Editor's desk: Inclusivity includes you

Editor's desk: Inclusivity includes you

There's been a lot of attention paid to inclusivity lately, whether it's in the mobile community thanks to features like accessibility or in the media thanks to lead up to the San Diego Comic Convention. That's great, because while it can sometimes feel that time and effort spent on inclusivity goes to help others, it really goes to help us. There's always some element of life, there's always some occasion, where, be it based on gender, ethnicity, religion, age, education, income, athleticism, area of interest, abilities, talents, or tastes, where we feel like we're excluded, we don't fit in, we can't get in. Inclusivity, in all of that, includes all of us.

If you face challenges with sight or sound, motor skills or focus, there's a lot iOS and OS X can do to help you. Likewise if you're a child just learning how to read or a grand-parent wanting to use computers for the first time just to chat with a grandchild, designing for inclusivity means helping you get started and helping you succeed. Technology alone, however, is not enough. Inclusivity requires outreach as well. That brings us back to the news.

Thor is going to be a woman. This isn't Thor Girl or Sif in a Thor suit or Storm with an Uru hammer or even Thor's daughter. This is whomsoever holds this hammer, if — she — be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.

Captain America is also going to be black. Not Isaiah Bradley, the original Captain America written in for the Young Avengers series, but Sam Wilson — you may know him as the Falcon — will be putting on the stars and stripes. It's not the first time the original Captain America, Steve Rogers, has been replaced. U.S. Agent has become cap. Bucky/Winter Solider has become cap. But it is the first time Cap's longtime partner is taking up the name. It's also not the first time a major Marvel character has been re-cast — when Peter Parker died in the Ultimate Universe, Miles Morales became the amazing Spider-Man, Sam Jackson was Nick Fury in the Ultimates even before the Avengers movies, and John Stewart replaced Hal Jordan as Green Lantern in the early '90s.

Why re-cast instead of making existing characters more prominent and popular, or making new ones? It's really hard to make popular new characters. Wolverine took off like gangbusters (Canadian, of course) but very few others have become part of popular culture. It's pretty much Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, with the Justice League following along behind, and Spider-Man with the Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four following behind.

But look what the Iron Man movies did for Tony Stark. I'd argue look what the Arrow show is doing for Oliver Queen. Now imagine if those types of pushes were given to a wider range of characters? Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dark Angel, Alias, Covert Affairs and more have done for strong female leads. In a universe better than ours Scarlett Johansson just did a Black Widow film instead of Lucy. Halle Berry just did Storm instead of Extant (we'll forgive her Catwoman). Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman film was green-lit, and an A-list Black Panther made it to the screen instead of the Blade sequels.

When we can touch our technology and it not only does what we expect but helps us do what we want, it can seem magical. When we see ourselves reflected in the world around us, it can inspire us to create our own magic.

As terrible as it is that much of this is only now gaining traction, it's terrific that it seems like much of this is finally gaining traction. If you can help, please do. If you can inspire, please do. If you can, in any way great or small, make anything you're involved with more inclusive, please, please do.

Some assorted other stuff:

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Editor's desk: Inclusivity includes you

6 Comments

...and inclusivity can lead to better content.

Barbara Gordon, for example, was far more interesting as Oracle - a woman who happened to be in a wheelchair but who refused to be defined solely by it - than she is again as Batgirl - yet another interchangeable member of the vigilante/hero community.

Listen leave Thor alone. I'm not feeling this one. They are plenty of female heroes in the Marvel Universe. Give Sif her own series. Or let the lady Thor be a story arc. But this indefinite thing come on. As for Captain America being black I will leave that alone (and don't start hating folks I'm black too). I grew up with these characters and I guess I don't like change especially if they are just trying to appease the 'middle' crowd. I think maybe Marvel's never developed a really strong female character say like DCs Wonder Woman. IMO most female characters have been kind of second string to their male counterparts. So I get developing a strong female lead. Yet she doesn't have to be Thor. Guess I will be sticking to old issues from here on in when it comes to the Thunderer. Nuff said.

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<comic_geek>I'll withhold judgement until I read the stories -- there are some interesting possibilities here, but in the wrong hands it could fall flat. As always, it depends on the skill of the writers.

The more interesting question to me is if/when Marvel will revert to the traditional Thor. Normally I would say when Avengers 2 comes out, to avoid confusing fans of the movies who may want to try the comics, but the 9 months before Avengers 2 hardly seems like enough time to give this new Thor a fair shake. But they will switch back at some point, because a) if the current Thor is found unworthy, his eventual redemption will make a good storyline, and b) Marvel knows there will be a lot of money to be made with a splashy return to the status quo, like DC did with Knightfall/KnightsEnd or Green Lantern: Rebirth.

By the time that happens, I just hope the new character is written well enough to have earned herself both a following and a solid place in the Marvel universe (preferably a bigger one than Beta Ray Bill :) )</comic_geek>

To me, being inclusive means getting a different perspective. At my job we have a pretty open door for people to come in with different backgrounds and skill sets. It is sales...say what you want about the profession, but if the boss thinks you can get results - you're in. What a new person brings to the table can sometimes rejuvenate the store because that person's background and perspective is so different than what we were used to before. Sometimes that perspective helps and sometimes it doesn't, but the value comes out of trying it out.

I like to think that I've grown as a person because I've experienced different things in my life and experienced them with different people.

One time an older customer wasn't liking what an African American co-worker of mine was explaining to him (though she was being perfectly polite and was quite correct in what she was saying). He came up to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and tried leading me like a father would lead a son and said, "We both know how those people are. Come on, help me out with this." I knew perfectly well what we meant and told him to get his hand off of me and get out. He walked away, picked up his business, and mumbled something about how he thought he and I would be on the same page and some vaguely racist crap and left.

That is why inclusion is important. We don't get to experience what other people go through without it. In my case I was there, live. But that doesn't happen often. If stories can create empathy for people who wouldn't normally experience these things that is all the better.

It will, of course, be the job of the writers to not do a ham-fisted job of it and muck everything up.

I don't agree with the idea that everything must be property of everyone and every group, I think it can go too far, and is a form of contrived prescriptive belief, people certainly shouldn't be promoting their personal beliefs or ideology at work, how far do you want to push this ? Say superman becoming a black disabled lesbian woman for instance ? would there be any point in calling the character superman ? Theres also an erosion of linguistic meaning, so we have "women priests" in the uk and the linguistically correct - priestess is not used ? Language and its meanings is in fact shrinking in this manner and certainly the way inclusivity works in practice in the uk, means there are no longer any male activities, for instance boy scouting is now also for girls, meaning there any no domains in which boys get to interact or learn without the distraction of girls, and in mixed environments whether for boys or girls do not imagine girks and boys behaviour is not altered in often negative distractive ways, yet of course in practice it rarely goes the other way ie males taking part in women's groups - Women's institute, girl guides etc, so often inclusivity is generally an assault on the white male able heterosexual group and their activities values and identity, yet other exclusive - minority groupings are further lauded, entrenched and enforced, if it rubbed every which way it would at least be fairer, as concerns altering comic archetypes I have no concern, as they mean nothing to me personally, but the idea we need to ideologically legislate against all activities or literature related to specific defined groupings of people or specific identitys whomever they maybe is in fact less diverse in the long run regardless of however it may initially appear the opposite. And as regards such beliefs America is unconsciously the primary exporter of its own societal ideology in template form to attemptively overwrite the diversity of global culture with a false sense of superiority of its own values, when compared to other equally valid societal beliefs, values and strictures.

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