Waiting For the Cries of “Reverse Appropriation”

I want to get out ahead of this. Frankly I am surprised they did not come up with the phrase when Idris Elba was cast as Never-actually-described-in either-the-poetic-or-prose-Eddas-and-from-a-different-plane-of-existence-still-he-must-be-white Heimdall. White outrage whenever they think a black person has unfairly stolen a “white” part is the new big thing in claims of reverse racism and the “crusade” against political correctness (and once again, would somebody teach these folks what that term actually means?) So I am going to claim this term, if someone already has not. I am going to say outright that the casting of Michael B Jordan as Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, will be decried as “reverse appropriation.”

The white, nerd rage started when the casting was just a rumor. Now that it has all but been confirmed you can expect it to really hit the fan. After all, Johnny Storm is supposed to be white. You cannot, absolutely cannot, have any deviation from that. You have to be realistic, after all, the character has always been white, and you have to be consistent with a character who bursts into flames without dying and can fly. After all it is impossible to relate to a black man, but easy as pie to relate to the aforementioned character who burst in to flames friend and rival who is a man made of orange rock.

These were the same people who did not understand the outrage of having white actors cast as characters clearly intended to be non-white. These same people were outraged by a black girl cast as a black character in Hunger Games. They will be the first to complain of a black man appearing in Renaissance Italy (where, you know, that actually happened) and the first to champion creative license when a white man shows up in a pre-colonial Meso-American setting.

White nerds insist on consistency in the casting of characters from continuities that changes as often as some folks change their underwear. They are perfectly fine with shaking up the ages, personalities, and relationships of an entire super team, so long as they all stay the same race, especially the white characters. It is absolutely verboten to take away a characters whiteness.

Because, of course, that would diminish the character. Being not-white is being less, and we cannot have that happening to our beloved Johnny Storm. We cannot let those whiny People of Color steal one of ours, despite the fact that we have no problem doing it to them.

So wait for it. It will happen. They will trot out this new term, this “reverse appropriation” (unless, I’ve ruined it for them, which would be nice.) Because changing the race of a comic book character is exactly equal to making someone elses life experience the butt of your joke, or white artists getting credit for the creation of rock and roll, or white artists winning awards for performing music that is reacted to with revulsion by whites when it is performed by black musicians. It is exactly like the white supremacist theft of black culture in the south after reconstruction, and just like jazz being grabbed away from the black men and women who created it to become the “thinking” music lovers sound of choice, for white folks.

They will say it, without irony, and then cry that we are picking on them when we point out their absurdity. They will trip over themselves while saying it is not about race, all the while making it about race. They will make feeble claims about the importance of the original art (see above take downs of that.) A few will have the temerity to claim “geeks” are oppressed as much as PoC. I hope when they do that we all have the presence to ridicule them as thoroughly as they deserve.


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