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Anonymous writes...

when creating halo, did no one stop to think that killing gabrielle and having a motherbox use her corpse was a bad idea for your first (and only) female muslim hero? i know your response before was that it was taken from the comics, but now with oracle's origin we can clearly see you guys aren't afraid to change things. so you could've easily changed it to have gabrielle resurrected with the powers of a motherbox instead.

and i feel like you still don't see the issue here, which is that violet is not a muslim woman of color, so you don't get credit for "turning a woman of color from a victim to hero" as you've said. you killed a woman of color and possessed her corpse. i'm sorry but i just can't get over how no one saw a problem with that.

Greg responds...

We talked about this a lot, actually, with a number of people, including with a Muslim woman of color. And, no. No one saw a problem. As with all things, people's mileage varies.

We had not, yet, involved MPAC in our creative process. Maybe they would've had a problem with how we introduced Halo if they had been involved in Season Three. But MPAC's involvement and interaction with us began during the creation of Season Four. At that point, when we told them where we were going with the character, they were good with it. Even, I dare say, enthusiastic. MPAC and other Muslims we've consulted have been happy with who Halo/Violet has become, or in any case, with the journey that we've put them on.

But just so I'm clear, you'd have preferred - since we were doing THIS story - that the character had been white?

I mean I get that you'd have preferred that the character had been a Muslim woman of color with a different story, but I'm not a big fan of fans who tell me which story to tell. This was the story we wanted to tell. This was the version of Halo we wanted to create.

But we could have made Gabrielle a white girl, I guess. She's a white girl in the comics. We could have had yet another blonde in the cast.

But we already had aliens who present as white, including Superman and Hawkwoman, among others. We've also had a dead girl who was white, i.e. Secret.

It seems to me that having Halo be a person of color - even a person of color who (as you dismissively note) was created from a corpse possessed by an alien spirit - was a step in the right direction. Especially since we knew where we were going with the character. You may not like how Violet became Violet, and I respect that. (I don't apologize for it, but I respect it.) But now that you've seen where we've taken the character, I wonder if there's another way to look at it.

Yes, Gabrielle is dead. Her death is horrible and tragic. She was vulnerable. And she was exploited and murdered. Now, she's dead.

But Violet is alive. They are not Gabrielle. But they are definitely a person of color (as much as Clark Kent's a white guy - and I think we can all agree that Clark Kent is a white guy). And now they're a person of color, who's interested in exploring the Muslim heritage that mattered so much to Gabrielle. In essence, Violet is seriously thinking about converting to Islam, in part because of Gabrielle's memory of faith. And I doubt we would've gotten that story if we'd made Gabrielle a white girl.

Because, here's the thing: we're doing genre fiction here. That means we are using aliens, demons, ghosts, mermaids and robots to tell stories about the human condition. I reject the notion that all our diversity MUST somehow come from fully human characters like Dick Grayson and Artemis Crock. Again, no one doubts that stories about a Kryptonian aren't capable of telling us something about the human condition. Or that Atlanteans and Amazons aren't human enough to empathize with. So some of our characters are going to have bizarre and even horrifying origins. That's the genre. So do we play it safe and only do white characters when we go inhuman?

Some of our aliens look like space aliens. Some look like humans. Most of those humans look white historically. We're trying to turn the battleship on that notion. So Martian Manhunter - when he looks human - looks Black. Icon is Black. Highmother and General Zod are Black. Lor-Zod is biracial. B'arzz O'oomm, when he looks human, looks Latinx. And Halo looks Arabic. It's not much. But it's a start.

Now, don't get me wrong. I understand that a big problem that you have with Halo is that Gabrielle was the only Muslim woman of color in the show. (It's not actually true, of course. But no one wants to count villains like Queen Bee or Talia al Ghul, who probably only pay lip service to being Muslim.) So we need more representation. More representation is always better. We're working on it. Maybe not as fast as everyone would like. But we're trying. Truly, honestly, trying. In fact, I've been trying to increase representation my entire career for all sorts of different communities. I know my track record is mixed. I've taken a lot of swings, and some of those swings have been misses. (And maybe Halo was another miss - though I truly don't think so.) But Elisa Maza didn't come from nowhere. I PUT her in Gargoyles. And that was nearly thirty years ago. We need to do better, and we continue to strive to do better. And, meanwhile, we have increased the Muslim representation in YJ. Madia's role has expanded. Khalid Nassour joined the cast. We met his Muslim parents briefly. And we're only getting started, frankly. I can't promise you we'll get more seasons. So maybe our progress on this particular show will be arrested. But I'm not done (I hope). And I will continue to strive to do the best I can. Because this MATTERS to me. I promise you. And we're also learning to bring in more voices. More readers like the folks at MPAC and GLAAD and ASAN. More diverse writers. An increasingly diverse cast. Etc. We're a work in progress. But even that IS progress.

All of which is NOT to say that you need to agree with us, with me, with any of it. Again, I respect your point of view. The decisions we made still work for us. But I don't have any illusion that I can somehow TALK you into making it work for you. Your responses to what's on the screen are your own. And they're valid. Period.

Still, we've done everything in our power in Season Four to make sure that everything we do with the character of Halo is as respectful as possible going forward. We don't always succeed. I just hope you see that we're trying.

Response recorded on May 05, 2022