Sunday, June 25, 2006

Egg Fu and the Great Ten

I had the opportunity, today, to further consider the Great Ten. I was clicking through my SiteMeter referrals when I noticed that I had been linked from the Talk page for the Great Ten's Wikipedia article. It turns out that there is some controversy in the Talk section regarding there being any controversy over the Great Ten; the author of the article was initially unaware of any criticism, then dismissed it as 'fancrutft'. When confronted with my post and a post from detailing some of the controversy, the author of the Great Ten article included this token paragraph in the Great Ten Wikipedia article:

Apparently the notes regarding the colors of Mother of Champions' costume "yellow for the life-giving waters of the Yangtze" do not take into account that the Chinese have a [[Five elements (Chinese philosophy)different traditional system of elements]] that does not include air, their functions are depicted differently than Western elements, and they have very specific colors assigned to each of them, dating back to before the [[Han Dynasty]].[] Wide ranging criticism has been levelled at the concept and early execution of Mother of Champions, who has been mislabelled as a [[misogynymisogynistic]] creation in many online forums and blogs. She is in fact only a more traditional comic book codification of the [[Divine Mother]] or [[Mother Goddess]] archetype embodied by characters like [[Wonder Woman]].
I was incredibly disheartened to read this treatment of the criticizing voice of the Great Ten. This paragraph ignored the bulk of the criticism, which has been levelled primarily at the characters of Thundermind and Mother of Champions. The use of the phrase "mislabelled as a misogynistic creation" and the sentence referring to MOC as a Divine Mother archetype not only makes it sound like critics like me who firmly believe MOC to be a sexist caricature are speaking out of our asses (i.e. havne't done any research) but suggests that we couldn't possibly have said anything worth repeating. Further, this author takes on a false voice of authority -- the truth is that MOC has occupied only one page thus far, and we have no real idea what the intention of her character is, let alone whether she is supposed to be a 'Divine Mother' archetype. (Incidentally, thinking about MOC today reminded me of another Morrison creation; in Uncanny X-men, Morrison created Angel, a student of the Xavier Institute. She was a Latina girl with the attributes of a housefly, and, again reminscent of racial stereotypes involving procreation, she is shown in Morrison's run creating a brood of fly-like offspring, again paralleling a woman of colour with an insect-like procreation power). I took the time to write what I thought to be a more tempered and objective Criticism section for the article, but the damage was sort of done. Through this treatment, I realized how little the average comic book reader thinks or cares about the political statements that can be made, intentionally and unintentionally, through the medium of comic books. It was a blatant reminder that the average comic book reader, representative of the average American, doesn't give a shit about our issues, and given the chance, would rather marginalize our perspectives by mischaracterizing our arguments than listen to our complaints. It makes me wonder if it's even possible to use comics as a platform for social change (as Judd Winnick has been characterized as doing with his run on Green Lantern), if the average reader is so resistant to considering these positions himself. No wonder we end up with girls in fridges and no one batting an eye. Through my research for the Criticism section, I also came across the 'Egg Fu' theory of the Great Ten, which was also featured at the blog. Here, it is postulated that Egg Fu (not the little lion Toto) is the tenth member of the Great Ten. The evidence is here, in the original design sketches for pages of 52, week 6. If you notice in the lower righthand corner, you can see that the character the minion is talking to is identified as 'Egg Fu'. The scan of the final page can be found here. Egg Fu is included in The Outsiders as one of the earliest 'Asian' characters of the DCU. He was an original villain of Wonder Woman, and was described as 'a giant Communist egg' (scan) -- a secret weapon of the Chinese government. While some argue that Egg Fu is 'funny' or should not be considered offensive because it is part of Wonder Woman's racially charged, WWII-propaganda roots, I see Egg Fu as a Fu Manchu in giant egg form, with all the hateful Yellow Peril stereotyping inherent of an entire era that also saw the internment, lynching and racial profiling of Asian American people. If he is a member of the Great Ten, I'll have to seriously consider giving up the comic -- there is absolutely no reason that Egg Fu should find a place in the post-Crisis DC universe, when DC has found a viable way to distance themselves from the same hateful past that would create this kind of racial stereotyping in the pages of a comic book:

I'm convinced by the sketches above that Egg Fu will make an appearance in 52, however I'm not sure I believe he will be a member of the Great Ten. For one thing, he is not shown with the Great Ten, nor is he seen speaking in Chinese or being involved in the conflict between the Great Ten and GL-squared in week 6. Instead, for reasons unknown, Egg Fu is spying on Magnus and Morrow. Again, we reach the same quandry -- we have no idea what Morrison and company plan for the Great Ten or anyone else in 52, and right now we can only speculate based on the evidence before us. Once more, we'll just have to wait and see.


Anonymous tekanji said...

I'd recommending disputing the neutrality of the article and seeing if you can get the information on the criticism changed to reflect what has actually been said.

6/25/2006 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

i think you're right. he switched it back... i obviously don't know much about working with wikipedia, and i don't care WHO writes the section, so long as it is more objective than what is currently written.

6/26/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

so, after calling in a third party, they decided to nix the criticism section entirely.

i think i'm happier with that resolution -- no wikipedia fight for me. and i'd rather see people discover the criticism on the blogs then have it so readily dismissed in the wikipedia article.

6/26/2006 03:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Jay said...

The problem is that nobody in the comics media or the mainstream media has noticed it. For example, the NYT always gushes over the fact that we can noticed PoC in mainstream media, but it rarely takes a critical look.

The alternative is to create the article that Covenant wants, Racial stereotypes in comic books. It's probably a needed article anyway (I'm still mad that they wanted to delete the WiR page!) Probably use Racial stereotypes in the media as a basis point.

6/27/2006 01:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Jay said...

I can't spell. that should read "they have noticed", not "we can noticed".

6/27/2006 01:53:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

you know what, I think writing a "racial stereotypes in comic books" article would be really cool! Talk about an important resource!! Jay -- you know a lot about comics... are you willing to do a collaboration?

6/27/2006 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I've started the article over here. Please come help out, all ye comic book fans who have more expertise on this stuff than me.

6/28/2006 01:46:00 AM  
Blogger little light said...

Oh, shit, I made Wikipedia. 52-pickup was quoting me. That's...strange.

Yeah, I've got your back.

7/10/2006 05:06:00 AM  
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