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Two or three trauma warnings

Trauma Warning: This column may not be suitable for those who feel a holy horror of religion. It could also upset Islamophobes. We prefer to notify you.

Posted at 11:00 am

There is a new superheroine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the famous MCU). She is 16 years old, her name is Kamala Khan, she lives in Jersey City and is of Pakistani origin. Could she – Caveat, as the young say – Muslim? Okay, yes.

Her superhero name is not Muslim Woman, but Ms. Marvel. She is the headliner of the six-episode miniseries of the same name, which hit the Disney+ platform on Wednesday. She’s a dissipated, geekette outcast high school student more interested in superhero fan gatherings than her math or biology exams, much to the annoyance of her parents, who are rather conservative immigrants.

I saw the first episode of Ms. Marvel with Fiston, who seemed less interested in the adventures of this teenager of his age than in those of Obi-Wan Kenobi, who nevertheless has mine. “Because she is she a girl?” Asked. “No, because she is Muslim!” “He replied eye for an eye, with an extra layer of irony. I understood that it was the cliché of the teenager being bullied in front of her locker at the beginning of the episode that she rightly found trite.

Fortunately, Ms. Marvel, a charming series that incorporates elements of animation, is not limited to that. It is the story of a daring teenager who adores Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, a key character in the Avengers. Her goddess is her. When one day she discovers a mysterious bracelet sent by her family from Pakistan, Kamala inadvertently transforms into a superhero.

Ms. Marvel It is not limited to the clichés of the series for teenagers, although it embraces the codes. And it is no longer limited to the caricature that Christian or atheist militants wanted to make of it. This week, a private Facebook group of some 16,000 members, Christians Against Ms. MarvelHe spilled his chutzpah on the Disney+ series because it portrays a Muslim family.

Others were outraged at what they interpreted as a first incursion of religion in a universe, that of superheroes, until then exempt from it. One thing: it’s fake. You don’t have to know anything about the culture of comic books Americans and their derivatives of television and cinema to affirm that their characters, in turn considered demigods, are not religious.

The latest superhero in a Marvel Disney+ series, Moon Knight, is Jewish, just like Magneto and Kitty Pryde of the X-Men. Captain America is Christian, Daredevil too. What do they have in common that could not disturb anyone or inspire any chronicle?

No matter how much I think about it, I can’t identify it. Expect ! No, it doesn’t have to be that, it would be too simple. Is it because none of them are… Muslim?

Two pieces of a robot, as Tony Stark aka Iron Man would say. Ms. Marvel is Muslim. There is little mention of it in the first episode, but, another traumatic warning for those who see religion in her soup and for whom the sight of a veil makes them faint, the teenager prays in the mosque in the trailer for the series. . They will recite a hundred Ave Maria (in Latin) to exorcise the image I have just described. With a little holy water, it should pass. Shepherd’s word.

What I find delightfully ironic in the discourse of those who are outraged that a female superhero can identify with Islam – like some 2 billion of her co-religionists – is the beam of the crucifix they do not see in their own eyes, as a man. called Jesus once said.

It takes deliberate blindness to be practiced with an apostolic zeal not to notice how many MCU movie scenes were shot in churches or cemeteries, which feature Christian religious rites. I know, I’ve seen every MCU movie and series.

Was a columnist surprised by the scene of a prayer in the mosque, but not by that of a prayer in the church? God knows what the difference is. I search, I search. Could the columnist consider that HER religion, Catholic secularism, is more of a cultural heritage than a religious practice? Would it be for her a form of religious neutrality? What’s good for Pitou wouldn’t necessarily be good for Minou?

Kamala Khan, played by Toronto’s Iman Vellani, does not perpetuate any prejudice about the submissive Muslim woman that some like to portray. She does not wear the veil except in the mosque, unlike her friend, who does so by choice. She is a gentle rebel who defies the strict traditional values ​​of her parents, who overprotect and nurture her more than her brother, because she believes that she is a girl.

She dreams of Manhattan and a handsome dark-haired man, listens to The Weeknd and loves the Avengers. She does not deny her ethnic heritage, however, she enjoys choosing a new sari and going to her neighborhood Pakistani grocery store with her mother.

“We are going to see children of immigrants who are proud of their culture,” explained Iman Vellani this week to my colleague Pascal LeBlanc.

Ms. Marvel lives in Jersey City, but she could have lived in Markham, the young actress’s hometown, or in the Parc-Extension district of Montreal. It is not politically correct or “diversity fashion” to present non-white, male, Christian characters. It is bearing witness to realities that are too often hidden, it is getting out of their majority routines, it is giving a more faithful account of the society in which we live.

I was just talking about it this week with members of the Group of Thirty, young ambassadors of Montreal’s ethnocultural diversity, who are still not recognized enough on our television and film. They are right, although fortunately things are changing.

One last traumatic warning, this time for xenophobes: According to the 2016 census, more than a third of Montreal’s population was foreign-born, and more than half are immigrants. You’ll have to get used to seeing young brunette women, in life and on screen.


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