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Chuck Dixon Explains What Bothers Him About Race Swapping In Modern Entertainment

Legendary comic book writer Chuck Dixon recently explained what bothers him about race swapping in modern entertainment.

Legendary comic book writer Chuck Dixon recently explained what bothers him about race swapping in modern entertainment.

Source: Anne Boleyn

Dixon’s explanation came during his latest episode of his ongoing YouTube series Ask Chuck Dixon.

Ablo Show asked Dixon, “Hope this finds you well. This might be a dumb question, but have you ever thought about doing a fantasy type character like a Conan or an Elric type character in a pre-colonial Africa type setting. I’m from South Africa so I may be a little biased, but I feel pre-colonial Africa is underused as a fantasy setting.”

“Fantasy, sword and sorcery/deviltry and stuff like that of Robert E. Howard always intrigued me and I always felt sword and sorcery went great with the more slob hero (thanks for the new phrase by the way) gritty pulpy revenge like tales. The type of stuff I always thought you did great, your take on Frank is always fun,” Show concluded.

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Dixon responded, “This is such an awesome question and it’s one I’ve asked myself over and over and over again. We’re seeing now, and it’s all due to this sort of woke period in entertainment – we’re seeing a lot of gender and race swapping of characters.”

“And generally, here in the United States, when they race swap a character they replace a white character with an African American. If you notice, they never replace an Asian or Native American character with African American, it’s always a white character.  And I don’t know what the point of that is,” he says.

Dixon continues, “In some cases, it’s okay. The Equalizer with Denzel Washington I thought was great. Hey, it’s Denzel. I mean Denzel’s going to play Macbeth. That’s fine with me because Shakespeare is malleable that way. So, I don’t care. Shakespeare’s plays aren’t historical dramas. They’re not historical recreations. So I feel it’s okay to play with them.”

Source: The Tragedy of Macbeth

Dixon then explains what he takes issue, “But the thing that bothers me about it is that replacing a white character with an African American character – I don’t care about cultural appropriation that’s nonsense. What does concern me is, aren’t there any interesting African American characters on their own? Aren’t there any characters who build upon that heritage? That build upon that history in a positive way?”

“I mean we see a lot of negative stories if they do a historical story from an African American perspective. It always has to deal with racism in some way as if that’s the only thing that matters in African American history. And it’s not because African Americans are part of the American story. And they shouldn’t be represented simply as a platform for discussing racial disparity or the history of racism in America as if America were unique – the existence of racism only occurred here. I think it demeans that heritage,” he elaborates.

Source: Lin-Manuel Miranda is Alexander Hamilton and Leslie Odom, Jr. is Aaron Burr in HAMILTON, the filmed version of the original Broadway production.

RELATED: Chuck Dixon Says Changing American Icons Like Superman And Captain America To Fit Modern Times Is A Crime

Dixon then talks about the plethora of opportunity with stories set in Africa, “The same for pre-colonial Africa. Talk about a rich tapestry. Talk about true diversity. You’ve got a continent. It’s a pretty big place and many of its peoples were separated by either war or terrain or geographical distance. In central Africa you have tribes that rose up with entirely different cultures than the tribe 20 miles down the river. Different language, different gods, different culture.”

“So, you’ve got this quilt of mythology and history and heroes and villains to draw from. My only question is why don’t they do it? Even Lion King is Hamlet rewritten. You mean there’s not an African story. I can’t believe that,” he contends.

Source: The Lion King

As for whether he would do a story set in pre-colonial Africa, Dixon answered, “Would I ever do this? No, I wouldn’t have an interest. I mean I think anybody should be able to write anything, but if someone was gonna write an African version of Conan, I would prefer it was an African, personally, because I would want their perspective of this.”

“Similarly, if you were to write an epic story of the Monkey King you would want a Chinese person to write it. I wouldn’t want to see a movie of Mushashi Miyamoto written by a white guy. Some of these things are so bound to culture, I prefer to see what a person of that culture thinks of it,” he says.

Source: Monkey Prince #1

Dixon did reveal his plans for his own Conan-type character, “Personally, Sergio Cariello and I have talked for years about a Conan-type character set in pre-colonial America. I mean like 40,000 years ago with Native American characters in a Neolithic setting, nomadic Neolithic setting.”

“Wooly mammoths, and dire wolves, and giant beavers and all the rest,” he added.

Source: Jungle Comics #1

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The creator of Bane then returned to what bothers him about the race swapping, “If you understand what I’m saying is – by recasting white characters as black or African American [it] is demeaning because it implies that they don’t have a culture of their own.”

He adds, “And it’s just so wrong. It’s just so wrong.”

Zulu Reed Dance Ceremony.
Once a year, in the heart of South Africa’s Kingdom of the Zulu, thousands of people make the long journey to one of His Majesty’s, the King of the Zulu nation’s royal residence at KwaNyokeni Palace. Here, in Nongoma, early every September month, young Zulu maidens will take part in a colourful cultural festival, the Royal Reed Dance festival – or Umkhosi woMhlanga in the Zulu language. Steeped in the history of the rise of the Zulu kingdom under the great King Shaka, the Reed Dance festival has been tirelessly celebrated by countless generations, and attracts thousands of visitors from throughout the country and from across the world. A dignified traditional ceremony, the Reed Dance festival is at same time a vibrant, festive occasion, which depicts the rich cultural heritage of the Kingdom of the Zulu and celebrates the proud origin of the Zulu people. The Reed Dance is also a celebration of the Zulu nation and performs the essential role of unifying nation and the king, who presides over the ceremony. The festival takes its name from the riverbed reeds, which are the central focus of this four-day event. The reed-sticks are carried in a procession by thousands of young maidens who are invited to the King’s palace each year. More than 10 000 maidens, from various communities throughout the province of KwaZulu- Natal, take part in the Reed Dance ceremony, with the rest of the Zulu nation helping them to celebrate their preparation for womanhood. It is a great honour for the young women to be invited to take part in the Reed Dance ceremony, and its also a source of great dignity and pride for their families and communities. According to Zulu traditon, only virgins are permitted to take part in the festival to ensure that they are ritually ‘pure’. The Reed Dance festival is a solemn occasion for the young women, but also an opportunity to show off their singing, dancing and beadwork, the fruits of many months of excitement and preparation. As the Reed Dance ceremony begins, the young women prepare to form a procession led by the chief princess. One of the daughters of the Zulu King is also the leader of the group of maidens as they go through this important rite of passage. Each maiden carries a reed which has been cut by the riverbed and it symbolizes the power that is vested in nature. The reeds reflect a deep mythical connection with origin of the Zulu people, where, tradition tells us, the original ancestor emerged from a reed bed. And still, today an expectant hush falls on the crowd as the chief princess is the first to choose a reed. Shouts of joy and celebration greet her as the reed remains intact, and, with bated breath, each of the young women takes it in turn to choose a reed. Accompanied by jubilant singing and dancing, the stately procession winds its way up the hill to the palace entrance where the king awaits, flanked by his royal regiment.
As leader of the group of young women, the chief Princess kneels down before the king and presents him with a reed to mark the occasion, before joining the young women in a joyful dance of tribute to the king. Photo Credit: Retlaw Snellac Photography from Belgium, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

From there, Dixon critiqued the stories that are constantly repeated in modern entertainment, “But I see this all over the place. We see the same historic events told over and over again in movies as if no other historical event existed. They don’t mine history for all of the interesting things they can do. They’re constantly revisiting the Trojan War. They are constantly revisiting King Arthur, which didn’t even exist. As much as I like Vikings, they’re constantly making things about Vikings. There’s other eras to talk about.”

However, he did praise Netflix for distributing the German production ‘Barbarians,’ “I was so pleased when Netflix did a really good series about the Romans in ancient Germany at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. At least it was something we hadn’t seen before.”

Source: Barbarians

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Returning to Africa, Dixon states, “Like I said, Africa has a rich heritage. It also has enormous population of possible entertainment consumers. And you can say, ‘Oh well Black Panther.’ But Black Panther was all made up. It was all made up by two white guys. Wakanda doesn’t exist. It’s a sort of pastiche of African culture. It’s not real. It’s a lot of stereotypes and clichés thrown together. You know, powerfully and successfully, but that’s just the thing isn’t it.”

“Black Panther was so enormously successful across a wide audience. I mean the movie made a lot of money. So it’s obvious that the public would be accepting of a pre-colonial African Conan-type story. I certainly think so. I certainly would watch it. I mean just the vistas alone. I mean you live in South Africa. You know you’ve got some amazing landscapes there. Just absolutely spectacular stuff to set historical fantasy against. So, why not?”, he asserted.

Source: Black Panther

Closing out the question, Dixon reiterated, “It just really annoys me when they feel this need, I guess, virtue signaling or whatever to misrepresent history in this way. And again it’s a sort of hollowing out, or ignoring, or neglecting the fact that Africans and African Americans have this incredible history.”

“I would love to see a black Conan. I don’t want to see a white Shaka Zulu though,” Dixon concluded.

Huge statue of Shaka Zulu (upper portion), as released by image creator Ristesson History Photo Credit: Jacob Truedson Demitz for Ristesson History, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

While Dixon says he would not be interested in doing an African version of a Conan-type character, he did team up with Kelsey Shannon for the IndieGoGo crowdfunded book Jungle Comics.

Dixon described the book as “an all-in jungle adventure like the kind I loved as a kid. What we’re doing here is taking all the best parts of a cliffhanger adventure and putting them in an action-packed story that turns the genre on the head. EVERYTHING you’d want in a feral jungle fantasy in a way you never expected to see it!”

Source: Jungle Comics #1

What do you make of Dixon’s opinion on race swapping in modern entertainment?

NEXT: Chuck Dixon: “DC And Marvel Seem To Be In Some Sort Of A Suicide Pact With Themselves To Destroy American Comics”

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