Bleh with Barry

Random with a cynical twist of lime.

X-Men and the 60’s

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If taken in the context of the 60’s, the idea of the X-Men is an interesting one. During the 60’s, the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing. The African-Americans fought for their rights and eventually won them from the suppressing forces of America. This plight is echoed in the pages of the X-Men Comics with ever more parallels that just this recurring theme.

The X-Men must deal with prejudice in the pages of their comics much the same as the African-American did in reality. The X-Men are persons with special powers such as flight, fire manipulation, etc. and are often refered to as mutants because of this. They must fight to become accepted in a world that sees them as freaks or as lesser beings. They have to fight against extremist groups such as the Friends of Humanity (F.O.H.) which has the particular ring of the Ku Klux Klan. They have to fight the prejudice and even lose members of their community to these persons. They also have to deal with the Sentinels, huge robots that are built to hunt mutants. These robots come to take them in the night. Much like the groups that used to come and burn down African-Americans’ houses during the night.

The leaders of both the main groups of mutants, the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants, are reminiscent of the two main African-American figures of the time. Dr. Charles Xavier (X-Men) is the spitting image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He believes that humans and mutants can live together in harmony and tries to work through peaceful methods to end the human/mutant prejudice. He thinks that man and mutant kind can live together in peace if they just try much as King did. With the help of his X-Men, he tries to show the world that mutants are not all bad and that they peacefully coexist.

Magneto (The Brotherhood of Mutants), on the other hand, is more proactive like Malcolm X. He believes that coexistence can be achieved mainly through force and uses his groups of mutants to try to subjugate the human race to that of the mutants. He openly attacks groups that threaten mutants and is continually in conflict with those who oppose his ideals. With his group, he becomes a threat to the idea of peace that Xavier hopes to make possible. He himself could be viewed regressing the steps forward that any others had made because the majority of the world does not respect violence (think of the War in Iraq, the Rwandan Genocide, etc.) and deal with it swiftly and with equal violence.

The X-Men are a subject that are near and dear to my heart. It seems to me that Stan Lee and the other creators had a specific idea in mind when they started publishing this comic. They used the struggle of the mutants to be a metaphor for the struggle of the African-Americans. It seemed that they used this as their own individual method of protesting the unfair treatment of African-Americans everywhere.

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