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  1. #46

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    In general there's been a lot of commentary on the fact that a lot of Jewish artists and creators were involved in the creation and development of superheroes, from Superman (Siegel and Shuster) to Batman (Kane, Finger, and Robinson) and so on. But in general these creations are fantasies of assimilation, of acceptance. Superman sure is an immigrant from another planet and so on, and there's something Moses-like in him but Superman was raised in America's heartland of Kansas, and his civilian identity Clark Kent is very WASP. Bill Finger was likewise Jewish, but he wanted Batman to be a Patrician WASP since he felt that suited the character since it gave him a sense of authority, and ownership of Gotham that you can't really get across with any other ethnicity. The first out and out Jewish superhero is Katherine "Kitty" Pryde (https://www.cbr.com/first-jewish-superhero/). Peter Parker being Irish American makes him in line with other Marvel street heroes who come from Irish ethnicity like Matt Murdock and Steve Rogers. And in the 60s, having superheroes come from irish-american backgrounds was rare, because usually they were WASPS. You look at the Fantastic Four -- Reed, Johnny and Sue are WASPS, Tony Stark is WASP. Benjamin Grimm was intended by Kirby to be Jewish but that was never outright confirmed until fairly recently in comics' history.

    It's kind of weird that the only ehtnicity openly acknowledged in the Lee-Kirby era was Romani (who they called gypsies, a phrase that's now identified as a slur) and they used that explicitly for villains like Doom, Scarlet Witch, and Pietro (well until the latter two became Avengers belatedly). Which is kind of insensitive since Romani were also victims of Nazi genocide and this was just 20 years after the Holocaust. At the same time, the most subversive thing that Lee and Kirby did was take the Norse pantheon, which was still sullied by association with Wagner and Nazism, and make that into a lucrative global property and the defining pop culture version of that. They made the Norse gods into household names for the first time since the end of the Viking era and it was two Jewish-American vets who did that.

    Spider-Man was co-created by Stan Lee, a non-practising secular Jew, and Steve Ditko, a Randian objectivist and an atheist who was of Slovakian descent. When Stan Lee decided to marry Peter and Mary Jane, he chose a secular non-denominational wedding in the newspaper, and that was followed by Jim Shooter in the Wedding Annual. The word "god" isn't mentioned there. So that's about as official as it gets that Peter and MJ aren't especially religious. So I think Peter is Irish American, that checks out, it's there in the text and it's not uncommon. But I don't think he's especially religious except in a very vaguest of senses. He talks about god and has some spiritual ideas here and there, but it's in the same way that people do that in life when they say it in general. You know when people say "oh my god" they don't actually mean God as in the Bible and so on.

    I don't see why a character can't be of an ethnicity and still be universal. Black Panther is Wakandan and he's universal, as is Steve Rogers, as is the Canadian Wolverine.

  2. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoop Dogg View Post
    Slott, Jewish: Keeping the character more general will give people more freedom to interpret him in ways they can relate to more!

    Twitter people interpreting Spider-Man in ways they can relate to more, the type that Dan is arguing for: um Sir how DARE yOu?!?+?
    Yeah, that happens online. I think some people just want to be offended by certain creators and find ways to do it.
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  3. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by WebLurker View Post
    Yeah, that happens online. I think some people just want to be offended by certain creators and find ways to do it.
    I do not know if Pete is Jewish ( unlike say Ben Grimm) but Forrest Hills where Pete is from ( is a Jewish area of Queens. They even have obscure Jewish groups like Bukharans ( they are from Russia and the former Soviet Union). That said, if you asked me to guess I will say no. Why? 1: As best I remember there was a Minister not Rabbi at Pete and MJ's wedding. 2: While I understand that Ditko was atheist and Lee was a non-religious Jew, Roger Stern who is of Jewish heritage and created much of MJ's backstory did not establish her as Jewish, and Jews marrying non-Jews without converting is even today unusual. Ex: Robert Downey jr converted to Judiasm to marry his wife Susan.

  4. #49
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    I could've sworn I heard he was non practicing Roman Catholic. Parker isn't a Jewish last name. I have friends that attended Forest Hills HS and Kew-Forest and it's pretty mixed population now. I dunno how it was in the 60s, much has changed. I know the Jack Kirby's hood is nice now.

  5. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by StatutoryGrape View Post
    I could've sworn I heard he was non practicing Roman Catholic. Parker isn't a Jewish last name. I have friends that attended Forest Hills HS and Kew-Forest and it's pretty mixed population now. I dunno how it was in the 60s, much has changed. I know the Jack Kirby's hood is nice now.
    I know the area very well it waa always nice ( although I left NY 5 years ago) The next door neighborhood is Kew Gardens not Kew Forest. The part of Forest Hills that Pete is from is the Sourh Side of Queens Blvd ( the better side). I know Parker is not a Jewish name nor is Watson for that matter. But Jews have changed their names down through the years due to discrimination. The Warner Bros and the Howards ( Moe and Curly of the 3 Stooges) come to mind. To be honest, I cannot remember any stories except for the marriage) where religion came up. If anyone can please let me know.

  6. #51

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    The point on universality raises some interesting questions.

    White guys can see themselves as Peter Parker, but members of minority groups will not. And we get new characters with very specific backgrounds (IE- Miles Morales is half African-American/ half Puerto Rican.) That specificity can be a source for story ideas, and it is also seen as a good thing for people to read about others with different backgrounds, be it fictional or not, so there could be the counterpoint that it can be good for Peter to have a specific background.

    On the other hand, Spider-Man's been around for a long time and these details have consistently been kept vague, so it could be churlish if he's suddenly "claimed" by one specific sub-group (IE- "Peter Parker is Irish Protestant" or "Peter Parker is secular Jewish.")

  7. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by NC_Yankee View Post
    I know the area very well it waa always nice ( although I left NY 5 years ago) The next door neighborhood is Kew Gardens not Kew Forest. The part of Forest Hills that Pete is from is the Sourh Side of Queens Blvd ( the better side). I know Parker is not a Jewish name nor is Watson for that matter. But Jews have changed their names down through the years due to discrimination. The Warner Bros and the Howards ( Moe and Curly of the 3 Stooges) come to mind. To be honest, I cannot remember any stories except for the marriage) where religion came up. If anyone can please let me know.
    Kew Forest is the High School that's between Kew Gardens and Forest Hills. That's what i was referring to. I lived in Kew Gardens and Briarwood for years. In any case, it might have been different neighborhoods back then. Hell, Trump came from Jamaica, it's sure as hell different there now.

  8. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    The point on universality raises some interesting questions.

    White guys can see themselves as Peter Parker, but members of minority groups will not. And we get new characters with very specific backgrounds (IE- Miles Morales is half African-American/ half Puerto Rican.) That specificity can be a source for story ideas, and it is also seen as a good thing for people to read about others with different backgrounds, be it fictional or not, so there could be the counterpoint that it can be good for Peter to have a specific background.

    On the other hand, Spider-Man's been around for a long time and these details have consistently been kept vague, so it could be churlish if he's suddenly "claimed" by one specific sub-group (IE- "Peter Parker is Irish Protestant" or "Peter Parker is secular Jewish.")
    I am not sure I agree. Think of the "Be Like Mike" Nike campaign for Michael Jordan or the popularity of Tiger Woods? People do want to be like them regardless of race, creed, color, or gender. People still like Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and John Wayne years after their death. Personally speaking, my favorite athlete of the past decade was Mariano Rivera who is from Panana. Why? Because of the way he carried himself ( on and off the field). Taking this to Spider-Man, I am Protestant of Irish Heritage and see Peter as a universal character who transcends race, creed, color or gender like James Bond or Sherlock Holmes. I am honored by my heritage and unafraid to admit to being a Christian. But picking up Amazing and seeing Peter marching in the St Patrick's Day Parade? No thank you.

  9. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by NC_Yankee View Post
    I do not know if Pete is Jewish ( unlike say Ben Grimm) but Forrest Hills where Pete is from ( is a Jewish area of Queens. They even have obscure Jewish groups like Bukharans ( they are from Russia and the former Soviet Union). That said, if you asked me to guess I will say no. Why? 1: As best I remember there was a Minister not Rabbi at Pete and MJ's wedding. 2: While I understand that Ditko was atheist and Lee was a non-religious Jew, Roger Stern who is of Jewish heritage and created much of MJ's backstory did not establish her as Jewish, and Jews marrying non-Jews without converting is even today unusual. Ex: Robert Downey jr converted to Judiasm to marry his wife Susan.
    Lot of people who work on the franchise seem to default to him not being Jewish, despite the fam theories that he is. For example, in the Ultimate comics written by the Jewish Brian Michael Bendis, Peter specifically notes he not Jewish. In the Raimi movies, his aunt seems to have a Christian background (using the Lord's Prayer the first one and the reverent nod to divine help when she doesn't fall off a church in the second). In fact, the only one I recall was in Into the Spider-Verse (stepping on the wedding glass) and, as I also recall, the crew member who put that in went on record basically saying that it was a in-joke and not meant to be taken literally.

    Quote Originally Posted by placeholder2 View Post
    I could've sworn I heard he was non practicing Roman Catholic. Parker isn't a Jewish last name. I have friends that attended Forest Hills HS and Kew-Forest and it's pretty mixed population now. I dunno how it was in the 60s, much has changed. I know the Jack Kirby's hood is nice now.
    The Raimi movies would fit that bill; his aunt seems reverent (with the second movie suggesting a possible Catholic background), but Peter himself not being indicated to be religious (although there's nothing that would preclude it, either).

    As far as the comics go, my understanding is that older ones have suggested he has some vague beliefs in God, but more recent ones prefer an atheist take on the character.
    Doctor Strange: "You are the right person to replace Logan."
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  10. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    White guys can see themselves as Peter Parker, but members of minority groups will not.
    Ta-Nehisi Coates and a numerous host of other African-American fans will have words with you on that.

    In general minority viewers identify with whoever they so choose to please. And it's not a given that people from minority backgrounds won't identify with a character because he's white just as it's not a given that white audiences won't identify with a character who comes from a minority background.

    In the case of Spider-Man, Peter Parker especially, has always been popular among African-American audiences for the fact that as a dude hounded by the press and police and constantly scapegoated for it, his daily experiences are more common to African-Americans as a community than anyone specifically white. Stan Lee himself cottoned on to that in his run with Romita, and ASM #91-92 has Peter aligned with Robbie Robertson in the fight against white supremacy.

    On the other hand, Spider-Man's been around for a long time and these details have consistently been kept vague, so it could be churlish if he's suddenly "claimed" by one specific sub-group (IE- "Peter Parker is Irish Protestant" or "Peter Parker is secular Jewish.")
    It's not churlish. For Peter Parker to be a character of realistic dimensions, he has to have a recognizable background. His last name Parker is Anglo-Irish in origin. He's white and working-class and a New Yorker. So that means his background and past doesn't need to have a big mystery because it's not finally very important. You can be of a particular ethnicity and not have it be very important to you, and that always works better if you don't come from a minority background, where for a lot of social and other reasons, that does take on an importance. At the end of the day, Peter is a New Yorker first and foremost, that means more to him than being Irish or Protestant, since religion isn't a very big part of who he is, as compared to Daredevil.

  11. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Ta-Nehisi Coates and a numerous host of other African-American fans will have words with you on that.

    In general minority viewers identify with whoever they so choose to please. And it's not a given that people from minority backgrounds won't identify with a character because he's white just as it's not a given that white audiences won't identify with a character who comes from a minority background.
    i'd say yes to this, but with context.

    "whoever they so choose"; for a long, long time the vast majority of choice was white. that was the default.

    so, yes, non-white minorities could and did empathise with white characters but that was born partly out of a lack of choice, rather than access to choice.

    as a child of mixed ethnicity, that's how i grew up. empathising with and looking up to white males, as a default. i remember the first time i saw a character in a hollywood film that represented my non white side... a character that was heroic and not the joke, the sleaze or the villain. i hadn't even realised until that day that it was something i'd never really had. i'd normalised and taken the default for granted.

    as a tangent, i also think it's important to be able to sympathise with another group or individual's story, even if you can never actually empathise with it. it teaches people to look beyond their own limited experiences.

    In the case of Spider-Man, Peter Parker especially, has always been popular among African-American audiences for the fact that as a dude hounded by the press and police and constantly scapegoated for it, his daily experiences are more common to African-Americans as a community than anyone specifically white. Stan Lee himself cottoned on to that in his run with Romita, and ASM #91-92 has Peter aligned with Robbie Robertson in the fight against white supremacy.
    which is great, but thankfully we're moving past the need for proxies in stories about racism.

    It's not churlish. For Peter Parker to be a character of realistic dimensions, he has to have a recognizable background. His last name Parker is Anglo-Irish in origin.
    i'd agree that it's churlish in the way mets (most likely) intended: that one group claims the character to the exclusion of all others.

    At the end of the day, Peter is a New Yorker first and foremost
    along with guns and flags, this is something i think aussies will never understand. if anyone here went around exclaiming darwin pride or brisbane pride, they'd get laughed at.
    Last edited by boots; 06-11-2019 at 11:48 PM.
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  12. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by placeholder2 View Post
    I could've sworn I heard he was non practicing Roman Catholic. Parker isn't a Jewish last name. I have friends that attended Forest Hills HS and Kew-Forest and it's pretty mixed population now. I dunno how it was in the 60s, much has changed. I know the Jack Kirby's hood is nice now.
    placeholder number 2, we barely knew ya
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  13. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by boots View Post
    along with guns and flags, this is something i think aussies will never understand. if anyone here went around exclaiming darwin pride or brisbane pride, they'd get laughed at.
    Having visited New York several times, I find it entirely earned and merited. It's a city that never leaves you if you get to visit it.

    In the Pre-Giuliani era, New Yorkers tended to see themselves as separate from Americans. You know "New York out of USA" was a graffiti there at one point.

    I mean Spider-Man is more New York than American in a way. Batman and Superman for instance are characters who are tied to American power and values and so on, but Spider-Man has escaped that. The main reason being he's a New Yorker more than American.

  14. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Having visited New York several times, I find it entirely earned and merited. It's a city that never leaves you if you get to visit it.

    In the Pre-Giuliani era, New Yorkers tended to see themselves as separate from Americans. You know "New York out of USA" was a graffiti there at one point.

    I mean Spider-Man is more New York than American in a way. Batman and Superman for instance are characters who are tied to American power and values and so on, but Spider-Man has escaped that. The main reason being he's a New Yorker more than American.
    iíve been a few times too, itís an amazing city. iím not saying itís unmerited, itís just an oddity.

    i still donít ďgetĒ identifying with a city. its just not an aussie way of thinking, but i do understand that americans tend to identify strongly with things like suburbs, towns, states, north and south etc
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    Quote Originally Posted by WebLurker View Post
    Lot of people who work on the franchise seem to default to him not being Jewish, despite the fam theories that he is. For example, in the Ultimate comics written by the Jewish Brian Michael Bendis, Peter specifically notes he not Jewish. In the Raimi movies, his aunt seems to have a Christian background (using the Lord's Prayer the first one and the reverent nod to divine help when she doesn't fall off a church in the second). In fact, the only one I recall was in Into the Spider-Verse (stepping on the wedding glass) and, as I also recall, the crew member who put that in went on record basically saying that it was a in-joke and not meant to be taken literally.



    The Raimi movies would fit that bill; his aunt seems reverent (with the second movie suggesting a possible Catholic background), but Peter himself not being indicated to be religious (although there's nothing that would preclude it, either).

    As far as the comics go, my understanding is that older ones have suggested he has some vague beliefs in God, but more recent ones prefer an atheist take on the character.
    I need to be honest where I stand. I admit as a Christian I would not like Peter as an atheist ( the Devil aka Mephisto) winning was an underlining problem I had with OMD ( one of many). That said, Ditko and Lee elected NOT to make him him atheist and thus more acceptable to the masses, and Marvel should respect the wishes of the creators ( neither of whom were exactly religious) instead of giving in to a vocal minority who want to erase religion because they are uncomfortable with it.

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