A while back on the Panelcast I mentioned the budding controversy of a white power group that was upset about the inclusion of Nightrunner in the line up of the Batman Inc french chapter. I figured it would die down and be pretty much only be a blip on the radar of geeky comic news sites. Much was my surprise when I saw similar Nightrunner controversy get a segment on last night’s airing of The Daily Show. The segment didn’t deal with the opinions of the Council of Conservative Citizens (which totally sounds like a super villain group BTW) but the opinions of just one guy, illustrator Bosch Fawstin, who, like the CCC is concerned that this young, Muslim, FICTIONAL character is somehow a secret terrorist.
This isn’t the first time The Daily Show has dealt with Muslim non-troversies as this sentiment is unfortunately prevalent in many areas of the world, but I was shocked that this particular story was covered. I hadn’t thought that Batman having a Muslim sidekick was such a big deal. Or even any deal. Honestly, why does it matter? Nightrunner is far from the first Muslim superhero character and will not be the last. Is it because he is in a Batman comic? Is it because he is French? Islamophobia can’t be the only reason (I hope not). Maybe my mind just isn’t capable of seeing why this could possibly be an issue.
I understand, intellectually, that people are racist or xenophobic and that this fear leads them to have peculiar beliefs, but what possible threat could a make-believe set of lines and shapes and colors present the real world? I know, I know, I’m being too rational about this. I guess it is my fault for thinking that Islam=/=terrorism.
Actually, in a way, I am afraid that Nightrunner may turn out to be a so called “jihadist”. Not out of fear of Muslims, but out of fear that DC would stoop to such a hackneyed stereotype to sell books. I can picture the storyline now – “Batman Inc. must root out a sleeper cell in their midst that is committing acts of terrorism in the name of Batman”! Barf.
Personally, I hope that DC does not do this and instead uses the opportunity to portray the character as a just and worthy addition to the Batman crew, that happens to be Muslim. Obviously, the character’s religious beliefs will play a role in shaping his methods and actions, but it shouldn’t necessarily be the focus of the character, especially in the Batman franchise. Batman’s set of morals are pretty well established and archetypal enough to be able to fit any character.
If we are lucky, this will all die down quickly, though I see it possibly popping up in larger media sources soon enough.
On a different note, I hope you all enjoyed the latest Geek Girls episode. I am always looking for more ladies to interview and I really want this to become at least a bi monthly series. I am hoping to make the show a bit longer and more diverse in the topics discussed, rather than just a single topic, one-on-one series. If anyone out there has some ideas for the show, or just something you want to talk about, please, contact me or AJ. I definitely want to get more feedback, regardless of whether you have a vagina or a penis (or both/neither). Remember kids, I am doing this for you.
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