Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Fire the Comic Book Community

Hello to all my fellow comic book fans and fellow enthusiasts of all things geek. I am here today to let you in on a little public service announcement: You all suck. Seriously, it's true. Highly generalized (I'm sure a lot of you are actually pretty dandy folks), but still filled with true. You have become monstrous and parasitic with all of your fervor and it would almost be hilarious if it all had not reached the disgusting levels that it has. Your continual desire to be constantly outraged at the things you profess to love borders on a level of masochism that even I - a master of the S&M arts of tearing down the things he professes to derive enjoyment from - tip my hat at your screaming self-importance with your claims of "fandom" as you rally against essentially everything that goes on in our little, fantasy world.  I'd almost feel more contempt for you if it wasn't being overwhelmed my pity when I realize that, at the end of the day, this is mostly being aimed at how grown men and women write fictional characters (or direct fictional characters brought to life on film) and how absurd and petty a notion that is in reality. 

I'll pull back on my vitriol a bit now to at least say this: I get it. If but just on a base level of attachment I understand some of the "concern" of how these imaginary beings we grow up with and that exert some influence on our development are handled by the people that shape them for our current consumption and sculpting of the next generation. Hell, just before I decided I've had enough of this #firerickremender bullshit to start moving my fingers across the board to make this post, I was drafting up a piece where I wanted to talk about how I feel a little "out of the loop" given the way a lot of the publishing lines are drawn these days. Regardless, I understand the comfort of continuing to read about characters that have been with us all our lives on the page and the thrill of watching them on the big screen, shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of our fellow nerds that gleefully (or even begrudgingly) plopped down fifteen bucks for a ticket that helps justify our misspent youths. With that said, you fuckers need to get a hold of yourselves and grow up a little bit; some of you a lot bit. 

Quite frankly, outrage is too easy these days because all it takes is some schmuck with a mad on and a keyboard (huzzah, I realize I could be a hypocrite here!) and the right wave of bored people who want to yell at each other via our bandwidth tubes. There's outrage over a football team name. Outrage over what some dumb, racist fat broad with a butter fetish said over two decades ago. Outrage over how tiny the girl they cast to play Wonder Woman is and how it doesn't seem like she's bulking up enough. Context is also a lost fucking art form it seems as well. What of those three things I just mentioned doesn't seem like the other? Not that discussions on all of these subjects don't have their own merits given the right forums, platitudes, and implications in a vacuum. That football team name could be offensive to a lot of people whose ancestors were brutalized as this country grew; maybe we should talk about it and see if that should still be a thing? Tons of Fun with a Southern Drawl said some dumb, ignorant stuff but it was years ago, raised in a culture where that shit is, sadly, not uncommon but she has a pretty broad following so maybe we should hold her accountable to the point of her losing her primary source of income? I don't know, that's some pretty damn grey area there if you ask me. It warrants talking about for sure but I think on a lower scale because, overall, I don't think her career really matters all much in the grand scheme of things but we should all take the time to discuss personal accountability and how it can affect our careers now that our lives are just that much more out there thanks to social media.

That third example though, seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you people?

We're throwing outrage at a girl who was handed a job, now has to and will do it to her best ability (assuming she's as professional as you would hope someone on that particular level is), but doesn't live up to your standards of the fictional being she is getting paid to portray, even though you have yet to see her attempt at the character? Outrage over the sole production photo of Henry Cavill back in the Superman costume and how dour it looks. Continued outrage over Ben Affleck as the Batman and the guy from the social network being Lex Luthor. Outrage, outrage, outrage!! over a movie you will all spend money on anyway and that in ten years will just remember as that thing you may or may not have enjoyed for two and a half hours of your life and wonder what they'll be doing with the reboot or who they will cast as any of those characters I just named this time around. And that will be followed with more outrage, because why not, unless maybe by the grace of god aliens will have invaded the Earth and we'll have more important things to worry about than movie adaptions (and I pledge my fealty to you here and now oh wonderfully dome-headed ones).

And, to reiterate, I understand this on that primal basis. These things hold a dear place in our hearts. I spend several hours a week typing up pieces about these characters and books for a pretty popular website (that is even renowned for being @$$holes about this shit, huzzah again!) and have spent plenty of time in forums weighing the pros and cons of these character turns and editorial directions and on and on. When an adaptation of a character you identify with sucks it's a bit of a downer because we have all invested so much into this hobby and art form over the years. But you also know what? Every time it sucks it's going to be all right because, regardless of current status quo's and regimes, there's always the old material we hold dear and always the potential for new material in the future that will reignite our fondness for those properties. I don't want to say we should not debate and discuss, or voice excitement and disappointment, but that the clamor should always have a context and a conscious.

But, because we can't fucking have nice things, instead we decided to call for a prominent writer's head on a pike because, well, the O-word.

#FireRickRemender was quite possibly the dumbest thing I woke up to this week, and I follow sports and politics pretty heavily. Because someone who doesn't know how to follow along with a comic book assumed a character that, even though she just announced she was in her twenties (and yes, I get a lot of this involved time jumping shenanigans and we saw a lot of her in her teens, but still, CONTEXT PEOPLE!!), was still assumed to really be in her teens and banged The Falcon and they were all "ew" about it. And, because the Internet loves some outrage and hash tagging fucking everything, some supposed journalists for places like The Examiner and whatnot, who also don't apparently understand context (and, really, the fucking Examiner is covering this shit now?) decided to run with that flag as soon as it was raised. So because statutory rape that didn't really happen but is TOTALLY KIND OF IMPLIED if you read it the way you want to was a thing,  part of the community decided to call for a man's livelihood. Given the ridiculousness of these claims I'm going to put forth one of my own right now: The person who started this really didn't get the statutory part mixed up, they're just racist and felt icky seeing sex aftermath between a tiny white girl and a large, muscular black man. See how easy this shit is? And a not insignificant portion of comic book readers went straight for their Disqus generated guillotines and their insipid hashtags and demanded a man's head. For a group of people raised on reading books with characters whose main purposes were to teach acceptance and tolerance, we apparently love our witch hunts. And as hypocritical as even I may have been over the years with some of my pieces, this nonsense (at least within the confines of our community) is at a FOX News playbook level of amateurishness.

There are things we should always discuss as a community and how we want to present ourselves. Maybe we should discuss how, now that comics are way more mainstream, that they may have gotten too "adult" even with material like this in the first place, since it's going to be kids like we used to be when we first got hooked and that will continue these stories beyond us. When Orson Scott Card was penned in to write Superman stories, that was a real debate we should have had, because an UNMISTAKABLY and VOCALLY intolerant person was about to become the mouth piece of the most tolerant character possibly in the history of fiction was a real discussion point. Should it have cost him the job though? I have my opinions on that and so do you and we should all discuss them rationally. The "Women in Refrigerators" movement, as it documented for years, showed there was an unhealthy trend showing up in our comics and we needed to have a frank conversation about how it, as a primarily male driven industry, needed to start presenting itself to the female world. I personally think we are infinitely better now that we have had that discussion and hope we can have more like it as the community grows and the industry evolves.

#FireRickRemender was not a discussion. It was one person's misconstrued distaste turned into a hunt for page clicks by others who were just looking for an excuse to write something attention grabbing,  even as just a roundabout way to knock down Remender himself a peg for not liking his work or what he's currently doing the character of Captain America himself. And you know what? At least there's some merit that last aspect because of that attachment I have talked about several times now. If you think a current take on a character is not doing that character justice or seems out of place, talk about it. Or bear it out and hope the next guy or gal (and there will be a next one shortly in today's industry) will be more your style. But demonizing for the sake of demonizing will get us nowhere. Look at our political climate today. If you do not have a factual point for your crusade to rally around, all you are going to do is entrench the other party. And as far as that is concerned, don't think you scumbags whose response to these trumped up allegations were the standard assortment of "I hope you get raped!" and "Let's personally hunt this person down for that thing they said online" aren't an exceptional level of sub-human that I am ashamed to sit amongst in those theaters at those film releases. If you are able to even insinuate that nonsense in base "it's the Internet so I'm not accountable!" snark form then you have no claim to any of that emotional fan attachment to these characters in the slightest. Because the first step in showing your dedication and fandom to these characters is stand up for the ideals that they shaped in you over the years as you became the human that you are today. And if what you have become is capable of such corrosiveness, then you have no right to this community, or any collaboration of human beings for that matter. You stand alone in your own pool of bile.

And now that I've spent too much time talking about what is wrong with Comic Books, I'm going to go back to reading them and reminding myself what's right about them. I would encourage you all to do the same and continue to come together in rejoicing over how awesome "Guardians of the Galaxy" looks so far. Cheers...

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