I reject the idea that humans are inherently good. Perhaps that’s a little deep for an opinion piece on a Spider-Man fan movie, but it’s true. It’s why we have affairs, start wars, and vote for the Tories. There might be some innate goodness to the human spirit, a thing inside us that makes us protect one another in the worst of times, but at our baseline, humans are selfish. Humans are cruel. Humans only care about themselves.
Here’s where the Spider-Man fan movie comes into it. Titled Spider-Man: Lotus, the movie was one of the most anticipated amateur movie projects. I say ‘was’, but in a lot of cases, it still is. The reason the movie has become so controversial is because the actor playing Spider-Man, Warden Wayne, has just been outed as having a history of using racial slurs. In particular, casual use of the N-word with an ‘a’, and occasional use with a hard R. He’s white.
This was almost immediately followed by leaks that the movie’s director, Gavin J. Konop also had a history of racial and ableist remarks. This is not just the best boy and assistant grip (with apologies to all the hard working crews out there). This is the star and the director. You could not find two people who better represent the film. Knowing that the two most central people in the project are racists has obviously put a lot of people off from watching and supporting Spider-Man: Lotus. But predictably, a lot of people don’t care.
That old selfish chestnut is being rolled back out – ‘lots of people work hard on this movie and I want to support them’. I call bull effluence, pal. You just want to watch the movie, and a little racism isn’t going to stop you. If that’s the case, just say that. Say ‘racism just isn’t a dealbreaker for me, I want to see Spider-Man’. We’d understand. It’s so rare to see Spider-Man in movies these days. It’s been, what? Five months since the last one left theatres? A lifetime.
It’s the same excuse people use for supporting the upcoming Hogwarts Legacy game. JK Rowling, the single most influential person in the Harry Potter franchise, might have said some horrible things, but I really want to support Gary the junior level designer, so I have to support this game (with apologies to our hard working devs). Troy Leavitt? Never heard of him.
But anyway, best of luck ahead of your busy weekend. Elvis and The Black Phone open, and lots of people worked hard on them, so you’re definitely going to see them, yeah? Assuming you’ve already caught Lightyear, Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World Dominion, Men, Bob’s Burgers, FireStarter, Ambulance, Morbius (and Morbius again when it came back), and of course all the indie releases at your local small screen. You’re… you’re not just a massive hypocrite who only uses the excuse of supporting hard work in the film industry when it means you can stick your fingers in your ears and not think about racism, are you?
And you’re definitely not boycotting Aquaman 2 over Amber Heard, right? Because hundreds of people worked really hard on that movie. What, was this large vocal boycotting of a movie many of you were unlikely to see in the first place just an excuse to be freely misogynistic in public? At least you didn’t decide you were boycotting until the court case was over, because you know, innocent until proven guilty, yeah? And given Depp also had to settle with Heard after the case – despite many reports relegating that to the footnotes – you’re boycotting his movies too, right? Except you’re not, because hundreds of people worked on them.
Let’s have a look at these hard working souls on Spider-Man: Lotus, shall we? Moriah Brooklyn, who plays MJ in the movie, has said she will play no part in the film’s promotion, owing to her own ‘moral instinct’. She explicitly says Wayne should be ‘held accountable’ and that she will not ‘stand beside’ Konop.
The film’s editor, who goes by the moniker UltraSargent, has also distanced himself, leaving his editing work on the final trailer unfinished. Do either of those seem like they would appreciate you banging the drums of support for Spider-Man: Lotus? Younis (no last name is offered on any of their social media profiles), a person of colour who also stars in Lotus, also wrote a brief statement that he sent with the caption ‘keep me out of it’.
People change, sure. Do full grown adults who frequently call other people ‘retard’ and use the phrase ‘ughhh black people noise’ as a way of describing how they feel, like Konop, change that much? I doubt it. But even if they do, they have to prove it. We can’t just dismiss bad behaviour because sometimes people change. They have to change first and earn the right to be thought about differently. Unless they make a Spider-Man film we want to see, then they get a free pass and we can ignore their racism while pretending it’s because we want to support the rest of the team.
The whole point of Spider-Man is that anyone can wear the mask. Miles Morales might have provided a Black Spider-Man (and other characters have us Spideys of other races) but Stan Lee himself has said before he thinks Spider-Man’s popularity is down to the fact it can be anyone in that suit. Anyone. No matter who you are, it could be someone just like you. To continue supporting Spider-Man: Lotus despite the history of the movie’s star and director goes completely against the essence of Spider-Man, and betrays who selfish we all really are.
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