The Root bills itself as an “opinion and culture site for African-American influencers,” which works out nicely because I was recently looking to see what such self-proclaimed individuals were saying about Zendaya’s role as MJ in Spider-Man: Homecoming. It turns out that Spider-Man is a “white-boy fantasy” and nothing you ever do is good enough for “influencers” like Jason Johnson.
Mr. Johnson wrote on Aug. 23 for The Root’s “No, Zendaya in Spider-Man: Homecoming Is Not the Progress We’re Looking For”:
Consequently, the announcement that she’s been cast as Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s long-term love interest, Mary Jane, in Spider-Man: Homecoming next year has given many people all sorts of excitement and feels. I am not one of them. Casting Zendaya as Mary Jane is another example of Hollywood expecting black dollars at the box office, but disrespecting black consumers and fans on the big screen. …
Zendaya’s casting is yet another sign that makers of Hollywood sci-fi fantasy action films will “racebend” a character (change a character’s race from what it was in a book, film or cartoon), slap themselves on the back for being progressive and expect black fans to be satisfied, while pretty much maintaining the status quo. Racebending is fine so long as it’s for girlfriends and sidekicks, but the movies are still white-boy fantasy adventures in which the lead remains a straight white male no matter what. And that unfortunate fact can’t be separated from the choice to cast Zendaya as Mary Jane.
There was never a doubt or even a conversation about casting anyone other than a white man as Iron Man, Thor, Captain America or the Incredible Hulk. Even though Iron Man was black in the early 1980s, the first Captain America was a black man, and Thor as a Norse God could be anybody.
Are you a young comic book fan who is on the ideological fence? If so, then consider the psychology on display with Zendaya’s casting:
- If you think movie producers should try to adhere as closely as possible to the source material, then liberal guys like Dan Slott will imply that you are a racist.
- If you think movie producers should try to adhere as closely as possible to the source material, then liberal guys like director James Gunn will say that you have “too good of a life.”
- If you think movie producers should try to adhere as closely as possible to the source material, then liberal guys like Devin Faraci of the website Birth. Movies. Death. will call you a “racist fanboy.”
- Conservative guys like me will shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah, but Zendaya may still be pretty good. As long as she tints her hair red then we should just give the girl a chance.”
- Meanwhile, liberals like Jason Johnson will mock you for your “white-boy fantasy” even if you do give Zendaya’s casting three cheers for diversity. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Welcome to a life of Kobayashi Maru-type scenarios if you board the USS Social Justice.
As your friendly neighborhood blogger has said on numerous occasions, social-justice obsessives are never satisfied. Any attempt to placate them will only result in additional admonitions that require an apology, new demands to meet without question, and more rules that undoubtedly conflict with a sub-group of professional victims someplace else.
Between now and the July release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, I implore anyone who is still trying to define their ideological identity to conduct a test: Come to this blog and disagree with me just to see how I react. Then, do the same with liberal writers like Dan Slott or Nick Spencer. By the time your favorite wall-crawler returns to theaters, I am confident that you will no longer be on the fence.