Worse than Breasts and Melanin

While I was out of the loop, trying to recenter myself*, Marvel comics did something that turned certain segments of the Heathen world on their head; they made “The Mighty Thor” a women.  This is apparently a bad thing for Heathenry because…uh…breasts?  I guess?  In all seriousness, I saw a handful of Heathens loose their minds over a comic book that has a female character named Thor…and…wow.  Just…wow.


Thor as an amphibian; your misogynistic argument is invalid.

Let’s be clear here: 99.9% of the people upset about this, in the Heathen community at least, are reacting not to the spiritual implications of this but to their own misogynistic worldview and/or their fundamentalism.  This is quite similar to the controversy that rose up over Idris Elba playing Hemidall; it too was only made up of bigotry and ignorance.  Nothing more or less.

Let’s take a brief look at some of the plotlines that have been far stranger and more bizarre than Mjornir being paired with a set of D-Cups.  The one most people have brought up is the time that Thor was turned into anthropomorphic frog, which makes it weird that people seem to feel that being a woman is worse than not even being human.  Next there is Beta Ray Bill, the equine alien who was given a version of Mjonir after he bested Thor in brawl.  There is the alternate reality of Earth X where Odin turned Thor into a woman to teach him humility, making this not even the first time there was a female Thor in a print comic book.  We also have a team of multiple Thors from multiple time lines, brought together by Zarkko the Man of Tommorrow, called the “Thor Corps“**.  Lastly on our quick tour of crazy comic book plots, there is Throg,: a human football played cursed to the shape of a frog and eventually given his own version of Mjonir (Frognoljir, no I am not kidding), who serves as a member of the “Pet Avengers“.  They all sound like fever dreams, yet they’re all a part of comic book canon.

“The Mighty Thor” is only loosely based on Norse mythology, at best, and it’s been that way since August of 1962.  What we know modern Heathenry to be has only existed since the the 1970s, meaning that some of these ridiculous plot lines were kicking around over a decade before modern Heathenry even came into beaning.  Beta Ray Bill has been a part of comic book lore since November of 1983.  Yet, inspite of those thirty-one years, it hasn’t us impeded us in any way.  Hell, it’s older than a lot of the Heathens complaining about it!

Before anyone points it out, I’m aware there are people on Tumblr who take the comic books too seriously.  I’m sorry, but I don’t think that matters at all.  There are also people, offline and online, who swear the airplanes deposit mind control chemicals into the air…and I’ve noticed that their beliefs haven’t changed how airplanes and/or aerodynamics work.  The fact is that comic book Thor doesn’t have a meaningful impact on our religion, regardless of whether anyone on Tumblr develops some sort of wonky gnosis over the material written about him.  Or her, for that matter.

The people uncomfortable with this are sexist and/or dangerously afflicted with the madness that is fundamentalism.  That may seem to be a bit of a pejorative leap, but I’ve thought about this long and hard and I’ve come to an unavoidable conclusion on the matter: simply put, if Marvel Comics is to be judged negatively for their departure from the lore of our spiritual ancestors, there is one thing they’ve done that is a greater crime against the lore than female Thor or black Heimdall.

That crime is the portrayal of Odin by Anthony Hopkins in Thor(2011).  Please tell me why everyone who bristles at gender swaps and skin tone hasn’t torn into the interpretation of Odin depicted within that film.  Put it under any level of similar scrutiny and it becomes cringe worthy.

In this movie, we see the God of War, Magic, Frenzy, and Passion demanding to uphold a peace treaty when it makes no sense to do so; he even punishes his son for returning aggression that was (to the best of his knowledge) never instigated by his people.  Later on, he is so devastated by having to punish Thor and reveal to Loki that he’s adopted (?!)  that the stress forces him to take a freaking nap for two days.  Also he didn’t loose his eye for wisdom in the movie; he lost it in a battle that his side was winning, but then refused to finish.  Also Loki isn’t his sworn-brother, but is an adopted war orphan instead.  Thor is banished…for killing Frost Giants, which is now bad for some reason.  He even strips Thor of his hammer and his powers…because the plot needs for him to be able to do that.

The entire movie depicts Odin as an all-powerful, all-knowing being of immeasurable capacity…who does nothing but hem and haw over everything he does. We see the leader of the Aesir, one of the greatest figures in Norse myth, reduced into little more than a contrived solution to the dilemma of the movie…when the entire plot was contrived into being by his stupid decisions in the first place.

The Allfather depicted in the Eddas would take that “Odin” and break him in half.  Quite possibly he would then animate his corpse and order it to bludgeon the script writers until they produced something better.  In the lore, he killed, maimed, and destroyed anything that stood in the way of his people and their well-being; there was no “wait and see” attitude.  The idea of making “peace treaties” with enemies that would obviously turn on you the moment you looked away is not something this God would even consider.  If you are bothered by the deviations from the lore created by Thor with a vagina and Heimdall with melanin, than you should be frothing mad at this namby pamby excuse for a depiction of the Allfather.

Yet, scarcely a peep is heard about this wimpy and milquetoast bastardization.  There was a faint grumbling from a few scholars I knew, but that was it.  All of these people making gender and race based complaints, many identifying as “Odinists” by the way, didn’t pay attention as the God whose name they claim as their own was shown to be passive, weak-willed, and almost cowardly.  They missed that their namesake was presented as some bearded, all-knowing father figure that looks more at home in the Christian New Testament then in the Eddas.

Women have been cosplay as gender-bent versions of Thor for years.  Heathens know this, because they show up on their Tumblrs and Facebook Feeds all the time.  So

Women have been cosplaying a gender-bent Thor for years. Plenty of Heathens know this, because pictures of them show up in Heathen Faceboook groups and Tumblrs all the time…usually with some very suggestive compliments.  Did they have a problem when hot blonds were hanging around in metal bras and flimsy skirts, striking sultry poses?  Doesn’t seem like it.  How is it only a perversion of our lore when it becomes representative of the official, but fictional, narrative…but until then it’s just harmless eye candy?  If that isn’t misogyny, I’m not quite sure what is.

Give Thor different chromosomes, and suddenly you’re shitting on the Eddas***.  Make Heimdall black, and you’re a coward who is caving in to the pressures of the “monoculture”.  Never mind that Thor is a comic book character, and that this isn’t even the first time he has been deprived of his hammer and two golden apples.  Never mind that Idris Elba personified a proud warrior and tireless guardian every single second he was on screen.  Nope, those two things are still horrific insults to our religion.

Make Odin look a weak and frail coward, and a bunch of strong, proud, Folkist Heathens don’t seem to give a damn…because, hey…it may be a complete bastardization of the greatest of our Gods, but it’s a complete and utter bastardization played by a white dude.  There are people who can ignore all the times Thor was a frog or that a copy of his hammer was given to horse headed aliens because, hey, it may have nothing to do with any of the lore but there is no reason to get upset as long as they horse and the frog both have dicks and aren’t black.

If there is another way to see this, I can’t find it.  The only time anyone gives a crap is when stuff involves women or not-white people; then it’s an affront to these people and their religion.  Change Thor’s species, however, and no one cares because it’s a comic book.

While we are on that subject, did we forget that this is a comic book?!  Imagine if DC came out with a comic called the “The Super Savior Jesus”, where Jesus Christ was depicted as a member of the Green Lantern Corp or whatever.  You’d be able to hear the gnashing of teeth within the bible belt from space, and the Heathen community…we would laugh ourselves sick over their outrage.  I know this, because we already laugh at their extremest claptrap.  The Heathen community, almost in it’s entirety, constantly extends a big middle finger to the Westboro Baptists and their peers.  We think it’s ridiculous that they act as they act, preach as they preach, and condemn what they condemn.  We see this behavior, and we treat them as little better than circus clowns.

Then Thor gets a literal breastplate, and suddenly a huge chunk of us are in the big top right along side of them.

There are a handful of criticisms that are fair…and in every case, it’s when the criticizer is talking about the comic book as a comic book exclusively.  If you want to call it lazy story-writing, I’m okay with that; most comic book writing has been a form of highly polished, lazy world building for quite some time.  If you dismiss it as an attempt to sell comics, I’m okay with that too.  The moment you cross the line from “that’s a stupid comic book plot” to “this offends my religious beliefs in some way”, you’re in a very bad place.  If you’re reacting this strongly to a piece of fiction blacking up and femming up some characters with tenuous connections to your religious mythology, the problem isn’t with Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Idris Elba, Marvel Comics, or anyone else.  The problem resides exclusively with you.

Throg and Beta Ray Bill even have collectable busts...which you purchase right along side the totally has nothing to do with divine Thor, Marvel-Thor.

Throg and Beta Ray Bill even have collectable busts…which you purchase right along side the blond headed alien who is supposedly a representation of the red-headed Aesir.  Collect the whole set!

At that point, it’s not about heritage, about coming home, or about any of that feel good rhetoric.  What you’re prattling about at that point is nothing less than unadulterated bigotry; what else can it be when your God with boobs bothers you more then your God as a sub-human frog?  The literal symbol of our faith is given to an extra-planetary horse-person and these same lore-berserkers don’t even bat an eye.  The comparisons are numerous, and none of them are kind to those who wield this type of situational outrage.  The best I can say for someone who thinks this way is that maybe, just maybe, there is a chance they are just an idiot instead of an idiot and a horrible bigot.

If you’re coming up with an explanation for why this isn’t just a waste of time and/or proof of your own racist, misogynistic foolishness, save it for Hopkins; the Odin of Northern Europe wouldn’t give a damn about your feeble excuses.

EDIT 7/26/2014: The post had to be edited due to an unacceptable amount of errors!  I apologize for the premature publishing, and thank those who brought it to my attention!  I don’t proofread well when I’m irritated… >.>

*More on that later.  The short version for now is that my tank was on empty, and I refilled it by focusing on stuff that wasn’t the community.
** Beta Ray Bill shows up again as a member of the Thor Crops.  Said horse-headed alien called the group the “Hammer Brothers”.  So, not only do we have an entire team of Thors, moving the Thunderer from the realm of unique and mighty being into something you can stick in a copying machine crossed with a Tardis, but they added in a reference to Super Mario Brothers.  Shine on, you crazy Marvel.
***I actually saw someone write this; that Marvel was “shitting on the Eddas”.  So apparently the last fifty plus years of writing stories about how Thor wasn’t a God, but rather that he and the entire pantheon were actually aliens that our spiritual ancestors thought were Gods is somehow completely okay and respectful.   All of that, plus an underwire bra and a tampon….then you’ve gone to far!  Are you kidding me?

11 thoughts on “Worse than Breasts and Melanin

  1. Doug Freyburger says:

    I’ve already seen complaints that Asatru is a “comic book religion”. When the comic book goes off the rails I dislike it. Yeah, it’s fiction and whatever. Disney has a much worse track record on this issue than the pre-Disney Marvel did. Now Marvel is owned by Disney and they’re doing the Disney treatment on the material. Of course I dislike it.

    As to peace with the frost giants, that’s not as bad as you’ve depicted it. The final battle is with the fire giants so if the frost giants can be kept neutral so much the better. At first I went “Yeah, really? Disney-fication at best worst”. But that one was much less bad than most Disney stuff because it almost makes sense in terms of the wide current of our stories. Of course “even a broken clock is right twice per day” and I’m not giving Disney any points for careful thought on the topic. Their random choice stumbled on an idea that’s not as bad as most.

    I was a Marvel comic fan long before Odin told me to follow, but I’ve always gotten that their story lines are fiction.

    Wagner played just as fast and loose with our stories. We have similar reactions to his material.

    Thanks for the thoughtful article!

    • Yeah, I have no real issue with people thinking it’s a crappy storyline idea. I do think it’s objective ability to tell an interesting story is still yet to be determined…since word one of the story has yet to be told. That’s something I don’t really have any passion or true energy behind however, and I can easily agree to disagree.

      The thing is, even where you (personally) are comparing one and the other, you’re doing so consistently; you are recognizing that the entirety of the comic book’s storyline is only tangentially connected, and that’s more or less the problem I’m getting from you. That makes sense. It’s a consistent standard, and I have no issues with that.

      I do realize that people criticize us from time to time for being a “comic book” religion…but I think we are going to beat that stigma by paying less attention to the comic books, not more. There will always be critics…but if their complaints aren’t valid, it’s up to up to prove that with our actions; we are out deeds and all that..

      The people who are ONLY mad about Black Heimdall and Female Thor? Those people are showing what their priorities are…and it’s not their faith. Not only does it create more problems with basic tolerance, it’s my feeling that these people are reinforcing that our religion is collectively influenced by a comic book…or else why would people be loosing their mind about one? That’s the stuff that really gets to me.

      Thanks in turn for the kinds words; always glad to know my writing is appreciated. 🙂

      • Doug Freyburger says:

        “I do realize that people criticize us from time to time for being a “comic book” religion…but I think we are going to beat that stigma by paying less attention to the comic books, not more.”

        I am very active at lodge as one of my main hobbies – Last year a heathen got ejected from Masonry in Florida for his religion and an edict came out banning a list of faiths. Florida was the laughing stock of worldwide Masonry for the year until the ban was overturned by the voting delegates and the Grand Master who issued the edict had his term expire. The write ups included his complaint that we are a comic book religion – I remember the cartoon Davie and Goliath on TV when I was a kid. Two can play that game if it comes down to it.

        In that sense the purchase by Disney and the standard issue Disney tactic of going off the rails works to detach folks. I’m a life long Babylon 5 fan and the guy who wrote Babylon 5 for TV also wrote Thor for a while and did the screen play. I asked him to insert a scene with Thor liking coffee. Little bits of steering towards the modern religion are over at this point thanks to Disney. Sad but I do get your point.

        And the stuff Disney has done to Chinese myths. I shudder to think what else they will concoct in the Thor comics.

        “The people who are ONLY mad about Black Heimdall and Female Thor? Those people are showing what their priorities are…”

        Sure. Every faith has fundie parasites. That type is our set of fundie parasites. Saying they “aren’t real heathens” is far more a cop out than saying “they are bad heathens but they are real and they really are our problem. We kick them out on detection but more keep arriving”.

      • The trip to proving legitimacy isn’t easy, and it does involve some trials. I just don’t think the way to handle these trials is via combating the negative statements of others; you’re always arguing from “bad terrain” if you do that.

        I just don’t see “this isn’t what we are!” as an effective means of changing opinion…because the people convinced it’s about comic book are already convinced, so why fight the battle of their terms? Better that we try to show people, actively, what we are about…that’s how we win more ground. That’s my opinion at least; your mileage may vary.

        I do understand that it makes things no less difficult in the mean time, and I by no means want to play that down…I simply feel that, if the terrain is going to be difficult either way, we should be taking the most effective path through that difficulty. Does that make sense?

        As for the “not a real Heathen”…I wasn’t trying to say that, and I apologize if that is what came across to you (or anyone else) in my writing. Who is and who isn’t a real Heathen isn’t mine to decide, and I’m well aware of that.

        What I was trying to say is that the fact that the objections exclusively surround a black actor and a fictional white women, and nothing else, shows that their the objections of such Heathens aren’t about their religion but about their prejudices. They are Heathen as long as they identify as such, but this is not a “Heathen” issue….not by a long shot.

  2. caelesti says:

    I have my hobbies over in this corner, and my religion over in this other corner. Do I have hobbies that start off for in part religious reasons? Or fiction I read that gives me spiritual inspiration? Yes, sometimes. I think the problem is a lot of people see their religion as simply being another hobby, with the same level of importance, and a lot of people treat fandom(s) like mini-religions.
    I don’t care what the Pop Culture Pagans do, so long as they understand Marvel Loki/Odin etc. is different than Norse mythology, but this does show the problem with it being a current franchise- what happens with it is under control by a corporation that wants to make money, regardless of what how a minority of fans may see the characters.

  3. happydog1960 says:

    I would totally buy “Super Savior Jesus.” Every single issue.

  4. I think you have some good points here, though in regards to the displeasure at “Female Thor” and “Black Heimdall” isn’t out of bigotry or sexism. It is out of injury at a disrespect that would not be tolerated against any other.

    The best way to think of it is this way. What if, for the sake of making in an interesting story, we had Martin Luther King jr played by a white man? Hey, that’s cool right? Sure he’s a historical character/person of immeasurable import to millions of people, but hey, it’s just a story…why are you all getting angry? Or how about if we say turn Cleopatra into a Man, for the sake of a tale? Sure, she was one of the greatest queens of Egypt and an icon to millions of women everywhere, but hey, it’s just a story. Who they are in a social, political, historical, or religious context shouldn’t matter, should it? It’s not like we’re being disrespectful to who they are or what they mean to people.

    If at this point, you find yourself frothing at the idea of changing the race of a black man to white, or the gender of a woman to that of a man, as yourself this. If it is wrong to do to one…why is it right to do to the other?

    Now don’t get me wrong Idris did an amazing job as Heimdall, and I was one of those who was upset at the race lift casting…because I knew it wouldn’t be tolerated if it had been the other way around. And as for a Female Thor…I’m waiting to see how they do it, though I am unhappy that they are doing the gender swap when again, it wouldn’t be tolerated if say DC decided to change Wonder Woman into a man.

    Insisting that ones culture, or even one’s heroes, be treated with respect to who they are isn’t bigotry.

    • As I said, the reason I have issues with things being bigoted is because of context; every plot Marvel has told about Thor is no more or less offensive (from a religious stand point) than any other. Why did some of these people get LIVID at Thor as a frog? Or at a Horse Headed Alien getting a copy of the symbol of our faith? I can’t reconcile any of that in my head. You’ve brought up some interesting points, however, that I feel should be addressed.

      I think I’ve made a good case for Marvel’s Thor being very different from the God Thor; Marvel certainly based their idea for that character on the being from Norse mythology and spirituality, but they go off in some very different directions that diverge significantly from the Eddas.

      As such, it’s character based off our mythology…not one that is a depiction of it. He (Marvel’s Thor) certainly isn’t a character from History…which is why making a Caucasian MLK or a male Cleopatra isn’t a good parallel. Not only are these real human beings from history, they are human beings whose ethnic background and gender are extremely relevant to the place in history. Cleopatra was a female ruler in a time not know for women being in positions of power. MLK was one of biggest leaders of one of the largest civil rights moment in American history…one that insisted on equality for African Americans. You can’t change those things without changing the person they represent.

      Wonder Woman, also, actually has been depicted as a man…DC created an alternate reality at one point where the gender of every person had been reversed…so you had Wonder Man got into a fight with Superwoman and Batwoman…and no one really complained, because it was obvious it was a story for it’s own sake and not created to reduce the stature of a feminist icon. No one was trying to remake Wonder Woman as an icon of masculine superiority, and no one was trying to subvert her influence on popular culture. They had an idea for a story, they told it, and that was that.

      Context is important. No one is suddenly erasing the last fifty plus years of Thor story lines and saying Thor was a woman all this time; they’re writing a story line where Thor looses his power and a woman gains them. While one might make a great case for THE Thor’s gender being very connected to his role in various lays and stories (The Lay of Thrym comes to mind immediately), the same case can’t be made for the comic book….because the comic has a long track record of just making things up on the spot and running with it.

      This, as far as I can see, is no more or less disrespectful to the Thor of our religious stories than ANY of the stories Marvel has ever told. What they do to Asgard on the pages of comics or on the silver screen has no reflection or impact on our spirituality unless we let it…and to let it strikes me as a waste of our time.

      Think of it this way: how many public Hofs, recognized as religious institutions by government, exist on American soil? How many texts from Iceland, Norway, and Germany remain untranslated into English that would help hundred better understand their spirituality? How many years did it take for our government’s military to recognize Heathen symbols as being worthy of a soldier’s grave stone? American Heathenry has much bigger problems than the depiction of Thor in a comic book…

  5. […] Worse than Breasts & Melanin by Kvasir amongst the Gods […]

  6. […] I said when I was talking about the faux-issue of Marvel’s upcoming female Thor and her villainous, un-loresque … (as well as the blatant hypocrisy behind that selective outrage), I’ve been feeling burnt out […]

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