Of Comics and Charisma: Representing Transpacific White Masculinities

Christina D. Owens 1
  • 1 Florida State University, Honors Program, 32306, Tallahassee, USA
Christina D. Owens

Abstract

This article employs palimpsestuous reading practices to query the transpacific reach and imperial pedigree of the comic strip “Charisma Man.” Turning to Max Weber’s theory of “charismatic authority” to understand the comic’s humorous portrayals of white male heterosexual privilege in Asia, the article proposes that the comic strip illuminates the patterns of raced and gendered “hereditary charisma” that continue to haunt transpacific relations. “Charisma Man,” penned by a team of North American men living in Japan, links contemporary white migrants across Asia – especially native English teachers – with a longue durée of Euro-American imperial actors abroad and builds meaning through intertextual engagement with the iconic cultural texts Superman and Madame Butterfly. The article concludes that “Charisma Man” makes light of white male hereditary charisma in Asia through a layering of temporally-disjointed transpacific discourses and, in turn, adds one more layer to a palimpsestuous sedimentation of sexist and racist hierarchies, normalizing their continuation within contemporary globalization.

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