Because it’s never “right person for the job”, every industry being what they are. Usually, its a guy and the what they’re doing is subject to criticism. Whether or not the job they do is good, most of the concern is over why someone else isn’t given the chance to do that same job that isn’t a straight white male.
There’s this hilarious exchange in HBO’s Silicon Valley, a satire of the actual place and the tech industry entrenched there, where the cast needs to hire a new programmer. The HR guy wants to hire a woman, to balance out all the men that the company employs. Gilfoyle, someone who takes a cynical and blunt approach to everything, scoffs at the suggestion at hiring someone because of their sex and instead insists they be hired because of their qualifications. They do end up hiring a woman who is ably qualified for the job they have, and I wish the real world had that kind of cosmic resolution.
Bias and discrimination are present in almost every part of American society, but are mostly an accepted fact in the Comics Industry and Hollywood. The pushes for change and the slow progress of said change usually drowns out whatever small victories may come about.
The internet kind of lost its collective shit when Riri Williams was announced. Marvel was swapping out another founding member of the Avengers, a Black, female character was being added to Marvel’s pantheon and then comes the other fact that she’s being written by Brian Micheal Bendis. He created the character, so its only fair he get to write her since he’s also writing Iron Man. Some time later, Marvel made the overdo move of hiring its first Black female writer. We still don’t know how that’s all going to shake out, but Bendis did co-create Miles Morales.
Morales first appeared in 2011, three years later he was on the cartoon Ultimate Spider-Man alongside that Peter Parker and there was a push for him to be THE Spider-Man of the movies or at least be part of them. That is a staggering amount of spotlight for a character so young. Its unfortunate, but none of that would be possible without Brian Micheal Bendis. Without him, there’s no biracial Spider-Man capable of replacing Peter Parker, not even Miguel O’Hara.
Even the fact that Sara Pichelli helped create Morales is something outside the norm, as female pencilers are rare in Marvel and DC comics. That’s not an accident, or an indication of female artists lack of talent. They simply aren’t as receptive of female artists and the same is true for Black creators as well.
It’s part of a mindset that’s been there for decades and slows the march of progress. Still, a lack of diverse creators doesn’t excuse a lack of diverse characters.
The Verge had this interesting piece on the Wonder Woman movie and it’s big problem. Namely, the fact that Geoff Johns, Allen Heinberg, and Zack Snyder wrote the script for the movie. The first female superhero movie in years, Wonder Woman’s first actual movie besides the animated variety, which is directed by female director who previously directed the acclaimed film Monster, and three male screenwriters is the fly in the ointment. Nevermind that Geoff Johns was a strong career in both television and comics writing, who many see as the only salvation for the DCEU and Allen Heinberg, himself an openly gay writer, helped create Young Avengers for Marvel and has done some admirable efforts for the Amazon. The writer of that Verge article mentions all that, but I don’t know if he actually understands it. A Wonder Woman movie that has no men involved on the production side is a lofty goal, but it should maybe wait until Wonder Woman 2. We’re barely getting one movie and there’s actual hope that the right decisions will be made for it. The simple fact of the matter is that Wonder Woman may be part of DC’s trinity, but often struggles in the market. The most attention she’s gotten has come from male creators writing her: creator William Moulton Marston, George Perez, Brian Azzerallo, Grant Morrison. Her comic series is finally getting attention now that its being written by Greg Rucka. Granted, Rucka is talented and his projects usually draw attention from fans and critics.
The long and short of it is that its an imperfect world, run by power structures that favor few rather than most. For others to have a shot though, it falls on the men who have the responsibility of creation to create opportunities for others to work and exist. Black and female characters means creators that resonate with them demographically have a reason to work on them, so that those characters can be depicted authentically. The same goes for TV and film, if it takes straight white men to get the ball rolling for those same diverse characters that’s something we may have to tolerate until the world is ready for those characters and who should represent them.
We’re seeing that with Marvel’s Black Panther, written and directed by two Black men which is fitting. The Russo brothers and Kevin Feige just had to get T’Challa to that point. We can only hope that soon that is not necessary and the right people are there from the outset instead of eventually…