Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
It's funny.  Laugh.

Judge Decides X-Men Aren't Human 458

An anonymous reader points to this Wall Street Journal article, writing "According to the U.S. Court of International Trade, the X-Men (along with other figures from the Marvel universe) aren't human. The presiding judge subjected the figures to "comprehensive examinations" which included "the need to remove the clothes of the figure." Ironically, the X-Men, whose struggle for human acceptance has been a key theme in the series, were more easily classified as non-human than Kraven and Mole Man.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Judge Decides X-Men Aren't Human

Comments Filter:
  • by Drunken_Jackass ( 325938 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:20PM (#5121122) Homepage
    Can't we all just get along?
  • Non human? (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:24PM (#5121148) Homepage Journal

    Soooo... am I demented for wanting to bed Rebecca Romijn-Stamos?
  • Dolls?!? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kyn ( 539206 ) <kyn@@@yourmom...com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:24PM (#5121151) Homepage Journal
    The judge is right! The X-men are not dolls. Boys don't play with dolls. They're action figures! Dolls are wussy, action figures are manly! And don't you forget that.

  • by core plexus ( 599119 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:25PM (#5121153) Homepage
    Disclaimer: The following post contains humor.

    From the article: "The judge found him to be "stout and thick," with "exaggerated troll-like features" and very pale skin -- fitting for someone who lives underground." Ok, all you guys sitting there in your parents basement, are you more mole than human?

    Also from the article: "In her chambers at the U.S. Court of International Trade, in New York, the judge examined Prof. X and the rest of his band of X-Men, all of them little plastic figures " 'Nuff said.

    Pigs might fly, but don't make breast landing [xnewswire.com] Weird News

  • Article Text (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:25PM (#5121158)
    Fans Howl in Protest as Judge
    Decides X-Men Aren't Human

    Marvel Fought to Have Characters Ruled
    Nonhuman to Win Lower Tariff on Toys
    By NEIL KING JR.
    Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

    Judge Judith Barzilay huddled late last year with a telepathic professor and a cast of mutants to ponder an age-old question: What does it mean to be human?

    In her chambers at the U.S. Court of International Trade, in New York, the judge examined Prof. X and the rest of his band of X-Men, all of them little plastic figures at the heart of a six-year tariff battle between their owner, Marvel Enterprises Inc., and the U.S. Customs Service.

    Her ruling thundered through the world of Marvel Comics fans. The famed X-Men, those fighters of prejudice sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them, are not human, she decreed Jan. 3. Nor are many of the villains who do battle with Spiderman and the Fantastic Four. They're all "nonhuman creatures," concluded Judge Barzilay.

    Marvel subsidiary Toy Biz Inc. pushed Judge Barzilay to declare its heroes nonhuman so it could win a lower duty rate on action figures imported from China in the mid-1990s. At the time, tariffs put higher duties on dolls than toys. According to the U.S. tariff code, human figures are dolls, while figures representing animals or "creatures," such as monsters and robots, are deemed toys.

    To Brian Wilkinson, editor of the online site X-Fan (x-mencomics.com/xfan/1), Marvel's argument is appalling. The X-Men -- mere creatures? "This is almost unthinkable," he says. "Marvel's super heroes are supposed to be as human as you or I. They live in New York. They have families and go to work. And now they're no longer human?"

    Chuck Austen, current author of Marvel's "Uncanny X-Men" comic-book series, is also incredulous. He has worked hard for a year, he says, to emphasize the X-Men's humanity, to show "that they're just another strand in the evolutionary chain."

    Marvel issued this statement: "Don't fret, Marvel fans, our heroes are living, breathing human beings -- but humans who have extraordinary abilities ... . A decision that the X-Men figures indeed do have 'nonhuman' characteristics further proves our characters have special, out-of-this world powers."

    The X-Men series broke new ground when it began in 1963 by confronting racism and intolerance head-on. The good-hearted mutants rallied around their mentor, the wheelchair-bound Prof. Charles Xavier, to protect mankind, even as humans shunned and despised them.

    In 1996, Toy Biz sued Customs in the Court of International Trade, which arbitrates foreign-trade disputes between U.S. companies and the government. Toy Biz said its pantheon of action figures should be classified as toys instead of dolls. Customs insisted the figures are dolls, and thus subject to 12% import duties, instead of the 6.8% rate for toys. Duties have since been eliminated from both categories.

    Thus began the great debate over the figures' true being. Barbie is a doll. Pooh Bear's a toy. That much is easy.

    But what about Wolverine, the muscular X-Man with the metal claws that jut out from his fists? Wolverine has known many forms in his more than 40 years as a Marvel character. In some comics, he resembles a futuristic robot. In the movie "X-Men," he's a scruffy Canadian who drives a camper until falling under the protection of the telepathic Prof. Xavier, dean of an academy for gifted mutants in suburban New York.

    But is he human?

    To weigh that question, Judge Barzilay sat down with a sheaf of opposing legal briefs and more than 60 action figures, including Wolverine, Storm, Rogue and Bonebreaker.

    Toy Biz, in its filings, pulled no punches. The figures "stand as potent witnesses for their status as nonhuman creatures," the company argued. How could they be humans, Toy Biz said, if they possessed "tentacles, claws, wings or robotic limbs?"

    Toy Biz had good cause to pursue this line. Having its action figures declared toys would mean a hefty reimbursement of past duties, though the company declines to give specifics on how much was at stake.

    The U.S. government showed more feeling. Each figure had a "distinctive individual personality," the federal legal team argued. Some were Russians, Japanese, black, white, women, even handicapped. Wolverine, the government insisted, was simply "a man with prosthetic hands." Justice Department lawyers who handled the case didn't return calls seeking comment.

    Judge Barzilay, through a spokesman, said that she would let her 32-page decision speak for itself. But she described in her ruling how she subjected many of the figures to "comprehensive examinations." At times, that included "the need to remove the clothes of the figure."

    The X-Men, oddly, gave her the least trouble. They are mutants, she declared, who "use their extraordinary and unnatural ... powers on the side of good or evil." The judge observed how the character Storm, with her flowing white hair and dark skin, "can summon storms at will," while Pyro has a "mutant ability to control and shape flames."

    Thus the X-Men are "something other than human." Case closed.

    Tougher for the judge were figures from the Fantastic Four and Spiderman series. Judge Barzilay wrestled at length with Kraven, a famed hunter who once vanquished Spiderman, thanks in part to the strength gained from drinking secret jungle elixirs.

    The judge found that Kraven exhibited "highly exaggerated muscle tone in arms and legs." He wore a "lion's mane-like vest." Both features helped relegate him, in the judge's mind, to the netherworld of robots, monsters and devils.

    Judge Barzilay conceded that the closest call was the Mole Man, who once blinded the Fantastic Four with searing beams of light. The judge found him to be "stout and thick," with "exaggerated troll-like features" and very pale skin -- fitting for someone who lives underground. Given all that, Judge Barzilay concluded, the Mole Man was more mole than man.

    Veteran comics fan Christian Cooper, who once worked as a Marvel editor, thinks Judge Barzilay got carried away. If Kraven isn't human, what about the twisted villains in Dick Tracy? Or worse yet, Superman himself?

    "Here's a guy who changes his clothes in a phone booth and flies through the air," says Mr. Cooper. "Does that mean he's now an animal?"

    Write to Neil King Jr. at neil.king@wsj.com
    • by Andy_R ( 114137 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:52PM (#5121394) Homepage Journal
      According to the plot of Superman, he shares no DNA with us, he just happens to be roughly the same shape because evolution on Kryton followed a Parallel path.

      On the other hand, Spider-man IS human, in fact according to the plot of the comic, he was a perfectly normal person up to the point in the story that he was bitten. Peter Parker dolls definitely should have been subject to the tax, according to the (admittedly very dumb) rules.
      • by Jace of Fuse! ( 72042 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @08:01PM (#5122531) Homepage
        You are correct. Very dumb rules indeed. Think about the precedent this is going to set.

        Picard and Riker dolls = Human
        Data and Worf = Not Human

        Tax the first two, but not the second?

        Or how about this...

        Alien from Venus Barbi...?

        This rule leaves too many loopholes, and more importantly doesn't explain WHY something that is "Human" should be taxed more than something that is, say, "Something Else".

        If something is superhuman (such as Spiderman) does it get supertaxed?
  • wow (Score:4, Informative)

    by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:25PM (#5121160) Homepage Journal
    Pretty sensationalist headline for the Journal. For those who didn't read the article, it's about whether the X-Men figurines are toys or dolls. Obviously the status of fictional characters as "human" or not is completely absurd, and not at all what the case was about.

    X-Men fans should stop whining and go play with their dolls.
    • Re:wow (Score:2, Informative)

      by nucal ( 561664 )
      In 1996, Toy Biz sued Customs in the Court of International Trade, which arbitrates foreign-trade disputes between U.S. companies and the government. Toy Biz said its pantheon of action figures should be classified as toys instead of dolls. Customs insisted the figures are dolls, and thus subject to 12% import duties, instead of the 6.8% rate for toys. Duties have since been eliminated from both categories.

      Not only is there not any relevance to the fictional characters, but there's no financial difference, either ...

      Now Simpsons characters, well those are collectables, dammit ...

      • Re:wow (Score:2, Insightful)

        by denttford ( 579202 )
        Yes there is. There is an issue as to whether the duties paid should have been at 6.8% (as paid) or 12%. If the judge ruled that the figures were dolls, Toy Biz would have owed the balance of 5.2% for the time it was applicable. That is probably a considerable amount - and I am sure that customs would have hit them with something like a "late fee." :-)

        Not only does this follow reasoning, it follows the text of the article:

        Toy Biz had good cause to pursue this line. Having its action figures declared toys would mean a hefty reimbursement of past duties, though the company declines to give specifics on how much was at stake.

    • "Pretty sensationalist headline for the Journal. For those who didn't read the article, it's about whether the X-Men figurines are toys or dolls. Obviously the status of fictional characters as "human" or not is completely absurd, and not at all what the case was about."

      Doesn't matter, the cloning ban is still in effect.
    • Obviously the status of fictional characters as "human" or not is completely absurd, and not at all what the case was about.

      That's exactly what the case was about -- whether or not the fictional characters depicted by the X-Men figurines were human characters or not.
    • Re:wow (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:18PM (#5121586)
      Pretty sensationalist headline for the Journal.

      Not really. The WSJ is actually a good, well-rounded paper which generally has at least one relatively fun/interesting column down the center of the front page. And, as an aside, their tech section is one of the best in the industry, which should be really embarassing to other tech news outlets (CNET, The Register, ZDNET, Wired, etc.), considering that this is primarily a business newspaper.
    • Re:wow (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kaz Riprock ( 590115 )
      X-Men fans should stop whining and go play with their dolls.

      Not dolls. Toys. Didn't you read the article at all? :)
  • by jeffehobbs ( 419930 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:27PM (#5121167) Homepage

    I guess it's just a matter of time until the Sentinels arrive. Better start filling out that application to the Hellfire Club right about now...

    ~jeff
  • by JesseL ( 107722 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:27PM (#5121170) Homepage Journal
    Negative, I am a meat popsicle.
  • by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:28PM (#5121174)
    Frankly, I was more dissappointed when Magneto (in the movie) declared himself as leader of the benignly-named

    Brotherhood of Mutants

    when as we all know the proper, grandiose, toungue-in-cheek name was

    Brotherhood of EVIL Mutants

    I mean, of course they're not human. The question is, are they eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil?

  • by dacarr ( 562277 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:29PM (#5121183) Homepage Journal
    A humanoid in yellow spandex was spotted in Washington, DC the other day, madly yelling "I am not an X-man! I am a HUMAN BEING!!!!"
  • by Malfourmed ( 633699 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:29PM (#5121185) Homepage
    ...that the X-Men fight to have themselves accepted as human in their principle-driven comic book world, while their owners and masters fight to have the opposite declared in the dollar-uber-alles real world.

    <comic geek pedant mode>

    It's Spider-Man, not Spiderman

    </cgpm>

    And Superman was never human - he was always Kryptonian!

  • It's not a big deal (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:30PM (#5121191) Homepage
    Before the comic book geeks get worked up about "They may not be Homo Sapiens, but they're human dammit", it's just a stupid tax matter. There used to be different import taxes on "dolls" and "toys". The guv'mint said the Marvel figures were dolls because they're human figures and wanted them taxed at twice the rate of toys. Marvel disagreed and won.

    The taxes have since been repealed. Nothing to see here.

    -B
    • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:11PM (#5121537) Homepage Journal
      Blockquoth the poster:

      Before the comic book geeks get worked up about "They may not be Homo Sapiens, but they're human dammit", it's just a stupid tax matter.

      OK, so this shouldn't be the spark for the Mutant Uprising. But it's a little more relevant than you seem to think. To be "dolls", the figures had to depict humans. Otherwise, they were "toys". So the issue actually was, "Do the X-Men count as human?" This in turn demands we answer, "What makes a human human?"


      And that's more important than you might want to admit. Sure, we're probably not likely to see Xavier and his cohorts on the streets of Manhattan. But how about cloned people? Or genetically modified -- even genetically enhanced -- people? What about, say, a weightlifter who's been designed from before birth to be the world's best weightlifter ever? What if the genetic modification was done under the sponsorship of a corporation? What if that corporation later asserted "property rights" to the modified person?


      I found the judge's criteria, as quoted, quite disturbing. Apparently differing abilities was enough to classify the mutants as "non-human". The judge focused on their mutant powers, such as the ability to control storms or to withstand injury. Apparently she did not focus on their ability to speak, to reason, to create, to love ... none of the things that make being human a worthwhile thing. People born without limbs are also "differently abled". People without sight often have sharper hearing. Does this make those people "other than human"?


      Although the actual case is a bit of a joke, the issues raised are deep and pressing. We're heading to a place where the very notion of "human" will be under strain as never before. Perhaps it's good that somebody is reasoning about it ahead of time -- though I could have wished for a better result.

    • Ellis Parker Butler [ellisparkerbutler.info] wrote the story "Pigs is pigs" in 1905 about the government trying to tax two guinea pigs as "pigs" rather than pets. The guinea pigs, housed in the railway station until the issue is resolved by the government, reproduce at a geometric rate overwhelming the station.

      Disney made a marvelous little cartoon [bcdb.com] of the story in 1954.

    • by ndogg ( 158021 ) <the@rhorn.gmail@com> on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:21PM (#5121604) Homepage Journal
      Firstly, Magneto has it wrong, Mutants are humans since they can interbreed with any Homo-sapien on the Marvel earth. They would be better classified as the only other race of Homo-sapiens (NB "races" such as Caucasian, Indian, Hispanic, etc. don't really exist because there isn't enough differences in the genetics for such races to exist within the definition of biology.)

      Secondly, you're right, in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter all that much, but it's still something to be upset about. The X-Men, for many people, aren't merely characters in a great piece of fiction, but also a metaphor [everything2.com] for those in humanity who have felt the sting of oppression by fellow human beings [uh.edu].

      This comic also shows that oppressed people are still human. Being oppressed does not necessarily provide justification for all actions used to break that oppression. The comic shows the complexity of human nature and its affairs, rather than trying to make clear distinctions between good and evil.
  • by TheKodiak ( 79167 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:33PM (#5121219) Homepage
    "The judge found him to be "stout and thick," with "exaggerated troll-like features" and very pale skin -- fitting for someone who lives underground. Given all that, Judge Barzilay concluded, the Mole Man was more mole than man."

    Sorry, Ron, back to the farm with you.
  • Mutants? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ryan Stortz ( 598060 )
    The X-Men, oddly, gave her the least trouble. They are mutants, she declared, who "use their extraordinary and unnatural ... powers on the side of good or evil."

    Yes, but aren't all humans mutants? (I guess it all depends on which theory you believe: evolution or creation.) Humans use their powers for good and evil.

    But she described in her ruling how she subjected many of the figures to "comprehensive examinations." At times, that included "the need to remove the clothes of the figure."

    Doesn't this sentance make you think the whole article is fake?
    • Re:Mutants? (Score:3, Funny)

      by scott1853 ( 194884 )
      Sounds more like the judge is trying to justify some strange fetish in a Pete Townsend sort of way.

      "I was just using the naked toys for research on a legal judgement"
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:35PM (#5121233)
    Overlawyered. Overfuckingregulated.

    OK kids. A 32-page ruling on whether or not the X-Men are human or non-human, due to a 6.8% vs 12% import duty differential charged seven years ago, a duty that isn't even in effect anymore.

    How many hundreds of thousands (millions?) of dollars got spent on lawyers - both from Marvel's shareholders for their lawyers and our tax dollars being spent on the Government's lawyers - in the case leading up to this ruling - a ruling that took seven years after the initial dispute hit the courts?

    In the world of the X-Men, something would have broken by now, but the real world has no superheroes to save us.

    Isn't it time we called our Congressmen/women and demanded, on pain of our voting for third parties, that they put the tax law genie back in the bottle?

    Anyone? Bueller?

    • Isn't it time we called our Congressmen/women and demanded, on pain of our voting for third parties, that they put the tax law genie back in the bottle?

      It's also the corporations' fault. Every time they try to levy a standard tax the lobbyists come out and beg, wheedle, and bribe to get loopholes in the law. They should just set a standard import/export tax, no exceptions.
      • It's also the corporations' fault. Every time they try to levy a standard tax the lobbyists come out and beg, wheedle, and bribe to get loopholes in the law. They should just set a standard import/ export tax, no exceptions.

        True, that's what they (corps) do. But it's our fault for voting such pushovers into office. Elect some people that stand for principle over politics [constitutionparty.org] and you'll get fair across-the-board standards.

        As long as the 16th Amendment allows the gov't to squeeze "the rich" for whatever they want to give it to "the poor", they can continue to buy their votes in November. As long as they have the power of office, they will continue to get money from corps for these special favors. And as long as the 17th Amendment removes State gov'ts from having any balancing influence at the federal level, nothing will change. Money and power are powerful and perverse incentives.

        However, the solution isn't "campaign finance reform" or "term limits". Some of the most expensive races are US Senate, which removing the 17th Amendment would solve. Besides, we ought to be able to spend our money how we please. There's been more money in politics now since the "reforms" of the 70's than before. And we already have term limits - you get to "vote the bums out" every November. What we need is voting method [electionmethods.org] reform so that we have a real choice, so that non-Dem/Rep votes make a difference.

    • Read the fucking article. Although the tariffs have been lifted, Marvel is due a buttload of refunds for tariffs paid in the past.
    • I'm already voting for third [constitutionparty.org] parties [lp.org]. Of course, we need these same Congress-critters to enact Condorcet voting [eskimo.com], so that such "protest" votes get noticed...

  • by CNERD ( 121095 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:35PM (#5121235) Homepage
    So..If by some act of god, radiation, whatever, I gain some odd ability similiar to that of a super hero, I am denyed all the privilages of a normal citizen?

    Sure, you can laugh and say it will never happen, but IT COULD.
  • by Dannon ( 142147 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:36PM (#5121247) Journal
    X-Men's Wolverine: Man or beast?

    Well, it's obvious the WSJ reporter didn't do the examination. Beast has blue fur (whenever the Marvel writers aren't messing with his mutation), and there's no way in the world could he be confused with Wolverine.
  • by Gnr ( 568148 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:39PM (#5121263)
    The way I remember it, all X-men, and all mutants, for that matter belong to the species Homo Superior, and if I remember my Carl von Linné correctly (and I think I do) that means theyre not human. Theyre part of the same family (as Cro-Magnon and other prehistoric species) but not being the same species as humans, they arent humans. Why did it take her so long, unless she enjoyed playing, dressing and undressing the dolls. I know I would... Id undress Rogue and then.... Never you mind.
    • wrong, you can't just say having a different arbitrary set of genes makes you a different species, magneto. we all know your agenda but the bottom line is that if Marvel girl were to bear my offspring they would indeed be viable, and therefore she is human... or am I a mutant?
  • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:40PM (#5121275)
    ... at least Michael Jackson will have to pay taxes now.
  • I wonder what would be this judges decision on a new toy. A new kind of buisness man. One that has over a billon dollars to himself, and that owns a software company that is a complete monopoly. Would that be human or super-human?
  • by writertype ( 541679 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:43PM (#5121303)
    In a related case, DOJ lawyers argued that Bill Gates should also be subject to the higher import duties, based on his 1997 augmentation of his statistics [theonion.com] to a level of 20, which is classified by the AD&D Rules Council as typical of "deities and demigods".

    Unfortunately, the case has not been properly concluded; when Judge Barzilay was asked to subject Gates to the same "need to remove the clothes of the figure" test, she reportedly turned green and shook her head violently in a "no" gesture before fleeing the room.

    In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Monday, Microsoft reported that the aborted ruling would save the company $1.2 billion in duties, prompting analysts to wonder if many Microsoft employees besides Gates had also sacrificed their humanity long ago.

  • Could we at least describe them as "naturalized" humans? It feels wrong that Marvel the company is more human than the X-men.

    The official definition of a member of a species is one who can successfully interbreed, hence huskies are of the same species as poodles, whereas cats cannot. Has Marvel addressed this key question?

    • not only is this teribly confusing but downright silly, i know its baout taxes. but why should 'human' dolls be taxed differnetly.. whats the point? Do they have to be anatomiclly correct to be "human-like"? This begs the bigger question.. is a real doll a human doll or an action figure?:)
    • [Insert obligatory "Corporations f**k people on a daily basis" joke here]
  • Madam Tetrachromat [redherring.com]
    Faster loading link [utk.edu] of article in text format.

    All mutant tetrachromats are female, so keep your eye on em! :)
  • by dr_dank ( 472072 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:47PM (#5121338) Homepage Journal
    Here's a guy who changes his clothes in a phone booth and flies through the air," says Mr. Cooper. "Does that mean he's now an animal?"

    No,it means HE AIN'T REAL!

    Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to walk my Incredible Hulk.
  • Holy crap.
    These are toys, not people. Weather deemed "human" or not, they are not alive.

    Are these people so engrossed in this fantasy life that this ruling concerns them? If so, why don't they just light up the bat signal or whatever and have their X-Men go take care of this judge?

    Oh, that's right....they're not real. i almost forgot.
  • Non Issue (Score:3, Informative)

    by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:48PM (#5121354) Homepage
    Summary: Marvel wanted the items to be declared non-human to shoehorn them into an arbitrary category that incurred less import tax.

    This is an affront to the X-Men theme of intolerance in only the most semantical, BS way imaginable.
  • We must protect the rights of Fictional-Americans, lest their rights be trampled on like so many subscription inserts!

    If we don't defend their rights, Who Will Be Next?
    • In related news, attorney Johnathon F. Spunkelmuncher is spearheading a class-action lawsuit against the United States of A. The plaintifs, who will heretofore be known as "Cabbage Patch Kids" contend that they were sold into slavery by toy stores nationwide. Millions of little girls abused the plaintifs in the 1980's and now they want to be compensated...Tape at 11:00.
  • The fact that anyone was upset about this is very disturbing to me. Marvel wanted to get their action figures classified as 'toys' instead of 'dolls' so they could pay less tariff. Whoopee. Fans are 'up in arms'? Give me a break.
  • X-Men fans demand to pay more for there toys!

    Jeez people, it's just a ploy by Marvel to get a lower tarif on the toys that are made in China.

    And finally,
    Jeez people, its a fictional work, not your Opus.
  • To Brian Wilkinson, editor of the online site X-Fan (x-mencomics.com/xfan/), Marvel's argument is appalling. The X-Men -- mere creatures? "This is almost unthinkable," he says. "Marvel's super heroes are supposed to be as human as you or I. They live in New York. They have families and go to work. And now they're no longer human?"

    Somehow I doubt the X-Men are as human as I am. They live in glossy 8.5x11 pages, not NY. They have subplots, not families. And they are no longer (nor have they ever been) REAL. This is beside the point, though. A toy company wants payback for tariffs because it thinks its product was incorrectly classified as representative of humans. I think its safe to say that the X-Men have some elements outside of humanity.
  • Wolverine's 'Age" (Score:2, Informative)

    by ultraright ( 517021 )
    I hate to be picky, but I have to point out this line in the WSJ article, even if it just proves what a geek I am.

    "Wolverine has known many forms in his more than 40 years as a Marvel character."

    Wolverine's first appearance was in 1974, in The Incredible Hulk #180. That would give him about 28 years in the Marvel universe.

  • Damn...sometimes life seems like nothing more than a perverse source of material for episodes of "The Simpsons."
  • Why would any supposedl inteligent reader here let the lie continue that this is an issue of are the x-man human, or is an x-man figure a doll or a toy? If Barbie is a doll, is Ken? Is GI Joe? Is Professor X? Would Batman, who has no super powers, be a doll and not a toy?

    This is all absurd. The real problem here is that the United States has absurd laws that punish the consumer and some companies and give special favors to other businesses who have paid off corrupt politicians by continuing the lie that there should be any difference in import tax on a Barbie toy than an X-men toy. Marvel didn't have the balls to argue this in court, they played along with the system and let the big issue that the taxes are blaitantly unfair and uneven. They were rewarded for playing along and not questioning the fundamental corrupt system by beng allowed to pay the lower tax.

  • Slow news day? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bopo ( 105833 ) <<bopo> <at> <nerp.net>> on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:55PM (#5121417) Homepage

    The article is actually on the front page of the deadtree version of the WSJ, a place I really thought I'd never see a little plastic Wolvie.

    It's either an incredibly slow news day over there, or the wacky assistant-front page editor is filling in while the boss takes a three-day weekend or something. Wow.

  • was the related ruling that the X-Men weren't actually real.

    To Brian Wilkinson, editor of the online site X-Fan, Marvel's argument is appalling. The X-Men -- not real? "This is almost unthinkable," he says. "Marvel's super heroes are as real as you or I. They live in New York. They have families and go to work. How could they possibly be figments of someone's imagination?"
  • by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @05:57PM (#5121442) Homepage
    From the article [wsj.com]:
    Veteran comics fan Christian Cooper, who once worked as a Marvel editor, thinks Judge Barzilay got carried away. If Kraven isn't human, what about the twisted villains in Dick Tracy? Or worse yet, Superman himself? "Here's a guy who changes his clothes in a phone booth and flies through the air," says Mr. Cooper. "Does that mean he's now an animal?"

    No, he's Kryptonian you nitwit. What a kneejerk reaction!

    THIS IS OVER IMPORT DUTIES CLASSIFICATION FOR CRIPES SAKE! Who gives a groundhog's fanny if they call Superman a "cup of water with a straw hanging off the end?"
  • I wonder if this case will be accidentally read by legal researchers when real "are they human?" cases start hitting the courts fifteen or twenty years from now. Imagine some paralegal doing a double-take when she realizes it dealt with plastic dolls^H^H^H^H^H action figures.

    I'm kind of looking forward to cases over whether robots and uplifted meerkats and kids with tendencies toward dyslexia deleted from their genome and such are human. Cuz' It's The Business of the Future to Be Dangerous.*

    Stefan

    * Alfred North Whitehead.

  • until I see under her robe and insure that 'she' isn't some shapechanging manimal freak of nature who can see through walls and absorb my thoughts with her glowing amulet!

    Ha! Just remember Judith! I've got the Daily Bugle on my side, and if there's any funny business going on, these pictures that Parker took are going in the afternoon edition!!

    Angrily Signed with Desk Pounding Action,
    J. Jonah Jameson

  • Disclaimer: The following post contains humor like substances.

    Only a mutant could sustain a bust like Jean's for all these years.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled weblog.
  • Marvel issued this statement: "Don't fret, Marvel fans, our heroes are living, breathing human beings -- but humans who have extraordinary abilities ... . A decision that the X-Men figures indeed do have 'nonhuman' characteristics further proves our characters have special, out-of- this world powers."

    Did anyone else hear Stan Lee's voice in the back of their head when reading that?

    Followed by hearing comic book guy say: "Worst...comment...ever".
  • I don't know guys, I don't believe that even Barbie doll is human. She is humanoid for sure, but the waist to breast to hip ratio shows that she could not function normally as a human being, she must be some sort of a mutant or an alien with half of normal organs and made of titanium or at least carbon fiber to support the structure above the waist.
  • Ow (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nemus ( 639101 )
    From the headline to the end of the article, the transmission that is my brain is currently lying in a smoking, smoldering heap of molten metal five miles back on the information highway.

    This is one of those articles that really raises the question "As an American, am I morally required to kill the people and politicians who make such brain numbingly stupid things possible?"

    I don't even want to know how much money was spent by the government on this case. While, yes, from a business perspective, it is an issue of some small import, this is the type of thing that should make any self-respecting judge literally throw the gavel at the plaintiffs. And I mean literally throw the gavel at them. Instead she sits around and plays house with Wolverine and Mole Man. Which is disturbing in and of it self.

    Yes, I'm sure this will be modded down, but damnit, it needed to be said.

    • Re:Ow (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 )
      > This is one of those articles that really raises the question "As an American, am I morally required to kill the people and politicians who make such brain numbingly stupid things possible?"

      I can't speak for your moral obligations, but what burns me up is that as an American, you're not legally obliged not to kill them, you're also legally obliged to pay them for the privilege. Talk about insult to injury.

      "Them", being "accountants and lawyers", to figure out which of the 7 million words of the Internal Revenue Code (and no doubt similarly-massive Customs regs in this case) apply to you.

      In 1999, tax compliance costs [google.com] in the US were $300 billion per year. The goddamn income tax collected only $650 billion that year.

      Think about that for a minute. For every $1000 in tax collected by the Federal Government, CPAs and lawyers raked in $500.

      I'll argue for lower taxes every chance I get - but I want the whole package lowered. End phaseouts. End special exemptions. Bring in a flat tax, or scrap the income tax in favor of a consumption tax. If that means my sacred ox gets gored, and I have pay $1250 to the government every year, versus $1000 to the government and $500 to a CPA, I'm still $250 ahead of the game.

      By reforming the Internal Revenue Code and eliminating this overhead, even the goddamn government would be ahead of the game. (At worst, they'd break even, considering they currently take half - $250 - of the $500 spent on compliance costs for every $1000 in taxes paid :-)

  • by fudgefactor7 ( 581449 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:18PM (#5121582)
    I've read many times, in many different places, that the superheroes and villians of the Marvel Universe are *not* human at all because of their slight forward step in the evolutionary process. We are 'homo sapiens' they (collectively) are 'homo superior.'

    Superman (and any other alien--and yes, I know full well Superman is a DC creation, so I'm not mixing companies here) would fall into the family of 'extraterrestrialis.'

    So with that, it's clear that they are not human, and their plasic representations, although possessing humanoid forms, are not humans (as are you and me.)
  • The judge found him to be "stout and thick," with "exaggerated troll-like features" and very pale skin -- fitting for someone who lives underground. Given all that, Judge Barzilay concluded, the Mole Man was more mole than man.

    As that description covers most geeks, it would appear everyone now has to use freight services, rather than human transports. That's right, you have to take freight elevators, and when traveling, be stowed away under the seat or in the overhead compartments.

    Despite the effects of this ruling, no-one but the EFF is appealing. Members of the ACLU say they are quite happy with the arrangement.
  • by dandelion_wine ( 625330 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @06:34PM (#5121708) Journal
    about the Marilyn Manson action figure I just picked up?
  • Superman (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NetGyver ( 201322 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @07:33PM (#5122254) Journal
    Jeeze, superman isn't "human". He came to earth from a distant planet, He is an alien, how many space aliens are humans? As far as the x-men are concerned, I like to think of them as simply genetically altered humans. But this is pointless, all of these comic book characters are fake. They are not real as in living-and-breathing here on earth. If the judge really wanted to, he could have just said "Welp, this plastic figurine isn't human, because he isn't real, he's a friggin' plastic plaything! Not only that but the character isn't based on anyone real, or human for that matter." That doesn't mean they're animals, it just means they're something other than natural human as we currently know it.

    I'm not trying to troll here, I grew up on Superman. But really, these are "just" comic book characters, not actual people of any sort, anyway, hear me out...

    The court case carries an undertone that's not just spacific to comic book characters. It's the definition of "What it is to be human" itself. I believe that's what alot of people are thinking--how can a judge declare something human or not human? What does this mean to genetically altered people or human clones? *that's* what people should be concerned about here.
  • by LinuxParanoid ( 64467 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @07:49PM (#5122423) Homepage Journal

    I went to see if I could find Judge's opinion online. Indeed, it is! In PDF form, I bring you Toy Biz, Inc. v. United States [uscourts.gov].

    For those of you decrying our taxpayer dollars going to waste on such a suit, it appears some at least is being used to make such decisions more accessible, a fact which I hope we can all agree upon.

    Personally, I think it was worth every penny to expose a fantastic example of corporate hypocracy. I read maybe a dozen X-Men comics (and didn't see the movie) and the main philosophical point I saw that the series revolved around (besides raw action) was that the X-Men should in fact be considered human despite their 'mutant' powers.

    Given that, what could be more hypocritical than turning around and claiming that, while for storyline purposes the X-Men should be considered human, but for tax purposes, they are not.

    But maybe I should read the Judge's opinion first. It's long, so I'm posting the link here before I read. Based on the first paragraph, it looks like the matter never went to a full trial and was decided in a pre-trial 'summary judgement'.

    --LP
  • by silhouette ( 160305 ) on Monday January 20, 2003 @10:14PM (#5123546)
    my Jesus Christ action figure with posable arms and legs? Want to make a ruling on that one? What would Jesus tax? (WWJT)

Real Programmers think better when playing Adventure or Rogue.

Working...