Well then, there’s a bunch of words the both of you probably never thought you’d see as the title of a blog post! But no, gentle reader, the merciless Marvel seems to have fallen afoul of virtue once again and let me reassure you that you aren’t hallucinating and that you haven’t misread – this actually happened, and a torrent of ugly backlash resulted.
Marvel’s latest cash-grab approach to comic production saw the launch of X-Men Gold last week, and in the time it takes to rage quit your twitter account, a rampage of critics came forward to tear it to pieces because of Ardian Syaf’s careless addition of pro-Islamic-extremist rhetoric. And out came the wolves. They wanted blood, and blood is what they got as Marvel acted on their declaration to take disciplinary action against Syaf. He was fired, and quite boldly and correctly announced on social media that his career was over. The offensive images are to be altered in all forthcoming editions of the comic, so anyone who’s bought a real life, tangible copy of this book (my humble self included) is now a proud owner of a bonafide article of subliminal hatespeech. On a related note, I’d like to call attention to one of life’s most beautiful and sadly, most overlooked pieces of wisdom : don’t sweat the small stuff, and stop taking things and words too seriously! Back to business, my friends and onto the unpopular questions that we as intuitive beings must ask. Were the critics (they come from various ethnicities and theistic and atheistic backgrounds) justified in for calling for Syaf’s figurative blood?
Let’s look at the panels in question. The first four inserts are fairly ambiguous, and manifest as the signboard for a jewellery store aligned near the head of team leader Kitty Pryde (a Jewish woman apparently), a signboard for a store named 212 (the popularised name of the December 2 2016 mass protests against Jakarta’s Christian politician Basuki Tjahaja Purnama) and 2 character extras sporting, respectively, (but apparently also disrespectfully lolzoid) a baseball cap and a t-shirt emblazoned with the number 51. Now, while the Jew reference to Kitty could’ve been a coincidence, the fact that the number 51 appears twice within the same panoramic panel seems about as accidental as wearing a pair of assless pink leather chaps to a business meeting. To take things even further into murkier water, a panel on the following page shows Colossus sporting a jersey with the team logo and “QS 5:51” on the front. Later, we see an allusion to Nightcrawler attacking Kitty with a baseball bat. Fun fact: Nightcrawler is a devout Catholic, so was the artist still sending a subliminal message?Aaaand that’s a wrap! Roll credits, because while Colossus struck the ball right out of the park, this drawing expedited Syaf’s being chucked out of the Marvel Comics stable. Dude, you can’t reference Quranic verses that advise believers against befriending Christians and Jews and expect no consequences. Syaf’s buffoonery isn’t unprecedented, since he’s allegedly a repeat offender, which only fuelled the fire of hate towards him and, (based on reaction on vlogs and blogs and their unmindful and odious comments sections) hate towards Muslims as a whole. The rabble were roused, and the hate spewed forth, and poor Ardian Syaf garnered more infamy for his hapless career moves than his unexceptional pencilwork ever could.
What are the more pertinent questions in this debacle? Are the actions of the entitled social justice warriors (please keep in mind that I believe that there are the few that are not like the many) hypocritical? You can hear some arguing that it took guts to convey your political ideals while on company time, but what Syaf did wasn’t quite as forgivable as lightly dipping his pen in the company’s ink, instead, he took a massive dump in the company’s water cooler. How or why he would choose to repeat such a grave error is beyond me. Didn’t he learn his lesson from the first time? Was he brave for doing what he did? Discretion is the better part of valour, and whether he was making some kind of stand for his cause is up for debate. What’s for certain though, is that when it comes to the professional arena, it’s perhaps best to leave your ideology at home and do what you’re paid to do. He might whine and moan about his career being over, but who knows, maybe he deliberately wanted to portray himself as some kind of martyr. It’s fun to speculate! At the same time, his face and name and probably now a raft of other personal information is being circulated online, whereas the courageous keyboard warriors and armchair admirals cower behind the veil of anonymity, claiming safety in numbers, insulated behind the security of darkness, digital handles and avatars.
Which leads us to ask, now that this pest has been dealt his marching orders, should the allegedly offended still be frothing at the mouth? While you’re chewing on that cud, you might also want to ruminate on the origin of the backlash, and how much responsibility lies with the editors who saw fit to green light the pages? If the media is to be believed, the complaints began after readers made the connections, and Syaf dimwittedly gloated about his mischief on social media. Tsk tsk, talk about pride going before a fall. There’s no doubt that the majority of people despite all their altruistic inclinations and leanings, will, to a degree, put their own interests higher up on the list of priorities. There are some who doubt that Americans, are as educated and aware of the world outside of their own nation when compared to their peers from other countries. That being said, how aware was the editorial bureau of political goings-on back in Indonesia? A number of bloodthirsty youtubers I researched referenced the artist as Adrian instead of Ardian, which in itself speaks volumes. Would they have even known about this if Syaf had remained tight-lipped instead of blowing his own trumpet online? Who can say? We’re all left with a number of options now as to how to play this. Should we forgive and forget? Turn the other cheek? Behead the sinner? Have him lashed at a public forum? Or have him parade the town streets in sackcloth and ashes? I wonder.