Saturday, March 5, 2016


Largely as a result of this essay, I've been giving some thought to the unusual status of the Native American-- that is, all aboriginal inhabitants of the pre-Columbian Americas-- in popular fiction.

While the depictions of many other ethnic groups have been largely defined by stereotypes of no depth, even the simplest "good Indian-bad Indian" stereotypes seem to possess a greater mythic nuance. That is, the depictions may not be any deeper or more complex than those assigned to other groups-- but there's something that signals a different attitude.

For whatever time it lasts, this project will not compare stereotypical depictions to the Native Americans of the real world, as seems to be the case with this academic book. Even the least offensive depictions of "Real Americans" are generally spawned not by scholarship but by wild fantasy about the "racial other," provided almost entirely via the minds of European-descended Jewish and Christian artists.

I briefly considered seeing if I might prick some politically correct comic-book mentalities by giving the project an offensive name like, "Redskin Roundup."  Had I done so, it would have been to make the point that there should be nothing inherently demeaning about calling attention to the coloration of the characters being surveyed. But because the epithet can be used for the purpose of insult, I decided against it, while still retaining my low opinion of the politically correct.. In addition, not all of the characters I plan to survey necessarily have red skins. Some are "White Indians"-- e.g., those who have been raised in Indian culture. Others are hybrids of more than just the "red" race, and may or may not look red of skin.

So I'm calling it "Real American Roundup," in deference to one of the first Native American superheroes-- who will also provide my first mini-feature.

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