Hate in Comics

http://www.newsarama.com/26728-the-internet-rage-machine.html?fb_comment_id=fbc_861958793921478_861992883918069_861992883918069#f333b6372c

I wanted to re-post this and make a few comments.

First, it’s an interesting read. I hope nobody out there in the Rider-verse is making death threats and hateful remarks to creators, other fans, etc… that’s inherently wrong, criminal and unacceptable. Make no mistake about it, I deplore any of that activity.

However, I think all too often critical analysis and critical backlash is mistaken and lumped into the same category as this clearly deranged hate speech. The article does not really go there.

I think the article would have been a bit more powerful if it offered guidance for fans who are critical, discussed the notion that criticism is ok and, in fact, a healthy process in discourse. I wish the work would have had some more suggestions for fans who want to express themselves without crossing the line of “hate”, things like boycotts, internet petitions, or critical letters are basically the most benign form of discontent.

Instead, the implication I get from the work is that any contempt for creators is not ok and equates to hate.

It also sort of has a weak sauce blanket logic/justification for creators who  have also displayed juvenile, arrogant, and childish internet behavior as well. Sure, everyone loses their cool sometimes.  Yet, there are well documented instances of creators going overboard. Of course, the finest example being former Marvel Editor Stephen Whacker. Even some fan favorites like PAD and Byrne take it to the fans (a bit too much) now and then…sometimes it’s uncalled for. Sometimes it is justified and these creators do have a right to lash out, just as the work discusses.

This is case and point for places like the CBR message boards, who I’ve found will censor or edit any even critical statements, especially those that specifically focus on another poster or creator. It’s their right to mod their own boards, but clearly some folks equate “any criticism” with hate speech, and that’s wrong. That epidemic is a supreme opponent of civil discourse and not something I consider positive.

Second, I don’t always agree with the “anon theory” / lecture given in the work…at least I don’t anymore. Go on Facebook in the comments and look at the vitriol of gritty quips and insulting one liners that are not anonymous. That’s all being done under real names. I post often under my real name on Facebook , Newsarma, and CBN’s comic articles. Further, its not all that uncommon for creators or writers to have aliases.

Fans are not the ones totally out of line. Comics have switched, seemingly, more and more to extreme gimmicks, kill offs, and radical direction changes to maintain readers. IMO, the current Marvel regime under Quesada Alonso and Brevoort have done a few other dishonest things and have a somewhat shady record of being honest with fans to boot. No one likes being flat out lied to. I know many Nova fans feel like they’ve been put under that foot.

Admittedly, I’ve lost my cool at times and lowered myself to call someone an asshole or jerk now and then. Certainly, i use profanity in some of my writing. I may have called somebody a hack or two once as well. I really don’t think calling someone an A-hole, etc is “hate speech.” I’m not so sure why i need to have “respect” for all creators either. Sometimes I don’t.

Yet, sometimes the beholder can elevate critical statements to “hate speech” and sometimes the threshold for this is ridiculous. As an example, many newer Sam Alexander fans feel the statement of “NINO” is hateful. I’m sorry, I just don’t see that. I mean this is old Nova fans calling something “Nova in Name Only”.  It’s not hate. Sure, it’s a derogatory name for Sam. Yet, fans who use it will very often articulate WHY they feel that way and why they apply it. With this kind of thin-skin posture, we make for a miserably bland and worthless internet scene of discussion and discourse.

I do agree with the article that an element of mental unstability is involved. Certainly, this is the case with death threats or threats of rape. But is this writer equating this to the critical fans as well? Its unclear.

Lastly, I’ll make a couple points I often fall back on:

  1. Creators fight like dogs between themselves. Comic books are a highly catty, litigious, and contentious industry filled with bitter fights, court battles and personality conflicts. Frankly, they eat themselves alive at every chance. This whole “it’s just comics” argument is weak sauce when you look at how nasty and epic the in fighting in that industry has been.
  1. In terms of criticism, comic creators have it easy. Comic book writers have a fairly easy professional criticism circuit. The peer and professional reviews from sites like Newsarama, IGN, and (especially) CBR are usually tame. * In fact, there are only a few critical sites that don’t take the corporate talking points like Bleeding Cool and Cosmic Book news, a few others. Unfortunately for me, fan blogs like this are easy to marginalize as nutty and fringe. These pieces from USATODAY are mainly paid advertisements. Compare this with the other industries of written prose, film, and television and we see those fields have a literal sea of critics that pull no punches and mean life and death to million or even billion dollar deals.We could give the example of the “Allah” comic strip stuff here against this, but I think that’s more of a unique situation.

One final note, before someone says “You don’t know what it’s like to get death threats or threats of violence against you or your family” Let’s just say I most certainly do and get those on a regular basis, truthfully, I get them in a much more tangible and visceral form than any comic book guy living in NYC or Portland. Again, make no confusion from this work, the hateful behavior, death threats, and threats of violence are not ok, and this blog does not condone any of that shit.

Anyway, hope some of you found this interesting,

As always Long Live Richard Rider and keep it up!

TR

PS: Did you know HP Lovecraft basically got his start as a writer as a troll writing critical letters regarding the content of a 1913 pulp fiction publication?

* unless you’re the new NINO series, yikes!

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