Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

March 28, 2014

Saudi Arabian General Presidence of Scholarly Research And Fatwa Bans Superhero Cartoon/Comic The 99

An article by Christopher Dickey at The Daily Beast has driven attention to a recent decision by the Saudi Arabian government council General Presidency of Scholarly Research and Fatwa to ban the show from the comics/cartoon/general media creation The 99. You can read news wire-type summaries here and here. You can contrast the reaction of Naif Al-Mutawa here earlier in the week to the one in the Dickey article once more facts were known.

A couple elements of this are fascinating. One is that the objection actually go straight to the heart of the concept in a way I haven't seen conservative christian make objection in a while. One of the core concepts -- probably the core concept -- is that the superheroes are embodiments of the 99 attributes of Allah, and it's to this being embodied in a comic book and cartoon that the panel objects. The Christian equivalent you used to see in the 1970s and 1980s was an objection to depicting Jesus Christ or biblical truth in art in any way, just blanket condemnation, because of concerns of idolatry. It sounds similar to me, anyway. The other is that this kind of deeply conservative take on innocuous element of culture can underscore the difficulties in countries like the US dealing with countries like Saudi Arabia more generally.

I'm not sure what this means for the property, although you have to imagine it's directly harmful to be banned. I do know that there are a lot of countries with a significant Islamic population that should be adding television programming over the next five, ten, twenty years in a way that one would think might benefit this particular property, just not if it's outright banned, or develops a reputation as controversial material. There are of course other dire potential consequences from that kind of hard stance against material and their creators. It's also probably worth noting that this turn of events will feed into a string of entertainment stories about certain kinds of art for those cultures, which would include the new, high-profile Ms. Marvel comic book.
posted 2:35 am PST | Permalink

Daily Blog Archives
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
Full Archives