Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Mutant Menace

It's amazing the things that hit you when you wake up at 4 AM. I've long wondered why the minority figures in Marvel Comics, the Mutants, have not gone on to gain acceptance like many other minority groups have over the years. It never made sense to me that the Mutants were always on the outside and that the majority "hated and feared them". Heck, some of the Avengers have been Mutants (before EVERYONE was an Avenger) and that didn't help them at all.

Then, it hit me. Mutants may have started out as the representatives of oppressed minority groups, but they haven't moved forward like those groups. What came to me this morning was that Mutants are now the representatives of firearms in the United States.

Think about it. You have the X-Men, who represent the responsible gun owners. They train themselves so as to know when and when not to use their abilities, as well as how to use them most effectively with the least amount of collateral damage. Sometimes they go too far or do the wrong thing, but most of the time they're in the right.

Then you have the "Evil Mutants", led by Magneto or some other "freedom fighter", who are willing to do whatever it takes to overthrow the government that is taking away their rights. They're on the fringe, and represent a minority of the larger group, but they're the most vocal and can be the most violent.

A bigger portion of the group, but still not the majority of it, are criminals. Those that a "mutant registration act" won't help with since they're going to break the law anyway. They are willing to use their abilities to get what they want, no matter who gets hurt.

This brings us to probably the most dangerous part, and that would be the untrained children. No, they aren't, necessarily, out to hurt anyone, but they have access to a power that they don't understand and could end up killing someone if they are left to their own devices. Responsible parents of these children will get them training and see that they know how to handle and respect their abilities, but that isn't everyone. The worst case scenario here is a student who is picked on and then decides to take their revenge indiscriminately.

I could be completely off base here, but I think this explains why the Mutant cause never seems to gain any ground. There are more people out there who are unwilling to accept firearms than there are who are unwilling to accept minorities, at least in my opinion. What do you think? Am I on to something or completely missing the target?

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  1. There is a lot of merit to your theory, the firearm parallel has just as much relevance to the mutant thing as does the minority thing. It's that edge of fear that makes people who would normally be fairly accepting and makes them see the threat that they can be.

    It's not something I had thought before, but it makes a hell of a lot of sense

    1. I find my brain comes up with very interesting things the first thing in the morning. ;)

  2. Not going to say you are wrong, but generally the "feared and hated" mutants are there to serve as analogs for most any sort of social issue--homosexuality, race relations, gun control, universal healthcare, parallel parking, rewinding the VHS tape before returning it to Blockbuster, etc. It's easy to find something of relevance in the X-Men to most any person's life, especially the pre-teen/teenager who feels like an outsider who can't seem to fit in with other people his/her age.

    Again, I'm not saying you're wrong here. Instead, I personally think the use of mutants as metaphors has been overdone and needs to be done away with. If the only difference between the X-Men and the Fantastic Four is that one group was born with their powers and the other acquired them later on, then that is nothing to really be setting up as a cause for hating and fearing them. Hell, they've established Sue and Johnny are easily way stronger than 90% of the world's mutants, yet the Marvel U lauds the FF while hating Dazzler, Doug Ramsey and Skids. No thank you. It just doesn't hold water, as my grandma used to say.

  3. Oh, I agree, Clinton. The use of them as a metaphor is REALLY overdone and they really should have gotten to some kind of general acceptance now. Oh, there will always be some pockets of bigotry (unfortunately) but the majority of people should have come to look at Mutants as just another form of hero/villain. Like you said, the only difference between the FF and the X-Men is that people know the X-Men are Mutants.

  4. The use of mutants as metaphor can be overdone, the added thing is the whole supplanted by our children thing. I often think that their being in the marvel universe is an impediment to their hated and feared narrative. Maybe if they had their own universe to play in

  5. And that is one reason why comic books count as literature - because they are open to multiple interpretations. I always go back to the myth of authorial intent, an interpretation concept that posits that what matters about a work of art is not what the author intended to communicate, but what the recipient of the art gets out of it.

    This is the track that Clinton is on in a prior comment. Are X-Men stories analogs for racial prejudice, LGBT issues, gun rights, privacy advocates, border security, or voter ID laws?

    Both. And.

  6. I think the lack of progress is mainly that the initial status quo makes it easier to base the storytelling on - if the mutants are an unaccepted and oppressed minority it is easier therefore to set up government plots against them, political plots, bigotry (either to explain villains, explain "bad" mutants reacting, or unthinking citizens), or to set up positive thoughts about cooperating and sympathetic normals.

    And interpreting the stories as being metaphors or analogies for a particular issue or group is very open to individual translation. Plus the intent of the writer(s) can change, and probably has over the long history of the Marvel comics alone since it has had the large variety of writers and story lines.

    And there is a historical content in older Sci-Fi especially in using mutants (or other monsters) as metaphors for perceived external threats such as Communism, or railing against McCarthyism, etc. etc. (For another SF example read about how the 1956 version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was perceived.)