Rocket Rights Movement
If you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy then you are no doubt joyfully endeared to Rocket. The film quickly established him as one of the central characters of the team and possibly the most sympathetic of them all. As a result of Rocket’s marvelous characterization, I went home from the theatre with a stinger in my paw.
In an intoxicated rant, Rocket revealed to us the emotional trauma he suffered because of his condition as a genetically modified being. We witnessed how upset he was by the way those around him treated him, mainly verbally. We learned that he was unaware that he resembled an Earth raccoon, and that he resented being compared to the species. It offended him greatly to be referred to as ‘rodent,’ ‘vermin,’ ‘hamster,’ and to the creatures Drax referenced as food. We empathize with him and understand his suffering at the hands of prejudice and ignorance.
The sting for me, then, is whether it is insensitive to call him Rocket Raccoon, rather than just Rocket? He does not know what a raccoon is, and even when he does learn I am certain he would feel even more insecure about his appearance. Calling him Rocket Raccoon is equivalent to other insensitive names such as ‘Fat Albert,’ or, ‘Gay Tony,’ etc. If attaching physical appearance or sexual orientation to a character’s identity is inappropriate, isn’t calling Rocket a raccoon just as wrong? We do not call Gamora the “Green Chick,” or Quill “The Dumb Human Guy,” because those terms taint their dignity as people.
If we are to accept the character of Rocket, to empathize with him and share in his struggle, we also have to accredit him his due dignity as a person. Going forward, I hope that we can see him as Rocket – just Rocket – instead of Rocket who happens to look like (or maybe even be made of) a raccoon.