MARVEL MISSES THE MARK WITH OFFENSIVE NON-BINARY CHARACTER REVEAL
By Erin White
March 25, 2020
I wish I could say what we’re about to dive into was done in an earnest attempt to tell inclusive stories, but frankly, it just seems like Marvel doesn’t give two shits about non-binary and gender non-conforming readers.
And they made that abundantly clear with the announcement of the new New Warriors which follows the former teen vigilantes Night Thrasher, Firestar, Rage, Speedball, Namorita, and Silhouette as they use their combined experiences and wisdom to mentor a group of young kids and teach them the ins and out of being a superhero in the Marvel universe.
The new crop of future caped-crusaders was created by Emmy-nominate writer Daniel Kibblesmith (The Late Show With Stephen Colbert) and artist Luciano Vecchio (IRONHEART). But…there’s a problem. Or several problems. Two of these powerful teens are psychic twins, Snowflake and Safespace. Safespace wears a pink and black costume and is described as a “big, burly, sort of stereotypical jock” who can create forcefields when “triggered” to protect somebody. Snowflake is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. They have the ability to generate individual crystalized snowflake-shaped shurikens. Their costume is pink.
Have you spotted the bullshit?
Not only are these characters visual reminders of the gender binary, their names are derogatory terms most often used by queerphobes and Trump supporters used to describe oppressed minorities who object to their oppression. Everyone knows this, but Kibblesmith insists that their naming doesn’t come from a cruel place, but one of…I don’t know. Here’s what he said: “Snowflake and Safespace are the twins, and their names are very similar to Screentime; it’s this idea that these are terms that get thrown around on the internet that they don’t see as derogatory. [They] take those words and kind of wear them as badges of honor.”
Did you catch that? They take those words and wear them as a badge of honor. They’re not given to non-binary, Black, trans, and queer people from others, that’s something we would have to take. Like many of us have done with “nigga.” A white person calling us “nigga” isn’t a “badge of honor” or a sense of pride. It’s unacceptable. And, in this case, it’s really hard to imagine how Kibblesmith could have gotten it so wrong.
I guess this is another reminder of the importance of having diversity IN the workroom. In this case, letting non-binary people tell non-binary stories and not some clueless cis-het white man.