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me, default, shawn, neutral
Update: Ethan issued a public apology. More info and repost here.

Or: OH JOHN RINGO ETHAN NICOLE NO

Near the beginning of this year, the web comic Axe Cop took the Interwebs by storm. It was a pretty inventive premise. Professional comic book artist Ethan Nicolle, age 29, would illustrate a comic written by his younger brother, Malachai.

The hook? Malachai was five years old, and his idea for a comic revolved around Axe Cop--- a cop with an axe. A typical comic would feature bad guys, explosions, several power transformations and dinosaurs with machine guns for arms. I was hooked.

Axe Cop has teamed up with the popular web comic Dr. McNinja. A compilation book will be published by Dark Horse. The comic has been profiled in USA Today, Wired Entertainment Weekly, New York Magazine and more. There's an Axe Cop Motion Comic series that's up to 3 episodes now. It's kind of a big deal.

Which is what made some levels of fail displayed by the artist even more disappointing.

So, in a recent blog post on his site, he talks about how he recently saw Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and that he felt that if there ever was an Axe Cop movie, based on what he saw of Scott Pilgrim, he'd want Edgar Wright to direct.

A fan by the name of Keisha Ng posted that she felt Scott Pilgrim had a number of troubling stereotypes and racial themes, especially when it came to Knives Chau and that as an asian woman it bothered her. She ended her comment with "Anyhow, Ethan, I really hope that if an axe cop movie is made that you can include some more characters of color—asian and latino and black kids need to know that they have secret attacks, too."

Ethan's response was... well... here, I'll just quote it (the blog doesn't make permalinks to individual comments):
I’m completely worn out by the hypersensitivity of our culture. Stereotypes make great comedy because in general they are true. Whatever anyone has to say about the damage done to people’s self image when it comes to stereotype comedy, I think what is much, much, MUCH more destructive is labeling people as victims and giving them all this pity to wallow in… THAT is disabling. Stereotype jokes will always exist, and they will always be funny to most people. They are funny because they contain truth and absurdity. Victimhood and it’s butt-ugly cousin hypersensitivity both need to be punched in the face and left out in the cold. I’m fat and white and I grew up poor… fat, white trash stereotypes do not bother me IN THE LEAST. I can recognize the truths, and the absurdities and laugh at them both. I don’t think I help anyone out by being soft on them and denying reality. We all need to be able to laugh at ourselves and the hypersensitivity we are all perpetuating is making us all spineless babies.


OH ETHAN NICOLLE NO.



So... people complaining about stereotypes are actually worse than those that perpetuate stereotypes?

Stereotypes are true, and thus, are funny all the time?

No matter how hurt a marginalized group is by stereotyping, the stereotyped group is being damaging by talking about it?

Stereotype jokes are funny to most people, and so people should just shut up about it?

"Let me tell y'all what it's like/bein' male, middle class and white" except, he means it for serious?

Those who point out stereotypes are denying reality, soft, and babies?

What the hell?

This becomes even more mind boggling when you read his explanation for why he regrets drawing a 90 page comic about Jesus teaming up with Ernest Hemmingway to go killing Nazi Werewolf Hitler. He says "I started out with the attitude, 'a joke is a joke. If you can't take a joke, move on.' I guess I adopted the philosophy that humor makes anything OK." And while when it comes to Christianity, such an attitude is apparently not okay, I guess when it comes to using marginalized groups as the butt of jokes, it's perfectly fine. Then again this is also the same entry where he also says "I'm beginning to sound like a woman... 'you should have done what I told you not to do!' "

(OH ETHAN NICOLLE NO)
ETA: His follow-up comment in that thread is full of even more fail. Here's his response to a commenter who identified herself as South Asian:

Keisha my point is that it doesn’t help anyone to coddle them and protect them from generalizations.  Fat comic artists are generally lazy, bad with women and socially awkward.  That description is not totally true of me, but it is partially true.  It’s more than 50% true.  No one would laugh at or even present a stereotype if it was not true to some extent.  If something like “your about as good at ballet as a Native American” you would just confuse people.  Stand back and ask what is really offensive about saying asians in general are bad drivers.  Is it true?  So what?  Is it really worth getting all bent out of shape about?  Wouldn’t life be better if you could just laugh at the joke and make one back?

And of course not all stereotypes are true of all people all the time… no one I have ever met would claim that.  That is a point that is literally meaningless.

There are two battles to fight here… you can fight the battle to shut up all jokes about stereotype, or you can fight the battle of people taking victim status upon themselves and being too weak to enjoy life.  The first battle will NEVER be won, because most people are OK with generalizations, because generalizations contain an element of truth.  If you can’t generalize, you can’t be truthful.  The second battle is much more practical and it makes everyone stronger.  If people aren’t making victims of themselves it’s much harder to stop them from being happy.

Why do you sit and watch a movie and focus on how left out you feel?  How often is a fat, poor artsy guy made the hero of a film?  Not very often.  I don’t care.  Movies aren’t made to appease me.  To think so would be narcissistic. It seems as absurd as being offended that Avatar focused on blue people… it made me feel left out because I am as pasty white as boiled pork meat. Lighten up sister!  You seem to be taking yourself much too seriously.  You’ll choke all the joy out of life.  In every group or stereotype there are wonderful things, embarrassing things, and hilarious things.  Denying that doesn’t help anybody out.

Sorry if you feel I’ve been too harsh.  Feel free to email if you want to discuss this any further.


Yes. He really does introduce an Asian stereotype, call people who call out stereotyping too weak to enjoy life, say there is an equivalence in representation between the under-representation of those and other marginalized groups with white poor artists, call her feeling left out narcissistic, compare real minorities to fake blue aliens, tell her to lighten up, and that she is taking herself too seriously.

astolpho once said that someone trotting out the "you're taking yourself too seriously" in discussions of race is basically saying "you have self-respect and the basic desire to be treated with respect, and that's offensive to me," and while I can't axcribe motivations to someon because I can neither read thier mind or heart, that's exactly how he's coming across.

Also, what is it with talking about colors that don't exist in reality when discussing race? Blue people, purple people... it's kind of ridiculous.

ETA the second: So, Doug TenNapel weighs in with a comment, which I can't directly link to, but if you visit the comment link and do a Find for Richard Taco (seriously), you'll find the whole wall of text, but I wanted to highlight the money quote:

Your complaints end up saying more about your weakness than his. And you’ll just have to trust me on this one, he is respectful and happy about all cultures. Ask him what he thinks of Asian cultures instead of misconstruing what he said. He didn’t in any way comment on Asians, he only commented on our white, racist culture’s celebration of victimhood. In that sense, you’re not acting like a South Asian… you’re acting like a spoiled, white American. Asian cultures don’t claim victimhood at all. That’s a European, progressive, cry-baby attribute we should all shed in the name of being good and being happy.

Wow. Wow... a consertive white dude lectures minority on what a real Asian is, and... I... really?

(yes, the same Doug TenNapel Earthworm Jim and also a Neo-Conservative blogger who once tried to re-write the roots of rock and roll to say that Republicans were punk rock and rock & roll was dead because some rock and rollers supported Obama with a straight face)

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
agoutirex
Aug. 25th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)
Let me tell you, Internet, it is so hard to be white.

Axecop is total bullshit and I don't believe for a minute that it's actually written by a 5 year old. There's too much calculated RANDOM wackiness that nerds jizz themselves over.
theotherbaldwin
Aug. 25th, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
Let me tell you, Internet, it is so hard to be white.

Or even worse, a Christian white male. They are so under-represented and so opprossed, it's like man you would not believe.

Axecop is total bullshit and I don't believe for a minute that it's actually written by a 5 year old. There's too much calculated RANDOM wackiness that nerds jizz themselves over.

Eh, I can, though from the FAQs and videos of the writing sessions it seems more like his little brother comes up with a zillion ideas, big brother asks more questions and filters. Maybe "drawn by a 29 year old, written by a 5 year old" sounded catchier.
deadshrimpblues
Aug. 25th, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
That's because five-year olds and internet nerds work at basically the same level.
theotherbaldwin
Aug. 25th, 2010 12:54 am (UTC)
That's because five-year olds and internet nerds work at basically the same level.

At least little kids are usually a lot more honest.
kynn
Aug. 25th, 2010 12:36 am (UTC)
*sigh*

Way to stomp on a fan, Ethan.
theotherbaldwin
Aug. 25th, 2010 12:47 am (UTC)
I know. I feel really, really uncomfortable supporting the guy now.

I mean, his follow-up comment makes things worse. Also, here's was he said to the asian fan who said that stereotypes are more about confirming biases:

"Stand back and ask what is really offensive about saying asians in general are bad drivers. Is it true? So what? Is it really worth getting all bent out of shape about? Wouldn’t life be better if you could just laugh at the joke and make one back? "


To quote Booker T, "Tell me he did not. just. say. that."

How fucked up do you have to be to say that to someone? Hey there, asian person, let me tell you an asian stereotype! Hah hah! Why is that bad? So what is it's bad! It's your problem for being hurt! Where's your sense of humor?
kynn
Aug. 25th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)
Oh man. :(
ellindsey
Aug. 25th, 2010 12:46 am (UTC)
Mmm, smells like privilege... "I don't see what all those minorities are whining about, everything looks fine from where I am!"

Admittedly, it can be hard making a privileged white guy see privilege, a bit like teaching a fish to see water. It's an easy trap to fall in to, to think it's everyone else who's as fault for not being as comfortable with the situation as you are.

Yeah, I never saw the appeal of Axe Cop either.
theotherbaldwin
Aug. 25th, 2010 12:51 am (UTC)
To me, it always read as if it were a comic little shawn would have written if he were more focused on action movies and cops instead of dragons and super-heroes.

"Admittedly, it can be hard making a privileged white guy see privilege, a bit like teaching a fish to see water. It's an easy trap to fall in to, to think it's everyone else who's as fault for not being as comfortable with the situation as you are."

Yeah. And I fail on that front too sometimes. I forget that men and women will have different experiences in the same culture because it exerts different pressures, for example. But that's an important thing to do sometimes-- look past one's discomfort to try and seethe other side. Honestly, while I liked Scott Pilgrim a whole lot, I should be willing to acknowledge the flaws it has, and until recently, I was reluctant to do so.
erf_
Aug. 25th, 2010 04:32 am (UTC)
I will angrily defend Knives Chau to the point of absurdity because stereotypes or no, she's the most easy-to-identify-with Asian character in indie comics I've ever seen, and she speaks to the Chinese second-generation immigrant experience with an earnestness I'd never seen before. Sure, Wright didn't succeed in capturing all of the humanity O'Malley gave her in the graphic novels, but I'd chalk that up to the usual problems with trying to adapt six volumes into a two-hour film.

That said, Nicolle's response does shock me. I think he's talking more out of ignorance than malice, but it's still troubling.
theotherbaldwin
Aug. 25th, 2010 04:41 am (UTC)
Man, Knives had the best line in the movie, the "I'm too cool for you anyway" was GOLDEN.
woekitten
Aug. 25th, 2010 06:31 am (UTC)
Strange thing (and I only gathered this through reading Ng's comment because I haven't seen the movie yet) is that in the movie Scott apparently makes continuous commentary on Knives' Asian heritage. He made little or no comment on it in the comic, not that I can remember. Knives' family didn't want her dating a white guy, but even that was laid to rest with a sword fight.

I mean, the majority of Toronto's population is of Asian heritage, or in the neighbourhood. It's not like, "Whoa, I am totally dating a Chinese girl!" It just happens.

Oh, and you're right, Knives gets the second generation experience down pat. "What did your father say?" "I dunno, he was speaking Chinese or something!"

Edited at 2010-08-25 06:33 am (UTC)
theotherbaldwin
Aug. 25th, 2010 07:21 am (UTC)
He made little or no comment on it in the comic, not that I can remember... I mean, the majority of Toronto's population is of Asian heritage, or in the neighbourhood. It's not like, "Whoa, I am totally dating a Chinese girl!" It just happens.

Wow, I had no idea on either count.
theotherbaldwin
Aug. 25th, 2010 09:19 am (UTC)
I'm coming at this from the other end-- I was familiar with the conceptof the comic but aside from flipping through a page or two at a bookstore, my first encounter with everything was the movie.

"Knives' family didn't want her dating a white guy, but even that was laid to rest with a sword fight."

You see her folks? You see a sword fight?

I... I think I know what I'm going to spend some disposable income on the next time I have any.
erf_
Aug. 25th, 2010 06:29 pm (UTC)
Go see the film. Scott doesn't comment on Knives's Asian heritage quite that often, but when he does, it's pretty grating. TBH I don't think he actually does it any more than he does in the comics, it's just that so many of the parts that are told from Knives's perspective ended up on the cutting room floor that the film transforms her from a girl who is tragically in love with a guy who's older, of a different race, and a member of an unfamiliar subculture to that teenage Asian girl Scott is dating. When Scott does it in the comic, he's just being the selfish jerk he is; when he does it in the movie, we have to take it for granted, because it's pretty much all we know about her. I don't think Wright deliberately nerfed her characterization--adaptations have done worse, faced with an two-hour limit and a pair of cutting room scissors--but it does trouble me.

As for 'I dunno, he was speaking Chinese or something,' I can't tell if you're being sarcastic here. If you are, try being an assimilated second generation Chinese immigrant sometime and see if this doesn't come up one or two billion times--the language barrier between parent and child can be a brick wall. It's very rare for second generation immigrants to have a strong command of their parents' language, especially for elements of the language expressed under unusual circumstances. (A teenage girl might be expected to recognize "Come to dinner!" or "Do your homework," but "You better not be dating that older white guy or I'm going to hunt him down and kill him! I'm warning you!" could conceivably be beyond her ability to comprehend.) It takes some audacity for a white writer to put those words in an Asian character's mouth, but he gets away with it because the experience really does hit close to home.
woekitten
Aug. 25th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
No, I wasn't being sarcastic. ;) Most of my friends were/are second generation, and I know about the struggles they had between their parents' desire for them to keep their culture/language, and pressure from the outside world to assimilate.

I went through it myself, to an extent: My grandparents are very European-Jewish (first language being Hungarian). I married a Christian guy and pretty much tore the family asunder.

I think O'Malley is half Korean, so I suppose he knows something about the Asian-Candaian experience, too.
erf_
Aug. 25th, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC)
Also worth noting:

In the comic, Knives makes a big deal over Scott being white. He's her 23-year-old white hipster boyfriend. It's weird, to her, and exciting and exotic, whereas to Scott she's just his little teenage surrogate girlfriend. His race means a lot more to her than her race means to him.

In the movie? Knives makes a huge deal out of Scott being an uber-cool hipster bassist, but rarely ever mentions his race, whereas when Scott introduces her to his friends, "Asian" is one of a list of qualities--"teenage" being one of them--that make her an obviously unacceptable romantic interest for Scott. Scott cares more about her race than his does to her.

A recurring theme in both versions of Scott Pilgrim is the transgressing of boundaries in romantic relationships--Ramona is the mysterious American girlfriend, Matthew Patel is the weird but cool Indian guy, Roxie is the "half-ninja" white lesbian girl--but it's fascinating that the film, while staying true to that theme, occasionally reverses which direction the lines are being crossed.
kuniopt
Aug. 25th, 2010 08:31 am (UTC)
I knew he would pull some shit like this as soon as he joined that "Draw Muhammed" thing.
theotherbaldwin
Aug. 25th, 2010 08:54 am (UTC)
WHAT?!

WHAT?!

That would put him from "someone who just needs a clue" to ",a href="http://theotherbaldwin.livejournal.com/267439.html">someoen who thinks religious bullying is okay</a> and make him a double hypocrite considering his post re: Christianity.

*google searches*

Oh...

OH ETHAN NICOLLE NO
theotherbaldwin
Aug. 26th, 2010 10:27 am (UTC)
Oh, man it gets better. And by better, I mean worse.

He drew an offensive caricature looking all crazy eyed because he 'despise[s] political correctness'. Oh, and before he posted a link to that twitpic on his personal twitter, he did so from the official axe cop twitter account.
akktri
Mar. 10th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
If I boycotted every artist or author who ever said or did something offensive outside of their medium (forum comments, TV appearances, newspaper interviews, etc.), I'd be boycotting everything. If something offensive is in the medium itself, I just focus on the good parts and skip over it. Marilyn Manson says a lot more offensive things in interviews than he does in his music. Beautiful People, for example. Not offensive in and of itself, especially without the video. 50% of South Park offends me, but I like things like the Loch Ness Monster bit, Chef's explanation of anal probing, and "wow, this really does feel like monster intestines!" With a comic, you can just skip over the panel or read a different issue, or just skip over it and read another comic.
Big example: I am a big Doctor Who fan, but they had a few recent episodes about the big bang and evolution that offended me. I personally feel like writing an essay complaining about it, but have chosen not to do so because it is a waste of time, and I can just wait for a new episode that doesn't bother me so much.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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