So, this happened.
The image above is a screenshot from DC comics’ recent Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #2 and was tweeted by fellow
Pakistanian Pakistani writer, Khaver Siddiqi.
A friend sent me an article about this and my initial reaction was, “Seriously? They didn’t have time to run a Google search?” It doesn’t come as a surprise to me since I, like many Pakistanis, have heard non-Pakistanis use the term “Pakistanian.” I’ve heard from Palestinian friends that people often refer to them as “Pakistanian,” too. For those who are un/misinformed, there is no such language, let alone nationality, as “Pakistanian.” It doesn’t exist.
I saw one comment that tried to justify DC’s error by saying, “So translating from Kryptonese, a fictional language, is okay; but translating from Pakistanian, a fictional language, is not okay.” Haha, but I’m like, even fictional languages have words! You could learn how to speak fictional languages like Huttese, Klingon, and even Na’vi — despite being made-up, there are online lessons for them! But “Pakistanian”? Forget about it. It’s non-existent.
The other problem with this “rationalization” is that the comic book is specifically set in Pakistan, a real place in the world. Comic books have created fictional countries with fictional languages in the past, but that’s not what the writers are doing here. They’re trying to depict Pakistanis, but fail miserably at it.
Judging by the unflattering and stereotypical images of the Pakistani characters in the rest of the panels, I don’t think the writers cared about getting anything right about Pakistanis. When people are already dehumanized, accuracy is the least of concerns. We aren’t important enough for writers to take five seconds to fact-check. Whether this was deliberate or not, the pattern of inaccurate and stereotypical depictions of Pakistanis has already been long established in western media.
There have been some hilarious reactions on Twitter, some of which can be viewed on Buzzfeed and The Guardian. Speaking to Buzzfeed, Siddiqi said: “My friend @Takhalus found it and shared it on a sci-fi geek Twitter group DM. I just had to buy the comic and read it myself to confirm. I’m not offended at being called Pakistanian — I’m just offended that nobody had the time to do one Google search. That’s all. Spoiled the story for me.”
Hmm, I disagree with Siddiqi here because Marvel is not perfect at depicting Pakistanis and Muslims either, but that’s a topic for another blog post…
Dil hai Pakistanian.
Gifs via my silences had not protected me.