I was just confused by certain points you made.

  18. Alex

    Black people aren't a monoloth, but it's a fact that they all like Spider-man, X-Men, and Dragon Ball Z? People are not wrong, but their opinion is? People are being intellectually dishonest by not okaying their favorite characters' race being changed, but no black character can be white? I am confused. I don't mean any disrespect to Donovan, but a lot of his argument seemed more about black characters taking over white roles, and not caring about any other races. The episode is called "Race and Spider-man" not "Black people and Spider-man." I agree with George. Heck, I still don't see Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Wolverine was a short/grungy dude, and that's how I prefer him. However, if the movie is Dark Knight good, I don't care who plays what. It didn't matter what race Peter Parker was in the Amazing Spider-man 2 because that movie was awful. Unless these movies are attempting to emulate the comics, they aren't using the same character, so it doesn't matter what race the characters are. Heck, when I was trying to get into the New 52, I noticed that a lot of characters weren't written like the characters I knew. Batman could have been black, oriental, or had feet for hands, and it would't have mattered, because it was not written like the same character. Batman was just an aesthetic, which is how I feel about Spider-man post One More Day. It didn't matter that the New 52 Wally was black to me, because even if they gave him red hair and white skin, he would still be a brat that wasn't Wally.

  19. Jonathan

    Man, it was great to have Don back for this episode. Good to see a civil, legitimate discussion had about this topic. I came away from this particular podcast thinking about certain aspects of the issue that I hadn't beforehand, so Don definitely succeeded in that department. It's a long show, but it's a quality one.

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