Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
When you need to stop an asteroid, you get Superman. When you need to solve a mystery, you call Batman. But when you need to end a war, you get Wonder Woman.
Gail Simone, Wonder Woman: The Circle
I will never feel guilty. I will never feel trapped. I should never feel like i’m giving my all while you give me the impression that you don’t care. I will never have to feel jealous again or paranoid because I don’t need to anymore.
discussing the sexism in media is not equivalent to hating it. if I hated everything that was sexist, I’d literally never be able to watch tv or a movie or read comics or leave my house, basically.
Children. They were teaching children.
Rowena, Godric, Salazar; they tended to forget that. They saw young minds, young acolytes - eyes that would look up to them. Not innocence. Not childish wonder.
Toughen them, said Godric.
Make them smart, said Rowena.
And ambitious, above all, said Salazar.
But war and the real world; that was not where children belonged. Aye, they would belong one day, but it was not their part to turn them cruel, make them hard, make their eyes dart sideways always looking for ways to twist the world to further their own ends. They were to protect them. Shield them from the worst so that some good, some kindness would find its way into an ever darkening world. To give them weapons and teach them how to use them, but never tell them that those weapons were their only hope.
She’d seen in all the battles she’d rode out to just how dark the world could be. Was it not their duty to bring light into this world? To fight darkness with light; not with more darkness - with divisiveness and strife and hatred?
I will take them all, she said.
I will protect the ones you will not. I will save them. I will give them a home. They will be the last rays of all that is good in this world. I will teach them kindness. I will teach them loyalty. I will teach them selflessness.
I will teach them how to be the backbone, the heart of this world. I will teach them how to stand steadfast, when all hope is lost.
I will teach them how to be human, to be more than just one single word.
No, she knew, theirs would not be an easy path, or a glorious one. They would have no songs. No great tales in books. No laurels. No consolation, no thanks.
But they would be the reason why, when the darkness finally came, all of them in all their different colours would stand shoulder to shoulder and draw their wands as brothers in arms.
Not for achievements. Not for trophies. Not for power.
For goodness. For hope.
And when the time came for them to choose the words that would forever guide the children that would come to them, Helga smiled and engraved, upon a bronze plaque, these words:
Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.
(But her students remembered a very different set of words. Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.)
(Helga Hufflepuff requested by boney-eyes-jefferson)
#and this my friends is why no one is quite sure what a hufflepuff really is#the answer is: everyone #they come in a million different shapes and sizes#they could be braver than gryffindors #and more cunning and more ambitious than slytherins #even smarter than ravenclaws #but they all come to hufflepuff #and there learn to be loyal and fair and goodhearted #and that quite possibly #is why hufflepuff has hardly any dark witches and wizards #because they have learnt how to be the very last line of defence #before chaos takes over the world #and thisTHIS is the sleeping dragon you do not tickle #because if they can’t protect the earth you can be damned well sure they’ll avenge it #look i gave myself hufflepuff feels
Read This: Gene Luen Yang’s rousing comics speech at the 2014 National Book Festival gala
From the Washington Post, article here.
GENE LUEN YANG, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building:
Good evening. Thank you, Library of Congress and National Book Festival, for inviting me to share the stage with such esteemed authors, and to speak with all of you. I am deeply grateful for this honor.
I’m a comic-book guy, so tonight I’d like to talk about another comic book guy. Dwayne McDuffie was one of my favorite writers. When I was growing up, he was one of the few African-Americans working in American comics. Dwayne worked primarily within the superhero genre. He got his start at Marvel Comics but eventually worked for almost every comic book publisher out there. He even branched out into television and wrote for popular cartoon series like “Justice League” and “Ben 10.”
Dwayne McDuffie is no longer with us, unfortunately. He passed away in 2011, at the age of 49. But within comics, his influence is still deeply felt.
I was lucky enough to have met him once. About a year before his death, we were on a panel together at Comic-Con. I had the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him how much his work meant to me.
In a column Dwayne wrote in 1999, he talked about his love of the Black Panther, a Marvel Comics character. The Black Panther’s secret alias is T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He has super senses, super strength, and super agility. He’s an Avenger, though he hasn’t yet made it into the movies.
The Black Panther wasn’t created by African American cartoonists. He was created in July of 1966 by two Jewish Americans, Stan Lee (who was born Stanley Lieber) and Jack Kirby (who was born Jacob Kurtzberg).
By modern standards, the Black Panther is not a flawless example of a black superhero. In their first draft of the character, Lee and Kirby called him “the Coal Tiger” and gave him a goofy yellow and black costume. Even in his final form, his superhero alias includes the word “Black.” This is true of many early African and African American superheroes, as if what makes them remarkable is neither their superpowers nor their heroism, but their ethnicity. Most problematic, though, was that Marvel made their most prominent black superhero the star of a series called Jungle Action.
All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”
Dwayne’s love of the Black Panther eventually blossomed into a love of comics in general. Dwayne was a smart guy with a lot of options in life. He’d earned a master’s degree in physics. But he chose to write comics as his career. I would argue that without the Black Panther, this flawed black character created by a writer and an artist who were not black, there would be no Dwayne McDuffie the comic book writer.
Dwayne wasn’t just a writer — he was also a businessman. In the early ’90s, he teamed with a group of writers and artists to found Milestone Media, the most prominent minority-owned comic book company that has ever existed. The Milestone universe have since been folded into DC Comics, so these days characters like Static Shock and Icon – characters Dwayne co-created – fight crime alongside Superman and Batman.
In the early ’90s, I was finishing up my adolescence. I visited my local comic-book store on a weekly basis, and one week I found a book on the stands called Xombi, published by Milestone Media. Xombi is a scientist who became a superhero after he was injected with nanotechnology. He allied himself with a secret order of superpowered nuns. One sister was known as Nun of the Above, another Nun the Less. Together, they protected the world from all kinds of supernatural threats.
Xombi was inventive and fun, but he stood out to me because he was an Asian American male carrying in his own monthly title. And even more notable – he didn’t know Kung Fu. Xombi wasn’t created by Asian Americans – his writer was white and his artist black – but he did make Asian Americans a little less invisible.
We in the book community are in the middle of a sustained conversation about diversity. We talk about our need for diverse books with diverse characters written by diverse writers. I wholeheartedly agree.
But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.
This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities.
After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same.
I told you the story of Dwayne McDuffie to encourage all of us to be generous with ourselves and with one another. The Black Panther, despite his flaws, was able to inspire a young African American reader to become a writer.
We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.
Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about. Make sure your editor has the insider knowledge to help you out. If they don’t, consider hiring a freelance editor who does.
Also, it’s okay if stereotypes emerge in the first drafts of your colleagues. Correct them – definitely correct them – but do so in a spirit of generosity. Remember how soul-wrenching the act of writing is, how much courage it took for that writer to put words down on a page.
And let’s say you do your best. You put in all the effort you can. But then when your book comes out, the Internet gets angry. You slowly realize that, for once, the Internet might be right. You made a cultural misstep. If this happens, take comfort in the fact that even flawed characters can inspire. Apologize if necessary, resolve do better, and move on.
Let your fear drive you to do your homework. But no matter what, don’t ever let your fear stop you.
I have long had a bit of a writer crush on Gene Yang, for he is awesome in so many ways.
Ditto. What a speech.