Thursday, May 08, 2003

On X-Men

Here's an interesting article on the X-Men arguing that:
... the comic book series on which they're based has abandoned its early idealism in favor of crude racialist appeals. What we've seen in recent years is nothing less than the Sharptonization of the X-Men.
Not being an X-Men reader, I don't know if this true, but I do know that the first X-Men movie (I haven't seen the second one) irked me with its ham-fisted civil rights allegory. Viewed from Professor Xavier's perspective, mutants are to non-mutant society what minorities are to white society, and mutants and non-mutants have the same rights. Viewed from Magneto's perspective, mutants are the next step in human evolution and should dominant non-mutants. Either way, the Senator who wants to register mutants is an evil quasi-Nazi who is opening the door to a mutant holocaust.

This allegory is not only clumsy--it's a load of rubbish.

Some facts about the theory of evolution:

  • Individuals do not evolve; only species evolve. One might object that mutants are a species, but they cannot be; a collection of randomly mutated individuals is not a species. Moreover, humans in the X-Men universe give birth to mutants; the implication is that mutants are humans.

  • Macromutation is not evolution. Even the most liberal theories of evolution through macromutation would not account for the radical mutation found in the X-Men universe.
So mutants are not some next step in the human evolutionary rung; they are macromutated humans. In reality, if people starting mutating in such ways, we would have cause to be deeply disturbed.

We would also have cause to register or lock up mutants, whether they are good or evil. Take Cyclops for example. He merely had his glasses knocked off, and he took out the roof of Grand Central Station. Why shouldn't he be locked up? Or even Wolverine, who nearly kills Rogue out of sheer reflex?

Before you write in calling me a racist fascist puppy-killer, my point is that the civil rights allegory does not work in X-Men. Mutants simply cannot be compared to holocaust victims. Magneto as a Jew certainly was a victim of Nazi racism; but Magneto as a mutant is not. As a mutant, he is more sinning than sinned against, a new tyrant who uses past injustice to justify his own brand of injustice and intolerance towards non-mutants and mutants who do not share his warped vision. Now there's an allegory for our times.

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