Tuesday, June 28, 2011

David Hine on 'Nightrunner'

Those of you that do not follow/read Batman comics, will probably not be aware that, in the comic books, Batman has gone on a sort of world tour to recruit vigilantes to be part of his Batman Inc. franchise. (A sort of war-on-crime-army that are allied with--and get funding/resources from--the Batman).

If this is news to you, then even more surprising to know will be that there was a small controversy when it was revealed that the person Batman choose to be his representative in France, Nightrunner, was a Muslim immigrant. One right-wing blogger said things like: “The character’s name is Bilal Asselah and he is an Algerian Sunni Muslim and an immigrant that is physically fit and adept at gymnastic sport Parkour. Apparently Batman couldn't find any actual Frenchman to be the ‘French savior’.”

Most comic-book fans saw this reaction by right-wing bloggers as silly--especially because in the DC comics universe, the greatest champion is Superman, a guy who wasn't even born on the planet Earth! Comic Book Resources had a very good article about this when this broke out, back in December 2010, and there were some very good comments to that article, the majority supporting the new character.

The character/controversy came up again today when CBR, highlighting an upcoming story in "Batman & Robin," written by one of the creator's of Nightrunner, David Hine, was asked if he was "surprised by the vehemence of reactions to him in America." Below is the response he gave:

I had no intention of creating a controversial character and as far as I'm concerned there is nothing intrinsically provocative about having a character from an Algerian Muslim background, any more than from any other ethnic, national, racial or religious background. The polarization you're talking about is between a tiny but vocal minority whose views I find deeply repulsive and a massive reaction from reasonable intelligent people who were as surprised as me by the so-called controversy. I don't really want to play into that at all. As I've said elsewhere, the fact that Nightrunner is not White Anglo Saxon Protestant is simply a reflection of the diversity of French society, and incidentally of DC's readership in America and globally through all its foreign editions. Kyle Higgins' scripts for the Nightrunner stories were sensitive and built an intriguing character. That's it. Nothing partisan, or endorsing any particular creed or political stance except perhaps a degree of tolerance that is notably lacking in some quarters.

Hine's response was OK, as it shows that there shouldn't be anything controversial about the character, and that the people who think there is something wrong with that have backward views. But he is wrong in thinking that there is a "tiny" of people who think like this. Of course, in the comic-book world, the vocal minority who complained about this was small, but there are larger right-wing forces out there that are just plain racist. And there are also "Culture Wars" going on in society, (of which mainstream popular culture is a part of), where right-wing forces are trying to get victories.

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