Political correctness is running roughshod through this nation like the dark armies of Sauron, blanketing a once free and united peoples under a shroud of distrust, fear, and constant observation. We all know it... Hear it creeping into the language we use around our friends, see it in the shows and movies we like to watch, feel it smothering us as it invades every single facet of life in 2014 America.
There were always places where I could find peaceful refuge from such complicated turmoil; cover in the dark corners and smokey halls of the haunts and parlors still untouched by the cold hands of a soft, sanitized existence.
But today, that burning eye of Sauron turned its watch to one of my sacred halls, as the scourge of PC broke into the comic shop.
"Can you believe this shit "
Those were the words I heard, hanging heavy on foul smokey breath as I see a greasy arm reach past me, smacking the cover of this month's Thor: God of Thunder. The book has had a good run for these past few years, telling far out adventures of the Norse Thunder god.
"What shit is that?" I ask, already knowing west the smelly man was complaining about. Marvel had just announced that coming in October would be a story arc where Thor's mighty hammer would no longer be held by the brawny toe headed Viking warrior but rather by a yet to be revealed woman.
"Fucking Thor's gonna be a chick."
"Ok..." I said, more taken aback by the foulness of his cheap cigarette tinged breath than by the profundity of his shared information.
"And what does it matter?" I heard a voice say from behind me. It was bitchy and shrill, almost as though it had been laying in wait for just such an opinion to be expressed.
"Cause Thor's a dude." The stinky man replied, giving an oddly reasonable answer to her question.
"But so what if he is a woman... Why can't he be?" She replied. I dared steal a glance at her curious to see who this warrior for the cause happened to be. The voice matched the speaker, sour faced and intentionally uglied in an effort to be fashionable. Her hair was cut jagged pulled oddly off her scalp. Her body was tucked away under drab clothes hanging loose off her bulky shoulders, camouflaging her feminine curves as she stood with her pale tattooed arms crossed.
Suddenly, like out of some sick side plot of a Seinfeld episode, both sets of eyes turn towards me, seeking some deciding voice. So I say what I feel is the reasonable response:
"I'll wait to see how it plays out in the book. If it makes sense for story (which, given their current story arc, I could see how they are building towards something), then great. But if it's just some ham handed way of making sure they fill some hero to vagina ratio that "diversity" somehow demands, then I'm sure it will be just another short lived publicity stunt to try and attract women readers that will end with real Thor having to come rescue." I felt like fucking Soloman as I uttered these words, letting my wisdom enrich the lives of these two bickering trolls. I saw the words register with Stinky, shacking his greasy mess of thinning black hair as he agreed.
"If the story works I guess the story works."
I then turned to the aggressor, purse lipped and scowling under her horn rimmed glasses. Hardly the expression I had been hoping to see, given my wise and thoughtful statements on the matter.
"Nice cop out... If the story works," she mocked, staring at me hatefully.
"Yes, if the story explaining the change makes sense. Doesn't seem too unreasonable to demand that much from them. I'll follow them down this bunny hole, just make sure that it's a Thor story and not just a gimmick. A gimmick would defeat the purpose of trying to make comic readers- which the bread and butter are men- buy into a girl in the role."
"But why do you have to buy into a girl in the role..."
"Because Thor is a character and has created certain expectations. But they have a good writer working the project, so it really might end up being a fun chapter in the story." I smiled hoping to defuse this conversation and go about my business.
"But a woman hero could carry a book as well as a male hero traditionally has..." She continued, speaking to my back as I started heading to the register.
"Then why don't they?" I asked finally tiring of this debate.
"Then why don't they?"
"Because there isn't any readership to their titles."
"And might that be because the writer is writing shit? Or must it only be because boys hate girls?"
"It's proven that male readers don't care-"
"Male readers also didn't give two shits about Aquaman either. Took Geoff Johns to helm the work and give it some direction before anyone gave half a fuck about that mermaid."
"What's the point?" She asked, no doubt annoyed I wasn't terrified of her implied allegations of sexism.
"Just saying that the gender of the character matters less than the direction the writer takes things. Write a heroic book, like the dude running Wonder Woman, and you'll get male readers."
"I'm sure the rampant objectification doesn't hurt the sales," she snidely remarked, her eyes shooting off to the heaving chest of the Amazon warrior gracing the cover of her most recent title.
"There are like a million websites with naked women getting every single hole stuffed violently for free. I doubt the "tugging to watercolor" crowd is really making up a solid portion of the readership."
She just sneered, our schoolyard debate coming to a close as I paid for my book (light week) and walked out the door.