web stats

CSBG Archive

Mistakes of a Past History – Whitewash Jones

This is the first in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of pieces looking at instances in comic book history where, well, let’s just say that some unfortunate choices were made. These decisions were certainly more acceptable in the context of the time when the comics in question came out, but “more acceptable at the time” or not, they’re still clearly mistakes.

Today, we look at the problems of 1941′s Young Allies #1, a “novel length” tale written by Otto Binder and Stan Lee (Binder wrote the first half and Lee the second) with art by Charles Nicholas (and Jack Kirby on the title sequences for each of the chapters), specifically Whitewash Jones.

In the issue, Bucky introduces his team to an Allied agent…

I could just stop there and I think you’d get the point, but I think it’s worth noting just how MANY bad instances appear in the comic.

The agent is kidnapped, and the boys track him into a thick woods where Whitewash gets into trouble…

They then track the trail to a cemetery…

SOMEone’s ignorance sure is shocking!

The lads are trapped by the Red Skull through trap doors, but Whitewash lagged behind, so he helps his friends…

After the agent they were trying to save dies, the boys head to Germany to help that agent’s partner.

Once there, a bad guy tries to poison them…

The guys track the Red Skull to a castle, where Whitewash makes a discovery…

Pretty rough stuff, no?

278 Comments

Terrible. I hope Stan is still apologizing for this racist piece.

Holy crap!

And to think so many people seem to believe the past was somehow more wholesome and moral than the present! I wouldn’t want to live in a time when such things were published in mainstream comic books.

It’s not Stan Lee that worries me. The scary part is to think about the larger society that could produced cultural artifacts such as this comic.

Just goes to show that no past time period was a “Golden Age” if you weren’t rich, white, straight, and male.

Curiously, this is roughly how Mark Twain treats the runaway slave Jim in “Huckleberry Finn.” Yet critics often hold up “Huck Finn” as a powerful statement against racism. For such a “powerful statement,” it’s laced with blatantly racist words and actions.

I’ve always liked how the Red Skull was drawn back in the 40′s. The way his jaw is open in that depicted panel, the head looks like a real skull!
Scary as hell.

Damn. I’ve seen a lot of similar stuff, but this one’s so extreme, it’s like it was written today as a parody of these kind of stories from way back then!

This type of portrayal was all over movies back then, too. I’m not using the “that’s how it was done back then” excuse, just pointing out that this matched the other horribly racist depictions in other media at the time. Saw something similar in an old movie the other day.

Well, go to Typolad’s What Were They Thinking blog and, unfortunately, you´ll see worst stuff than that.

Incidentally, if we can look past the racist angle of this at the moment, at least two of these Young Allies — Marvel characters — seem to match members of the Newsboy Legion, who were co-created by Kirby even earlier in comics by DC. New versions of them have even showed up in newer DC Comics. Though, I’m pretty sure these were all rip-offs of similar characters in movies. There’s a pic of the Newsboys here:
http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Newsboy_Legion

seeing that piece shows that stan with out meaning too be racist was trying to have the young allies try to be inclusive though naming the character white wash and also the other bits one wonders what stan was thinking that releasing that issue could come off as racist but back then ,

The Bumbling Whitewash while cowardly and dim, advances the plot, saves his cohorts, and revels the true villain. It wouldn’t be the first time a “stupid” character becomes the hero in comedic effect.

I can think of other stereotypical characters that could be used to replace Whitewash; the southern hick, the overweight goof, the stoner kid, the smart nerd, a talking great dane.

People, you are way to sensitive.

Curiously, this is roughly how Mark Twain treats the runaway slave Jim in “Huckleberry Finn.” Yet critics often hold up “Huck Finn” as a powerful statement against racism. For such a “powerful statement,” it’s laced with blatantly racist words and actions.

Right. That’s why Twain made Jim the most moral character in the book, showing how everyone’s ignorant treatment of him as an inferior is completely unfounded. It IS possible to reveal the ignorance of stereotypes by using those stereotypes. It’s been done by many from Twain to Spike Lee.

Anyone who has even read a wikipedia page about Twain knows the man was a staunch abolitionist.

Don’t know why you’d even make this comparision here except to bring up a message board argument, so here’s your return volley.

@BrianHouston: You know, you’re right. I didn’t really make the connection, but you could replace Whitewash with Scooby Doo and Shaggy and you would have the perfect Scooby Doo Mystery.

@Michael Xavier: I completely agree with you. Saying that “Huck Finn” is racist is like saying that Jonathan Swift really wanted people to eat Irish kids when he wrote “A Modest Proposal”. It’s satire.

That’s just the superficial view that people have. There’s a character in the book called N-Word Jim so it must be racist. (by the way, the N-Word didn’t have the conotation in Twain’s day that it has today.)

wow….stan lee is a real piece of work

Also, not hammer on the point too much, but Huck Finn has long been considered the first work of fiction where a white character and a black character had a conversation as two equal people, without Jim being treated as if he were property by Huck. At the time, this was a monumental occurance.

I do think it is interesting, though, that if you look at Stan Lee’s later work that while he does reference the Civil Rights Movement with his creation of the X-Men, his creations for years were almost exclusively white characters with the exception of the Black Panther and the Falcon. I wouldn’t accuse him of racism, but I do think it’s interesting that several of the prominent African-American Marvel Characters (Storm & Luke Cage for instance) were all created after Stan Lee’s prime.

I watched a few horror movies from the 40′s over the weekend, and while the art here is FAR more offensive, this type of character was sadly, very standard in B-grade entertainment at the time. Doesn’t make it any less offensive, but it also wasn’t all that unusual back then.

Stan Lee was around 18 yrs old when he wrote this. I think that calling him racist for something that he wrote almost 70 yrs ago at that age is idiotic.

I’m sure that future generations will also call us ignorant racists for something that we don’t even know.

Hemlock Hangover

January 19, 2010 at 8:15 am

Just to counter comments that any bumbling character could be inserted to replace Whitewash.
The reason why the portrayal is offensive is that Whitewash’s cowardice, awkwardness and stupidity were not seen as just a function of his character, but instead as being traits of his entire race. It held up the idea that all blacks were inferior, and if we look at the characture method in which he is clearly drawn, physically deformed. Its the use of art to reinforce a negative social order. People are right to be repulsed. Were the artist and writer racist? They were as racist as their times were I would argue. That doesn’t defend them. It puts it into a context. Its certainly not the most racist comic I have ever seen.

I’d like to take a moment to defend Stan Lee here since a couple people have taken pains to single him out for this piece. It’s important to note that what is shown in this comic is not unique to Stan at all; far from it, this was the standard depiction of African Americans in pop culture at the time. Obviously that doesn’t make it any more right or comfortable to read. However, to suggest that this is some sort of failing specific to Stan Lee is not only unfair to Stan but diminishes the issue of racism, because in this work Stan is simply mirroring the widespread and common beliefs of white society as a whole at that time.

At the time Stan wrote this, he was only 19 years old, an age when I think ignorance is the standard rather than the exception for most people. I think Stan’s main failing here is simply that he had yet to begin to think for himself as a writer; like most young writers, he was essentially copying the works of other, more popular and accomplished creators. Not only do these guys bear a strong resemblance to other boy teams of the time, as has been noted by others already, but all four of them are blatant stereotypes: the nerdy smart kid, the fat kid, the scrappy “dead ender,” which was a big cliche at the time, and the black comedic sidekick.

Offensive? Yes, very. But Stan wasn’t working in a vacuum; he was simply giving people what they wanted to read in order to sell comics and unfortunately, that’s the way society was at the time. Singling out Stan Lee (not that I think Brian is doing this, but rather some of the people who have responded) is I think unfair especially considering the progressive work that he did in his later life when he had had a chance to mature and form opinions for himself. Everyone starts out ignorant, after all. How you address that shortcoming is the telling point.

Stan also wrote Robbie Robertson and Gabe Jones.

I’m not seeing the point. Robert E. Howard, Ian Fleming, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and countless other adventure writers also reflected their less-enlightened society’s views on race. Yes, it was bad. But hardly worth calling out as a special example here when it was all over the place in both prose and comics.

Admit ‘acceptable at the time’ and what’s left that’s unfortunate? That Stan was hacking it out and depending on stereotypes? Okay. Again, not really unique, especially not in the 1940s when the vast majority of the people in the industry were hacking it out on a mass-production basis in order to get pages filled and make some money to feed their families.

There are lots more recent examples of ‘unfortunate’ if you want to beat up on Stan. Feminists have a lot to complain about at Silver Age Marvel. But this strikes me as kind of pointless.

I don’t think this story is racist at all. Dumb, yes, but not racist. It’s obviously intended to be a comedy- Whitewash is hardly the only silly character there, he’s just the most notable. And let’s not forget that this kind of comedy was common back then; Lee was borrowing an unfortunate stereotype, but he didn’t invent it. I’m sure he feels bad about it now, but back then, it was just another story to churn out quickly, and I’m also sure few people went “Oh my God Lee is a racist!” when it came out. It was just a silly story in a throwaway magazine meant for kids. Our standards have changed greatly since then.

Stan may have tried to overcome the cliche of the day by giving Whitewash a prominent place in the story, but Mark Twain he isn’t, and the net result is still appalling to look at. In light of that failure, the character’s name becomes somewhat ironic (I think; grotesquely poetic at least).

Of course, “Tubby and “Knuckles” are also offensive in their own ways, although not to the same extent.

Before we get too smug at how “enlightened” we are, consider:

Whenever I read articles or pieces like this, that point out writings or drawings in the past with depictions and languages that we in the present find distasteful and incredulous, I often wonder;

What will articles and pieces written 50 years from now point out about OUR current work?

What are we writing in our fiction or in our movies and TV shows that future generations will find repugnant?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 19, 2010 at 8:35 am

Stan was hardly alone in this; Simon and Kirby had years earlier produced a Captain America story in which a dismembered painter is surgically given a new hand, but because the hand comes from an African-American convict, they turn him into a murderous Nazi sympathizer called, I kid thee not, “the Black Talon.”

In other words, it’s an anti-Nazi adventure story that unwittingly agrees with…well, Nazi theories about corrupt blood, racial pollution and so forth. In fairness, they were probably referencing the film Mad Love (a remake of The Hands of Orlac) with its similar plot; in unfairness, that movie didn’t have the disturbing racial subtext, since the evil hands come from a white Caucasian. Simon and Kirby added their little, uh, “touch’ all on their own, and boy do they lovingly focus on the black skin-tone of that transplanted evil hand and throw around phrases like “blood mixing” a lot.

And then there’s C.C. Beck and Otto Binder’s “Steamboat,” a minstrel-show caricature from the beloved old Captain Marvel Adevtures book, and so, so many other examples.

Will Pieface or Ebony White be called out here? Let’s kick Will Eisner and John Broome around while we are at it.
What about Luck Cage in the 70′s? Storm having caucasian features?
Northstar being gay? Quicksilver fucking the Scarlett Witch?

In the comics of the past 20 years I’ve seen southern americans and christian conservatives portrayed with cowardice, awkwardness, and stupidity that were not seen as just a function of thier character, but instead as being traits of an entire people. Was this a mistake of history also?

Yes, BrianHouston, it was. Amazingly enough, however, that fact does not magically remove the offensiveness of racist characterizations of the past.

Nice…I figured these are the responses I would hear…see I am from the frozen North—we call it Canada–a place where racism exists as it does everywhere…even the—wait for it…the United States of America–gasp. I really hate the cultural argument–”that’s how it was then,” almost as much as I hate the “he was only 18 or 19 when he wrote this.” Was everyone living in 1940′s America an inadvertent racist? I don’t think so…then as now, people existed who have no difficulties with the colour of skin. As for Stan’s age…if he murdered someone at 18 or 19 would we think his reform so easy? So one can be cured of racism, but not of a tendency to murder–maybe it was self defense–a one off? As for Stan’s contribution to the civil rights movement…even Strom Thurmond and LBJ thought it best to conceal their bigotry for the sake of politics. In the case of the former–everyone was equal once the lights went out–wink. Can’t really see how the desire to sell comic books would really be all that different. I don’t think that Stan suddenly grew a conscience in the 60′s from his previous held attitudes in the ’40′s. Was he so ignorant of the specter of American slavery? As for a few posts swiping at Twain–to even put Twain and Stan together as a comparison is ridiculous–the terrible way Jim is treated in Huck Finn is poignant because all the while Jim and Huck pass along the river between the Mason Dixon demarcation–driving home the point that although the legal status of slavery has been changed, people’s attitudes have not–Huck treats Jim terribly when they are north of the Mason Dixon–which is the real comment of the novel. To anyone who doesn’t think this piece by Lee is racist–well enjoy your bubble of ignorance.

Brian Houston…oh those poor white people always being picked on–I guess controlling 90% of the world isn’t enough for us white folk–oh that terrible reverse racism–won’t somebody please remember all us suffering white people. Our homes in California need saving from fire–be sure to fly over all those people in New Orleans and Haiti to help us.

LouReedRichards

January 19, 2010 at 8:50 am

Yeah, what Brian Houston and the Dude said. I’m not defending the work. It speaks to peoples regrettable ideas about race at the time, but the moral outrage at a work produced 70 years ago seems a little precious.

Newsflash: People viewed the interaction between the races in a very different light almost 3/4 of a century ago.

We’ve moved on. It was a shameful period for race relations, let’s remember our history, but c’mon is anybody here really surprised at this depiction?

@Warwick, yeah I wouldn’t call Stan anything but a business man. If he felt that minorities would have sold more comics, I’m sure he would have crammed the pages full of them. That goes for any race or nationality. But exactly how many minority heroes did DC or any of the other companies have at the time the Black Panther made his first appearance?

Sorry, I don’t mean to sound so grouchy about all of this, but it just reminds me of the inevitable conversations that spring up on this board about how awful the depictions of Germans and the Japanese are in WW2 comics.
It’s not the same thing for sure, but like I said , it all seems a bit precious. I’m surprised that no ones outraged at the obvious sizeism going on with Tubby.

Oh yeah, this does seems like an interesting idea for a series of posts. God knows comics are filled with more than enough regrettable stereotypes.

Actually, Huck and Jim start out north of the Mason-Dixon (albeit in Missouri, a slave-holding state), and gradually pass into the deep South. Jim’s initial goal of Cairo, Illinois (in a free state), is actually south (i.e., downriver) from their hometown.

Oh yeah, this does seems like an interesting idea for a series of posts. God knows comics are filled with more than enough regrettable stereotypes.

Of more recent vintage. That’s the thing I keep thinking. Just off the top of my head, Roderick Kingsley and the YMCA rape scene in The Hulk spring to mind as emblematic of that kind of ‘unfortunate’ decision, and those were made at a time when we all were supposed to know better.

I didn’t realize honest appraisal of the content in old comics qualified as “precious.”

Ok, I’ll wrap up what I think with this.. I don’t see anything overly offensive in this.
\
Whitewash’s negative/comedic traits are, cowardice, poor grammar, limited musical talent, enjoyment of watermelon(an apparent racial stereotype), a habit of screaming at insects, an inability to distinguish between a unmarked lever and a police alarm, screaming in pain while engulfed in thorns, choosing to rest while until time to move out, and a fear of corpses.

His physical appearance is also exaggerated to have lagre lips. He is not drawn deformed.

Most importantly he is reveled to be a true star of the story and hero.

Is not racist. It’s ironic.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 19, 2010 at 8:57 am

@Marc The piece by Lee is racist; but yes, a vast number of Americans were racist. “inadvertant” isn’t the right word, exactly, but the culture in general was far more accepting of racism and “common sense” tended to include a fair number of racist precepts. Most people growing up were casually exposed to racist language and concepts, and exposed to them without much in the way of counterargument or even the sense that they were morally wrong expressions or policies.

Add in de facto and de jure segregation so that real-world encounters between persons of different races were already set against a backdrop of institutionally-approved racism, and you can hopefully work out why plenty of people would see this sort of gross racism as unprovocative and unremarkable. Racism is far less comprehensible today, when public expressions thereof are treated as morally calamitous, but in the 1940s and even well into the 1960s this simply wasn’t the case in many areas of the country.

You also seem to have fallen into the real trap of Brian Houston’s comment, in which he deftly equated racial prejudice with prejudice against people of a particular culture that isn’t even that of most “white” people on the planet. Of course, context and nuance do get in the way of that most satisfying of all drugs, righteous indignation; the two of you will go on supplying one another indefinitely with your volleys in these comments, I suspect.

I’m black and even I think this is pointless as a series. If you did one piece highlighting maybe 5 or 6 of the worst offenders, sure, but as an ongoing series? It would be neverending. This stuff was all over the place. Like Hatcher says, yes it was unfortunate, yes it is hard to excuse even using the “acceptable for its time” rationale, but we could do this forever and never run out of examples. It just becomes an excuse for commenters to get into a competition to get more holier than thou and sanctimonious than the other, just way too easy a target. Plus there comes the inevitable complaints like what come from BrianHouston above, “If you’re going to profile x group, why not also profile the closeminded representations of southern whites/christians/conservatives/etc.” Just way too many opportunities for comparative victimology, or apity party competition.

As a black person, yes, my race was treated shitty in media left and right. We were comic relief. Our faces looked like charcoal with plungers attached. It sucked, sure, but to me what’s more disturbing than it having happened in the past is the idea of a series constantly rehashing and parading these stereotypes for the benefit of white people gnashing their teeth and holding a pity party on my behalf.

I’m sure that future generations will also call us ignorant racists for something that we don’t even know.

Sure, like the Jersey Shore TV show on MTV. It’s basically an italian minstrel show. I also think Will and Grace in later years got so broad it became Amos and Andy for gay people.

Of more recent vintage. That’s the thing I keep thinking. Just off the top of my head, Roderick Kingsley and the YMCA rape scene in The Hulk spring to mind as emblematic of that kind of ‘unfortunate’ decision, and those were made at a time when we all were supposed to know better.

This is a good point actually, and it makes me amend my previous comments: I wouldn’t mind this as a series if we restrict it to the past 20-30 years, or as Hatcher puts it, times “when we were supposed to know better.” Singling out the ’40s is like shooting ducks in a barrel but showing ignorant depictions in more recent times I think would at least be more challenging and thought provoking.

Researching the Missouri Compromise further, I find that the slavery/freedom demarcation line was actually 36 degrees 30 minutes (roughly the boundary between Missouri & Arkansas), not the Mason-Dixon (which is some ways north, and marks the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland).

Just a “The More You Know” for Twain nuts like me.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 19, 2010 at 9:03 am

@ Greg — The odd part is, Rod Kingsley was played as a womanizing lech in the same story and subsequent ones despite the use of camp gay stereotypes. And of course, if Roger Stern’s stated intentions for the character to be the Hobgoblin were intended at or shortly after his introduction, then something even odder is going on there.

That Rampaging Hulk story, though…err…yeah, just crap. Not that certain supposedly “pro-gay” stories have been much better in many regards, and in general the treatment of gays and lesbians in superhero comics is rather liberal compared to the wider American culture fairly early on despite censorious editorial policies regarding the subject. It wasn’t many years after that Hulks story that we got, for example, Arnie Roth in Captain America and Northstar in Alpha Flight.

I appreciate the discussion, and this post certainly rattled the cages and created some passionate responses, but I feel this is also kind of like bear-baiting. If we wanted to look at this side of comics history, and I do think it should be seen and at the very least acknowledged as part of the medium, then maybe a link to the What Were Thinking might be better suited than making this a sorta-regular feature.

Far be it from me to tell you what to post, Brian, and you have way more hits than misses on this blog, but I don’t see how pointing outdated racist media stereotypes shows us that Comics Should Be Good…

Or better yet, if you do decide to go back to the 60s and earlier, flip the script and look for uncharacteristically enlightened depictions for the era. For example there was a 60s western comic series profiled on this website once that had a black cowboy gunslinger as its main protaganist who was totally heroic and not a stereotype. That was a real eye opener. Even debatable depictions that were clumsy and awkward but had their hearts in the right place and were trying to do the right thing like “I am curious…BLACK!” would be more interesting.

Nicely put T–I guess, as a white guy, what I really hate is this attitude of “it is all in the past, it is all behind us” yet if anyone else heard the offensive comment from an ESPN announcer yesterday..well, clearly not behind us–I don’t dig pyramiding oppression either. The Will and Grace analogy works well too–what I took from that show is that all a gay man needs is a really great straight girl–to–well set him straight. Compare this to the Ellen DeGeneres show–she comes out as a lesbian with no hope of switching teams–and the ratings dropped–as though we didn’t know who she liked to sleep with beforehand. Any way–I find this discussion pretty fruitless–there is no converting people from their own ignorance–only life experience can do that–meaning contact with others.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 19, 2010 at 9:09 am

@BrianHouston — I think it’s entirely possible, and even supremely likely, that the story is both intended as a comedy where the Fool saves the day and an unreflexive use of racist caricatures to create that “Fool” character. Johnny hunder frequently saved the JSA by blundering idiocy, but no one suggests that was some sort of cleverly ironic statement. It’s simply a conventional comedy plot to have the outright dumbest character accidentally make the right moves; the visible racism here is in the method the story uses to represent the Fool’s foolishness.

@T — I agree entirely.

That said, I do think there’s an interesting discussion to be had regarding the bizarreness of media racial stereotypes. Did anyone even in the 1940s really think the black people they saw somewhat often (in service jobs, admittedly) resembled the popular caricature in the slightest, for example? It’s one of the better jokes in Borat that the title character literally can’t recognize real Jews despite his anti-Semitism, and believes they reproduce by laying eggs. (Planetary did a similar gag with H.P. Lovecraft believing African-Americans were oviparous.)

This isn’t turning out to be that discussion, though.

Given the still-pervasive tendency of people to let stereotypes form their impression of an entire demographic (I can’t count how many chuzzlewits I’ve run into who really do think all gay people are just like Jack in Will and Grace), Omar, I’d have to answer your question with a resounding “Yes.” Never underestimate the capacity for human stupidity, especially in large groups.

That said, I do think there’s an interesting discussion to be had regarding the bizarreness of media racial stereotypes. Did anyone even in the 1940s really think the black people they saw somewhat often (in service jobs, admittedly) resembled the popular caricature in the slightest, for example? It’s one of the better jokes in Borat that the title character literally can’t recognize real Jews despite his anti-Semitism, and believes they reproduce by laying eggs. (Planetary did a similar gag with H.P. Lovecraft believing African-Americans were oviparous.)

This isn’t turning out to be that discussion, though.

I can agree with this, and it’s a good question. It goes beyond just the easy “wow, weren’t the 40s racist?” insight and looks for some more probing analysis.

The words ignorant and ignorance(two of my favorite words) do have meaning here.

Do to the space/time separation all we have to connect us is clumsy words and we may all be ignorant of each others true hearts.
Disagreement on opinion has no morale high ground.

I am a Freudian–so your words do reveal your true heart–you just don’t know it.

LouReedRichards

January 19, 2010 at 9:21 am

@ Michael P – it’s not the appraisal of racial content in a 70 year old comic that is precious.
It’s some of the responses that seem self congratulatory about their enlightenment compared to a 70 year old comic that seems precious.

I know your name should be Mike Hunt.

Oh. In that case, you’re just making up a subtext and attributing it to people to make yourself feel better. Which makes the whole accusation contemptibly beneath my notice.

Carry on.

“Sure, like the Jersey Shore TV show on MTV. It’s basically an italian minstrel show.”

Oh, come on. There are a bunch of douchebags and their girlfriends who dress ridiculously and say dumb things. They’ve been doing this for years and years. MTV just started filming it.

http://www.hotchickswithdouchebags.com/

Actually, I could swear I saw a show on MTV years ago that was incredibly like Jersey Shore. Which made me wonder for a bit why everyone was just now so up in arms about it, until I learned it was a different show.

Oh, come on. There are a bunch of douchebags and their girlfriends who dress ridiculously and say dumb things. They’ve been doing this for years and years. MTV just started filming it.

http://www.hotchickswithdouchebags.com/

I never said it was a new invention. Just that it’s like an italian minstrel show.

Actually, that implies that it’s a new invention by the publishers of the material. This isn’t some people in a position of power creating stereotypes to entertain. This is a group of people who are part of a subculture that dresses and behaves in particular ways and somebody who filmed them. They’d be doing this stuff even if the camera wasn’t there.

LouReedRichards

January 19, 2010 at 9:56 am

Then why did you respond?

Exactly. I was wondering the same thing.

I wasn’t being literal when I called it a minstrel show. I call Maury Povich a modern day minstrel show also even though it’s also not fictional and it’s people doing stuff they’d be doing even if the camera wasn’t there. The point is that it takes a group of people and parades their negative stereotypes, real or imagined, for the entertainment benefit of outsiders.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 19, 2010 at 10:04 am

@Apodaca — It may be a look at a subculture, but I’m simply too distrustful of the long-demonstrated use of clever editing on “reality” TV shows to entirely believe the claims about Jersey Shore being a simple record of in situ behavior.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBwepkVurCI&feature=related

Sounds like the Daily show.

OMAR —

“Simon and Kirby had years earlier produced a Captain America story…”

I think you have your time line mixed up a little, or maybe you meant a different character. This featured story is from 1941, and so is Captain America.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 19, 2010 at 10:39 am

Yeah, Alan, I misread a date at comics.org.

Brian – THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so sick of features and posts (not on this blog, but still out there) that will show a creator’s body of work and just gloss over the hideous discriminatory moments in it (this happens all the time with Windsor McCay’s work, for example). This is a good start to the feature and I’m looking forward to more of these.

okay i just went thru and read all the comments. Brian, you gotta keep doing this feature if only to keep this discourse going. interesting stuff.

As an Italian-American (from New York, who has in fact hung out at Seaside Heights in the distant past), Jersey Shore is pretty embarrassing. It’s strange to me that we let it slide – sure, there is a segment of idiotic Italian-Americans just like the guys on Jersey Shore – they remind me of roughly half of my high school graduating class – but why is it okay to pass this off as ‘reality’ and show it to the rest of the country and world as entertainment? I’m sure there are plenty of other people who embody the hateful stereotypes associated with their respective groups, but a ‘reality’ show about black people getting welfare, hispanics picking fruit, jews haggling for deals, overweight people eating junk food, gay men cruising for younger men, southerns marrying their cousins, asians having and/or causing car accidents, etc., would be reviled and die a quick death. Taking the worst examples of a segment of people and presenting that as the ‘reality’ is pretty terrible, except when it’s Italians acting like ‘roid-addicted douchbag whorebangers. Then its okay.

That being said, that stupid damned show does make me laugh. It’s just embarrassing that the rest of the world thinks that’s what Italian-Americans are all about.

Those layouts and panel compositions look really dynamic for that period.

Wow.

Just… wow…

And I thought Hergé had it bad…

I am one of those who can enjoy an HP Lovecraft story, and gloss over his view of “Blackamoors” and “Muhammedans” and think of it as ignorance from the turn of the century, but, for someone like Stan Lee to come up with this…

Maybe, like Hergé, he thought ignorantly thought that he was depicting Whitewash in a comical, inoffensive manner, and decided to amend it once it was brought to his attention? I hope so.

And on the Mark Twain argument, I’m sorry, but I can’t see a parallel between Whitewash and Jim… They are almost the exact opposite in their depictions…

Ignorance is a big problem, and one of my bugbears, but it CAN be treated… Ingrained racism is much harder to counter.

Has Stan Lee ever commented on the character of Whitewash?

Righteous indignation is okay in this case. It’s okay to be angry at things that are this wrong and demeaning. And yes, we are better now than they were in this 1940s in this particular issue. It’s okay to be proud of our progress as a society. It’s also obvious that this progress hasn’t reached its pinnacle in us. I hope that in 2060 people will look back and consider that we were a bunch of silly, neurotic homophobes.

And I also think exposure and study of past wrongs is very healthy in another way. It’s common of some conservatives to revere the past and present an idealized version of it, fighting for a return to the good old days. But the good old days weren’t so good, and certainly presented no social model that should be emulated.

But I agree that Stan Lee shouldn’t be singled out as the devil himself. In the 1960s he was probably more enlightened than the norm.

So how long before Ed Brukbaker includes Whitewash in a Cap flashback?

Do any of you get upset at the stereotypical characters created by Quentin Tarantino or Ice-T?

If a black character is made to look stupid, silly, or exaggerated in appearance it has to be racist?

Are stereotypes only allowed when showing “positive”, “good”, or “strong” traits, exp “The take no nonsense in your face attitude of a strong black women.”

Cartoonist tend to exaggerate many characters appearances from imagined to real people, throughout history.

This comic story had points where a black character was made to look silly and foolish through much of the story,,, but that does not make it racist

Main Entry: rac·ism
Pronunciation: \?r?-?si-z?m also -?shi-\
Function: noun
Date: 1933

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

— rac·ist \-sist also -shist\ noun or adjective

and can someone tells me what it is on the last page that offends them?

Um, No. All stereotypes are lazy…
Frenchmen in striped tops, with berets and a string of onions
British gents in bowler hats with umbrellas
Fat American tourists in Hawaiian shirts, big hats and 58 cameras
Germans in Leiderhosen

and why are you just asking for examples from “the last page”?

I’m not actually offended by the depiction of Whitewash. Just very, very disappointed and saddened.

Stereotypes exist because there is truth behind them.
Accordingly, the more you go from parody, to prejudice, to racism, the farther you move from the stereotype and move into the mentality of “all who are not like me are inferior”.

Laughing and making fun of a perceived cultural difference is completely natural and not at all in the same ballpark as racism.

Here’s my problem.

There’s no context.

There’s no context to this story in history of culture, of race relations, of comics, or even the body of work by the writer/artist.

It’s just “Hey, look at this that Stan Lee did!” which really just opens the doors for Stan Lee bashers to come and say “Look at how racist he is!” (Notice, no one comments that about Jack Kirby who possibly designed the look of the character).

Young Allies the movie

Michael Cera as Bucky
Andy Milonakis as Tubbs(Henry Tinkle)
Dakota Fanning as Knuckles
Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Jeff(Jefferson Worthing Sandervilt)
Jaden Smith as Whitewash Jones

Geez BrianHouston, I’m hardly the most priggish PC poster around these parts and I even initially agreed that dwelling on racism from the 40s from today’s enlightened perspective is pointlessly judgmental and self-congratulatory, but to take the argument to the point of saying that the actual depiction is not racist at all? Come on now, that’s a little too far.

As for what in particular is raicst about the last page, a racist term for blacks used to be “spooks.” Spook humor were movies and books that specifically were about black people running around scared to death because something was chasing them. Think of a racist version of Shaggy from Scooby Doo. There’s a specific reason why the black character is the one they choose to have scared all the time. It comes form a specific type of racist story, the “spook” story.

T. can you find me any links to your spook claim. havn’t found any yet.

I put out my arguments and gave my opinion. I don’t believe that’s “going to far.”

Are you being sarcastic? Your blackhorrormovies.com link you provided two comments ago provides proof of my spook claim.

Great minds run in the same channel, I suppose. I started doing an exam of Young Allies about 10 days ago. At the end of the first issue, I was aghast at some of what I found regarding Whitewash. But by the end of issue #2, I saw that if one looked past the obvious sterotypical charicature of Whitewash (the same sort of charicature that plagued the entire team if you really looked at it), Whitewash was actually one of the more noble and competent characters. My complete analysis of Whitewash can be found at: http://comicsmakenosense.blogspot.com/2010/01/before-shaggy-ever-said-zoiks-friday.html

It’s also on the main page right now, as I just posted it last Friday. I don’t expect everyone to see it the same way I did, as we can see by the comments here, but there are certainly three sides to this story.

Adam from “Comics Make No Sense” (that blog CBR likes to ignore ;-) )

T. – I was looking for other examples spook movies and books , my example was close but that veered into a type of character not a genre.

Brian, once again, navigate the site you sent me. The first paragraph of the page you sent me says that spook movies were an out and out genre, not one isolated movie:

As the name implies, the spook is spooked by all things spooky. Typically the comic sidekick, he’s often spared from death by his ability to make people laugh. The “classic spook” (most widely represented by Mantan Moreland and the catchphrase often attributed to him, “Feets, don’t fail me now!”), judged by today’s standards, is painful and dated, but no less painful than the “modern spook” who masks fear with much attitude and cussing (as in “Fuck that, I ain’t going in there!”).

For example: Mantan Moreland, King of the Zombies; Willie Best, The Ghost Breakers; Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Topper Returns

Then when you navigate throughout the site and go decade by decade, it lists spook movies under every single decade. Do the 20s through to the 50s for starters.

Also, Adam Barnett:

I went to your blog and your article. There is a flaw in your logic. You say Whitewash being a spook isn’t racist because he’s no different than Shaggy on Scooby Doo. First, I’d argue that Whitewash is a more negative depiction than Shaggy is. Second, even if they were on equal footing in portrayal, Shaggy has a minimum of 3 other white characters (not including guest stars) with good traits to offset the portrayal of his bad traits. So it’s hard to cry racism when there is a full range of white portrayals being shown. If it was an all black cast and was created by black people and Shaggy was the only white person and was portrayed as negatively as Whitewash, suddenly he’d be a racist character too.

Yeah, seriously. One suspects that he’s trying to score easy points against Lee, when there are far worse examples from internet darlings like Kirby and Eisner.

But I also agree with the Greg that it’s too easy to make fun of the past, while ignoring the racism in more recent comics.

My favorite example was the 1988 revival of Flash Gordon by Dan Jurgens. There was a whole self-congratulatory text piece in the back where they basically said “of course, in these more enlightened times, we couldn’t portray evil Emperor Ming or his planet Mongo as Chinese.” Instead, they were all evil arabs! It’s always culturally acceptable to be racist against somebody.

Thank you for clearing the spook part up for me.
I still don’t believe it’s racist however.
It falls under parody of stereotype not prejudice, discrimination, of racial superiority.

It’s not a parody of a stereotype, it’s a stereotypical parody.

The more downtrodden a group is, the more distasteful I find the jokes about them. Particularly when it’s members of an advantaged group making and laughing at the jokes. Consequently, I find gay jokes now less offensive than they were 20 years ago. We gays have more power and defense mechanisms now, jokes at our expense don’t feel like such a big deal now. But when you’re really down, the jokes can be like kicking a dead dog. Cowardly and cruel.

I love this. “Come to chuckle at the hilarious racism, stay to observe douchebags talk about how racism is empowering.”

Brian Houston: It’s hard to imagine you functioning in real life, but the very fact that you can post on blog comment sections makes my day a little bit happier and 60% more insane upon realization that you are, no joke, a real person.

Everyone gets laughed at. If you can’t take ridicule then what good are you.

So T. is it a parody now to you also? A low grade parody? Does perceived quality of a parody effect who can be make fun of?

Or is parody offensive? How much parody is allowed? Freedom of speech that YOU disagree with is not automatically objectionable.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 19, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Brian, you’ve done nothing — absolutely nothing — to explain why you believe it’s “parody of a stereotype” beyond repeatedly stating that belief and then demanding other people somehow prove a negative.

Chris Jones

Please quote me what statements I’ve made that seem so out of touch. Enlighten me. Enlighten me on when I spoke of racism in a positive manner.
You can’t. All you can do is toss harmless insults with no amount of truth.

I say I believe this cartoon is not a racist work , then I am called a racist and charged with exposing hate.

I defend this cartoon from being racist ie.. a bad thing.
Yet I ham told I believe in racism.

How someone can claim that a racial caricature isn’t racist is absolutely mind-boggling. That he wrote this doesn’t mean Stan Lee is racist fellow. I have no way of knowing if he is. It was the trope of the time but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t and it isn’t awful. Geez.

to prove me wrong all one has to do is show where there is definitive proof of racism, defined as I posted above, ie saying that Whitewash Johnson being black is inferior to the white race, where is is shown prejudice for being black, and where there is descrimination of Johnson.

Other then comedic portrayal of a black character there is nothing to suggest racism.

I’ve heard no proof other then, “it is” “you’re wrong”.

I see the same humor in the Scary Movie franchise.

I don’t have to quote anything, everything you’ve said in this comment section has been blistering, ignorant nonsense, but here’s one just for kicks:

‘Most importantly he is reveled to be a true star of the story and hero.

Is not racist. It’s ironic.”

No, it’s not ironic. It’s racist. It’s racist because he “saves the day” by being a bumbler and a fool, which were two of the biggest stereotypes about black people back in the ’40s. He is “a hero” because he is drawn and written as being an outrageous symbol of all the negative traits white people perceived in blacks without any basis in fact. The audience is intended to laugh AT him, not WITH him.

Marvel recently published a Young Allies one-off that showed a reunion of Bucky, at that time the one and only Captain America, and two of this kid gang. The script tacitly acknowledged the racism of the original portrayal by saying that all the non-costumed teens were fictionalized, and by presenting the elderly equivalent of “Whitewash” as a human being. An intelligent, dignified human being.

And then the same magazine included a reprinted prose story by Stan Lee from the 1940s, featuring Whitewash helping to subdue Nazis by throwing watermelon rinds at them.

Chris, I don’t like to make accusations against individuals I don’t even know. But c’mon, negating that something is racist against overwhelming evidence is a common tactic of those with racist agendas. I’m not saying you have this agenda, but don’t be surprised if people think you do.

And who said anything about freedom of speech? I think Young Allies #1 was garbage. I don’t think it should have been banned by law.

And for the record, you’re asking us to prove that the sky is blue when all you need to do is look up.

Rene, I’m sorry, are you accusing me of racism by trying to prove that something is racist?

Please tell me if I’ve misunderstood.

Watermelons are the perfect example of parody of a stereotype.
Is it racist to make a joke about black people and watermelons? Friend Chicken? Movie theaters? Rednecks fucking goats? Asians and funny sound effects, super sexy latin girls, etc..

Is it racist to make a joke about black people and watermelons? Friend Chicken? Movie theaters? Rednecks fucking goats? Asians and funny sound effects, super sexy latin girls, etc..

Yes. That’s exactly what it is.

So Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and various comedians on TV and around the world are racist? Because I’ve heard comedians on TV make jokes about all those topics.

Brian, how’s your campaign against Swift’s baby-eating campaign going?

to prove me wrong all one has to do is show where there is definitive proof of racism, defined as I posted above, ie saying that Whitewash Johnson being black is inferior to the white race

okay, in every single panel that whitewash johnson appears in, he’s shown as inferior in intelligence and courage to the white people around him, due to his traits that conform to black stereotypes.

Is it racist to make a joke about black people and watermelons? Friend Chicken? Movie theaters? Rednecks fucking goats? Asians and funny sound effects, super sexy latin girls, etc..

depends on the context.

Brian, the jokes are racist. That does not automatically translate to people being racist. People are complicated and you need more than a joke to know them. But those jokes and that portrayal are completely, totally racist.

I’ve heard no proof other then, “it is” “you’re wrong”.

no, you’ve acknowledged no proof. big difference.

LouReedRichards

January 19, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Brian – I was with you for the first few comments you had, but man it seems likes you’ve backed yourself into a corner and are just saying anything to make the portrayal of Whitewash fit your perception. I agree it doesn’t fit the definition of “racist”, but it sure is bigoted as hell. It may not specifically say that Whitewash is inferior by the simple fact that he is black, but it certainly plays upon the negative racial stereotypes of the day.

LouReedRichards

January 19, 2010 at 3:17 pm

And I don’t think Ted Kord would support your views either – just saying.

Is it implied by story that he is inferior specifically because of his race? I don’t think so.
Whitewash is superstitious and afraid of ghost and dosn’t want a fly in his drink? That dosn’t make him a moron but the context makes it funny.

It’s the speech of Whitewash that gives most people the impression that is is stupid, which isn’t true at all. He has simple country mannerisms and dialect.

“depends on the context”is the pussy way of saying neither yes or no.

So T. is it a parody now to you also? A low grade parody? Does perceived quality of a parody effect who can be make fun of?

Or is parody offensive? How much parody is allowed? Freedom of speech that YOU disagree with is not automatically objectionable.

*sigh*

I’m not debating the quality of the parody. i’m not calling it low grade, mid grade or highbrow. what i am saying is that it is not a parody of a racist stereotype, it is a stereotypically racist parody. there is a difference between the two.

the goal of a parody of a stereotype is to make fun of the stereotype and the racist people who believe in the stereotype, not the target of the stereotype. for example eddie murphy’s buckwheat character was meant to be a parody of a stereotype. when you see it, you are supposed to laugh at how unenlightened racist people of the past were to accept such a portrayal and laugh at how silly and backwards the portrayal was. that is not what whitewash jones is. he’s not a parody of a black stereotype, he’s a parody of a black PERSON.

now the actual buckwheat in the original little rascals shorts on the other hand is also a stereotypical parody of a black person. It’s not spoofing racism, it’s spoofing black people.

Original buckwheat and whitewash jones? Stereotypical parodies of blacks
Eddie Murphy’s buckwheat and Dave Chappelle’s humor? Parodies of black stereotypes.

Regardless of whether you agree with my conclusions, do you at least get what I’m trying to say now? I said nothing about whether the parodies were low-grade or high-grade.

Chris, I’m super-sorry, man. That is what I get for typing too fast. I meant Brian.

“depends on the context”is the pussy way of saying neither yes or no.

and saying context is irrelevant and everything must a bright line rule is the lazy dullard way to avoid using your mind.

Only an imbecile walks around ignoring context, Brian. And that’s what you are. An ignorant-to-the-point-of-being-dangerous absolute fucking imbecile.

I’m out. If I were you I’d politely sidestep human contact for the rest of forever.

I just realized something, you said in your comment that people who say context determines whether a joke is racist are “pussy,” but in the same comment you also said:

Is it implied by story that he is inferior specifically because of his race? I don’t think so.
Whitewash is superstitious and afraid of ghost and dosn’t want a fly in his drink? That dosn’t make him a moron but the context makes it funny.

Wait a sec….you’re saying because of the context, the joke is merely funny and not racist? Then by your own definition *gasp* YOU”RE A PUSSY!!!

Only an imbecile walks around ignoring context, Brian. And that’s what you are. An ignorant-to-the-point-of-being-dangerous absolute fucking imbecile.

I’m out. If I were you I’d politely sidestep human contact for the rest of forever.

The real irony is in that same comment he acknowledges the importance of context in determining whether a joke is racist or not. Not even 10 comments early, so that he’d have time to forget. The very same comment, only a few sentences earlier.

I feel like when T. and I agree, it’s basically a fact. “Breathing oxygen is pretty good for you.” “Dang, getting hit in the nards is a bad situation to be in.”

Well, perceptions is what it’s all about. Two people can see the same thing differtlly

I don’t think people understand the negative power the word racist has when used haphazzardly

i think an important irony that should have been noted in the original article is that this was work by stan lee, and the design work i’m sure was done by jack kirby. These were the two people who created the first black superhero as well, Black Panther, generally considered a positive portrayal.

This is incredible. He’s so ashamed of his argument now that he’s not even using his proper name to espouse it.

He recognizes on some level that what he’s saying is wrong, and he CONTINUES TO SAY IT.

There are no words. “Fascinating”, maybe.

As far as him giving me his straight up opinion, context was the easy way out

give a solid opinion
context on the millions of possible jjokes that could b considered racist? Just give me a real yes or no answer on wether generel humor pertaining to people of different racial, ethnic, social backgrounds

when does humor go to far? When it implies The negative or un flattering?

Well, perceptions is what it’s all about. Two people can see the same thing differtlly

I don’t think people understand the negative power the word racist has when used haphazzardly

I’ve run into this a lot, especially recently. And I don’t know your situation, but a lot of times white folks get real uncomfortable when speaking about something being racist, because they quickly jump to thinking a person is being called racist. Sometimes that is true, but in this and many other cases, it is not a person being accused of racism. A created thing, an act, is deemed (obviously) racist.

Everyone has performed racist acts. It does not make everyone racist.

Stan Lee – the household name in comics in 2010.. and 1961… and 1941… the guy is immortal! Seriously, no human can have a career that long! I bet there are cave paintings in the Lascaux caves with his name on them…

Oh boy. I could have done without seeing that. Dick move Stan. Dick move.

Moved to my iPod touch
brother needed computer
I was waiting for the obvious responce
thank u Chris for showing me who I know u r

I think Stan Lee is simply using a diminished (but unthankfully not-dead) any of a number of stock characters were assumed to be black . The shortcut to comically-stupid-but-well-meaning in all American media, high-brow and low-brow, Northern and Southern, brilliant and amateurish was a dark face and big red lips. This was an inexcusably destructive convention to millions of lives as well as to the fabric of American society, and this damage should never be forgotten or downplayed, but as a practical matter shortcuts were irresistible to writers of 1940s comics. I wish 19-year-old Stan Lee (and Jack Kirby!) had been a more thoughtful, sensitive and courageous creator, but I do not blame him for using artistic conventions.

The American portrayal of race in media from 1850-1950 is absolutely insane but also confusing. To take one famous example, “The Jazz Singer” is arguably the most influential movie of all time as the first Talkie. It is of course virtually never watched today because of all the blackface (quality-wise, it’s surprisingly not-awful). The story is about a Jewish man attempting to reconcile his ethnic heritage (singin’ as a cantor in the temple!) with the mainstream of society (Singin’ on Broadway!). This mainstream of society is represented by painting his face black- Al Jolson becomes the all-American hero by becoming Black.

To take another famous example, Mark Twain created the subversively human Jim. He also LOVED the most traditionally broad minstrel shows you could ever imagine.

I don’t think people understand the negative power the word racist has when used haphazzardly

I can’t speak for anyone else, but just because I point out someone did a racist action once or twice doesn’t mean I think the actual person is a racist. An evil person might have done one or two good acts in their life, that doesn’t make them good. A good person may have done one or two evil acts in their life history, doesn’t make them evil.

Stan Lee has had some great portrayals of blacks in his day too, like T’Challa and Robbie Robertson. In the context of the time this was printed along with the context of all their later work and creations, I don’t consider Stan Lee or Jack Kirby to be racist.

Um Joe
I ve pretty much been accussed of being a racist for vocing my opinion

could calling someone a racist not be considered cruel and recless if not supported or proved

Your “opinion” that a racial stereotype used in the above comic isn’t a racial stereotype is a difficult one to defend. The choices are limited as to how someone could repeatedly say this, and while actually being racist isn’t all of them, it is one of them. Ignorance, bull-headedness, and facetious troll behavior are others.

Another way to say this, is that if a bunch of people see something say say and react as if it could very well be signs of racism, and you’re not racist, you might want to rethink said opinion.

As far as him giving me his straight up opinion, context was the easy way out

give a solid opinion
context on the millions of possible jjokes that could b considered racist? Just give me a real yes or no answer on wether generel humor pertaining to people of different racial, ethnic, social backgrounds

Dude, you asked me the question in the broadest form possible, things like “Are blacks and watermelon jokes racist?” How can I say definitively ALL watermelon jokes are racist? Say for example I had a skit where a black person is going on a shooting spree for watermelon, drooling and cackling and doing increasingly insane things just to get some. That would be racist. Say there is another skit about a clueless white foreign exchange student who is mistakenly given nothing but 1940s movies to bone up on American culture before arriving in America. So when he comes to stay with the black family he keeps unwittingly making racist gestures, like showing up with watermelons as a gift. The rest of the skit is a series of misunderstandings based on his poor research. In that case it’s not making fun of the black person, it’s making fun of the stereotypes of the past. That scenario would not be a racist joke but a joke about racism.

When you ask your questions that outrageously broad of course I can’t just answer yes or no and I’m going to answer that it depends on the context. And like I pointed out, you yourself have used the context rationale in determining whether a joke was racist so I don’t see the big deal.

Nope
I’m not a little bitch who runs away

just pointing out the hipocracy I’ve seen and marveling as it goes over your heads

but you know, peace be with you all. despite all the hate it hasn’t gotten to bad. If this is going to be a regular feature there will probally be lots of disagreements. Let’s just enjoy the fact we can all say what we wish without fear of punishment.
At least in the country I live in.
Gaea bless America.

I had to come back to this…Brian Houston…what is offensive about the piece is that it is a white person’s view of how black people speak–a very misguided one dressed in the same language of the “yess massers” type. Very offensive. To address your “definition” of racism. I am going to let you in on a little scientific knowledge–there are no genetic markers for race–skin pigmentation yes, but other than that no difference between the races. Know why? Race is a cultural and not a biological distinction–which is covered in most undergraduate sociology classes. Race is a word invented to create hierarchies–to allow for those in the dominating culture (let’s call that white) to dominate those determined by the more powerful group o be less than. This move was once achieved through all manner of argument–usually going back to the bible and Noah’s sons. In the last few hundred years, race as a construct appeared and became increasingly discussed in terms of science–eugenics for starters in the mid 19th century in North America and the UK. Of course we now know eugenics is not science, pseudoscience. I would also like to address the idea of context–because some of you seem to think context is important with the above images–in what context would it be okay to produce such images and words? Please, I would love to hear in which context Whitewash would be acceptable.

One nation under god was added in the 1950′s for all you godless non americans out there.

If “race” is irrelevent then what’s the big deal?

I’m not really shocked by the thought of all people being the same seperated mainly though cultural differences.

as for “my definition of racism”, just using the dictionary.

I’ve meet many black people who lived in the country that had a pecular way of speaking, Pecular to me anyway. was it exaggerated, Yes.
Whitewash was a 2 diminsional character and has to be animated more. Think of the difference in Wolverine in the comics and Hugh Jackman on film. Jackman can’t act as crazy or riculous as the comic because he lives in the world of 3-d.

Race isn’t irrelevant–even social constructs can have real effects and affects–race is a fiction the effects of racism are not. They are very real. Try the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and take a look at the historical entry for race and racism—the OED does a great job of showing where our words first came from, and how they were used with plenty of historical documentation. Separated mainly through culture? How else are we separated?

we don’t really disagree on the subject of race and culture in generel dude, put away you masters degree.
We have a difference of opinion on something.
you explaining how much you know and how smart you are dosn’t change that.
this isn’t and intelligence issue, but a perception issue.

does thinking something racist make it so?
does thinking someone racist make it so?

Whitewash is a succesful hero and if this were racist he would not be. Whitewash shows the power of determination and the will standing with your friends.

Whitewash Johnson is my new hero.

Then please put him on a t shirt with one of those delightful soundbites and walk around town with it on–let me know how it goes. If I think something is racist–yes then it is–if I think someone is a racist–then yes it makes it so. My Master’s is on the wall–didn’t realize being intelligent and doing something with it was a bad thing–what have you done with your intelligence?

LouReedRichards

January 19, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Marc C

What’s up with the comments regarding America?

We’re having a discussion about race and you keep throwing in jabs at America. I’m just curious, do you think we are unaware of our own history or something?

It seems to undermine your argument, you’re coming across as a pompous ass.
If you have something to say about America just say it, we’re all grown ups here (Well for the most part I think we are…) I’m sure we can take it.

Now tell me how many of your friends are black.

I was commenting on his “God Bless America”–and I am a believer. I just feel that Church and state, in the spirit of the framers of the US Constitution, ought to be separate as it is in most democracies. I was alluding to the pledge of allegiance change made in the 1950′s to include words about God–wasn’t there before. But most Americans don’t know that–and say that pledge as though God was there all along. Lip service is paid to this ideal, but let’s face it, unless you go to a Christian Church–are a Christian you have no hope in hell of being President. 1 in 10 Americans have no religion and yet–where is their voice? And yes I do think most people American or not are very ignorant of history. America is a peculiar place–racism abounds, but no one wants to acknowledge it–worse still history gets glossed as though racism, race motivated crime, race motivated neglect are reduced to those awful things in the past. In my limited travels, the only place I felt racism was worse–more obvious was in France. Other places, my country included, grapple with subtle, almost imperceptible racism. Which I think is in some ways worse than obvious racism.

And why is negative stereotyping the only kind not permitted….positive stereotyping is just as deleterious–”X group are hung like horses”, because X is from this group he must be good at math.” I felt that one of the best explorations of race in cinema in a long time happened in Harold and Kumar Go to Whitecastle–very sharp analysis of race in America–and you don’t have to pay much attention either.

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 19, 2010 at 5:23 pm

With all respect to most of the participants in this discussion, at a certain point someone is so apparently obtuse that it no longer matters whether they come by it honestly or willfully; if the former, they’re too far gone to be anything else, and if the latter they intend to go on appearing obtuse.

"O" the Humanatee!

January 19, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Brian H: In case you need this expressed yet another way, you could excuse any particular _instance_ of racial stereotyping in the same way you’ve argued away the racism in Whitewash’s portrayal – basically, “it’s an individual (or group of individuals), so how do you know it’s meant to be representative of the group?” The answer, of course, is what others have referred to as context – namely, the fact that such stereotyping was widespread in the culture at the time. That Stan may not have been a racist does not mean the portrayal of Whitewash was racist.

Admittedly, I’m a guy who often defends Eisner’s portrayal of Ebony White because despite how Ebony was drawn and how he talked, his actions often showed him to be brave – and not in the “accidentally saves the day” fashion shown here for Whitewash. I’m open to counterargument.

On the flip side of the context issue, I do get frustrated when someone criticizes a single example or small set of examples without acknowledging that they’re actually bothered by something larger. I was recently looking at some older issues of the Comics Journal in which DC and Marvel were repeatedly criticized for behaving like corporations when it was clear that the critique was actually of corporatism in general.

Maybe it’s because I’m Jewish, but I think a more interesting topic is the way that Jews were either completely ignored or shown stereotypically in the early comics, despite the fact that a great many of the creators were Jewish. I understand this as a business move – but the fact that Steve Rogers (his name notwithstanding) looks like a perfect Aryan is always striking to me. (Dr. Reinstein, the original name of the character now known as Dr. Erskine, could be seen as implicitly -certainly not explicitly! – Jewish since the name references Albert Einstein.) The first significant Jewish character in comics I can think of in comics is Howling Commando Izzy Cohen. Of course he is part of the stereotypical military unit that represents the US “melting pot” by including several characters of different ethnicities or backgrounds but usually led by a generic white man. The first one I can think of not associated with any stereotypical Jewish characteristics is Colossal Boy. Ben Grimm was not revealed to be Jewish until much later.

“The Red Skull hears the ominous roar!”

That is the single greatest Red Skull panel I have ever seen. Hands down. I have never seen him look so scary. Freaking awesome!

“Someone’s pulled the earth-trap!”

Not to change the subject or anything. (Munch! Munch!)

"O" the Humanatee!

January 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Crap: Last sentence of my first paragraph above should have read, “That Stan may not have been a racist does not mean the portrayal of Whitewash _wasn’t_ racist.”

Marc C: With respect to your comment that race is a social and not a biological construct, I have two comments. First, you’re right, but only up to a point. There are _statistical_ (i.e., not absolute) genetic differences between relatively inbred human populations – what a biologist might call a subspecies. (That’s how we get the high occurrence of, for example, Tay-Sachs disease in Ashkenazic Jews). But these differences rarely correspond to the cultural definitions of race. Second, it’s worth noting that human beings are wonderfully skilled (that’s irony, in case anyone misses it) at finding differences between “us” and “them” based on all kinds of differences other than skin color. There’s been plenty of ethnic strife in Africa despite the fact that many Americans would view every native group there (or at least in sub-Saharan Africa) as the same race.

I have to agree with @Omar that a simple “Don’t feed the trolls” would have sufficed, oh, about twenty comments ago. And I have to agree with @T. that the concept for this series would be better revised or dropped, since the idea that people did stupid, ignorant, and offensive things with regards to other people is neither new nor particularly constructive. @Brian, you’re a great researcher who digs up a lot of interesting things, but a series based around the premise that people were and are ignorant is kind of like a series called, “Isn’t It Silly That Superheroes Defy the Laws of Physics?” :) I also have to put in a vote that if you continue the series, you should come up with a more mellifluous and less redundant title for it. Unless there is “present history” that I’m unaware of…?

The fact that there even needs to be a discussion of this beyond, “God, isn’t this awful and embarrassing?” shows how much farther we have to go.

I also have to put in a vote that if you continue the series, you should come up with a more mellifluous and less redundant title for it. Unless there is “present history” that I’m unaware of…?

It’s a quote.

“And I thought Hergé had it bad… ”

Hergé was actually progressive for the time. He believed, due to the strong influence from his colonialist priest mentor, that Congo’s natives were naive and uneducated and needed guidance (and education) from the whites. If you read the book you’ll see that the villian of the piece is a white gangster (from Al Capone’s gang, really!) who manipulates the natives to try and kill Tintin.

He wasn’t racist at all, just more naive and uneducated (he was 22 at the time) than he tought the congolese were! Just look at Tintin’s behavior on later albuns, by the time Hergé himself had matured a lot.

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

It was Gaea bless America not god. Big dif
how many of my friends are black? 2 friends
my issue was thWay u think u r smarter then me and it’s my ignorance that holds back my illumination

I don’t have far to go myself. Life is good.

You guys. Wait a minute.

We’ve been punked.

“Brian” Houston? Do we know any other Brians who’d want this much commentary for an article?

How about…THE VERY SAME BRIAN WHO WROTE IT!?!?!?

Seriously. Start thinking of this guy as an alter-ego set up by BC to see how far he could stretch the borders of rational debate and still get people talking to him and everything starts to make a little more sense.

(I’m only 75% kidding. If that is you, Cronin, you can drop the act!! We’re on to you!)

Geez, this Houston kid’s a brick.

Wow. Just wow. But maybe not. I can’t say I’m shocked by this, because as others have said, we should all be mature enough to not see the past through rose coloured glasses. We have this running joke at work, whenever someone gets nostalgic about the past any more than say pre-1970 that goes something like this- “Aahh the past,…segregation, domestic abuse, vote suppression, lynchings…boy those really were the days…” hopefully the sarcasm is evident.

I will say this. There are still plenty of accepted stereotypes that abound speaking from US perspective – of Blacks, Italians, Irish, Japanese, etc are STILL socially acceptable. Anyone seen “Jersey Shore???? In 70 years will folks look back with disgust on these as we do today on Stan Lee et al? By that token, was there somewhat silent opposition to these attitudes 40 years ago that has been lost? Questions to ponder.

@ Greg, T., Omar, or anyone else that can tell me–When you guys are talking about Roderick Kingsley, what are you talking about? I know who the character was, fashion designer that ended up being the Hobgoblin, but I’m unaware of any stories including him that relate to the subject of this post. Can someone point me in the right direction?

BrianH, I gotta say that in some cases something appearing racist could be considered a parody of a stereotype. That happens a lot. But the thing is, in the 1920, 30s and 40s, that portrayal of a black person was widespread, and played into the treatment of blacks as some silly, amusing, not very bright, child like characters. The extreme facial features make the character look barely human, and his manner of talking is not just mimicking some southern dialect. It’s the use of every black stereotype piled on top of each other.

Also, there is no indication in the story that his portrayal was meant as some parody or mockery of these stereotypes. There’s no secret message in here. And while I don’t necessarily think this means Stan Lee hates black people, the very fact that these portrayals were considered acceptable at the time is a sign of the race problems back then. This isn’t the old “Amos and Andy” show, which was a certain style of comedy that even today some black people don’t think was all that terrible. You have to know your history to realize why this is so offensive. Some people today tend to see this through the eyes of this time, where racism in America is nothing like it was then, and can’t grasp how something like this comic wasn’t just a silly joke, but an actual reflection of how some people saw blacks at the time.

As much as I love Huck Finn (and I’ve read and studied it a few dozen times), and as great a character as Jim is, there can be no doubt that Twain falls into the trap of racist caricature in certain passages. It is probably my favorite book ever, but it is full of flaws and inconsistencies (I actually like its flaws, too, as they are so interesting and so revealing of the author’s mind). I wish Twain had spent another month or two on fixing some of the book’s most glaring problems, but he had a very difficult time writing it, and I think he was glad to be done with it, so he put it out there warts and all and never published a revised version.

I love Amos n Andy

So it’s official now, mark twain is a racist also

just what I would expect from liberal facist

let me speak as u do
let me walk as u do
4 legs good, 2 legs better
I love big brother

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 19, 2010 at 9:42 pm

@Tyler — Mostly, we’re referring to his first few appearances in Spectacular Spider-Man, where he has some fairly campy dialogue and is sometimes drawn in rather effeminate poses (especially notable in his first appearance in PPTSSM #43). But the clincher is whent he villain of the piece, Belladonna, calls him a “flaming simp” — and this isn’t a Claremont story, so flaming probably does mean what Americans mean by it.

Also noted by some readers of similar bent is his “Oh, Ghod!” line in PPTSSM #43 and #48; as I noted, though, he was also played as a womanizing lech, so even at his inception it was ambiguous at best. However, by his third appearance in PPTSSM #57, he’s being played as an apparent womanizer, and that characterization sticks from there on out.

It seems like little to go on, but you must recall that Starr Saxon, a Daredevil villain of the 1960s who later became the Captain America baddie Machinesmith, was intended to be gay according to his creator Roy Thomas and drawn with “flamboyant” gestures in an effort to slip under Comics Code radar. And even in the 1980s, Marvel was not willing to use the words “gay” or “homosexual” in its comics, so Kingsley as originally presented does fit with the under-the-radar way comics played “flamboyanbly gay” in those days.

@Marc C

“America is a peculiar place–racism abounds, but no one wants to acknowledge it–worse still history gets glossed as though racism, race motivated crime, race motivated neglect are reduced to those awful things in the past.”

This just may be my experience, but I’ve never known many people who think America is free of racism or is even close to being free of it. Most everybody I know would agree that things have gotten better, but that we still have a long way to go.

Hell, one of my closest friends is somewhat afraid of moving back down here to Alabama with his African wife and three mixed race children. They will face unfortunate occasional instances of the type of subtle racism that you talked about, but the days of overt institutional racism are gone. Racism still lives on in some peoples hearts though and it sucks that they have to even worry at all about it though.

Sadly I must agree with you, the separation of church and state takes a punch to the nuts on a regular basis.

BTW: Please accept my apology for calling you a pompous ass. I was a out of line – sometimes my temper (and typing) gets away from me.

All things considered….

All the debate seems to be on Stan Lee. But….

Do any of you stop to think that, maybe, Stan wrote it somewhat tongue-in-cheek with the stereotypes (ALL the kids, other than Bucky, were stereotype misfits), but then the two artists went WAY over the top on the art?

Stan’s writing of Whitewash was little different than the appearances of African-Americans in contempories such as “The Three Stooges” and “Tom & Jerry.”

It’s Nicholas & Kirby’s ART DEPICTION of Whitewash, that takes the character to a truly disturbing level, NOT the dialogue.

But, no – Stan’s too easy a target; let’s not disturb the ghost of Kirby, the Great Old One….

Yeesh…

BrianHouston wrote:

In the comics of the past 20 years I’ve seen southern americans and christian conservatives portrayed with cowardice, awkwardness, and stupidity that were not seen as just a function of thier character, but instead as being traits of an entire people. Was this a mistake of history also?

In the case of Christain Conservatives then no. In the case of Sounthern Americans then maybe, but then most of them are Christain Conservatives ;)

Marc C wrote:

As for Stan’s age…if he murdered someone at 18 or 19 would we think his reform so easy? So one can be cured of racism, but not of a tendency to murder

There’s hateful racism and ignorant racism and they’re both wrong, but they’re very different things. Ignorant racism can be cured – and a huge number of people probably were cured of that – or at least had it lessened – between the 40s and the 60s – and even more so between the 60s and now. So yeah I can easily beleive that Stan Lee was an ignorant racist in the 40s along with most of the population and isn’t now.

Matt Bird wrote:

My favorite example was the 1988 revival of Flash Gordon by Dan Jurgens. There was a whole self-congratulatory text piece in the back where they basically said “of course, in these more enlightened times, we couldn’t portray evil Emperor Ming or his planet Mongo as Chinese.” Instead, they were all evil arabs! It’s always culturally acceptable to be racist against somebody.

I’m not sure where you got the arab part from. They deliberately made their skin grey so as not to fit any real racial group.

@Pedro

He wasn’t racist at all, just more naive and uneducated (he was 22 at the time) than he tought the congolese were! Just look at Tintin’s behavior on later albuns, by the time Hergé himself had matured a lot.

Sorry, I wasn’t implying Hergé was racist. I was refering to how people reacted to “Tintin in the Congo” and how it took so long for the English translation of that book to come out, due in part to Hergé’s own embarressment. I have long admired Hergé for his anti-racist stance and how he has consistently shown that skin colour matters not – good and evil can be of any hue.

I was trying to say that I hope that Stan Lee (yes, okay, and Jack Kirby) were similarly naieve at the time of the creation of the Whitewash character… and wondering if there was any record of either of them discussing it, in the same vein as Hergé apologising for his youthful naievity…

DanCJ=ignorance

@Manatee–Nice name by the way—I completely agree with you–though I would say the problems in Africa I would argue are based on cultural differences–and not “racial.” Freud said that the worst instances of disagreement, hatred, usually occur over minimal difference–I think he used this to explain European Antisemitism—something bothered Europeans about the fact that Jews could pass for one of them–go undetected–hence Hitler’s use of the Star of David to mark each Jew–to identify them. So, in Africa–lets use the example of Rwanada–the Hutu’s and Tutsis are according to most anthropologists absolutely indistinguishable from each other—so why the genocide? The former colonial powers in Africa created differences–so in Rwanda one group was from the mountain–the herders and the others from the lowlands–grew food and engaged in commerce–then the colonial power favoured one group–see where this is going–once the power left–a power vacuum ensued causing “ethnic” tension–and later genocide.

@LouReed…no worries…I have been called a pompous ass by many people–many of whom eventually became good friends–I like to think that I have some of the intellectual goods to back up my pomposity.

@Brian Houston–I am starting to think you don’t even posses a half wit–let alone 2 1/4 wits to rub together to create an intellectual spark–so from now on I will pretend you are a table or some other inanimate object.

LouReedRichards

January 20, 2010 at 8:40 am

“In the case of Christain Conservatives then no. In the case of Sounthern Americans then maybe, but then most of them are Christain Conservatives ;)”

Wow, so even in a forum discussion about race and stereotyping you just can’t get past religious and Southern stereotypes. Very enlightened.

There’s so much that Brian has said that can be picked apart and yet you pick one of the actual decent points he makes to get in a quick little wink wink, nudge nudge generalization.

Bh

DanCJ=ignorance

Bh=Twat (easy game to play that)

LouReedRichards you’ve given a more sensible response so I’ll give you a sensible reply…

I went too far with the Southern American thing true – sorry about that.

As for the Christian Conservative thing, I’m a left wing Atheist. To me being conservative is misguided at best and selfish/greedy/uncaring at worst. Believing in some deity that created everything, expects us to worship him and punishes those who don’t with eternal damnation while refusing to ever provide any evidence of his existence because “without faith I am nothing” (which now that I think about it kind of begs the question of how he managed to exist before there was anyone around to have faith in him) is just ridiculous.

Actually the cowardice and awkwardness parts from BrianHouston aren’t true, but the rest I can’t apologise for. I know there are many Christians who aren’t stupid – most of my in-laws fall under that category – but why they are still Christians just boggles the mind.

Thanks DanCJ,

I’m, pretty much a Libertarian agnostic married to a ordained minster who shares some but not all of my beliefs, we’re both former lefties though, so I can appreciate what you’re saying. I’d point out though that non-liberals could say pretty much the exact same things about liberalism being uncaring/selfish/greedy, it’s all a matter of perspective I suppose. It also seems like you basically saying “conservative = fundamentalist Christian” which isn’t true. Forgive me if I’m misinterpreting you statement though. You can be a conservative and not be a Christian and also you can be a fundamentalist and not be a conservative. Of course the religious right has done their best for the last 40 years to confuse the whole matter into a hopeless mess.

I would just say as someone who used to view all religion with animosity, that it seems like you’re painting all of Christianity and conservatism with an overly large brush, their are many different view points inside both Christianity and conservatism, and they have fundamental differences on the very points that you bring up.

Sorry to be so long winded.

Well Dan u aknowledged your prejudice with lots of pride

as for me
I’m an agnostic spiritualist whose despices racism, descrimination, religous bigotry, religous intolerence, and homophobia.
I Also realize the diff in those and humor.

I’m thinking of Hank Mcoy “galloys humor, laugh so you don’t cry”

mark c. I think it’s funny how much you hate Christians
as a non beleiver I gave up hating beleivers before I turned 20
but I’ve found athiest are way more aggro then agnostics

I’ve allways prefers laughter to murder, rape, and genocide.

“It IS possible to reveal the ignorance of stereotypes by using those stereotypes.” And it’s possible to use racist stereotypes to further your belief that blacks are human but still somewhat inferior to whites. As Mark Twain and Stan Lee did.

Regarding Twain the abolitionist, many Northerners wanted to free the slaves. Some wanted to ship them back to Africa, while others wanted to give them second-class citizenship. Few advocated that blacks should be fully equal to whites.

Stan Lee undoubtedly favored the abolition of slavery too. That doesn’t mean his youthful attitudes toward blacks weren’t racist.

“And on the Mark Twain argument, I’m sorry, but I can’t see a parallel between Whitewash and Jim… They are almost the exact opposite in their depictions…” Actually, no, they’re surprisingly similar. For instance, both speak in an exaggerated dialect, and both show a childish fear of the supernatural.

Didn’t know I would cause this much problems!

If it makes you feel any better, I grew up to be a Harvard graduate. True story!

@Rob Schmidt: You may be right about Twain’s portrayal of Jim. I haven’t read the actual book… I read the “Classic Illustrated” version, and I don’t recall him being portrayed with an exaggerated dialect… So maybe they toned that down… I never picked up the “childish fear of the supernatural” as a racial stereotype, so I guess that bit never registered with me, either…

Huh—interesting—I am actually a Christian–I am into Christianity and not Churchianity; so I am free thinking and focus my belief on the words and deeds attributed to Jesus. I like to think of Jesus as an ancient version of Che Guevara. Standing up for the oppressed–disengaging from bullshit politics. But I am not really sure what this has to do with Whitewash or racism?

It also seems like you basically saying “conservative = fundamentalist Christian” which isn’t true. Forgive me if I’m misinterpreting you statement though

I’m not at all. I don’t make any connection between conservatives and Christians. They were just what BrianHouston used in his example.

Ah
sorry to misrepresent u
I confussed u with anouther so I plead sorry for my ignorence on that

i’m ready for next topic
sex or violence for the next I hope
we’ve covered race fairly well

The Ugly American

January 20, 2010 at 1:06 pm

So, ah, did anyone address why the “smart kid” is bent over Agent Zero’s lap in the first panel?

Well Dan u aknowledged your prejudice with lots of pride

Prejudice: Preconcieved opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

Sorry but I don’t fit the “not based on reason or actual experience” part.

It is absolutely wrong to have a preconceived opinion of someone based on their race, nationality or sexual orientation, but someone’s beliefs do actually tell you something about a person. It’s not the whole story by a long shot, but it is part of it.

What is even the point of this article? Just to incite controversy, or incite aghast reactions?? It seems pretty cowardly and sensationalistic to put something like this out there with no clear analysis or commentary by the writer of the article himself

wow! Stan Lee you am got some splaining to do. lol. i hate to say it but i laughed my butt off reading that insanity. and im black. haha. man things have come a long way. that was insanely offensive, not to mention the Irish and overweight stereotypes.

“as a non beleiver I gave up hating beleivers before I turned 20″

…Based on the really illiterate posting lack-of-style you employ, I’d say that “turned 20″ hasn’t happened yet.

LouReedRichards

January 20, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Ok got it. Sorry about that.

LOL “a past history” as opposed to a “Present history” or a “future history” ?

as for the whitewash character? is he exploiting stereotypes of the poor african americans at the time for comedy? sure? Racist? well what is your definition of racist? You think Stan was praying for slavery or some kind of white supremacist? is it offensive if the implication was ALL black people speak/spoke in this manner? Sure.
can that be determined from this strip? i dont see how.
i dont see how this is any more exploitative than the mafia italian portrayals in the current punisher or darkness comics? as an american of italian decent am i offended? no, shit i probably talk like those guys do half time and i spend much time with tomato sauce on my shirt.

There are actual political parties who strive for seperation of races and people are killing each other for true racist reasons everyday. Stan merely used a stereo typical character for comedy reasons during a far less enlightened time long ago, relax. Is it offensive im sure it is to some people, is it truly racist? i dont think so.

Pick your battles gentlemen, theres real enemies alive and well today that could be under the spotlight of your forum here.

I agree with keil. What is the point of this article other than what keil stated? I’ve seen worse on TV news and programs from that time period. Stan was 18 or 19 years old when he wrote that. Stuff like that was indicative of the times back then.

Horrible…as if a fat kid would be eating a banana.

Doesn’t make it right, but that’s how most Americans viewed African Americans at the time. But, we’ve come a long way since then.

Sorry, hit Publish thinking I was done.

Yes my grammer and spelling can b poor
and u are a dick
feel free to go through all my post to find errors and reposting them with your lame remarks

I still have not been proven wrong, I’ve just been assailed by prejudiced hate mongers

I hope some of u acknowledge the darkness in your hearts

it really is a great comic and we should all give thanks shiva, buddah, putang, or whoever

oh noes! racism!
ive read a few comments on here criticizing stan lee and even society for the materials presented here and i just wanted to say, bollycock!

Wow.. That was interesting…
Anyway you know to Lee`s defense maybe i can understand the argument on the age.
I think even for my self that I might have been an a hole in many ways, but as you grow older you lern to understand a bit more and develop as a person.
Also its easy to take this piece of work and show how the entertainment industry has been putting black characters as negative (in this case ridiculous) stereo types, but I remember growing up with shows like Fresh Prince and Urkle and they were shows with pretty much only black people and the few white people in the show was portrait as stupid geeks.
So all in all I think none really needs to get all o holier than thou, but really this comic is plain stupid and rasist and even if it wasn’t rasist it would still suck.

i think these articles should continue. it didnt say anywhere that all of theses articles will be about racial mistakes. theres plenty of goofs and unintentionally offensive stuff in old comics to write 1000 articles. keep em coming i say.

I also think it should continue, as the idea is very interesting.

I’m unable to read the scanned pages and act cavalier about it. I never knew things were that bad in the 1940s in the entertainment industry. Of course I knew there was racism, but I didn’t know mainstream comics had such portrayals. I was under the impression that blacks just didn’t appear in comics back then.

But I don’t blame Stan Lee himself. The man who wrote the Silver Surfer story where a noble, intelligent black scientist sacrifices himself to save mankind can’t be a racist.

As for Christians, I think they also have been portrayed poorly in fiction. I know many devout Christians who are very decent people, no more judgmental than any other people. The problem is that it takes just one really bad personal experience to predispose one against an entire group. When you grow up with very religious relatives or other authority figures trying to impose their beliefs on you, is it a wonder that you come to believe that all Christians are potential tyrants?

Very interesting post. I find this compelling as a case study in the prevalent Racism even in War Society, and how portraying Blacks like this was a societal norm. Yes, Stan Lee participated in it, but he may not be entirely to blame.

Brian, I would definitely like to see this column continue and possibly for you to do some more interpretation of the works. However, in this case, this comic spoke for itself.

Thanks.

Do not judge yesterday with today’s morals. Times change. This will be my last time reading this series.

“Do not judge yesterday with today’s morals. Times change. This will be my last time reading this series.”

Oh MonteMike, if people don’t do that, how will they ever feel superior?

I find it funny though that the hero of the story was Whitewash.
He lags behind and yet saves his friends.
He’s the one that alerts his buds to the poison drink. (Fact: one of his buds consumed! but he didn’t swallow so it’s ok!)
He’s the one who “discovers” the skeleton.

The ignorance of the true state of the dead is replicated in all of the zombie/werewolf/vampire stories that we see in mass media TODAY.

Sadly, there are still some who think of people of color the same way. And because of exposure, they apparently cannot deal with it.

Disagree.

The mistakes of yesterday must be known, discussed, and judged. So that we avoid repeating them.

Just another thought.

This could be the Timely-Marvel “homage” version of the Little Rascals.
I may not be racist persay as a way to CASH in on a popular media characters from the time without actually paying a royalty or license fee.

It’s always about the moolah, cash, greenbacks, the dollar and what one can get away with.

I suppose there is a tendency to read the past through a modern lens–some attempt to see then for what it was is useful–so here goes–pre Pearl Harbour the majority of Americans did not want into the War–when Chaplin showed the Great Dictator in American theatres the film was mostly booed. What are we to gather about that. Tuskegee “experiments” also occurred around this time–so without applying today’s morals and or judgement what can we say about the US culture in the 1940′s? Fascist supporting folks who don’t mind giving Tuskegee Airmen syphilis just to see what happens?

Bh—your lack of spelling skills does not excuse your laziness–spell check works while you post.

Pussies.

I can’t work up any outrage. It’s a ‘mistake’ or unfortunate choice only when viewed from our time. You might as well say that every single Silver Age depiction of almost* any female supporting cast character is a ‘mistake’. (* I put the qualifier in there because I’m sure there might have been, but if so, I can’t think of any at this time)

The comic makes light of generalized stereotypes that were prevalent at the time. So what? Most stereotypes have a basis in truth, no matter the number of those who were misrepresented by the piece. The fact that so many commenters here take a holier-than-thou stance against the comic makes me madder than anything the panels depict. Whatever point Cronin is trying to make with this article seems rather weak.

I agree with those who feel this particular column is pointless and “bear baiting”. NEWSFLASH – there were racists in the 40s! Also, water is wet. What function is this supposed to serve exactly? I realize this is the first in a supposed series of articles and maybe the point will become more clear over time. But if this is just going to be digging up “shocking” examples of past racism/sexism/insert -ism here in comics it just seems silly. You’d be better off shining a light on contemporary examples.

“I can’t work up any outrage. It’s a ‘mistake’ or unfortunate choice only when viewed from our time. You might as well say that every single Silver Age depiction of almost* any female supporting cast character is a ‘mistake’. (* I put the qualifier in there because I’m sure there might have been, but if so, I can’t think of any at this time)”

Jean Loring. Jean Loring was bad-ass.

Also Sugar, and Mademoiselle Marie, Battle Doll of the French Underground. And Joe Gill’s women for Charlton tended ta have their heads mostly on straight.

Marc C
spell check dosn’t always work on my iPod touch
regardless, spelling and grammer really isn’t that important when it comes to Internet chat. IMO

it seems like the tide is turning in these comments, away fom knee jerk and towards rational thinkng

Oh Jesus!

This column is about as needed as another decal on the rear window of a Prius.

Yes this stuff is bad. But honestly every mainstream outlet for entertainment was this bad in 1941. Does anyone remember the first Batman, Superman or any other books fonder? I hope not.

In 1941 if you had a person of any ethnic background it had to be done this way. It was the powers that be and public opinion that dictated it.

It says a lot that a black and Irish character made it into the book.

The ONLY people clearly black in publication who weren’t done this way were the Avenger’s agents in the pulps but even they played dumb.

You want to find a reason to be mad be mad at your ancestors for being gutless and ignorant, don’t take it out on people working within the constraints of popular opinion in 1941.

Two things i’d like to add here;
I think there is casual unintended racism. (with a little ‘r’) and there is intended racism. discrimination with malicious intent. (with a big ‘R’).
The stereotype itself of the blackfaced “coon” is proper racism with a big R. To denigrate a whole race as subhuman. Abhorrent. but it happened. and sadly (although on the decline) still occurs today.
Was Stan Lee or the makers of Tom and Jerry or anyone else in the entertainment or arts industries of the time Racist with a big R? On the whole i would say not, they just went along with the accepted widsom (or ignorance as it turns out) of the time. These things happened, they exist. That doesn’t mean we should whitewash history (ahem). Stan Lee and jack Kirby were no more guilty than any number of other creators in that period; Ebony White in the spirit, Chop Chop in the blackhawks, pieface in green lantern i could go on…
racism with a little r. Its not excusable. Its not acceptable. but they are at the end of the day, a product of their time. Lets keep a bit of perspective. Pick your battles. We learn from it, we move on. We should be calling out shameful discrimination in more recent times. And in this instance, he’s a relatively tame blackface comic relief, who comes good in the end. As some people have said before, he’s not that far removed from being a black Shaggy. But that type of character only works where there other non-comic relief characters not reinforcing an established racial stereotype. I dont think the intent was there, the context suggests that they were just making cheap funnybooks using the established stereotypes of the day but ignorant to how they would be received. Whether they intended to or not, its offensive. but lets not crucify them for past mistakes. I think in Lee and Kirby’s case, they did more than anyone in the 60s to move away from these sorts of stories, so lets cut them some slack, okay?

As for the camp kingsley conundrum? By itself it is odd. But in retrospect, makes a certain sense. When Roger Stern revisited Roderick Kingsley years later in the Hobgoglin Lives miniseries, he revealed his original intention that the Roderick Kingsley we saw in the 80s was actually brothers. And the inconsistencies in his character could actually have been a hint all along to their double/triple/quadruple(?) identities. Roderick Kingsley; the tough macho alpha male was secretly the villainous hobgoblin, while his camp and cowardly brother Daniel acted as his reluctant decoy, pretending to be Roderick whenever Hobgoblin made a public appearance or running his business affairs while Roderick was off fighting spider-man or framing Ned Leeds or somesuch.

good lord. why are people getting offended by this harmless article? and whos mad? of course a lot of stuff was like this in the 40s but that doesnt mean that we have to just shrug it off and give it a pass. the article didt seem THAT serious anyways. im really looking forward to more to be honest. and the guy didnt say all of these will be about race. like i said earlier theres tons of goofs in comic history to make fun of. like when they told kids all you had to do during a nuclear attack was to duck and cover. lol.

Whoa! i can’t believe that was written by Stan Lee! man. Love the Article can,t wait to read more.

you can see Stan actually mention his “politically different” work from WWII in an interview I have up on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/SigEdForever

its only for 2 min. though then he starts talking about moving to L.A, Marvel Animation, etc.

I know the GCD credits Stan with the script, but the Masterworks credit Otto Binder. At the time this issue was created & published, Joe Simon was still Editor in Chief. The Binder credit seems a lot more likely to me than Lee. Admittedly, Stan did write later issues, but I don’t think he can be blamed for the creation of Whitewash.

Oh please, if this is the first of a series of articles I will be missing the rest of them. Stop trying to judge the way something was written or portrayed 60 years ago. Imposing your morality into a different time makes no sense. This “article” was not even an article, it was a series of pages with a few lines written trying to make yourself feel superior or something – again crap. This is not a goof, this is a reflection of the way things were done at that time. We can say that we know better now if we want too, but it was not a mistake at all.

considering that Stan had considerably more enlightened portrayals of black heroes by the time he was given free reign over his books in the 60′s I’d say this is not representative of his true feelings, as others have said, he was a 19 year old working for a bunch of much older men. in all likely hood, he had no creative control and wrote what they demanded of him, and as a 19 year old in a particularly ignorant age, he probably only had an inkling. and as someone probably asked ” I hope stan is still apologizing” i am sure he is.

Wow, this is extremely offensive. I just lost a crapload of respect for Stan Lee

Past history is redundant! :)

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

January 20, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Wow, this is extremely offensive. I just lost a crapload of respect for Stan Lee.

You’re going to lose a crapton of respect for nearly every Golden Age creator if you look around at all, I hate to tell you. I noted a possibly even more offensive Simon and Kirby example upthread, and vicious black stereotypes of all sorts can be found in pretty much any GA title.

I think Siegel and Shuster avoided the problem, and a few others, but on the balance…Hell, even Will Eisner admits his early use of Ebony, published around the same time as this story by Lee (or Binder?) and Kirby and Nicholas drew unreflectively upon horrible stereotypes.

I sincerely hope nobody comes back with some sort of “we intended for the audience to have the discussion, not us” excuse, and I mean this in the most constructive way possible, but the author and editors really need to ask themselves why this article exists. Is it to merely point out obscene material for the sake of pointing it out, or is there a purpose? Honestly, I’m offended. Not because of the subject matter, because I can handle this sort of thing. Racism existed, exists, and will continue to exist. I’m offended at the slipshod way this subject matter was handled.

For example, how about a back and forth discussion about whether or not this cements Stan Lee himself as a racist, or just a man writing to the sensibilities of his audience? You may think its obvious one way or the other, but looking at the divide on these comments that is not the case for the audience.

Whatever your decision going forward, I would ask that you do more than just point out the mistakes of the past. Discuss them. This is heady material, and it deserves more respectful and careful handling than you’ve given it here. I’m sorely disappointed.

I sincerely hope nobody comes back with some sort of “we intended for the audience to have the discussion, not us” excuse

Umm….why?

What’s wrong with that?

“Um why?” covers it pretty well for me too. I’m not going to crucify Stan Lee for being as ignorant as the rest of the world were in the 40s, but I do think it’s important that we remember that shocking depictions like this were commonplace. To me, pointing out an example like this and then letting people discuss it and come to their own conclusions is a perfectly valid thing to do.

And to claim this wasn’t a “mistake” is just odd.

..

“Pieface” is one of the things that RUINS SA Green Lantern comics.

Any random issue of early Luke Cage has a host of disturbing images and dialogue.

..

Monkey Knuckles

January 21, 2010 at 6:23 am

I love the posts about how racist “they were” back in the 40′s. Are we less racist in 2010? I think not, we are just a lot more cold and calculated about it, and how it’s surreptiously and methodically portrayed/ reflected in the media and throughout society (discounting any film featuring/ written by Adam Sandler, no subtley there). At least we can excuse this example as an ignorant, clumsy, but typical reflection of how society racially stereotyped different ethnic groups at that time.

Stan Lee of the 1940s was not a racist. His writing and characterisations are a reflection of how minority groups were portrayed at that time, particularly in dime novels and comics. Feel free to label him an ignorant young man (to which I’m sure he’d agree based on this example) but don’t single him out or demonise him when he was one of many. Then try to give him some credit for maturing and attempting to create dignified (but still stereotyped) characters with diverse ethnic backgrounds like the Black Panther, Robbie Robertson, The Ancient One etc.

Personally I’m more concerned with racism and exclusion in 2010 than the clumsy 1940′s.

Cheers

Brian,

I am truly disappointed in you for this article. It makes no sense to me why you wold bring froth a book from almost 70 years ago and try to use it as a statement of wrongdoing.

The first thing you need to do is look at the perception of the times. Namely how at that time, blacks as a society were separated from whites. Or that what we call racism now was actually an accepted practice by all people back in that era.
Yes even the ones that were -cozy- with blacks.
Stan Lee should be given credit for putting a black character into a story that was not an African tribesman and allowed him to be the everyman that fumblingly moves the plot forward and keeps his friends alive.

Sure the artistic representation of him is not something I would sign my name too, but neither were the interpretations of the Japanese, Italians or Germans. All were drawn to look like demons or just plain evil.

Additionally you people cite Mark Twain in here. Twain who was a major proponent in the Abolitionist movement portrayed the characters from Huck Finn completely in line with societal norms for that period.
Were blacks ignorant at that time? Yes, they were. They were really not allowed to be educated and what they did get was limited at best.
The difference that Twain showed however was that his main characters represented two different races who looked at each other primarily as equals. With a trust and faith in each other that in the real world was virtually non-existent.

Also Kirby created this group and the other version of them that appeared at DC. They were a hallmark of his career and went back to his youth in the streets of New York. At taht time the companies copied each other. Since Kirby was the go-to guy, it was no big deal for him to copy himself.

But back to the point. I personally feel that if you were trying to make some statement about racism in comics and use the 40′s era as your go to point, you should have researched and actually focused on comics in general instead of trying to saddle Stan Lee with your limited understanding of racism.

This article is proof to me that the Editors here at CBR can be just as Ignorant as the column writers. I make this statement because they should have read this and suggested that you focus on treatment of people in periods comics instead of a diatribe that is obviously more of a diatribe against Stan Lee.
The man can have a finger pointed at him for many things over the years. Especially where Kirby is concerned, but this is deplorably low.

What will your next Column be about? How Jim Steranko did a disservice to Houdini because he became a well known escape artist?

This is the first article of yours that I felt the need to negatively comment on.
My advice is that If CBR is going to have you write about different eras in comics and things that took place in them, then you should study those eras so that you can better present the context of your subject.

Christ! I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for, so I starts readin’ the page… I was actually so caught off guard by that first illustration of him that I shouted aloud in shock. I mean, it looks like it was done by another artist and pasted on top of what was already drawn in there!

And what’s the point of this article? You’re not addressing or trying to explain or solve the “problem”, just presenting an out date and tragic thought process of the time.

Wow! Lots of negative comments.

The only thing I agree with the naysayers is that it’s very unjust to single out Stan Lee.

As for the rest… I don’t understand why saying this comic is abhorrent means we’re “self-righteous” and uninterested in recognizing examples of racism that still exist today. Racism is evil and disgusting. In the 1940s, today, in the 30th century, whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head.

And I do think articles like this one do have a point. Nostalgia is often used as a tool for conservatives that want to turn back the clock on social mores, so it’s important to de-glamourize these time periods by showing how f*cke-d-up the past could be, and that a progressive stance is more healthy than pining for a past that was never as rosy as they claim.

The 1940s is often depicted as an age of perfect American heroism. You guys may be blase about it and say that you already knew that there were this much racism at the time. But this is not true of everyone. Articles like this one can get kids interested in learning more and getting a more balanced picture of that age. It’s like that issue of the Invaders that presented the camp for Japanese-Americans.

What a wonderful idea for a column… look how appaling we were… This column should not be repeated. It makes no comment on the depictions within or a look at the move away from these characterisations, just highlights them for what they are.

Shock journalism at its worst.

I have to agree with Mike W.! I don’t understand the point of this article. It’s just something that appears to be done to rile up the masses. Presenting a story with no context about society at the time is just a waste.

Let’s not do this again.

It’s not shock journalism. I’m not sure if it’s even journalism, and it’s not a diatribe against Stan Lee.

It’s just a starting point for a discussion.

The 1940s is often depicted as an age of perfect American heroism. You guys may be blase about it and say that you already knew that there were this much racism at the time. But this is not true of everyone. Articles like this one can get kids interested in learning more and getting a more balanced picture of that age. It’s like that issue of the Invaders that presented the camp for Japanese-Americans.

Similarly, here in the UK there is the call for “a return to Victorian Values”… Seems all nice and clean on the surface, until you look beneath and find out about all the real nasty stuff that went on…

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having this kind of article. I think Cronin’s only fault was in just showing the comic and not trying to put in perspective for the times first. Anybody unfamiliar with Stan Lee’s body of work would naturally jump to the worst conclusions. Brian should’ve also mentioned how Lee would later create and use Black characters in far better ways, showing he learned his lesson. Context matters.

What suprises me the most is how many people are shocked by this. This is what happens when you try to bury the past. Like the long forgotten disney movie “Song’s of the South”. They refuse to release i on dvd.

And I do think articles like this one do have a point. Nostalgia is often used as a tool for conservatives that want to turn back the clock on social mores, so it’s important to de-glamourize these time periods by showing how f*cke-d-up the past could be, and that a progressive stance is more healthy than pining for a past that was never as rosy as they claim.

So your argument is that this is a good idea because it makes a strong case for your specific political bias of progressivism? That’s as bad as a conservative who wants to focus on positive nostalgia to glamorize the past by showing how wonderful it could be, and show that a traditional stance is more healthy than pining for a future utopia that will never work as well as liberals claim.

With all due respect, you’re as bad as the conservatives you’re criticizing in your comment, just for the opposite cause. You’re not against the general concept of mining the past disingenuously and out of context in order to push a political agenda, you’re only against conservatives doing it rather than progressive liberals. To me it’s distasteful regardless of which party or agenda is involved.

I will say Rene, if there was a column on CSBG doing the agenda-pushing nostalgia that you accuse conservatives of doing, then maybe I could see why a column providing an anti-traditional progressive counterbalance would be needed. There is no such column here though.

I’ve just scanned most of the comments, so apologies if this has been mentioned, but I’m pretty sure that the writer is most likely Otto Binder, NOT Stan Lee. I think he’s even credited in the Marvel Masterworks volume. It would be nice to see that corrected.

Second, the Whitewash character did appear the recent Young Allies one-shot published as part of Marvel’s 70th anniversary line. He was treated with respect, and the “the comics got it wrong” explanation that was used in the Invaders was invoked. Good story by Roger Stern, I think.

Finally, I’ve found that the character of Whitewash makes the original Young Allies stories almost unreadable for me. I purchased the Masterworks, and stopped reading about halfway through issue 2. I’m surprised that Marvel published it, to be honest. For historical reasons, though, I’m glad they did. It’s good to recognize the mistakes of the past. Hopefully we’ll avoid making them in the future.

This was the best overall post on this subject and I though it should be reposted for those that may have missed it in the above comments.

Adam Barnett
January 19, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Great minds run in the same channel, I suppose. I started doing an exam of Young Allies about 10 days ago. At the end of the first issue, I was aghast at some of what I found regarding Whitewash. But by the end of issue #2, I saw that if one looked past the obvious sterotypical charicature of Whitewash (the same sort of charicature that plagued the entire team if you really looked at it), Whitewash was actually one of the more noble and competent characters. My complete analysis of Whitewash can be found at: http://comicsmakenosense.blogspot.com/2010/01/before-shaggy-ever-said-zoiks-friday.html

It’s also on the main page right now, as I just posted it last Friday. I don’t expect everyone to see it the same way I did, as we can see by the comments here, but there are certainly three sides to this story.

Adam from “Comics Make No Sense” (that blog CBR likes to ignore ;-) )

"O" the Humanatee!

January 21, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Minor point:

DanCJ: ‘And to claim this wasn’t a “mistake” is just odd.’

Not if you’re using the more usual sense of “mistake” – that is, what happens when one fails to reach one’s intended goal. There’s nothing here that appears to have been unintentional.

The sense in Brian’s title, “Mistakes of a Past History” is different – a misconception. To me, while this other sense works fine in the plural, it’s a little awkward when one is talking about a particular example.

To those who are wondering what the point of this article was, I believe it was to show what were bad decisions in the history of making comic books. Granted, I rather expected to see an article on the Spider-Buggy or Kitty Pryde’s unfortunate choices of costumes in the late ’70′s, early ’80′s. Still, it’s interesting to see what was going on in the early part of the 20th Century in terms of comic books.

I am also uncomfortable with anyone calling this piece “racist”. I agree that the depiction of White Wash is harmful in terms of perception (though he was no doubt seen as harmless at the time).

The term “racist” in the context in which it is used here suggests intent. Now, I cannot defend or condemn the choices made here. Fro one thing, I don’t know what the creators’ situation was at the time this was made.

For example, we know that segregation existed at the time. It may be that the creators didn’t know any black people personally. Now, unfortunately, because society insists that we divide ourselves into races it creates the impression in the minds of some people (ignorant, yes) that there are differences. In this case, if the creators had limited knowledge of “black society” at the time they would have been drawing from their limited and ignorant assumptions. It can be argued that they might have researched some more or maybe, you know, actually gotten to know some people of a different color but we weren’t there. We can only assume as to the motivations or intent of the creators.

Sorry for the long post :) I just wanted to put this out there.

T., you make some very interesting points.

First, I agree that CBSG has no columns or writers that promote nostalgia for traditional values. I was refering more to the media in general. For all the accusations that American media is liberal (and I even agree that they are liberal in many stances), the 1940s are still often depicted with heroic glamour and nostalgia, focusing only on the positives. It’s perhaps the most “whitewashed” period in history (though the nostalgia for the middle ages comes close, and the distortions there are greater, people ignore the cesspool of disease, oppression, and ignorance that was the middle ages).

Anyway, the number of utopic depictions of the 1940s far outweights the number of negative depictions. We just don’t see much stuff like “Truth – Red, White, and Black” in pop culture.I don’t think only bad stuff from the past should be selected to use as propaganda against traditional values. It’s just that the good stuff already has been presented often enough. There never was a society in any past time period championing the values cherised by conservatives that didn’t persecute or exploit a large number of the population.

230+ comments and nothing from Bill?

Rectified!

LouReedRichards

January 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm

I can rest easy now!

Rene:

Just goes to show that no past time period was a “Golden Age” if you weren’t rich, white, straight, and male.

Wow Rene, what a way to stereotype and label a whole race of people. You know you just did that right?

Your basically saying if you are: “rich, white, straight, and male” you have the good life and got it made.

Your probably the type Rene who say it’s not fair to pass judgment and label a whole race of people because of a few bad apples. Yet here you are doing exactly that. Passing judgment and vilifying those who are rich, white, straight, and male.

It’s not about that though, the example you are trying to point out are the Elites. Those with wealth and influence. I can name many sports stars for example who are not white, and have the good life.

You think for example guys like Tiger Woods, struggle like most common folk?

You also probably have no problem or even notice when black comedians tear apart whites with tons of racial jokes. But that offends me!

But heaven forbid a white comedian should shoot back with racial jokes about blacks. And it’s the end of the world.

The racism double standard in America is so not even funny. And this double standard is all across America.

Another obvious example of this is: So a college can have a black club, asian club, a latino club. Where people of like race gather together. Fair enough right? Is this not racist?

So why is there never allowed a Caucasian club? And why if there is, would it AUTOMATICALLY be called racist and haters?

So everyone else can have their own racial club. But whites can’t. Is that fair? Is that right?

Either everyone should have their own racial club. Or no one should have their own racial club.

Why do black have their own awards shows honoring blacks ONLY and excluding all other races. Is this not racist? If whites had their own awards show honoring whites only. It would be shouted down as blatant racism.

Those are just a few example I’d toss out there.

But according to you: The “rich, white, straight, and male” is the bad guy and has it all. And that’s all there is to it. And NO ONE else from any other race, creed, orientation or gender are the bad guys. No one else can be racist. And no one else is living the good life.

Stop being brainwashed by the lies the media told you and you grew up with. And open your eyes and think for yourself. And stop letting a few bad examples paint a whole race and group of people.

You can label the “rich, white, straight, and male” as a bunch of haters. But by labeling them as such, you are also no better and a hater.

Look at Haiti. Were the ONLY ONE’S doing the MAJORITY of work, help and financial support to help Haiti. And while other countries are helping, NO ONE else is helping as much as America is.

Haiti, a country that is not America’s responsibility in any way shape or form. They are not connected to America and technically we don’t owe them anything because they are not our country or people.

Yet look at how generous we are as a country and as a people.

What a bunch of racist people and country we have in America right?

Fact is: We are the most compassionate, caring, and giving big country out there. To all races.

And on a side note: And for further proof most whites are not evil and other groups can be evil. Those Arab countries sure are helping Haiti a lot right? They really care for the Haitian people.

Look up: Arab slavery in Africa. It was officially abolished in get this 2003. But it’s still going on in some areas.

Rene did none of the stereotyping you claim: No statement was made that all rich, white, straight, white males “had it made.” The statement was that the only people who had the ability to experience a “Golden Age” in the past were, in fact, rich, white, (outwardly) straight, and male. Which is, of course, true. There’s no transitive property there. So the rest of your blather stems from your inability to read critically rather than anything you can blame Rene for. I think if one has to make arguments disingenuously to attempt to “win” them he’s already lost, but I wouldn’t stereotype.

I still have not seen anyone truly indicate what the point of this was, other than “there were racist depictions of African-Americans in the 40s”. This is not news to anyone with a pulse. There was no actual discussion of the comic in general – how it came into being, how it was received, how the creators feel about it, etc etc – it’s really just “LOOK! Isn’t this shocking and disturbing?!?!? And it was written by STAN LEE!” Beyond pointless.

Rene did none of the stereotyping you claim: No statement was made that all rich, white, straight, white males “had it made.”

Well, it’s a touchy subject for some people, since straight white males are obviously the most persecuted of all people on the planet. We white people have to be ever vigilant to strike down even the HINT of an attack.

Where’s our parade, huh?!? Where’s OUR parade?!?

I feel like I can kinda defend some of the people who are saying this “isn’t racist” to a certain extent. It’s most definitely a caricature that is legitimately considered racist right now, but while “things were like that back then” isn’t an excuse, it can be a mitigating circumstance. To me, while it’s definitely in poor taste to my sensibilities, it also isn’t proof that the writer or artist were “racist” in that they had hatred in their hearts for someone based on their race. It can certainly be used as EVIDENCE in such an accusation, and for all I know could even be true, but, especially considering “the times,” its existence does not constitute proof of evil intentions or even beliefs.

And I’m saying this mostly because people who try to be “fair” and look at things like this in different ways tend to get jumped on and dogpiled by others and attacked as being somehow “bad” themselves and, well, I hate bullies about as much as I hate racists (in fact, they’re very similar types of people). Making an argument that a piece is or is not racist is not the same as being or not being racist yourself. To be incredibly blunt with a specific example, if (not Godwin-ing the thread here – look up what that actually means before attacking over that) Hitler said “1+1=2″ and a poster said “Hey, Hitler is good at basic addition,” that’s not grounds for calling that poster a Nazi, and that doesn’t mean that poster in any way thinks Hitler was a good person. Along the same lines, if some evil person said “1+1=3″, someone can only prove them wrong by pointing out the rules of basic math, not by pointing out what a bad person they are.

Hopefully this makes level-headed people on any side of the argument feel less alone…

Captain PSSP -

I agree with a lot of what you said in your post. I really don’t think straight, white males are the root of all evil. For instance, I was never one to make excuses for the way many Islamic countries treat women, it’s shameful. China is very repressive on free speech, and that is hideous too. And, the ugly truth is, racism and ethnic conflict and brutality is widespread outside of America. My “self-righteousness” is from the equal opportunity sort. I despise this stuff in the same way I despise the racism present in 1940s America.

I’m not American, but I admire America a lot, and I admire many things made by “white, straight males.” I don’t think America is the most progressive country in the world, but at least it is in the top of the list. Many liberal ideals that I hold dear have flourished in America. And the great thing about America is that many of you guys have conscience and moral self-doubt. You have the ability to look back and say “we really screwed up that time, we’ll try to do better.”

Looking back at ugly truths from your own history like this column does isn’t a weakness or a sign that America is worse, it’s actually a sign of strength.

As for the “white club,” I don’t think whites need a club. It will be very cool the day no one else will need a club based on race either. It reminds me of the guys that say to me: “You gays have the Gay Pride Days, where is the Straight Pride Day?” But everyday is Straight Pride Day. The day when gays will be able to walk on broad daylight everywhere openly with no fear of gay-bashing, then we’ll not need any Gay Pride Days either.

If I may present my apology on behalf of Stan—
It must always be kept in mind that these stereotypes were prevalent throughout American culture in those days. Extreme racial stereotypes permeated everything– movies, books, cartoons, popular songs, radio, stage shows (minstrel shows were still popular, although declining). And while we may all believe that we’d be different had we lived back then, the fact is that when images are so prevalent, few people ever notice, no matter how offensive they may be. Just talk to anyone old enough to remember the time. If the person is honest with himself, he’ll most likely say that it never occured to him that such things could be considered so offensive. And this is true even for good-hearted people who never held any real animosity to Black people, and who even may have known enough Black people to know that the sterotypes were so horribly innacurate. But still, they accepted the images and laughed along with everybody else.
That’s what culture does. It tells what is acceptable and what isn’t, even when it conflicts with the other beliefs it instills (such as equality or respect).
Isaac Asimov touched on this briefly in his first autobiography, In Memory Yet Green.
What I think is most important is that in later years, when he had the chance to think about such things, he did make a conscious effort to speak out against racism in his writings, and to introduce several Black characters that (mostly) avoided stereotype, and he did this at a time when most comic publishers were avoiding Black and other minority characters entirely.

We now return to your regularly scheduled shouting match.

The reason I don’t feel that “we intended to audience to have the discussion” is a valid excuse is that it’s lazy journalism. If someone just put up pictures on a message board it would be called flame bait, not an article. I’m not saying I disagree with the message behind it, I’m disagreeing with the execution. This is lazy handling of a sensitive subject.

Let me help you make sense of this, if you are wondering why this is even a story ..

If it is “obvious” to you that there was racism in the 40′s, thus the standard and regular depictions of blacks were simple, base and racist caricitures, congrats .. you have a great handle of our nation’s sordid history. But acknowledging this as a standard “then” does not extinguish racism from today. In fact, the present covert nature of racism today makes it more powerful than ever. Look at public school. Look at crime and prison. Look at college. Having read book after book regarding this pervading inequity, it is beyond maddening to see people fail to acknowledge racism, regardless of the degree of the instance. What do you have to lose by admitting that our predecesors got some of it wrong? This country split in half over the right to keep black people subjugated, to keep them as the most valuable commodity of their time. A change of the law doesn’t change the mind, or the consciousness.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where we bury the history we don’t want to remember. How are we supposed to enjoy our PSP, our DS, our ipod and our iphone with reminders of forced labor and swindled land? Keep the details of defacto segregation away from our American dream.

There is no need to defend this piece; it is self-explanatory. It is a reflection of the time, when racist sentiment towards black people was openly laughed at and enjoyed as simple, innocent entertainment. This isnt requiring your outrage, its asking for your decency, for your common sense. No need to victimize people twice, by claiming there was no victimization.

The reason I don’t feel that “we intended to audience to have the discussion” is a valid excuse is that it’s lazy journalism.

Somebody revoke Cronin’s press pass!

"O" the Humanatee!

January 21, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Matt in the previous post: I wasn’t going to comment any further on this topic, but I feel it’s necessary to reply to your remark that “the covert nature of racism makes it more powerful than ever.” First, let me state my background in case anyone thinks it’s relevant. I’m 51, white, Jewish, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. I went to integrated public schools for most of my pre-college education, and the one I went to from kindergarten to 6th grade had only recently been integrated by combining two schools, one from the “good” neighborhood I grew up in, the other serving “the projects” in a predominantly black neighborhood. (There might have been some black students in the “white” school before that, but if so, very few.) In 6th grade we read the only primary-sources history book I ever had in elementary school, “Chronicles of Black Protest.” I remember hearing that Martin Luther King was assassinated.

When you write that racism is “more powerful than ever,” you insult the memory of civil rights workers who struggled against legal segregation, some of whom were murdered or maimed for their efforts. You insult the memory of victims of lynching. You insult the memory of men and women who were largely if not entirely shut out of certain professions for the color of their skin. These things were going on well after the comic book that started this entire thread. Did none of the books you read “regarding this pervading inequity” talk about these things? In those days the idea of a black president was ludicrous. The first black justice on the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall, was only appointed in 1967.

The civil rights movement, and the changes it helped spur in society at large, improved things for black people in America. Black people have opportunities now that many people in the ’50s would never have imagined. Black people and white people interact in ways many people in the ’50s couldn’t foresee. Certainly racism continues to be a significant problem. It has particularly pernicious effects on the urban underclass who were left behind after some were able to “escape” the ghetto because of the new opportunities. But to deny the very real improvements that have occurred is ignorant and, as I say above, insulting.

I dunno about “insulting”, but yeah, the idea that today’s covert racism is more powerful than ever is silly.

The very fact that it HAS to be covert proves that wrong. It was more powerful when a white guy could say, “I’m not hiring you, you black asshole” and the victim would have absolutely no recourse.

This comment section is fascinating me. Stan Lee (or Otto Binder) wrote something racist. It doesn’t mean he was or even is racist, but that he wrote something racist. It was unfortunate and common. Heck, in the mountains of Golden Age stuff I’ve read for WWTT, stuff like this is actually tame!

It’s not a condemnation of the man or the medium to say “Hey, you know what wasn’t cool? This.”

I can’t say this was racist. And I can’t say it wasn’t. I don’t see how anyone else can either. This would be racist if it was full of black people acting like Whitewash Jones. But it isn’t. It is one character in the story. ALL of the other characters are stereotypes as well. The art I will admit is stereotypical though. Everyone is jumping to the conclusion that it is racist without knowing the facts though. Can anyone say that Whitewash Jones wasn’t based of someone Stan Lee personally knew? Does anyone else realize that decent education for black people in the forties wasn’t readily available and this may be how the black people that Stan knew spoke? And I’m not saying I know but to rush into a debate without understanding why a person or place was portrayed just seems like idiocy to me. Sit back and really think of this. Not a damn person other than Stan Lee knows

“O” the Humanatee!:

Not if you’re using the more usual sense of “mistake” – that is, what happens when one fails to reach one’s intended goal. There’s nothing here that appears to have been unintentional.

According to the iPhone edition of the Oxford English Dictionary:
1 – Something which is not correct; an inaccuracy
2 – an act or judgement that is misguided or wrong.

So yeah I would definitely say this story was misguided and therefore a mistake.

Oxford English Dictionary

racism

• noun
1- the belief that there are characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to each race.

2- discrimination against or antagonism towards other races.

It seems from this definition that only antagonism could apply in this case and that in itself is subjective. There is no evidence that Whitewash’s portrayal is a attack on all people’s with african decent.

and I just thought I’d put together some of my favorite comments from those who have the enlightened point of view that this comic is racist.

Marc C
1. To anyone who doesn’t think this piece by Lee is racist–well enjoy your bubble of ignorance.
2. Any way–I find this discussion pretty fruitless–there is no converting people from their own ignorance–only life experience can do that–meaning contact with others.
3. I am a Freudian–so your words do reveal your true heart–you just don’t know it.
4. If I think something is racist–yes then it is–if I think someone is a racist–then yes it makes it so.
5. Now tell me how many of your friends are black.
6. I like to think that I have some of the intellectual goods to back up my pomposity.
7. @Brian Houston–I am starting to think you don’t even posses a half wit–let alone 2 1/4 wits to rub together to create an intellectual spark–so from now on I will pretend you are a table or some other inanimate object.

DanCJ
1.BrianHouston wrote:

In the comics of the past 20 years I’ve seen southern americans and christian conservatives portrayed with cowardice, awkwardness, and stupidity that were not seen as just a function of thier character, but instead as being traits of an entire people. Was this a mistake of history also?

In the case of Christain Conservatives then no. In the case of Sounthern Americans then maybe, but then most of them are Christain Conservatives ;)
2. So yeah I can easily beleive that Stan Lee was an ignorant racist in the 40s along with most of the population and isn’t now.
3. I went too far with the Southern American thing true – sorry about that.

As for the Christian Conservative thing, I’m a left wing Atheist. To me being conservative is misguided at best and selfish/greedy/uncaring at worst. Believing in some deity that created everything, expects us to worship him and punishes those who don’t with eternal damnation while refusing to ever provide any evidence of his existence because “without faith I am nothing” (which now that I think about it kind of begs the question of how he managed to exist before there was anyone around to have faith in him) is just ridiculous.

Actually the cowardice and awkwardness parts from BrianHouston aren’t true, but the rest I can’t apologise for. I know there are many Christians who aren’t stupid – most of my in-laws fall under that category – but why they are still Christians just boggles the mind.

Chris Jones
1.

I love this. “Come to chuckle at the hilarious racism, stay to observe douchebags talk about how racism is empowering.”

Brian Houston: It’s hard to imagine you functioning in real life, but the very fact that you can post on blog comment sections makes my day a little bit happier and 60% more insane upon realization that you are, no joke, a real person.
2.

Only an imbecile walks around ignoring context, Brian. And that’s what you are. An ignorant-to-the-point-of-being-dangerous absolute fucking imbecile.

I’m out. If I were you I’d politely sidestep human contact for the rest of forever.

and two more favorites of mine from this post

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!
You also seem to have fallen into the real trap of Brian Houston’s comment, in which he deftly equated racial prejudice with prejudice against people of a particular culture that isn’t even that of most “white” people on the planet. Of course, context and nuance do get in the way of that most satisfying of all drugs, righteous indignation; the two of you will go on supplying one another indefinitely with your volleys in these comments, I suspect.
( I’ve never been accused of creating a deft trap before, so this thrilled me)

Mxy
Those layouts and panel compositions look really dynamic for that period.

Well-said, O.

The idea that covert racism is somehow worse than open racism is pretty popular, but I don’t agree with it. I remember it was often said in the 1980s that America was worse than South Africa, for this very reason. But I think this overlooks how brutal open and institutionalized racism can be.

"O" the Humanatee!

January 22, 2010 at 4:34 pm

DanCJ:

I think I acknowledged every point that you make about the meaning of “mistake,” but I think I mistook ( ;^) ) what you were trying to say in the post I was responding to. Ironically, this may be because I’m trained in psycholinguistics, the field that uses experimental and other methods to study how people use and understand language. When you wrote, ‘And to claim this wasn’t a “mistake” is just odd,’ you were making a rhetorical point, which I think can be paraphrased as ‘How can anyone doubt that this reflects a misapprehension of what black people are like?’ I instead took it as a statement about how people use language, and I was trying to explain how it isn’t all that odd for someone to make that claim if they’re thinking of the more common use of “mistake.” People tend to think more easily of more prevalent meanings, dictionaries usually (though not always) list the more prevalent meaning first, and the meaning you cite is the second one in your dictionary.

Just clarifying. As I said, it was a minor point (and one I’ve spent far too much time on!).

Who would have thought that poor old Whitewash, a long outdated and mostly forgotten stock “comedy” character type with racist elements, would be able to cause this particular conflagration?

Personally, I have far more issues with panel one where the caption reads, ”the rescued man revives under the boys’ first aid.” What the hell kind of first aid is that kid in the middle giving him? It looks like he’s closely examining one of the man’s knees. And why is Bucky standing right behind him sort of bending forward and wiping off his left glove? He looks overjoyed, but he always looked like that…

Finally…that is one creepy ass Red Skull. I don’t know what he’s holding but it looks like a bloody knife. Right out of a classic horror comic.

*ugh – hope this doesn’t double post*

Wow – much more mature level of discourse here than years back when someone literally got banned for refusing to admit that “Geoff Johns hated homosexuals” or something like that.

Anyway – I’d like to offer a slightly different opinion on the “racism is more powerful today” example that cited messed up school systems and the like. I don’t think those are primarily a product of modern racism – I think they are much more likely to be the aftereffects of the racism of the past. Poverty lines still go unacceptably close to racial divisions, but I feel like it’s much more due to the fact that people of certain ethinicities were denied rights in the past than due to people currently making racist decisions/taking hateful actions. Not everybody had equal opportunitues in the past, and while there are still problems with that happening in present-day America, I don’t think it’s a strong factor anymore and that over time equal opportunities and “human rights for everyone” will eventually cause this to change. It’s just not as instantaneous as we’d like it to be.

Wow – much more mature level of discourse here than years back when someone literally got banned for refusing to admit that “Geoff Johns hated homosexuals” or something like that.

Owch! The word “literally” doesn’t deserve the beating you’re giving it.

@Sean Whitmore – no, I’m serious. I’m an English teacher and I hate when people use “literally” when they mean “figuratively.” I’ve seen the screenshot. Granted, it was some a-hole with moderator privileges and someone I’d directly associate with this site (like Augie or one of their main contributors). I’ve seen worse when I was dumb enough to volunteer to admin at some places. I’m not sure who’s worse – trolling posters or power-mad insane moderators.

The only point I’ll concede is that I might not have the wording exactly right, and since it’s not something that happened directly to me the usual “memories can be faulty” caveat applies. But I can swear to the best of my knowledge that the essence of the threat from a moderator (or admin or whatever they’re called) was “admit Geoff Johns hates gays or you’re banned from this forum.”

This isn’t the correct place to complain about how someone who isn’t here (I’d hope) was a jerk to someone else who isn’t here (I think), I just mentioned it because, well, the arguing taking place here isn’t anywhere near that level yet and I hope it never does get there. I can try to find the screenshot of the PM that I saw that would prove this if you think you’d find it hilarious enough to warrant taking the time to see if I have it and send it somewhere. I doubt I have it but there’s a chance I’d have kept something that insane after seeing it so long ago. I guess it’s also possible that even if I do find a screenshot that it could’ve been photoshopped, but I don’t think the person I got it from had the appropriate skills and it’s not ha-ha-funny enough to have put that much work into it. Look at it as a morbid curiousity-level anecdote and not some accusation on my part. I don’t know or care about the circumstances enough to do actual research!

- er, I meant to say “and NOT someone directly associated with this site.” oops!

I’m glad that I’m open-minded enough to hate everyone equally. Especially Canadians.

Umm yeah – thanks for just reposting a bunch of things I’ve said without making any actual point.

(that was directed at BrianHouston’s post a page or two up)

I’m an English teacher and I hate when people use “literally” when they mean “figuratively.

Like the newsread I once saw on telly who described someone as “in hospital with their life literally hanging in the balance”.

Nah – In a circus or up a cliff face maybe, but not in hospital.

No problem Dan, your ignorance speaks well on it’s own without any input from me.

Not that anyone cares anymore (but hey, this makes a better “last post” than a personal attack, I hope!), but I was unable to find the relevant screenshot (someone I know must have it somewhere, but it’s not like there’s high demand for it) – I found ton of other funny pics, so I’m glad it came up but my primary mission was a failure, sorry.

The only other detail I remember was that I believe the “moderator” in question had an old-school pic of the Martian Manhunter (back when he didn’t have that pronounced brow). I doubt they’re around anymore (I’d imagine they’re LITERALLY too dumb to live! Ba-dum-tsssh!) but really, you have to be a really bad person to do something like that, even if it is only on a message board and nobody can get hurt by your rude actions. I believe some poster had been declaring that Geoff Johns was a bigot because he didn’t retroactively make any of the JSA team gay. The guy that got banned pointed out how terrible that accusation was, opined about how in some ways making “token” characters can be even worse than not representing a minority, got personally attacked over it, mocked the personal attack, then got hammered by an admin over it and received the idiotic ultimatum.

He mocked the idiotic ultimatum and screenshotted the threat and the resulting “banned” page or whatever it is that comes up (I saw a similar screen myself when I asked about why someone else was banned and was promptly banned myself without explanation – I guess there was a small band of rotten apples with admin privileges trying to censor anyone who dared question them – obviously, they must be gone now or at least not reading these things!). I guess I could’ve told this in some entertaining way, but since I’m not a great writer you’ll have to take my word for it that it was pretty absurd and amusing as it unfolded. I am proud to have been considered ban-worthy by such low-character vermin. Not as good as Chaplin getting on Hitler’s death list but you have to start somewhere, and being hated by truly horrible people is as good a start as any!

Umm… to tie this in somewhat, I guess I can say that as shameful and embarrassing as the rude caricatures above can be, at least they were done with less malicious intent by much better human beings than those terrible people involved in the “literally banned for…” example! Don’t tolerate bullies anywhere!

Oh dear lord, I actually found the thread (it is of slight concern to me that the participant I was friends with is using a s/n uncomfortable close to the e-mail add. I’m using, but there’s a long history there that’d explain it – I hope – and if that guy is reading this track me down and if you still have that screenshot send it to me please! – Ed): http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?t=122777

Unfortunately, the most hilarious stuff happens in the PMs. Maybe I was remember wrong, ‘cuz I don’t see any martian avatars in there… sorry, I’m getting to be an old man and memory isn’t as trusty as it used to be. I am impressed that I actually remembered enough to find the thread and actually recount it decently, so I’ve still got some memory left!

Man, guy was dumb enough to get trolled (and even then, really only “attacked” the personal attacks that were aimed at him and mocked the tactic – that’s just crazy there!), but I still can’t believe the responses there and how it shakes out. Gawd, people act terribly on the Internet. And the instigator STILL isn’t banned and my old friend STILL is (though I believe he just jumped to another s/n – maybe he’s seeing this now…)? Crazy world.

Shakes head @ Brian Houston’s post.

I must say, I do find it quite offensive how the white man is shown to be overweight, but, beyond that, I honestly think nothing of it. Of course, I actually have this comic, dad was a comic nerd, so I saw this a good few years ago. What exactly is the problem here, is the article written by a black man?

I don’t like black people, I don’t like anyone, that doesn’t make me a white elitist, just that nigger whining have run their course. But I love Nigger Nick Fury, best idea to come from the Ultimate universe, seriously, white Nick? That’s just not cool.

Why do we still tip toe across events in history just because black people are equal now? As long as you act like fools and call each other nigger, I’ll continue to treat you like what you want, even if your depiction is as shamful as old whitewash. But remember, is because you made it that way.

Obvious troll is obvious.

*snore*

just blindly asking a question here seeing as the comments thread
has already become too long for proper browsing, and also keep in
mind that i agree with T and omar and a buncha other peeps here:
doesn’t the use of the name “whitewash” for a screamingly racist
caricature of a black kid sort of “allows” it to be more satirical/ironic
than ignorantly racist?

Every character introduced by Bucky is a stereotype on that first page reproduced by Brian – the ‘what-ho’ English fop: “thanks, chaps”; the Noo Yorker; the speccy swot; the inferior Black; the fat kid.
It is surprising from a modern viewpoint; but as everyone’s said, Whitewash & the like were the common cultural stereotype.

Oh and scanning down this thread, this one ranks with the ‘Ted Watson vs Inverdore (is that name correct?)’ smackdown from another CBR post! – the Legends Revealed master list?

…Wow. There are no words. Thank God we’ve come far enough that this looks horrible to us now.

Chop-Chop from the Blackhawks is tailor-made for this series.

Re: Brian Houston “People, you are way to sensitive.”

I have found in the past that when somebody wants to approve of racist, sexist or otherwise demeaning portrayals of persons, that in fact what they want to do is silence other people. Telling someone they are “too sensitive” is often another way of saying “shut up.”

There is nothing ironic in the character of “Whitewash”. He is a product of a deeply racist society, at a time when people were denied status as fully human based on the color of ones skin. If this character does not reflect the racist attitudes of the time, then you might as well forget about history and the concept of racism altogether.

Whitwash Jones is the man!

“Tubby” Tinkle,huh?

[...] Stan Lee’s previous racist African caricatures, it would not be surprising if he is only peddling his wares into the billion dollar Chinese market [...]

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives