The 5 Most Insulting Defenses of Nerd Racism


News has broken that Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle) is being considered to play Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot. Naturally, comic book fans across the Internet are furious, because they've had it with all the reboots and just want to preserve the magic of the 2005 original -- oh, wait, no. They're angry because Michael B. Jordan is black. And in the comics, Johnny Storm is white.

The 5 Most Insulting Defenses of Nerd Racism

Consider the Internet's bitch switch flipped.

But these Fantastic Four fans aren't mad because they're racist (they insist). No, their reasons are much more complicated, because ...

"It's Not About Race"

See, these complaints aren't about the character's race; they're about not changing the character's race. If that sounds confusing and contradictory, that's because it is. Let's look at a full quote:

Right on. This isn't about race. The characters are white. That's how they made. Too bad I'm done with people taking liberties on comic characters to

"Might we offer a rejoinder- oh, never mind. The discussion has ended."

The writer starts out insisting that the argument isn't about race and then spends the rest of the post talking exclusively about race. And this isn't a new sentiment among comic fans -- let's go back in time a bit and see what people thought when Marvel first debuted half-black/half-Latino Miles Morales as the new Spider-Man:

Im not for changing Spiderman to a btack dude. This isn't about race and it woudn't matter if Spiderman wasn't such an icone character Change Daredevi

"Seriously, though, Daredevil is lame. End of discussion."

Apart from randomly taking a big shit all over Daredevil, this person insists that his anger over Spider-Man's race isn't about race, but the fact that Marvel is changing the race of one of the most iconic comic book characters. Which is still about race. Also, they aren't actually changing anybody's race -- Peter Parker is a white guy, but this Spider-Man isn't Peter Parker. So the person here isn't even mad about altering an existing character's racial background -- he's simply against Spider-Man's costume being worn by anyone but a white person. Which, again, is still about race. Maybe another quote will clear things up:

2 days ago I agree. It's not about race. It's about sticking to the source content Hollywood just changes stuff SO they can appear witty, but really a

"Non-issues are the ones worth writing about!"

"Revealing that a big chunk of our fans are racist cockholes" doesn't seem like a great publicity stunt to us, but that's probably why we're not big-city publicists.

"You May as Well Just Change Everything Then!"

To these people, a race change doesn't just change the character's skin color -- it upsets the entire balance of the Marvel universe:

IPostad poStreply Bome Babeest eryter Sadly tortrmee and they 0o this e0fe the fans who peotest ghe loutest over thes will oF courge be lahelet TACINE

But if we just did things the same way forever, the civil rights movement would never have- oh.

You'd think that, of all people, comic book fans would be the most accepting of change, what with all the time travel, cloning, and people constantly dying and coming back to life that occur in comic books all the goddamn time. You can't go more than a few years in a comic series without every character's backstory getting completely rewritten. Heck, changing Nick Fury from a white guy to a black guy became a celebrated move once people stopped complaining about it. Oh, wait, they still haven't, and it's been 10 damn years.

Also, making Sue taller and changing Reed's hair color don't sound that weird to us because, you know, they're fictional people. That's like being upset when January Jones got cast as the White Queen despite her skin not actually being made of diamond.

Pasth postre AmE Reboscellenar the muncast of tte Fantastie Fou iS hck? THaae for a game changer Ewe oDen the fiood gates for what suspectng iot prope

Who the hell wouldn't watch an all-black Star Trek?

Yeah, because Fantastic Four is a huge cultural litmus test, and we all know how much Hollywood loves casting black people in their movies.

"This Ruins the Lore!"

Since Sue Storm (the Invisible Woman) is Johnny's sister, many objectors have pointed out that making Johnny black will mean that Sue must also be black, at which point the Earth will apparently explode:

Follow In the new Fantastic 4 movie, Johnny Storm is black dude a & Sue Storm is white a girl. They are siblings. Good job Hollywood, PC dumbasses Rep

This is courageously ignoring the fact that, even if Sue is white and Johnny is black, one of them could've been adopted. Or they could be half-siblings. Or any one of the thousands of possible explanations for a multiracial family. People are pointing right to the "But this character's race will change, too!" observation without bothering to explain why it's an actual problem in the first place ...

I would vanture to say that a caucasian actor could be found a3 would fit ap character and be best i for the role. Hey 1 Wo evon be fine if they found

"And then what? Up will be down, dogs will marry cats, the Hot Pockets will microwave us!"

... which you should probably be thankful for, actually, because once people start trying to defend why having a black Sue Storm is a bad idea, things get awful pretty fast:

xytoxin Be Flame O The ep Thread Savant Loak at Fox. Havent even eat vet ant already playing wwith fire intende. Hyumair owy lack. ovionly Sa au toMe

"Two black people is just lunacy!"

Waitaminute ... this person isn't really saying that having a black person in the Fantastic Four would ruin the team, are they?

NO thare wwhat m saying. And yoU are assumiNG a hel af my ooinions odf eusle because of their skin collior am saving that NURELY AISTHETICALLY Fox is

Oh, whew. It's OK, everyone. It's not because he's racist, it's because he doesn't like the way black people make white people look when they fight crime together. Glad we got that cleared up. And evidently the Fantastic Four were created 80 years ago, back in 1961.

"It's Unrealistic!"

Believe it or not, plenty of people argue that having a black superhero is unrealistic, period, regardless of whether the character was originally written as white. This weird argument shows up unbidden any time race and superheroes are brought up. Here's a charming thesis about why Superman could never be black:

Superman can be a White Clark Kent and nobody ever realizes he's actually Supes because he lookee ie an average white guy wallang around in corporate

"Black people just can't blend in." -Someone who's never visited any town larger than a truck stop.

Because when you see a huge white guy in spandex (Clark Kent looks nothing like an average person -- he's a hulking man mass) punch a building across the highway while you're on the way to work, you think to yourself, "Oh, it must be Thursday." But if a muscular black guy did it (all black guys are big and muscular, right?), you'd freak out and drive your car into the ocean just to make the madness stop.

But this is nothing compared to what people thought about the new Spider-Man:

Peter Parker could not be whiter. A black boy under the mask just don't look right This opens up a whole new story line With a whole new Ser of probl

Incidentally, you can't see that he's black because Spider-Man's mask and costume cover every inch of his body, but the fact that this guy doesn't seem to know anything about Spider-Man's costume is actually the least of our concerns.

And things got really weird when people started arguing that Heimdall, a god from the Thor mythology, couldn't be played by Idris Elba, despite the fact that we would've happily watched Idris Elba play Captain America because Idris Elba is awesome:

 is silly. however And you have te admit that t isnt intemally consstint hthes Wh he the only Olan guy in Asgard fthey'ra aliens? Were hie parents Nac

If the silliest part of a movie about interdimensional gods with magic lightning hammers is that one of them is black, you are clearly racist. This is a non-argument anyway -- the Asgardians are gods, they look like whatever they want to look like. Hogun, one of Thor's warrior buddies, is clearly Asian in both the comics and the movies, and nobody is sitting around wondering where all the rest of the Asian Asgardians are. Also, what logical reason is there for all of the Asgardians to be white? Is that the default setting of gods?

As dumb as these arguments have all been, they're nothing compared to the last one ...

"Why Don't We Make Black Characters White, Then?"

For some reason, people who don't understand hypocrisy sure do enjoy trying to point it out:

1- Follow If its okay for black a guy to play Human Torch in the F4 reboot then I guess it's okay for white Black a guy to play Panther right?!! #dumb

"Superhero race equilibrium must be maintained at ALL COSTS!"


240 an Be nameda The Terrh THRAD Quones Originally Pose b SUpert D Bingo. Wo hit he h head i  why iri Me ane troubling changing an traditionally Arica

"I can't handle arguments longer than two words!"

And again, this isn't a new argument. The same things were said about Heimdall:

December 2010 I think should Ws do of remake roots and have all the slaves be white.

"Slavery and comic books are equally real. Why does everyone keep calling me a racist?"

The thing is, the only reason these characters were white in the first place was that comic books were created in a time when nobody would have printed a book about a non-white superhero (having female superheroes was difficult enough, and they were handled with something less than dignity). But nowadays, the people responsible for these characters are trying to make their properties as inclusive and welcoming as they possibly can, because everybody likes comic books, not just white people.

So actually, maybe racist nerds do have a good reason to be angry -- they're angry because the comic industry has outgrown them.

J.F. Sargent is a Workshop moderator for Cracked and can be harassed about this on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

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