Snoopy Jenkins

A critical interrogation of American popular culture. @snoopyjenkins

Month: March, 2014

Superman is a White Boy

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

So here’s what you already know.

American superhero comics today present White male power fantasies in sequential art for meager and dwindling profits. When television production companies and feature film studios greenlight action dramas that feature mainstream superheroes, the visual narratives they offer display muscular Anglo-Saxon men upgraded with special abilities who oppose nefarious, off-kilter Eurotrash to preserve public safety. Token women and people of color bestow selfless assistance, and our protagonists foil their deranged nemeses’ dastardly plans. Roll credits. Stunt sequences that feature Anthony Mackie’s Falcon and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow will no doubt add amazing grace under assault rifle fire in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but Chris Evans’ brawny blond Captain America plays the Hero, the last best defense freedom deploys against global catastrophe.

Pretty standard, right?

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Jackie Robinson and the Mythic Black Superhero

Jackie Robinson, stealing home.

Jackie Robinson, stealing home.

Everything foul about the comic industry today already happened to Major League Baseball.

In the historical drama 42, there’s a touching scene where Brooklyn Dodger Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson, played by Chadwick Boseman, recuperates in the team locker room, lying on a low table on his stomach, as he receives needle and thread medical care from a balding team physician to repair a torn and bleeding calf. A gaggle of post-war sports reporters flash camera bulbs and pepper the injured first baseman with questions to tease out a damning and belligerent quote about racist White opponents in the Major Leagues.

Does Robinson believe he was intentionally spiked? Does he hold any ill will toward White baseball players who do not support his inclusion into America’s pastime? Robinson, incensed by his latest indignity at the hands of American prejudice, responds with trademark politeness before Branch Rickey, played by a lively Harrison Ford, barrels into the locker room, dispatches the prose vultures, and dismisses the team doctor. Rickey then relates a short story about a group of young White boys playing stickball in the street, spied on Rickey’s morning commute. The healthy, dirty, beautiful boys whoop and holler their gaiety, content in their athletic posturing, hitting the ball and running the bases while they announce their identification with their favorite Major Leaguers. Suddenly, one boy shouts, ‘I’m Jackie Robinson!’ and slides into home. A little White boy in America, 1947.

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