Marvel Goes to the Dark Side
Anyone who has read more than a handful of the posts on this blog – a select group of people to be sure – can’t have failed to notice a couple of things. One is that I am obsessed with sci-fi, but another, less obvious fact, is that I consider myself woke. I’m an old white guy, benefiting from a lot of privilege – thank you very much Western civilization, I’ll take it – but also I’m an unapologetic SJW and snowflake. I like my sci-fi without sexism, for example, which is why I’m not such a huge fan of Blade Runner, which is only enjoyable if you remember Deckard is the bad guy.
I’m not here to complain about Blade Runner this time however, I’m here because of Star Wars. I love the franchise with all my heart, warts and all, but by the same token I will not hesitate to call it out when I think it makes a misstep. I’m still angry, for example, about the fridging of Thandie Newtons’s character in Solo, that I wrote about in a previous post. That know-nothing, dude-bro plot twist has no place in Star Wars. Star Wars should be leading the way in avoiding such tired old tropes, not regressively wallowing in them. It’s a definite misstep, made in front of the camera. But its is also possible to go in the wrong direction behind the scenes. And that’s what seems to have just happened, yesterday.
I was disturbed to read on io9 last night about a firing that, at first glance, looks very problematic, to say the least. Marvel, who are owned by Disney, just got rid of Chuck Wendig, and he was, from a woke perspective, doing good work. From what I have read, to give you the opening crawl, this whole brouhaha started a few years ago when Wendig introduced a gay character to Star Wars in a book he wrote called Star Wars Aftermath. According to Wikipedia :
Wendig introduces several new characters, including ex-Rebel pilot Norra Wexley, her teenage son Temmin “Snap” Wexley, Temmin’s rebuilt B1 battle droid Mister Bones, the Zabrak bounty hunter Jas Emari, and the Imperial turncoat Sinjir Rath Velus, one of the first gay characters in Star Wars canon.
That’s right, all of this looks like it was provoked by a writer working for diversity. To take Star Wars itself as a paradigm, Wendig would be the scrappy rebel fighting injustice, and Marvel has just made a move that aligns them with the Galactic Empire, or the First Order, depending on your preferences.
Full disclosure, I am not hugely familiar with Wendig’s work. I don’t hold with Star Wars extended universe stuff, either in novels, comic books, or even TV shows. For me the only Star Wars stuff worth consuming is the movies. I tried Doctor Aphra a while back, but gave up after a while. It’s a great comic, as I said in my review, but it just doesn’t have that movie magic that even a deeply flawed movie, like Solo, has. That’s not the point though, the point is this guy got fired for taking on Trump and his idiot minions.
The article at io9 that alerted me to this sad affair says:
According to the writer, the decision came directly from the editor of Star Wars comics at Marvel, Mark Paniccia, who cited Wendig’s vocal presence on social media—discussing Star Wars, the reaction to the recent films in the saga like The Last Jedi, and U.S. politics—as a primary reason for the decision. In Wendig’s own words, “it was too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on my part.”
I have had a look at the offending posts, and to my mind they are not a firing offense. They are vulgar, to be sure, but he is no James Gunn, who got fired for some posts that really were reprehensible. Wendig vented against the dismantling of US democracy by bigots, while Gunn fired off some cheap shots at transgender people. The two things are not comparable. In fact Wendig has been dealing with the usual death threats and unpleasantness that the Nazi keyboard goons deploy against the brave people who stand up to them. As he says:
I also started receiving TONS of harassment – harassment that has gone on for years, harassment that has required me to contact local police and warn them of SWATting attempts, harassment across all corners of the Internet, here, FB, Reddit, YouTube. Some of it was bot stuff, obviously, or sock puppets, but some of it was pretty creepy, and very personal. I didn’t call a lot of it out or even highlight, but it was there, a sort of… constant background noise. (Christ, for an extra special treat go search for my name and check out the YouTube videos if you want an eye-opening glimpse.)
I can only agree when, after receiving some fan backlash, Wendig defended the inclusion of the character on his blog, writing: “If you can imagine a world where Luke Skywalker would be irritated that there were gay people around him, you completely missed the point of Star Wars.”
I guess it looks like some of the people in charge at Marvel and Disney are prepared to imagine just such a world. After all, the head of Marvel is a real-life Trump donor. That, in my book, disqualifies him and his company from being trusted with Star Wars. If they are so craven, and so apt to misunderstand what Star Wars is about, we will have to keep a very close eye on them, and go into each new installment of the franchise, not in a sense of wonder and excitement, but in trepidation.
Onscreen, for now, the rebels occupy the moral high ground, but how long will it be before the First Order starts portraying them as terrorists, a left-wing mob, stupidly fighting for social justice, and destabilizing the law and order that the First Order brings. Could it be that the people at Disney and Marvel think the Empire and the First Order are in the right? Do they think the story has been leading up to the final victory of the Dark Side?
Come on people, get a clue, this is Star Wars. It is about using profanity, calling somebody a stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder! It is about taking the fight to twisted, evil, old white guys who are abusing the power that has been served up to them on a silver platter. There is no way this is anything but bad news for the future of Star Wars comics. We can only hope this madness does not infect the movie side of things.
Start Reading the Dark Galaxy Trilogy
Galaxy Dog is an epic space opera. What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet, brings to light an ancient archaeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy. This is the story of his rise, and the story of the fierce and independent woman and the feisty robot who help him.