Is a Hero of Color More Upsetting than a White Would-Be Rapist?

Doc_Ock_Spider-Man_vs_Miles_MoralesSome pundits seem to think so.

Spoilers for The Amazing Spider-Man #700 ahead.

As you probably already know, Peter Parker recently died in Amazing Spider-Man #700, leaving Doc Octopus to take up the mantle as the new Spider-Man.

The Amazing Spider-Man #700

The Amazing Spider-Man #700

Basically, Peter and Doc Ock switch bodies only to have Doc Ock’s body die with Peter’s mind trapped inside. This leaves Doc Ock in control of Peter’s body as Spider-Man.

I can’t help but be reminded of the last time a new Spider-Man took over after the death of another Peter Parker. If you’ll recall back in June 2011, Peter Parker died in the Ultimate Universe, only to be succeed by Miles Morales, a teenager of black and Latino descent.

As expected, the then new addition of a superhero of color sent certain media elements into a frenzy.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1

Fox New’s Rick Folbaum accused Marvel Comics of taking “a radical left turn to extreme political correctness by killing off a traditional American hero and replacing him with Miles Morales.” Of course the implication is that a non-white hero can’t be a traditional hero.

The news also prompted conservative radio host Glen Beck to babble incoherently on the subject for a couple minutes (despite stating several times that he really doesn’t care about “a stupid comic book”). During Beck’s racist and homophobic rant, he suggests that the mere inclusion of a superhero of color is indicative of a radical left-wing takeover.

Fox News’ Lou Dobbs also had some unkind words about the new biracial superhero, words which were brilliantly mocked by John Stewart on The Daily Show.

Doc_Ock_Mary_Jane_Amazing_Spider-Man_700So why do I bring up these pundits’ outrage to a comic event that took place over a year ago? Well, I thought if they were upset about Marvel replacing a “traditional American hero” with a person of color, they’d be even more pissed about Marvel replacing that same “traditional American hero” with a would-be rapist.

Amazing_Spider-Man-700-Doc-Ock-Mary-Jane

Keep in mind that Mary Jane has NO idea that this is actually Doctor Octopus trying to have sex with (rape) her.

Unsurprisingly, this has not elicited the same kind of media backlash. Neither Folbaum, Beck, nor Dobbs has expressed any outrage about Doc Ock taking over as Spider-Man. It seems that the violation of a female character’s bodily autonomy is not nearly as scary to them as a positive depiction of a biracial middle schooler.

Ultimate_Comics_Spider-Man_6_Miles_Morales

So, is a Spider-Man of color more upsetting than a white, attempted rapist Spider-Man? Folbaum’s, Beck’s, and Dobb’s outrage at Miles and subsequent silence on Doc Ock seems to say, that to them, yes it is.

I guess they don’t care, as long as there’s a white face under the mask.

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5 Responses to “Is a Hero of Color More Upsetting than a White Would-Be Rapist?”


  1. 1 graysonqueen January 7, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Great catch on the two-faced nature of celebrity outrage. Sadly they only ever seem to make a fuss if it fits their agenda.
    You may have inspired a post for my blog, thanks.

  2. 2 graysonqueen January 7, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Reblogged this on I am Grayson. and commented:
    Oh, boy. This hit the tri-fecta of long conversations my wife and I have.
    1) the lack of brown heroes (to dress up as for halloween)
    2) people sticking their fingers into things they don’t understand.
    3) Will comic books every stop rebooting and actually start putting some of these old and outdated characters to rest?

  3. 4 James Picard January 28, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    They’ll put Spider-Man to rest when people stop wanting to read him. So far, that doesn’t seem likely. Also, is this necessarily rape if she’s the one who initiated it? He’s not forcing her into anything. If this is rape, then why weren’t people upset when the same thing happened when Buffy and Faith switched bodies on Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Oh, that’s right, because if it’s a woman doing it, it’s okay, but a man? Scandalous! Furthermore, I’m not upset that MIles Morales is multiracial, I’m upset that they killed Spidey of simply to replace him with a different one in an effort to play to the ‘political correctness’ camp. They could’ve used a different superhero. They didn’t even have to keep Peter alive. But replacing him like this? Not only does the fact that he’s replaced undercut the sacrifice he made, it’s just a stupid attempt to drum up more readers. I don’t care what color you are, you can still be a superhero. But this just felt stupid, forced, and unnecessary. As for whether or not he’s any good, I don’t know. I only question the decision, not the outcome. If he’s a good character, I might even get over it. But it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And for the record, if there was an alternate universe where Miles Morales was the original Spider-Man, I’d be okay with it. But a lot of this is just screaming the hypocrisy you’re claiming to be fighting against. I understand that wasn’t the intention but really, these things need to be pointed out.

    • 5 Daniel Amrhein January 29, 2013 at 1:29 am

      Hi James,

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

      This comic most definitely depicts an attempted rape. The term “rape” simply refers to sexual contact without consent. It can refer to sexual contact achieved through physical force, deception, coercion, threat, or abuse of power. It also applies to instances where the victim is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired, asleep, or unconscious.

      In the comic, Doc Ock is deceiving Mary Jane by making her think that he is Peter. Mary Jane isn’t consenting to sexual relations with Doc Ock, but rather with Peter. The fact that anyone would question whether this is rape simply demonstrates how very little our society respects the bodily autonomy of women.

      Yes, the Buffy episode you’re referring to also includes the depiction of a rape but I’m not really sure what that has to do with this article nor am sure where you’re getting the idea that it isn’t equally upsetting.

      I assume you’re trying to make the old “feminists don’t care about male rape” argument. Sorry, but that’s simply not true. Just last year, the Justice Department finally updated the definition of rape to include (among other things) male rape. This was a change that feminists and supporters of women’s rights had been fighting to achieve for quite some time. You can read more about this historic change that feminism helped to bring about at http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-01-06/politics/35437948_1_sexual-assault-definition-rapes.

      All that being said, I think you may have drastically missed the point of my article. The intent is specifically to point out the hypocrisy of these three individuals and people like them. It’s ridiculous for them to be so outraged about Ultimate Spider-Man being replaced with a person of color, but it’s even worse since they didn’t seem to care when the “real” Spider-Man was replaced with a would-be rapist.


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