The Gifted is one of my most anticipated television shows of the fall. Airing on FOX, the show brings Marvel‘s X-Men to the small screen after a half dozen big screen adventures. The story follows a family on the run after they discover the children are mutants.
It’s not too surprising that the show was one of the many properties that was being pushed at this past weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con. Con goers were treated to an ARG like building wrapping on the Hilton Bayfront parking lot urging individuals to be tested and giving a tie-in website fans can check out.
When I first saw the above a quick take was it was nice that someone had ponied up the money to raise HIV testing awareness. That same thought crossed others I chatted with later at the show. It wasn’t until Sunday as I was wrapping up my convention the show’s promotion took a more ominous tone.
Often at the convention the local trains are wrapped with promotions and apparently without thought as to what it invokes FOX chose this promotion for the show.
As someone raised Jewish (not practicing) the visual of trains with bars on the window and the words “Mutant Transport” isn’t something that gets me to want to watch the show, it’s something that gets me to want to turn away and run.
In today’s world with Anti-Semitism front and center (arguably on the rise) in so many ways, it feels like a mistake and obliviousness to invoke the Holocaust to promote your show. This doesn’t say mutant roundup, this screams gas chamber. This isn’t some cheeky promotion like the building wrap, this is a vision of a possible future. Like so many X-Men comics, I flashed a future where I’m on one of those trains.
The Holocaust isn’t something that has to be avoided, Oscar winning films have touched upon the subject, but to use its imagery to sell a television show feels shallow and diminishes the deaths of millions for a cash in, especially when early press has said it has a “Civil Rights” tone. Add in trains like this and Mutants aren’t stand-ins for the Civil Rights Movement or in today’s comics LGBT. Instead the trains make it an allegory for today’s Jews who “hide among” the people and bring doom according to many on both the left and right. In a year where I’ve questioned what I am due to my Jewish roots, Mutant might be the closest to reality. Attempting to hide lest I be run out with pitchforks, burning torches, and avoiding pogroms.
At a convention where so much of it is bright, sunny, inviting, fun, this train wrap wasn’t just a stumble but an outright fumble by a company that has done some impressive marketing surrounding the X franchise.
The Gifted is set to begin airing on October 2, 2017.