In comic book myth, the hero walks among us but we don’t even know it. Superman pays the rent as reporter Clark Kent. One doesn’t even have to be a comic book fan to know that Spiderman is Peter Parker, and most recently, the black and Latino Miles Morales. Even people who would never stand in line for Twilight tickets know that Batman is really a traumatized billionaire named Bruce Wayne.
The villains have their double lives as well. Lex Luthor poses as a philanthropic businessman but he really hates Superman and wants to rule the world. Peter Parker has no idea that the Green Goblin is really his best friend’s father, Norman Osborne. In the real world, the villains don’t hide behind masks but rather behind the keyboard and the avatar. They are the new breed of geek racists. They’re not as obvious as the Joker but just as scarred as Two-Face. It’s unlikely they wear black masks but totally plausible they wear white hoods.
The election of President Obama did not usher in the post racial America many were hoping for. Instead, the President’s win ripped the veil off hidden racism that the majority culture assumed was in the past. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there is a 755% rise in hate groups. The new racists, or perhaps the newly documented ones, don’t only hate minorities in reality but also hate them in fantasies too. It’s the Klansman with a pocket protector. Imagine The Big Bang Theory with a Swastika.
This same hate emerged with the recent release of The Hunger Games.
Based on the best selling fantasy novels, the movie opened to a 152 million dollar opening weekend. It also opened up widespread discontent with the black actors in the film. In the book, Rue, is described by the author, Suzanne Collins, as being dark skinned and is played by the black actress Amandla Stenberg. The author also worked on the screenplay. But the Neo-Nazi Nerd doesn’t want a little thing like the intent of the author interfering with his masturbatory dreams of a racially pure cinema. The Twitter comments are ugly, vehement, and plentiful.
The web has always been full of “Fringe elements who feel more comfortable spewing their venom under pseudonyms. But this new breed of geek racism can no longer be dismissed as a few kooks who need to stop playing World of War Craft long enough to meet some real people. Although there are no specific statistics, geek racism appears to be a growing trend that is picking up steam and becoming more vocal based on social media trends.
In Ultimate Spiderman (comic book version): There is widespread hate speech on comic book site, Bleeding Cool, when the new Spiderman in the Ultimate Universe, was black and Latino, including: “That’s just dangerous. With spider powers, just think how much stuff he could steal, if he was not so lazy.”
From the late Dwayne McDuffie (Co-creator of Milestone Comics, writer on Justice League, Ben 10, All Star Superman animated movie):”I think being a writer that the reader knows is black puts a lot of the…white male readership on edge. They’re really looking for some proof that I’m trying to shove my agenda down their throat.”
On a practical level, geek racism runs deeper than white folks whining about cartoons. There are white people who marched, and died, during the Civil Rights Movement and white people who protest the injustice of the Trayvon Martin case. However, just like in the myths, there are also the villains who walk among us.
The racist geek doesn’t exist in a vacuum. These are the geeks who might work in Silicon Valley or at major movie studios. Indeed, these are the geeks who might be cops when they’re not reading funny books and going to sci-fi flicks. These are the geeks who could work at the comic book company itself, which is an industry already under fire for not hiring enough qualified women.
In fact, the same geeks who dress up in hilarious Transformer costumes at Comic-Con are capable of hating minorities as much as the Aryan Nation. They’re more than meets the eye, alright.
Not all geeks, of course, but enough for it to be a major problem.
This looks like a job for Superman.
Just make sure he’s not black.