I have lived in Paris and spent a lot of time there. My partner is French, my son attends French school here in London. So France, and specifically Paris, was the obvious location.Well duh, plenty of British have spent time in France, and vice versa. The problem here lies within his political viewpoints, veering left on the superhighway at 900 miles per hour, and what he really thinks of the French as a whole. I've been to France too, but do I adhere to the kind of socialist leanings and contempt he probably has? Nope.
GP: During the creation of the character, was there any discussion at all as to how the public might react to him?Wow, he really thinks even I'd care if the character was Algerian. I don't care about his race and/or ethnicity. What I care about is his default religion, Islam, whose Koran/Hadith contains creepy verses like, "Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like" - Sura 2:223. And, lest we forget, there's also the matter of "prophet" Mohammed's marriage to a 9-year-old girl, Ayesha. (See also this topic and this one for more insight). I assume Hine considers that "normal"? If this were an Algerian Christian, maybe even an apostate from Islam, who was the protagonist, all this disgust at Hine and company's subtle insult wouldn't have been.
DH: Only within the fictional world of the story itself. There is a lot of hostility towards the French Algerian community from some sections of the French public and we planned to explore the complications that might arise. We certainly envisaged right wing and racist reaction to a character who, because of their prejudices, would not be regarded as a true Frenchman. We talked about a scene where Nightrunner would unmask and declare himself to be a proud citizen of France. For the moment he’s going to remain masked and anonymous. There’s an irony to his being viewed as part of the establishment by his own community. It makes for some interesting potential for the development of a conflicted character. Honestly though, it never occurred to me for a moment that the very fact of choosing a fictional character with French Algerian, or Muslim background would in itself be controversial.
His ambiguous reference to "some sections" of the French public is insulting, as is his dislike of conservatives, and it makes no difference whether "Nightrunner" is thought by his own community as a member of establishment; it's the whitewash of Islam that's concerning, not to mention how the story otherwise depicts the French law enforcement as the aggressor (shades of how anti-Israelists depict our own authorities).
GP: In another interview you said you’d like Nightrunner be a character the French would like to see. How’s their reaction been to him? Has there been any controversy over his introduction there?And what's that supposed to mean? That the French are stupid and have no knowledge of how to judge a story, and will take what's offered no matter what? It figures that such a Briton would be so murky and otherwise contemptible. I may not be French, but if I were, I can assure you I wouldn't take kindly to this, and it's got nothing to do with whether or not the character is indigenous. It's just his chilling religion.
DH: We’ve had a lot of very positive reaction. Most people in France are very pleased to see their country get its own hero and particularly its own Batman. It’s always tough to depict a country and culture, as an outsider. There will always be nit-picking about how accurate our depiction of Paris has been, just as we British always examine every element of a comic written by an American, set in the UK. I did my best to make sure locations were accurate, although I’m sure a few errors will have slipped through.
GP: What’s your reaction been to the controversy surrounding the character?Again, he fogs it all up as "racial", in his failure to distinguish between race and religion. A man or woman who cannot distinguish between race and religion is not a very well educated person, IMHO. He should also consider the rage manufacturing his own country's spent its time doing, like that there was ever a "palestinian Arab people" who existed. Or how about what may be the first anti-Jewish pogrom in Europe, which, as Melanie Phillips wrote in City Journal, took place in none other than England:
DH: It was really unexpected. The character doesn’t strike me as particularly controversial. I thought we had moved on from a time when a non-white Anglo-Saxon character might be seen as unusual. I realize this is part of an anti-Muslim sentiment in a tiny segment of the online community, as much as a racial thing. I get the impression that there are people who spend their time trawling the internet to find any mention of Islam that they can get outraged about. But it feels like a manufactured outrage and I don’t take it too seriously.
[...] Britain has always had an ambivalent relationship with the Jews. Medieval England actually led the European charge against them. The blood libel is thought to have originated in twelfth-century England; and in 1290, after numerous pogroms against its Jewish citizens, it expelled them altogether. It was not until 1656 that, for a variety of economic and religious reasons, Oliver Cromwell allowed Jews to return to England.This occured during the time of King Edward I of the Plantagenets, well before Spain and Russia instigated their own pogroms. On a related note, is this horror not something that requires outrage? Maybe he should take some time to think before he says we're not supposed to be angry about what a religion and Koran he clearly hasn't studied teaches and leads to. But I doubt he ever will.
Oh, and I thought we'd moved on from a time when it seemed as though indigenous Bulgarians, Ghanians, and Armenians didn't exist in entertainment, but do you actually see them seriously emphasized in entertainment today? Not really. Not even the Ainu of Japan seem to get much attention; it's as though they don't exist either! What's so special about a religion like Islam that isn't so special about a race like the Armenians? And why is Mannix one of the very few protagonists of his background in showbiz ever since the series ended its 1967-75 run on TV?
Hine goes on to say:
GP: Have you been following the bloggers at all? Or do you ignore such comments?Is that also his opinion on 9-11 Families for a Safe & Strong America and their opposition to the Ground Zero mosque abomination? No surprise he would merely dismiss the movement against the whitewash of Islam so cynically.
DH: Normally I would ignore them, but once this started spreading across the net, I did have a look at some of the sites. So much anger, so much hate, so much unfocussed rage and fear. I found them profoundly depressing.
GP: The coverage of the story has been worldwide. Where the most surprising place you’ve seen it covered or had to do an interview with?But it didn't make sales, and hasn't really spread in media coverage that widely either. Not for long anyway. But I think he did appear on BBC radio, that most awful of the apologists for jihad.
DH: I’ve been approached by all kinds of people, from the BBC to Arabic radio and TV, French radio and TV and even The Daily Show in the USA. I’ve avoided most of it, because I don’t think this is a truly controversial topic and is best ignored. But I am fascinated by the viral nature of the story’s spread. It even made Wikileaks.
The following Q&A, however, is really disturbing:
GP: With the tragic events in Arizona fresh on everyone’s mind, have you received threats over the character?What is this supposed to be? What's the tragedy in Arizona got to do with this? Is this some sort of attempt to hijack something unrelated as part of the left's effort to demonize the right over something that leftist ideology actually caused? But if that's how he and they feel, what do they think of the cases of Tea Party members who've been receiving death threats? I'm really disappointed, but not surprised, at how contemptible they are of people who oppose violent mindsets and the trivializing of the same, which is just what this pretentious man from the UK has engaged in.
DH: No. It’s all hot air. A few verbal ‘insults’ have been thrown my way, but being called ‘Leftist’ or ‘Politically Correct’ doesn’t bother me.
As it so happens, it's very fortunate that he hasn't recieved any threats. Let us be clear: it would be wrong to do what the Islamofascists have tried doing to Lars Vilks.
One more thing: about that claim they were thinking of introducing a French crimefighter called the Musketeer? I'll bet he and they contrived that as a defense because of how goofy it could sound. If I were creating a French vigilante for a book like the Dark Knight's, "Musketeer" wouldn't be at the top of my list; I'd want it to be something more straightforward. Speaking of which, "Nightrunner" is actually pretty weak for a code name too.