Over the past year, I’ve been working on a fictional story called The Next Man in Hell . It’s a tale of what would happen if someone in our present society decided to take up the mantle of a masked vigilante in our world, taking comic books out of the America of the 1950s, where comics seem to be stuck.(See this piece on The Avengers at VDare and Will “The First 48” be the model?: “The Punisher” gets a TV Show).
Though comics do boast a proud history of heroes resisting tyranny, the cinematic world depicted in Superman Returns, in all of the Christopher Nolan Batman films, in X-Men, The Punisher, Thor, Iron Man, The Avengers, Green Lantern . . . well, they all offer pure escapism when it comes to the casting of villains.
The villains, be they megalomaniac super-villains with extraordinary powers or just your run-of-the-mill street criminal, are almost always white. In the world you and I live in, there are no super-villains; there are just your average, run-of-the-mill thug that depressingly tends to be either Black or brown.
It was my belief that were a vigilante to exist in our world, he would instantly be painted a racist by the media (and the government) and be peremptorily hunted down by the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) (if not first terminated with extreme prejudice) for violating the civil rights of criminals. Yes, a vigilante would be the ultimate racist: an individual engaging in the hate crime of trying to keep a city (or your gated community) safe from crime.
And crime does have a color in America.
But wait: Didn’t we recently see what would happen to someone fighting for justice and the betterment of a community? Isn’t that exactly what happened with the story of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin? That “white Hispanic,” George Zimmerman, might just be the next man in hell …
The whole Zimmerman/Martin affair seemed to destroy the concept that a half Black/half Hispanic Spider Man would be allowed to fight crime; Martin became the “hero” in the eyes of the media and government, while Zimmerman was demonized and has been harassed by those same entities that celebrate “Obama’s son.”
Thus the entire Zimmerman/Martin affair is just a real-world application of the plot from T he Next Man in Hell .
On that note, The Amazing Spider-Man swung into theaters on July 3rd, re-booting a franchise that was beginning to prove true the law of diminishing returns (at least in the American market). Just like the Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire version of Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man sticks to the formula of Peter Parker’s beloved Uncle Ben being murdered by a blond-haired white criminal. Leif Gantvoort gets to portray the Nordic killer of Uncle Ben this go-around, filling the shoes made famous by Michael Papajohn in the original trilogy.
Indeed, once Andrew Garfield’s version of Peter Parker (who plays Spider-Man in this re-boot) tries to avenge the death of Uncle Ben by hunting down the blond-haired baddy, the viewer is treated to the hilarious spectacle of Spider-Man chasing down not one, not two, but at least six different blond-haired thugs in New York City — all with police records.
For these actions of ridding New York City of blond-haired thugs, the police brand Spider-Man “vigilante.” Just as in Raimi’s version of Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man shows the Wall-crawler battling an impressive array of white street thugs.
The New York Times published an informative opinion piece on March 14 by Peter Moskos (You Can’t Blame the Police) that seems to paint a portrait of crime in New York City that isn’t replicated in the cinematic world of Spider-Man:
It’s not politically correct to say so, but reality isn’t politically correct. Over 90 percent of New York City’s 536 murder victims last year were black or Hispanic. Just 48 victims were white or Asian. The rate of white homicide in the city (1.18 per 100,000) is incredibly low, even by international standards. The Hispanic rate of homicide in New York City (5.5) is barely above the overall national average (4.8). And yet the black homicide rate remains stubbornly high (17.2), 15 times higher than the white rate. Blacks are one-quarter of the city’s population and two-thirds of murder victims. Black men age 15 to 29 represent less than 3 percent of the city’s population but account for one-third of those murdered.
Instead of showing a world where the criminals almost always look like the “sons” Barack Obama never had – as they do in the real world you and I live in – the cinematic world of Spider-Man shows us a world where they all look like the “sons” of Mitt Romney and his fellow Mormon believers.
Heather MacDonald from City Journal goes one step further (Distorting the Truth about Crime and Race, March 14, 2010). In discussing the “stop and frisk” program in New York City, she writes:
Here are the crime data that the Times doesn’t want its readers to know: blacks committed 66 percent of all violent crimes in the first half of 2009 (though they were only 55 percent of all stops and only 23 percent of the city’s population). Blacks committed 80 percent of all shootings in the first half of 2009. Together, blacks and Hispanics committed 98 percent of all shootings. Blacks committed nearly 70 percent of all robberies. Whites, by contrast, committed 5 percent of all violent crimes in the first half of 2009, though they are 35 percent of the city’s population (and were 10 percent of all stops). They committed 1.8 percent of all shootings and less than 5 percent of all robberies. The face of violent crime in New York, in other words, like in every other large American city, is almost exclusively black and brown.
So is the world ready for The Next Man in Hell ? Judging by the support George Zimmerman has received, that answer is a resounding “yes.”