Rick Remender's characters get too real for Jeff Daniels.
I feel like Comics Alliance (comicsalliance.com) has a pretty good team of writers. They put together well thought-out articles such as Andrew Wheeler’s March 29th well written piece, “Avengers Assimilate: Identity Politics in Uncanny Avengers.”
In Wheeler’s article he writes about the speech Havok gives, in Rick Remenders Uncanny Avengers #5, in which Havok rejects the word “mutant.” Havok (Alex Summers) says:
“…I see the very word "mutant" as divisive. Old thinking that serves to further separate us from our fellow man. We are all humans. Of one tribe. We are defined by our choices, not the makeup of our genes. So please, don't call us mutants. The "m" word represents everything I hate."
Wheeler describes how the Havok speech is harmful because it rejects minority identity and promotes the idea of identity self-loathing. I agree with everything Wheeler has to say about this and how the idea of not embracing similarities and differences is an equality issue. With that said, I think claiming that Havok's speech is a harmful piece of fiction is simply ridiculous.
Writer Rick Remender has established a character (Havok) that thinks a certain way and is speaking the character’s mind. His character, while misguided on his stance, is written in a way that feels real. Remender's Havok feels a lot like a minority leader in the Republican Party. His rhetoric is very real and can be seen in the real world, today.
Examples of minority leaders seemingly taking stances against minority interests can be found in the Republican Party. Adolf Reed Jr., a professor of political science (specializing in race and American politics), recently wrote the New York Times Op-Ed piece, “The Puzzle of Black Republicans,” which touches on Republican Party African American members who seem to share opposite views of their own African American community.
Remender’s Havok can be hated for his views and opinions, but attacking Rick Remender for writing a very real character is simply wrong. We complain when writers write characters who don’t feel or act like real people (the 2 scientists in Prometheus that get lost), yet when characters are too real we still complain. I would say the complaints, or even anger, about what Havok said is a reasonable reaction to have; however, the criticism of Havok’s speech should be targeted towards real life leaders who Havok may be similar, not Rick Remender or Marvel Comics.
One last thing, whether Havok were a fictional character or a real life minority leader, he has the right to define himself however he would like. The issue of self definition, and others trying to make one define themselves a certain way reminds me of this scene from HBO’s the Newsroom. In an episode last year, a black gay man is being told what he should be defined as. The man tells the reporter, "I am not defined by my blackness. I am not defined by my gayness. And if that doesn't fit your narrow-minded expectation of who I am supposed to be I don't give a damn because I'm not defined by you either. “ (Check out the scene below)
I think Comics Alliance is a bit like Jeff Daniels. They are good reporters with good intentions, but they got a little too carried away this time. In this case, maybe we need to stop telling others what the text is telling us and let the text speak for itself. After all, by having Havok develop this view on being a mutant, he now has a complete opposite view of his brother, Scott. Maybe this is how Marvel pulls Scott Summers back into the role of respected leader. Let’s let Marvel and Remender tell the rest of their story before we tell everyone they are good intentioned bigots.