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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 66
Gender: Male
Posts: 33,189
Location: Long Island, New York

06 Aug 2022, 9:43 am

Young Justice: Phantoms Has a Major Problem With Its Autism Awareness Arc
The show is on HBO Max

Young Justice: Phantoms has offered viewers some mature story arcs, evolving the series past superheroes and villains. It leaned into Halo pondering the Islamic faith after possessing Gabrielle's body, as well as discussions on gender issues and depression -- the latter especially with Beast Boy and a broken Kaldur in the wake of deaths on the job.

Interestingly , a discussion on autism has arisen, with Rocket not capable of handing the rigors of being a parent to an autistic child. It felt relatable, as many struggle with the ins and outs. However, as the arc progressed, Rocket came off immature and honestly, very selfish. Unfortunately, the way it was resolved really lacked nuance
Rocket was all too eager to head into space and get away from her boy, Amistad. She palmed him off on his dad, Noble, and got annoyed during calls. In fact, she kept putting duty first, fixing her schedule to have less time with him. This was pretty harsh because she lacked compassion, empathy and wasn't trying to understand Amistad's tantrums and the sacrifices that came with raising a child with special needs.

Again, the show's all about learning curves, so fans expected her to wise up from being around Kilowog, who, despite publicly decrying love, showed how important bonds are with the "other," per his friendship with Razer. Tomar-Re also spoke about caring for others, which is why he regretted not being there for Krypton when it blew up. However, the catalyst for change was Orion, who had a Hulk inside due to him being Darkseid's son.

Rocket saw him flip out in the field, especially in claustrophobic situations, which reminded her of Amistad's ticks back home. However, it felt off to compare Amistad to someone who was violent and an admitted a monster. It came to a head when both got locked into a mind-meld thanks to M'comm, with Rocket snapping Orion out of it, saying she finally saw him for who he was. This helped the heroes save the day, with Orion thanking her for believing in him.

This is a false equivalency, though, which made it really tacky, cheap and tasteless when Rocket rushed home, hugging her boy because she finally "saw" him. It was disrespectful and problematic because Amistad wasn't just about anger issues. Rocket was annoyed by everything he did and his obsessive-compulsive tendencies, but it's not like he was rampaging and making her life a living hell the way Orion did when he went into berserker mode. It's insensitive to frame Orion as the cure to be a better mom, especially when her ex-husband was begging her all along to dedicate time to the family. Orion also had trauma from years of war, so to paint Amistad in the same light didn't add up.

At least, Rocket wised up and shifted her mindset, because she was avoiding how he was struggling to integrate with other kids. Still, Young Justice really shouldn't have painted her as someone who passed the buck, only for Orion's rage to show her she needed to be patient. This didn't feel organic at all, when someone like Forager would have correlated better with Amistad's idiosyncrasies. Instead, the show tried to force Orion in as a solution and give Rocket a special bond with New Genesis for the war against Lor-Zod to come. Sadly, all it did was insult an innocent kid who didn't have years of treatment or cognizance over his condition.

Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman