I’ve been reading comic books all my life. A good chunk of those comics are superhero comics. And a good chunk of those superhero comics are X-Men comics. I’ve made no secret of this on this website or my YouTube channel. So, I hope my love of comics, superheroes, and X-Men should be beyond dispute.
That’s why I find it so disturbing when something happens in the real world that is dangerously similar to what I’ve read in so many comics. I used to think in my youthful innocence that people in the real world could never be as evil, heartless, or cruel as the villains I saw in comics. In general, I had a high opinion of people in the real world. Sure, there were assholes here and there. But most were good and most at least try to do good.
That opinion has since been shattered on multiple occasions, but nothing has shattered it more than the current state of politics.
Now, I don’t want to go off on a long rant about how divided people are politically and how toxic political discussions have become. I already did enough of that during major elections. I’ll just note that most of the political figures, be they elected officials or media personalities, who sound like villains are coming from one particular part of the political spectrum.
I won’t even bother being tactful. That villainous rhetoric is coming almost exclusively from conservative republicans in the United States, especially those who identify as being religious or sympathetic to the causes of Christian Nationalists.
These are the people who are pushing for laws and policies that do the sorts of things that X-Men villains seek to do. They actively try to marginalize vulnerable minorities, especially those within the LGBTQ+ community. They spew hate, bigotry, and ignorance of these people. They call them horrible names and constantly accuse them of grooming children, despite the fact that children are far more vulnerable to abuses in churches. They haven’t yet unleashed killer robot sentinels against these communities, but I don’t doubt for a second that they would if they had access to them.
It’s been especially bad for the transgender community. They’ve become some of the biggest targets of this particular wing of villainous politics. A decade ago, conservative republicans at least tried to cloak their opposition. They didn’t show outward hatred to people they hated or didn’t agree with. But after 2016, the masks are coming off.
They don’t seem to be trying to hide it anymore. They hate transgender people. They hate the LGBTQ+ community. They hate anyone who isn’t on their team and will do anything they can to marginalize, hurt, or denigrate them. In Florida, which has become immersed in petty right-wing political discourse, it has gotten especially bad. It’s gotten to the point where a real-life republican has actually cited X-Men to justify his bigotry in support of an anti-trans bill.
I wish this were a side-plot in an X-Men comic. But unfortunately, this is real. Here’s what Vice reported.
Vice: Republican Calls Trans People ‘Mutants,’ Totally Misses the Point of X-Men
A Republican lawmaker in Florida called transgender people “mutants and imps” on Monday in an anti-trans rant that appeared to almost imitate vitriolic lines from X-Men movies.
Florida Rep. Webster Barnaby shared anti-trans views at the state capitol while lawmakers deliberated House Bill 1521, a piece of legislation that would criminalize trans people for using public bathrooms that don’t correspond to their sex assigned at birth.
“I’m looking at society today and it’s like I’m watching an X-Men movie,” Barnaby said at the start of his speech.
“It’s like we have mutants living among us on planet earth,” Barnaby continued. “That’s a fact: we have people that live among us today on Planet Earth that are happy to display themselves as if they were mutants from another planet.”
Now, to be fair, Representative Barnaby has come out and apologized for his remarks. In general, I try to be a forgiving and understanding guy.
However, I can only be so forgiving to people who talk like supervillains.
Seriously, fuck this guy. Fuck you, Representative Webster.
In case you don’t understand why his sentiments were so villainous, here’s a quick reminder of what the X-Men stand for.
They are outcasts.
They are freaks.
They are subject to hate, fear, discrimination, and mistrust.
Despite all this, they try to be heroes. But the villains they often face involve humans who either want to wipe them out completely or make their lives objectively worse on every level.
This asshole, who clearly knows what the X-Men are, didn’t seem to grasp that. He might have seen the first X-Men movie and thought it was a tragedy about a brave senator who tried to pass Draconian laws on an entire class of people. Now, he wants to do the same to transgender people, but it will not stop with them.
We’ve already seen this script play out before. It’s happening as we speak with abortion. It’ll keep happening as long as the people in power believe they can get away with it, keep their jobs, and earn money from their doners, who are often villains in their own right.
People like Representative Webster aren’t going to stop with bullshit policies like this. They won’t stop for the same reason the X-Men’s villains never stop. They believe they can get away with it. They believe they’ll get more power, money, and prestige out of it. Some may very well just be hateful assholes who just want to make people they don’t like suffer.
Those people exist.
I’ve had to deal with them.
But unlike the X-Men’s villains, these people are real. They’ll continue doing whatever they think they can get away with, either out of malice, spite, or just plain ignorance. And we can’t expect superheroes to come along and save us. These are villains we’ll have to deal with.
It’s not as easy or cinematic as Wolverine cutting up a Sentinel attacking the Xavier Institute. But it’s something we all need to be aware of. Because the alternative is letting the villains win in the long run. And take it from someone who has read enough comics about dark timelines and dystopian futures.
We must not let the villains to win.