Of race, gender, and mutants

Jean Grey and Storm

Spoiler alert: don’t click on the link below if you haven’t seen X3 yet, plan to, and care about things getting ruined for you. (I myself am extremely irritated when people, blog entries, film reviews, etc reveal crucial plot points of films that I’ve yet to see.)

Just read some astute analysis on the WIMN’s Voices blog of how some major sexism plays out in X-Men: The Last Stand, specifically in the portrayals of Storm and Jean Grey. In the blog entry, Makani Themba Nixon writes that “a story about fierce women and their struggle to step into their power becomes little more than anti-feminist propaganda.”

Sad, but true, though the phrase “anti-feminist propaganda” kind of irks me – I’d just say that the portrayals of supposedly strong women just wind up being weak and sexist.

It’s a shame, given that I love the X-Men films. And even though this did have many problems (the aforementioned sexism, the weird treatment of some POC characters, etc) and was, as many have said, not as good as X2, I did like it fairly well. And, damn, do I love Jean Grey. Totally my favorite character, followed closely by Magneto, then Wolverine. Too bad Storm’s portrayal totally sucked, maybe I would’ve liked her more.

Magneto and Professor X Martin Luther King, Jr and Malcolm X

Speaking of Magneto – does anyone else find themselves cheering for Magneto and his side of things more often than not? Sometimes I’m just like, hell yeah, fuck those humans!

Which brings me to another piece of excellent thinking on the politics of X-Men: Black Politics, X-Men, White Minds. In the essay, Morpheus Reloaded discusses the parallels between the narrative of the X-Men and the Black civil rights movement, with Professor X symbolizing Martin Luther King Jr and Magneto symbolizing Malcolm X. Before you balk (if that was your impulse), it’s not so far-fetched – the white creators of the X-Men, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, were influenced by the Civil Rights and Black Power movements that they were witnessing in the 1960s. Morpheus Reloaded also discusses that aspect of the X-Men: what is going on when white people create an allegory for Black liberation movements? What’s the end result of that sort of thing? In summation, Morpheus Reloaded writes, “The reality however, for better or for worse, is that the X-Men are here to stay as is: an intended expose on race, bigotry and intolerance in society that actually in the end sheds more light on the white psyche than anything approaching reality.”

(thanks to Josue for the heads up about the first article)

1 Response to “Of race, gender, and mutants”

  1. 1 Marina Brown

    Yes – the parrallels between MLK and X and Professor Xavier and Magneto were obvious to us
    as well. Thanks for putting it up so clearly.

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