By Joe Hughes
Whenever the subject of cultural representation in media is broached, there’s a comment you’ll almost always hear: “I don’t see what difference it makes.” It’s a statement made by people who believe it doesn’t matter whether or not there are positive representations of minorities in media, a position held largely by those who are so used to having that luxury — to seeing their culture well represented on television, film, etc. — on a regular basis, that they have no concept of what it’s like to be on the other side. Someone saying “I don’t see what difference it makes” to a member of an under represented minority is often, in a sense, being honest: they really don’t see the difference, because they’ve never experienced it.
But there are many who take a far less apathetic position on the topic. Being a woman of color means having positive representations of fictional characters who may share a background or upbringing similar to yours is rare. And if you’re a Muslim woman in a post 9/11 world, it’s even rarer. With that in mind, journalist Shehryar Warraich approached several Pakistani women to get their take on the upcoming Ms. Marvel, which stars Kamala Khan, a Muslim Pakistani-American teenage girl. The reaction was largely, but not exclusively, positive.
Stephen Colbert is a noted Marvel fan. He met Spider-Man that one time, he’s schmoozed with Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada and he’s even got Captain America’s shield on the set of The Colbert Report. But now he’s breaking ranks with the House of Ideas over the new Ms. Marvel, who will be a teenage Muslim named Kamala Khan in a new ongoing series by writer G. Willow Wilson (Cairo) and artist Adrian Alphona (Runaways).