Saturday, December 18, 2010

Boycott Thor? I say thee nay!

Perhaps you've heard that a group of white supremacists called the Council of Conservative Citizens is planning a boycott of Marvel's upcoming Thor movie. What's the reason? Apparently Iris Elba, a black man, is going to play the part of Heimdall, the watchman of the gods. This is bad because the gods from the comics are based from the gods of Norse mythology, and the Norsemen were white people, after all.

Yeah, okay, so what? It's a bunch of idiotic white supremacists getting all mad over something unimportant. That's not so much what prompted me to want to write about this. What made me want to write about it is that some fans of the comics are complaining about this particular bit of color-blind casting as well. To be fair, they're not calling for a boycott or using racist language to make their point, but the accusations are along the lines that this is political correctness run amock.

I disagree with this assertion, and I think that when it comes to casting somebody to be a god, then you want to go with the best actor, period. I should point out that I once wrote about how I thought it would be a bad idea to cast a black man as Captain America, so you can't accuse me of being PC when it comes to this issue. With the whole Heimdall issue, it's different for a number of reasons.

First of all, Heimdall isn't the main character. Nobody picks up an issue of Thor because they can't wait to see what Heimdall is up to. The title character is the main one, and if you're going to make a movie, it's important to at least have the title character look right. From what I've seen, Chris Hemsworth definitely looks like the Thor from the comics. Everybody else from Loki to Odin look as they did in the comics. Why would it be a big deal to change one supporting character's ethnicity?

The thing is, gods aren't human. Something like race seems to be a petty, human concern, doesn't it? I can't imagine the other gods treating Heimdall differently just because he has darker skin than them. It's not like if you had a black Captain America fighting in WWII and all the white soldiers, who were used to racial segregation, acting like there's nothing seriously strange about that. And yeah, I know, Captain America isn't real either, but that time period is real, and if you're going to have a fictional story take place in a real time period, it's disrespectful to pretend like it was some sort of prejudice-free zone. When you have the gods of Asgard, it's not even a real place and it doesn't have a real history, so if there's one random black guy, then hey, that's not any stranger than anything else that goes on there. In fact, I'll submit that it's LESS strange than Loki having a child that's a serpent that circles the Earth's oceans. (Just a bit.)

Lastly, I have to wonder: why is nobody complaining that the Thor of the comics doesn't have the proper red hair that the god was said to have? Is this some sort of prejudice against gingers? And let's not get started on how many white guys have played Jesus. When they finally get a guy with a bit more melanin to play the son of Yahweh, then we can talk about the accuracy of Heimdall's skin tone.

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