Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Human/non-human and what falls between?

A US court recently decided the X-Men are non-human creatures. "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, 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."

Man, I don't know which is more interesting - that some people want superheroes to be human or that human figures are considered dolls, whereas non-human figures are considered toys. And how weird is it that dolls should be subject to higher tariffs?

And let's not forget the virtual humans: A Declaration of the Rights of Avatars

More cool toys? Check out this fantastically detailed miniature reproduction of a 60s boy's bedroom. I could develop a fantastic crush on the man who lived in, and recreated, that room ;)

[all links via boingboing]

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