Nick Spencer and the legend of the sour dudebro

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By: T. Olajide

Nick Spencer’s Captain America is a lot of things: socially and culturally insensitive, embarrassing and the stuff of ‘dudebro’ legend. For these reasons I have decided not to consume them, but when a colleague of mine drew my attention to Issue 17, I decided to give it a read ​ and it was as disappointing (if not worse) as the viral panels ​currently circulating the web.

After the Hydra controversy, I slated Spencer as the one who would not be named. Firstly, for for softening fascist propaganda and second, for his response to the concerns of fans. The effrontery and pomp of Spencer to ridicule fans who rightly acknowledged the danger of his narratives speaks volumes and almost makes me question Marvel’s motives.

For those who might know, Captain America was created at the height of the second world war, crafted to fight xenophobia, fascism and promote unity. So, you would think that he wouldn’t be used to fuel anti-fascist sentiments and diminish the importance of social justice, now more than ever narratives like Captain America, Black Panther, Injustice and the X-Men hold such relevance. Instead, SJW’s are crafted as the butt of Spencer’s insensitive and unfounded ‘satire’ in the latest issue.

I am still trying to wrap my head around Spencer’s intent for Issue 17, he claims this attack of social justice campaigners, fans of Captain America and his critics as ‘light humour’ but it doesn’t take too much brainpower to see this as much more than that. The impact of Spencer’s flippancy exceeds the world of ink, it is emboldening and encourages readers who share similar sentiments to make light of things such as systemic oppression, social activism and the power comics have in shifting social paradigms. Dudebro culture has long been an issue within this community and at a time like this, every and any mention of current affairs should be informed and genuine. With the internet, globalisation and the changing face of the world, one has to ask if here is truly a window for pardon?

Having studied English Literature for over 3 years, I can tell you that the garbage Spencer has produced is anything but satirical. The very essence of satire is to foster inward thinking and to make people (usually, the privileged or top-tier of society) uncomfortable. By making those at the bottom of the totem pole, a punch line you give more power to the very people satire is intended for. Many writer’s of the past have employed this very same skill, everyone from Shakespeare to Andy Samberg has found a way to use satire to make informed critique of society.

One thing writers of the straight, white, male variety can learn from this is to stay in their lines. Everything about this attempt to be culturally relevant is tragic to vexing ends. But in some ways I can’t help but laugh because it almost seems as if Spencer truly thought this to be satirical or nuanced.

Nick Spencer’s unique ability to desecrate this narrative is remarkable but also boring. I mean — I’ve seen it all before and in a world tailored ​specifically ​for ​the betterment of ​men​​, I am in no way shocked that Chelsea Manning’s work is labelled as vile feminist propaganda but Manara and Cho’s repulsive schtick is heralded as daring. What is it that men find so riveting about being unapologetically offensive? Scratch that — What kind of magic rituals do these men perform to stay employed?

Now, that is what a sister wants to know.

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