One thing that we nerds love to do is debate; it’s an undeniable part of our culture. For example, we’re often debating hot topics such as the best characters in an entire universe, who would win in a fight, and what relationships should’ve ended before they started. But that doesn’t mean we can’t also touch on bigger issues that affect our everyday lives.
News broke a few days ago that Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter donated $1 million to Donald Trump’s foundation, resulting in a lot of discussion within the nerd community. How could the CEO of a publishing company currently working to add consistent diversity to its product support someone whose ideals are being compared to Adolf Hitler? Are all of the recent character risks just done to boost sales? Was our money now in the hands of the same man that wants to screen all Muslims?
Readers and writers of Marvel’s comics alike had a lot to say. For example, G. Willow Winslow, the co-creator of Kamala Khan and current writer for Ms. Marvel, wrote an essay about the balancing act of “Art and Money” in comics and addressed a lot of the issues that were floating around.
Yes. You should be mad as hell.
If you read Marvel comics, watch Marvel movies, buy Marvel toys and accessories, collect Marvel Pop Funkos, or contribute to the economic monolith of Marvel in any way, shape, or form: you should be mad. But what can you really do?
Marvel sells heroism, progressive politics, and inclusion to its consumers. The fact that Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter openly supports Trumps campaign is an open handed slap to not just the readers and consumers of Marvel products, but to the writers and filmmakers whose politics are in diametric opposition to Trump’s politics. Boycotting the company only hurts the artists and writers who work there, but why does any of this matter to you?
Perlmutter’s endorsement undermines the cultural influence and impact Marvel’s comics have had on the country at large.
So much of the history of Marvel’s work has been in exploring new cultural norms. The first black mainstream superhero was Black Panther, whose 1966 debut came within a year of the Voting Rights Act, and in parallel to the creation of The Black Panther Party. This was one of the first calls to arms regarding minority representation in the media in the U.S. This of course is weighed against the support of a man looking to build a permanent wall to keep Mexican migrants out and develop a Muslim database (think Senator Kelly’s mutant registration act).
You should be mad because this goes against everything that led you to remain loyal to the narratives and characters (and subsequently the writers and artists at Marvel). You should be mad because what we’re looking at in most simple terms is this: a company that sells you amazing fictional heroes to garner funds that help support a real-life villain. What does that communicate to you?
It’s often said that you shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you. But when you find out that same hand is covered in shit, it’s hard to not be bothered. While biting it is one bold option, completely ignoring it is another. But in the case of Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter’s public donation to Donald Trump – which essentially serves the same purpose as a full-on endorsement – neither should be the course of action taken by readers.
Big surprise, one billionaire is supporting another billionaire. The truth of the matter is these things likely happen all the time. While it’s shocking at first, it makes sense.
While a lot of people didn’t even know who Perlmutter was until a week ago, he’s been a part of Marvel’s legacy for a while now. He’s actually been the CEO for more than 11 years. And during those 11 years, Marvel has produced some great work. We’ve gotten Civil War, Secret Wars and a slew of revolutionary changes such as introducing Miles Morales and Kamala Khan, revealing that Iceman is actually gay and giving Sam Wilson the Captain America shield. It may be because diversity sells in 2016, but Marvel’s doing a whole lot of fan service right now and I, for one, won’t complain (too much).
Some readers are threatening to boycott the publisher as long as Perlmutter is in charge of the company. That’s a worthy action for a worthy cause. But given how a lot of Marvel’s content goes completely against what we can assume are Perlmutter’s own right-wing leanings, everything on our end is as it should be – relatively speaking. If there comes a day where Captain America is watching the border and the X-Men are are shaming same-sex marriage, then we have a serious problem.
If we’re being realistic, a vast majority of the people in charge of businesses we support would’ve likely done the same thing. There was actually an anonymous donation of $1 million to Trump’s foundation that same night. Who’s to say that didn’t come from Diane Nelson, President of DC Comics and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment? Would we have to boycott that too?
You have every right to take discomfort in the fact that Marvel’s CEO could be laughing and shaking hands with xenophobic politicians behind closed doors. But boycotting the company and potentially ending the same content that you’ve enjoyed for years – with no knowledge of Perlmutter’s politics – isn’t the wise move.