Wednesday, May 9, 2012

OK, So I Am Adopted

Adopted twice, actually. Once by my mother, and her first husband, at birth, and again by my father when I was about five, after he married my mother. I have 4 half-sisters and a half-brother by adoption, not that we ever really got into the "half" thing growing up.

I have never, ever, not once, found this to be an issue in my life. I, frankly, am unconcerned about the identity or whereabouts of my birth parents. My parents, who raised me, are my parents. It's a TOTAL non-issue in my life. I realize that not everyone has that experience, but I also think that the reason it's a non-issue is because I, and my parents, didn't allow it to be.

Oh, sure a couple of, now highly regretted, "you're not my REAL ________" outbursts, but that's more about being a teenager, than who's loins I emerged from.

I have a general stance about life. It's not where you came from, it's who you are. It's how you use what you're given, rather than what you start with being the whole of your life. It's why I get conflicted about any entitlement programs. From big things like Affirmative Action to the smallest, like the continual argument about how many female, versus male, playwrights get produced. I, personally accept people by their actions, their work, but I'm also not naive enough to think everyone does that. Yet, I think any preferential treatment, no matter how well-intentioned, is ultimately saying that "do your best" is not good enough. That hard work and self-application are, ultimately, irrelevant, and therefore foolish.

Sorry, bit of a digression, there.

This all stems from a online petition (*sigh*) that Jamie Berke, an advocate for the deaf, and, I guess, adopted (a cursory Google search finds mainly deafness issues), put up about an adoption joke in The Avengers. You can find it here. It has made me livid. In as much as, here is a group I am very much a part of, and this petition is a thin-skinned whining response to a single line in a movie that, apparently, SHE HASN'T EVEN SEEN. All of her tweets about the film simply reference a review she read.

For the record, here's the dialogue, per IMDB:
Bruce Banner: I don't think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy's brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.
Thor: Take care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard. And he is my brother.
Natasha Romanoff: He killed eighty people in two days.
Thor: He's adopted. 
OK, it's an adoption joke, and in the film, it's funny. It's also not about Loki being adopted so much as the strained relationship between he and his brother. It's also the ONLY reference to Loki's adoptive status, and Thor's presence in the film is explained by his adoptive family's sense of responsibility to him. I mean, it's not like he's repeatedly called out for his birthright. Hulk doesn't call him "puny adopted kid." Captain America isn't leading the Avengers into battle shouting, "let's get that guy who doesn't know who his real mother is!" The line itself strikes me as exactly the kind of thing an embarrassed brother would say about another.

Also, if you've seen the Thor film (which, I'm sure Ms. Berke hasn't), it's pretty clear that Loki's ambitions have little to do with finding out that Odin isn't his "real" father. A revelation that happens well after Loki's evil actions begin. Since the character's creation in the 60's, Loki's evil has never been simply because he was adopted, as Ms. Berke tries to assert.

Which isn't to say that Loki's actions aren't somewhat tied to his family life. He's overshadowed by his brother at every turn, and insanely jealous of Thor for it. While the revelation of his parentage feeds that, it's not the reason for it. That's brothers, not just adoptive brothers.

Let me put it into the framework of my situation. I always knew there was a difference between myself and my siblings. There was a distance, some jealously on my part for the fact they were brought up together, but that distance had nothing to do with my adoptive status. If I had been the biological child of my mother and father, the situation would be exactly the same. Sure, I could've chose to make my status as adopted the issue, but I didn't.

That's the rather long, geeky, reasoning behind what I'm about to say. Some people may be offended by it, but this is how I feel.

Jamie Berke, you do NOT speak for me, as a child of adoption. I, as a child of adoption, understand the concepts of perspective, context, and, yes, humor. The joke in The Avengers is only offensive if you allow yourself to be so insecure about yourself that you can't hear the word "adoption" without tensing up. Taken as it is presented in the film, it's truly funny, and it illuminates the relationship between Thor and Loki.

There's an old adage that nothing is offensive if it makes you laugh. I think that's true. Comedy, well, GOOD comedy, by it's nature is about approaching difficult subjects with a lightness of heart and a willingness to laugh at yourself. If everyone around you is laughing, and you're not, maybe the issue isn't with the joke, but with you.

So, this adopted child is telling Marvel that they don't owe me an apology, nor anyone else. If Ms. Berke and her crew wish to boycott the movie, more power to them, but they don't deserve an apology. There's nothing to apologize for. 

1 comment:

  1. Glad you posted this. I have five adopted nieces and nephews and our family is over-blessed to have them in the clan. They are just as loved and cared for as any of the born into the family kids. Maybe more so. They were harder to get.