I’m picking on the Buy Pile column a little bit, maybe a lot today, but Hannibal is an outspoken kind of guy and he can certainly sure defend himself. In this week’s column he says “The "Meh" Pile Not good enough to praise, not bad enough to insult, not important enough to say much more than the title. "Sky Doll: Doll Factory" #1, "Anchor" #2, "X-Force" #21 (or you may know it as "Blackest Night: X-Men" ... dude, what the heck?), "Action Comics" #883, "Star Wars: Purge - Seconds to Die" (all that for what's essentially a clip show?), "Batgirl" #4, "Jersey Gods" #9, "Batman" #693, "Tracker" #1, "Batman/Doc Savage Special" #1, "Booster Gold" #26, "Shield" #3, "Titans" #19, "Blackbeard" #1 and #2, "Punishermax" #1 (was a racial slur on page three really necessary? Also, haven't we seen Wilson Fisk's rise to power before Frank Castle's campaign started? If not for Steve Dillon, this would have dropped farther)”
Obviously what I want to talk about is what I bolded. Hannibal has always been annoyed about the “N” word being used in comics and especially by white writers. Hannibal is black and feels that white people cannot possibly understand the entire context that word implies. I’m heavily cutting down on his viewpoint, but he does not like seeing the use of that word and especially if it is a white writer is the strong impression I have gotten.
First, I’m a white guy, so I will never fully understand what it means to be black. I also won’t understand what it means to be a woman, what it is like to grow up in New York, what it is like to have my family slaughtered by mobsters and then to take up a life of brutal vengeance. I’m also guessing I will never gain super powers and therefore will find it difficult to understand what it is like to wear gaudy costumes in public. Yet I think if I had the chance one day I could do a passable job writing a Punisher story or some other comic and try to at least draw on those aspects that are not part of my own unique experience.
Second this book is listed as explicit content and as the dialogue in question is coming from a mobster of Italian descent would his dialogue sound authentic if he did not use the racial slur to describe other people? At a poker game (where we play just for fun), I have been called b*tch and worse names because when you beat someone else in a hand they thought they had won and you are drinking those things happen. If my friend called me a “poop head” is would not have the same resonance.
So let’s look at the actual offense. The dialogue in question is “And once he brings us down, what then? We leave our streets for the N**gers and the Ivans to take over? F**k that.” If we change it to “We leave the streets to the African-Americans and Russian-Americans, forget that”, it loses something, I think.
On the next page we have dialogue of “That c**t-faced Mick psycho Finn Cooley” Now I’m half Irish and while I’m no Paul Newman or Pierce Bronsan in the looks department, I do not believe that description would be appropriate for anyone of Irish descent, yet no mention by Mr. Tabu of that racial slur and possible gender slur also.
So it is a little bit of a double standard being used and for my two cents as longs as within the context of the story it makes sense to use that type of dialogue, then its use is appropriate. Also I think words are often given power by other people. There was a story I heard about in a high school the students started to use “meep” in place of f**k. The school has apparently banned the term meep. Personally I like this as much as frell and dren from Farscape and now hope to be able to tell people to “meep off” in the future. It also cracks me up that there maybe a memo somewhere telling people to not say meep.
Anyway I thank the “Buy Pile” for the inspiration for this post and hope that if others disagree to please weigh in with your view. I’m just a poor half mick cracker from the Mid-Atlantic with one viewpoint.