Hysteria over "Histeria"
- Indian Comics Irregular #22
I've argued that stereotypes pervade our culture. That their influence is
subtle but real. I've used Native American stereotypes as examples.
Some people still don't get it. They think the problem can't be serious
because the examples are trivial. To show the problem goes further than the
"trivial" treatment of Indians, let's examine one cartoon.
On 11/17/99 I watched part of the WB's "Histeria." "Histeria" tells a
fractured fairy-tale version of the past. It's history tricked up as
entertainment for kids.
This episode featured the "Legion of Super-Writers" vs. a team of wordsmiths
gone bad. While it was good to see writers given their due, the show was rife
with stereotypes. One couldn't help wondering what the average viewer would
The villains of the piece were:
* American mystery/horror writer Edgar Allen Poe, who suffered "melancholy" and
depression. "Histeria" portrayed him as a raving lunatic scheming against
* Greek poet Sappho, a lesbian. "Histeria" portrayed her as a cackling
man-hater obliterating any mention of men.
* Japanese poet Basho, the foremost practitioner of Haiku. "Histeria"
portrayed him as a crazed Samurai chopping books in half.
The heroes were Ernest Hemingway, William Shakespeare, and Charles Dickens--all
WASP males. Hemingway, known for his macho exploits, led the way. The cartoon
gave him a heroic build and costume and showed him manhandling the stunted Poe.
The typical American child knows nothing of Poe, Sappho, or Basho. Nor of
depression, homosexuality, or Japanese culture. So what is this youngster
supposed to conclude? Mentally ill = maniacal? Lesbian = misanthropic?
Japanese = fanatical?
But manly = virtuous, of course. In "Histeria's" scenario, healthy, white,
Anglo-Saxon men are the norm and other people aren't. That Hemingway's bravado
ultimately led him to suicide didn't earn a mention.
Is the picture clear now?
"Aztec Autumn," the Sequel
Gary Jennings's sequel to "Aztec" is more of a potboiler than the original.
Though the short-lived rebellion may have been historically accurate, the
Amazonian warrior women and Indian reinvention of guns stretch the reader's
credulity. Worst is a fictional "island of women" off the western coast of
Mexico. No man had ever shown the inhabitants the pleasures of sex, so
naturally the heroic Tenam�xtli had to service all 60 or whatever of them.
Some protagonists have all the hard luck. Rob's rating: 7 of 10.
PEACE PARTY on the Air
On 1/27/00 advisor Steve Russell and I appeared on K103 Mohawk radio. We
chatted with host Joe Delaronde about--what else?--PEACE PARTY for 20 minutes.
Steve spoke eloquently, reading bits from issue #1, and I muddled through. To
get a tape of the interview, visit members.xoom.com/peaceparty/pages/customer.htm.
We also received a much-appreciated review in the San Antonio Current. Writer
Gregorio Rodriguez called PEACE PARTY "intelligent, poignant, and a much needed
comic for the times." For more of his assessment, head to members.xoom.com/peaceparty/pages/reviews.htm.
Blue Corn Comics