Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Michonne: The Ultimate Black Heroine?


Let me tell you what I am grateful for. The woman called Michonne. Even if you do not watch The Walking Dead, you should recognize what is going on here. We are seeing the birth of the most unorthodox and most unlikely of heroines on Cable Television. A sword wielding Black Woman that kicks ass and takes names.

We live in a time where we see plenty of White women play a that hero role which breaks all kinds of barriers and gender roles. I can name countless movies like Aliens, Prometheus, The Hunger Games, and the Underworld movies just to name a few, yet can you name a real movie when that same person was a Black Woman? While my thoughts go to Pam Greer in Foxy Brown back in the seventies...  most roles for African American women, in particular, are usually neatly carved out as maids, hoes, and single parent mothers trying to make it (and that is just in Tyler Perry films).

But, seemingly, out of now where comes this dark skinned woman in a world where you "fight the dead, and fear the living." Most people seemed to taken by surprise how good this all looks. Can you imagine if a Black Woman was allowed to take out her "post racial" frustration on the living dead? What would that look like? I can tell you that reading the comic book, she is a survivor that takes no chances and trusts few people and that translation has worked well on screen down to her long dreads.

Which brings me to my next point. She is in a comic book! Can anyone tell me the last time a black woman was a major character in a comic book (that is not Storm from X-Men)? I immediately think about Captain Marvel from the Avengers books in the 1980s. But perhaps Milestone Comics had the most recent Black woman character with "Rocket" from the Icon series which came out in the nineties. I will just just answer my own question and just say that Amanda Waller in DC comics Suicide Squad is the only other MAJOR character in a comic book that I know of currently.

This raises a lot of questions for me. Is there some sort of thought that perhaps Black Woman are not seen as the hero types? I know plenty of strong Black Women that do not need a sword or the power of the Gods to fight crime. This is why seeing Michonne on The Walking Dead is refreshing. I knew about her for a long time by just reading the book (in which she is still alive). Her recent fame is only the tip of the ice berg when it come to her character and over all development in the psyche of the United States when it come to Black Women. She is a well developed character that is no laughing matter unlike Hally Berry's Catwoman that might have set back African American woman back a few decades.

I challenge anyone who can find me an African American comic/movie/television hero that may have a stronger impact than Michonne. I think anyone will have trouble finding this fictitious person. Please do not include Storm in your searches because she is African. I wish you good luck and read The Walking Dead.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I think part of the problem behind the role of leading black women in most of pop culture these days is that, for the most part, a lot of it is written by white men, and at the end of the day, even the good ones are known to bring their prejudices and privileges with them to the writing table.

(I'm no different either, being an authour who's writing a group of mixed people, one of whom is a black woman).

The default is still thought to be straight, white, and male, and anyone else who deviats from that is thought to not be able to be what straight white men are: leading heroes of complex character and depth.

The few that have made it through, like Amanda Wallaer, Captain Marvel a.k.a. Photon a.k.a. Monica Rambeau, Michonne, Storm, are certainly exceptional and fantastic characters, but there always needs to be more. Michonne, depending on how well her character is treated in the TV show as opposed to the comic, could certainly show people, and more importanlty those who make TV shows and movies, that people WILL see stories with the black woman as the lead.

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