Content note: Sarcasm and lack of reverence for sentence structure.
I saw a film. That’s what I did. A week or two ago. Went and saw Dr. Strange.
It was such a cool movie. I have been waiting for them to do Dr. Strange- not as long as I have been waiting for the Prometheus sequel, But at least all summer. All the magic and stuff. Inception style curdled architecture. Mordu as Dr. Strange’s black best friend. Wong being the librarian instead of Dr. Strange’s magic personal servant.
The inspiring theme about accepting failure and never giving up. I really liked that. I really want to write a post about that.
It made me feel happy feelings for a while.
Wait. Back up.
Ooooohmygosh. Marvel reduced the black hero to being merely the white hero’s black best friend.
Mordu is given no back story. Even in the case of Dr. Strange’s Asian Mentor who was magically a European Woman who was magically deprived of all Feminine Markers Like Hair so that a White Man could almost learn to take her seriously without throwing a hissyfit-
the story(tellers) decided she still had to die for it. for correcting a White Man- and being right
-even in her case they explain the lack of backstory by saying ‘she doesn’t talk about her past’. She hasn’t told the other characters, so the Audience(protagonist) can’t find out either. OoooOOOoooo. Mysterious!
She probably doesn’t talk about her past because she used to be an Asian Dude and she knows what racist transphobes y’all are!
Mordu, they don’t even make a mystery. Why is he doing the things he does? ‘He had a hard life’
What does that have to do with it?
Doesn’t matter. Case closed.
He’s told the other characters. He’s talked about it. They’ve been round and round, trying to work through the pain of his past, channeling it into constructive forward facing strategies.
It’s just that the suffering of a black man isn’t important enough for the white (protagonist)Audience to even suffer through a one or two sentence description of it.
He has fulfilled his narrative function in the White Hero’s Journey. No vestige of humanity is required. Dr. Strange moves from ignorance to enlightenment and from whimpiness to badassery -by means of Mordu’s instruction- without ever having to become conscious of -say- the white cop who shot Mordu’s dad over a broken taillight.
‘Cause if it wasn’t something White protagonist(audience) was implicated in-
Then they could say what had happened. Couldn’t they.
If it were Thanos’ fault somehow. Or maybe an Asian Dude’s fault. Then it would be okay to say ‘Thanos killed his father’ ‘He follows the rules so strictly because he was cheated- an Asian Dude blamed him for a thing he didn’t do.’
It wasn’t The Big Bad who caused the pain in Mordu’s life. Because then we(the audience) could bear to hear WHO caused that pain.
And- because I can see the words forming in your brains because of how magical I am- if they bring Mordu back, in a later film or WHATever-
They will still not make him a full fledged character. I guarantee it and bet you a thin dime. They aren’t withholding this information to make it more special when they finally tell us later. They are
going to tell us Mordu’s backstory.
Well. For all that. It still could have been worse.
They could have had three black best friends, like they did in Civil War.
And then the black best friend turned out to be EVIL.
His evilness consisted of a plan to run around the whole world- and STEAL the power of OTHER PEOPLE.
Which is LITERALLY
The story of EUROPEANS and the rest of the HUMAN RACE.
Running around the whole world, stealing the labor and the ideas and the bodies of other humans. Trying to scrub their souls into the same state ours were in, so that WE would be more likely to attain salvation for having made the attempt.
Europeans literally betrayed the humanity of All Humans Everywhere, by treating other(any) humans- and in practice particularly Africans- as a sale-able commodity. Subsuming the power of an enslaved person to the (innately criminal)enslaver who may then by means of the enslavement use that power as their own.
And here we are.
Comforting ourselves during hard times with a smarmy story about how an African betrays a European by committing THAT crime and gosh isn’t that evil of HIM.
And how the European has such endless courage despite being killed over and over. Yeeaaaaaaah, that’s totally who gets killed over and over these days.
I am at the edge of my life’s energy here, magical or otherwise. I would love to sink into this tale of courage and death and adventure and meaning and let it lift me on wings like eagles.
And be comforted.
But I am not comforted by this story.
If Marvel meant that- that main theme- that you have to be willing to accept your failures?
Why are They not owning up to Our own goddamn crimes, America? Our- failures?
Embedded in the structure of the story is a refusal to do what the story seems to be saying. They don’t seem to mean what they’re saying.
And if the audience(We) was(were) able to accept what the story is telling us(our failure), wouldn’t (They)Marvel HAVE said it and meant it?
Who has failed?
There is something rotten in Denmark.