The insidious lure of nostalgia

I was going to put this in a comment, but then I remembered – I could just write a post! So here it is. Whether it will be coherent or not I will leave you to decide.

So there I was, reading Matt’s column on toxic fandom, which I thought was perfectly fine. Then I read M-Wolverine’s objections to it in the comments, and I wanted to discuss some things with him. I think he got a bit unnecessarily personal with Mr. Hatcher, but I’ll let Greg fight his own battles. He’s a grown-ass man, after all, and can take care of himself.

No, what bugged me about M-Wolverine’s comment was his contention that we should engage racists because “both sides do it” and that if you like something, you’ll defend it even if the behavior is reprehensible and exactly what you criticize about the other side. This is partly what leads to people not voting, because “all politicians are corrupt” (easily disproved), so who cares who’s in power. I would say that I’d rather have a corrupt Hillary Clinton than a deranged Donald Trump, but then I’d be being mean to all those poor oppressed Trump voters, wouldn’t I? M-Wolverine says a lot in his comments, and I have to admit, he did make me think, which is never a bad thing. So I’d like to examine, without really engaging with the “Comicsgate” crowd at all (because I certainly agree that they don’t want to debate, they just want everyone to admit they’re right and listen to them), what it seems like they want. That’s why I’m unsure if this is going to be coherent or not, because I’m not sure if I can organize my thoughts as well as I should.

First of all, we should consider what these people want. I mean, it seems pretty clear, but let’s break it down from what they say on-line. They want a return to when comics didn’t push a political agenda that they don’t agree with, and showed heroes being heroes and villains being villains. They also want the heroes they love to stay the heroes they love, because Marvel and DC are busy replacing those heroes with either ethnic minorities or women. This, they say, leads to comics sales dropping, which will kill the industry, an industry that Marvel and DC are killing because they’re more committed to diversity than sales. Does this seem fair? I know we get caught up in the ways they express this, but does this seem like a fair overview of what the people involved want? I think it is, but if it’s not, please let me know.

Next, let’s take a look at M-Wolverine’s comments. I’ve never met him, but he has always seemed like a reasonable dude (well, except for his love of Michigan football, but let’s not get into that right now) who believes that because both sides do stuff like this, it’s necessary to remain calm and stay in the center of things. That’s a perfectly fine idea, and I espouse it, because it’s necessary to understand issues before we can act, and acting too emotionally to things before all the facts are in is a good way to go scorched earth on people who might not deserve it or at least look foolish after the fact (see: Argento, Asia). In his first comment, M-Wolverine writes (everything is [sic], by the way):

And most often what is occurring is that something that may have had subtle politic messages, or messages open to interpretation, have become hard left or right in their leanings. Populist entertainment is getting turned into “everything has to have a message.” You don’t care because comics are leaning in the direction you like right now. But if they were suddenly to become pro-Trump mouthpieces you’d freak. (As many on this site have at his mention). And it’s always excused by “yes, but in this case it’s really really bad.” Most of them are pretty awful people, but if they’re on “my team” they get excused for all their awfulness. But don’t tell me if they turned Batman, an old wealth rich guy, or Superman, a guy who grew up in Kansas, into hard line conservatives you wouldn’t have an equal number of people freaking out, even if it technically makes more sense for the character. (I’m mean, let’s be real…they’re ALL law and order vigilantes. That’s about as anti-liberal as you can get). Tony Stark ends up a villain so often because writers can’t conceive of a heroic capitalist. But Captain America is the most liberal 1940’s guy ever. And lately they have shown the lack of talent to be able to write characters of all sorts in an even handed way. (It’s funny, humanizing genocidal maniacs to make them more rounded characters is usually no problem, but a well rounded Trump voter? Right.) But it’s the squeezing in of beliefs that don’t fit character or story but fit the writer’s beliefs that stand out like sore thumbs.

He continues:

You’re doing the same thing the Comicgates guys are, by naming names and outing them and making them “others” for their beliefs. You’re just doing it in a more polite way. But you can find tons of the same hateful outliers on both sides of the social spectrum. Ruby Rose, who people should be complaining about being a waif who would get broken in two and can’t act, not how “gay” she is, is a good example you mention. But if anyone can play anybody, someone should tell Scarlett Johansson. Because it wasn’t far right wingers tearing her apart.

And yet more:

And the private business not public thing is a great part of the hypocritical divide in this country. It’s always OK, unless I don’t agree with it. Banning from a convention, selling cakes to whoever you want or don’t want, disrupting speeches on campus, not serving cabinet figures because of their politics, smoking in bars. It’s always an outrage if you’re against those politics, and it’s always free speech and private organization rights if you’re behind the message.

In another comment, he writes:

And what is racism, or homophobia, or sexism, exactly? Hating those groups, or just not agreeing with every policy that comes up regarding it? Is it not believing every single case of a police shooting is racism? It is saying sometimes wait for the evidence in every #MeToo case so we don’t become internet vigilante justice? Because I’ve seen far less bring out the cries of RACIST or MISOGYNIST because it’s the intellectually lazy way of making an argument. Rather than argue issues or facts, attack the person.

Which is what this article, in part, does. It’s not a full on Dox’ing with addresses and contact information, but it’s naming names and attacking people and ascribing motives to them. Some of them are pretty awful people, and probably deserve it. Others get lumped in, well, just because.

People’s opinions become facts when they agree with them.

There’s a lot to unpack there, and while I don’t agree with everything he says, I don’t disagree with everything, either (I’ve made the point myself before that if Clark Kent had been raised in Kansas in DC’s sliding time scale of the 1980s/1990s, he’d be a conservative). Where I think he goes over the line is telling Hatcher that saying his editor is a conservative is the same as a racist saying he has black friends, because that’s not what Greg was writing at all, and M-Wolverine is being deliberately obtuse if he can’t see that. But again, Hatcher can fight his own battles.

[I should point out that since I began this post, M-Wolverine has commented again and clarified some of his remarks. That doesn’t invalidate what I’m writing, but I just wanted to let you know in case you missed it. Go read Matt’s original column!]

So let’s break this down. The Comicsgate people seem to want comics to push an agenda that they agree with, meaning a conservative one. Heroes = Heroes, Villains = Villains, Heroes Punch Villains, Good Triumphs Over Evil. M-Wolverine, in the first part of his first comment, mentions this too: “But don’t tell me if they turned Batman, an old wealth[y] rich guy, or Superman, a guy who grew up in Kansas, into hard line conservatives you wouldn’t have an equal number of people freaking out, even if it technically makes more sense for the character.” That’s a fair point, both about Heroes Being Heroes and heroes not being conservative. I very much doubt M-Wolverine’s point because The Dark Knight Returns is beloved and it’s one of the most fascist mainstream comics in history, but his point is not a bad one. But that brings us to my first contention, and that’s with so-called “conservative” art.

FUCK …
… YEAH!!!!!

1. Conservative art and “punching down.” Great art is not, and has never been, conservative. There’s a reason for this. Conservatives, by their very nature, want things either to stay the same or, if they’re of a more reactionary bent, go back to a “Golden Age” (I’ll get to that below). Great art, almost by definition, is about pushing things forward. There’s a reason why so many artists back in the day died penniless or at least didn’t make any money until they were very old. The culture simply wasn’t ready for them. They pushed society in a way that society, which is generally conservative, didn’t want to go, and society reacted against that. There have always been people willing to “troll” artists and ignore the actual art just because they believe it doesn’t conform to what their version of art should be – the famous “Rite of Spring” premiere in 1913, which probably wasn’t a riot but was still contentious, points to just that, as one of the dancers was interviewed in 1965 and claimed that the audience was there to get riled up, which certainly doesn’t sound like any current situations we know at all. We can point to conservatives who make great art, sure, but the art itself is usually not conservative at all. Looking back to a “Golden Age” might make people feel good, but there’s a reason why so much of that kind of art is forgotten – it didn’t have the impact that great art does. Yes, I’m generalizing, but it’s still overwhelmingly true.

So when we consider if comics characters should be more conservative and remain heroes, the answer is probably “no.” Not because a conservative Batman would be offensive, but because it would be boring. What constitutes great art, after all? Change. The struggle to change and what happens when people try to stay the same in a changing world. What would a “conservative” Batman look like, anyway? Batman already sees the world in black and white, and he doesn’t seem to have much sympathy for criminals – two characteristics that conservatives like. No one wants to read about a wealthy Bruce Wayne making the city better through social programs, because people read Batman to see him beat up bad guys. The best Batman stories of the past 50 years have taken the tension between Batman’s unerring and unending war on crime – a big thing for conservatives – and his more gooey, liberal tendencies. That’s where you get the great art, as Batman, in his heart, knows he can’t win his war, but he can’t stop it either. Even the aforementioned Dark Knight Returns, which I imagine is one of those comics that conservatives would place in their “Golden Age” (I don’t know that for sure, but it feels like it would be) isn’t completely fascist – both Batman and Superman, who are fascist in different ways, have to learn different ways of doing things before they can move forward. If Batman is simply a “conservative” hero – meaning he doesn’t care about the roots of crime, just that there are criminals who need to be punched in the brain – he becomes Mr. A. Have you ever read any Mr. A comics? Gah, they’re dreadful. Beautiful art, but completely insipid. That’s what happens when you make your heroes 100% conservative. That’s why Tony Stark needed to be an alcoholic – confident capitalist Iron Man simply didn’t sell well enough. Captain America might be liberal, but there were plenty of liberals in the 1930s/1940s – remember, that was the New Deal era, and in 1912, for instance, Eugene Debs managed to get 6% of the popular vote in a presidential election running as a socialist. So Cap doesn’t necessarily have to be a conservative. Writers “can’t conceive of a heroic capitalist,” according to M-Wolverine, and that’s because capitalists are boring. What would a comic like that look like? Here comes Hedge Fund Manager Man, who made $13.2 million last year and spends two months of the year in Lake Como! Capitalism is not the worst thing in the world, but it’s deadly dull when it comes to art. The heroic novels of Ayn Rand are usually trotted out at this time, but nobody takes those seriously as great art, unless they have … an agenda!

The problem with “heroic capitalists” and other examples of mainstream white male American culture is with the idea of “punching down.” Great art “punches up,” as it either mocks, exposes, or tries to tear down completely the social hierarchy. “Punching down,” meaning mocking those who are below you on the social ladder, used to be fine, but it’s not any longer, and those people who want conservative agendas in their art can’t seem to accept that. Conservatives – symbolized by white, straight men, at least in the United States (obviously, it’s different in other places) – see that their dominance is being chipped away, and they can’t handle that. They can’t make fun of women, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, homosexuals, transgender people, and other minorities any more, so who can they make fun of? They’re still on top of the pyramid, but they want it both ways – they want to remain on the top of the pyramid AND be able to mock those further down the pyramid than they are. That’s not the way things work anymore, and many of that section of society aren’t handling it well. In a later comment, M-Wolverine got into a bit of a spat about Christianity, implying that Christians are discriminated against. In a country where anywhere from 80 to 90% of people identify as Christians, this statement is laughable. It’s just that Christians don’t have a monopoly on the secular law of this country anymore, and they’re a bit peeved. (To prove my point that Christians are not discriminated against, consider that it’s still against the law to run for office in seven states if you are an atheist. True, it’s against federal law to enforce these state laws, but they’re still on the books, and the fact that some states very recently have tried to enforce them should tell you what you need to know about Christians and being discriminated against.) Christians have been on the top of the heap for this country’s entire history, and now they’re mad because other groups are saying, “Hey, maybe your ideas aren’t the greatest.”

But the idea of “punching up” is why minorities can still mock or criticize those above them. M-Wolverine might not like it, Ethan van Sciver might not like it, but that’s the way it is. It makes conservative art not only boring but mean-spirited, because these “heroic capitalists” have to have something to triumph over, and when you’re at the top of the food chain, it’s hard to find a good antagonist. I suppose someone could write a “heroic capitalist” fighting an alien invasion or something, but that would reverse the power situation and that person would no longer be the apex predator. He (or she) would become an underdog, fighting against odds stacked against them. Just like a liberal. Or a socialist.

2. When were the “good old days”? When the “Comicsgate” people write and speak, they claim they want comics to return to a “Golden Age.” Anyone in any walk of life claiming they want to return to a “Golden Age” should be suspect, but let’s take them at their word. When was this “Golden Age,” when Heroes were Heroes and politics didn’t intrude on their escapism? As many, many people have pointed out, Superman was a liberal from the very beginning, back in 1938. In the late 1940s and 1950s, as censorship began to strangle the comics industry, heroes were definitely less political, but I would venture to guess that most of the people involved in “Comicsgate” are not in their late 60s or 70s, which is what they would need to be if they’re talking about returning to those halcyon days. Marvel’s re-entry into superhero comics was heavily political (with a liberal bent, despite biases against anyone other than white men), and DC got into the act, as well. In the 1970s, we had many diverse comics, from Black Panther fighting the actual Klan to Ororo joining the X-Men, just one of the most popular comics in history, NBD (I know the “Diversity and Comics” guy holds up Storm as a shining example of things he likes, but there’s a reason for that, and it has to do with my next point). We had politically charged comics, from the heavy-handed Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics to the fact that Richard Fucking Nixon was the head of an evil terrorist organization. In the 1980s, we had even more diversity and more politics, and old square characters like Barry Allen got replaced by a cooler, younger Flash … and sales took off. The 1990s brought us more “replacement” heroes and better sales, and even more diversity and more politics. So when were these “good old days” when white guys were the only heroes who mattered and comics were completely apolitical?

Man, look at that current comics writer, who’s probably a black lesbian, injecting SJW politics into comics, not like back in the 1970s when this shit didn’t happen!

Past “Golden Ages” are dangerous because they can mean different things to different people. If you claim that a time was a “Golden Age,” that’s fine. If you want to return to said “Golden Age,” that’s another, because it means undoing a lot of stuff that’s happened in the interim. In politics, we’ve been hearing about a “Golden Age” since 2016, but our president or those who support him can’t quite tell us when that “Golden Age” existed, because they don’t quite know. All they know is things used to be good for them, and now they’re not quite as good for them. They don’t like it, so they yearn for a “Golden Age.” When I was growing up, conservatives in the 1980s ranted about everything was going to hell and that we should get back to 1950s values. Now, conservatives rant about everything today is going to hell and that we should get back to … you guessed it, the way things were in the 1980s. Things are measurably better in almost every way today, yet because certain people don’t hold a monopoly on political, economic, or moral power anymore, they want to return to a “Golden Age” that might have been golden for only a very small section of the population.

It’s similar with the “Comicsgate” people, or so it seems to me. They’re annoyed that left-wing politics have entered their comics. They’re annoyed that their heroes are being replaced by heroes of a different gender or ethnic group than they used to be. Are they annoyed that their creator heroes aren’t getting as much work as they used to? I don’t know – that doesn’t really seem to come up. They imply it by claiming that women or blacks (those are the two big groups, it seems) are getting too many jobs in comics, but comics aren’t a zero sum game, and I’m not sure if “Comicsgate” people follow established creator heroes who aren’t getting work. They seem to imply that they themselves can do a better job writing and drawing the comics, but that’s a different thing. So they want to return to a “Golden Age” when their heroes were white men and politics were non-existent. The big problem with that is pinning down exactly when that was. I haven’t engaged with any “Comicsgate” people because, frankly, I have a life, so I don’t quite know when they think comics like this existed. I have a theory, though, and that brings me to my next point.

3. Nostalgia and its insidious lure. The reason why no one, when asked, can pin down a “Golden Age” is partly because it’s a myth, and partly because it’s a very personal time frame. But when we get into the idea of Golden Ages, it’s usually before those espousing it were born, or, crucially, when they were children. You know what was better when you were a kid? EVERY-FUCKING-THING!!!!!! Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that most of these so-called “Comicsgate” people are between 40-50 years old. That means they were born between 1968 and 1978. I don’t know this for sure, but it’s probably not a bad guess. So they came of age from about 1976 to 1994 or so, which is about when I came of age (I was born in 1971). You know what was better in the 1980s? EVERY-FUCKING-THING!!!!!! I mean, music was so much better, television was awesome, movies were incredible, and comics were great. All of pop culture was so much better than what we have now!!!!!! Nothing can compare to the sheer awesomeness of the Original Trilogy (I still call the first movie only Star Wars because I won’t let George Lucas rape my childhood!!!!) and Raiders and Highlander and Arnold and Sly and Lethal Weapon and Die Hard and Tron and Legend and Ferris Bueller and Breakfast Club and Goonies and Lost Boys and Stephen J. Cannell shows and Cheers and Zep and the Stones and Floyd and Yes and early Metallica (before they sold out) and Van Halen and Claremont/Byrne X-Men and Byrne FF and Miller Daredevil and Moore Swamp Thing and Pérez Avengers and Byrne Superman and Lee X-Men!!!!!!! THEY WERE ALL MOTHERFUCKING AWESOME!!!!!!!

THE PINNACLE OF HUMAN CULTURAL ACHIEVEMENT!!!!

Of course this is ridiculous, but it’s the way many people – not just those with an agenda – feel. Ask anyone you know what their favorite thing in pop culture is, and the chances are very good it will be something from before they turned 20. That’s not surprising – our critical capacities aren’t as formed when we’re children, we’re seeing things for the first time so they have more of an impression on us, and we have the time to consume more. I used to go to see movies all the time before I had kids, even into my 20s. I used to watch more television than I do now, and I definitely used to listen to more music than I do now. Kids have more time, and their brains are like sponges. White male kids can easily ignore things that might be problematic, like their heroes’ contempt for women or the fact that in most pop culture from back then, ethnic minorities were usually sidekicks and treated with nothing but condescension. They were seeing all this superhero stuff in comics for the first time, so of course they thought it was awesome. One of the reasons why I don’t read many superhero comics any more is because I’ve seen it all before. But I, unlike some others, know that you can’t go back. You’re only a virgin until you have sex the first time. You can’t unfuck yourself. Nostalgia is powerful because it’s so attractive. For a vast majority of people, their childhoods are when they were happiest, and if they weren’t, they look back on them with rose-colored glasses because they wanted them to be happy, despite the evidence. Let’s face it – being an adult can suck. You know what I do as an adult that I never had to do as a kid? I change diapers full of shit worn by a 16-year-old girl. I pay bills. I worked for and with assholes and had to be nice to them. I get pulled over for going 22 miles per hour in a 15-mph-school zone at 10 o’clock in the morning when everyone is already in school. I have shitty metabolism so I can’t eat Kit Kats and Snickers and drink Dr. Pepper and not have it affect my waistline. I worry all the fucking time about my children. But I’m an adult and that’s the deal – I also have a beautiful wife who I love very much and to whom I’ve been married for 24 years, I have two amazing children who always surprise me with how amazing they are, I have great friends all around the world, and I have a pretty good life. I had a great childhood, but I also understand that I can’t go back. Nor do I really want to. That’s the difference between regular people and “Golden Agers” – regular people understand that you have to adapt to change because everything is always changing, while people who want to revert to a “Golden Age” can’t accept change and want to bury their heads in the sand. They want to live in a hazy dream where everything was always perfect for them, even though, let’s admit it, The A-Team kind of sucked. Don’t deny it!

But that’s why nostalgia is dangerous, and why the lure of a “Golden Age” should be resisted. When people speak of a “Golden Age,” their focus is extremely narrow, and it only suits them. Conservatives who want to return to a “Golden Age” think that women should stay home and take care of the kids, black people should protest social injustice in the “right way” (like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who protested in such the right way that he was murdered for it), and Hispanics should be happy to work in the fields picking lettuce in Yuma (Yuma: that lettuce in your salad today probably came from there!). Everything was great when that was the way of the world, wasn’t it? Similarly, “Comicsgate” people want the X-Men to be like when Claremont and Byrne were doing it (which is why that Diversity in Comics guy likes Storm – she was introduced during his childhood, and she was exotic enough that she didn’t act like a “real” black person), Captain America to be a white, square-jawed hero, Spider-Man to be a white, weak-chinned hero who inexplicably gets all the girls, Batman to be a Manichean vigilante, Superman to punch Lex Luthor, and blacks to remain sidekicks and women to remain supporting staff for the male heroes. The fact that women and ethnic minorities and gay people and transgender people are making comics and saying, “Hey, that ‘Golden Age’ you speak of kind of sucked for us, so we’re going to tell our own stories” is something they can’t abide. But, like most “Golden Ages,” the one they remember is gone and is never returning, even if they get what they want. They’re never going to experience the thrill of reading the Dark Phoenix saga of The Dark Knight Returns for the first time. Marvel and DC are currently going through one of their spasmodic “nostalgia binges,” where they reboot everything to what they think people want. And it never works. The “Comicsgate” crowd like to point out that comics shops are going out of business because no one is reading comics because they don’t give the conservatives what they want. That’s ridiculous. Comics shops go out of business all the time for any number of reasons. And comics are fine. There’s never been a wider selection of kinds of comics to read, there’s never been as many avenues to get comics, and just because some brick-and-mortar stores go down doesn’t mean that comics are dying. It sucks, sure, but it always sucks when a locally-run business goes under. No, nothing sells like Amazing Spider-Man did back in the 1960s, but that’s because the selection is so much greater. Back then, if you wanted to read a superhero book about a geeky teen, you had to read Amazing Spider-Man. Now, you can swing a dead cat and hit five or six of them. The lack of a single title selling 100,000 or 500,000 or 1,000,000 copies doesn’t mean comics are dying. Comics are thriving, and what bothers the “Comicsgate” people, it seems, is that they’re thriving without them. How dare people enjoy different kinds of comics that I don’t like! That’s so unfair!!!!!

4. The irrationality of nostalgia and its consequences. As I noted, nostalgia isn’t rational. It’s not even necessarily positive. The word comes from the Greek, from two words meaning “homecoming” and “pain” or “ache,” and was classified as a form of melancholy back when the term was first coined. People feel it when they’re dissatisfied with their current life in some way, because the past is set in stone and they can create any kind of narrative they want. I’m not saying that I’m not nostalgic, either. I’m almost weirdly sentimental, but I don’t let it cripple me and stunt me emotionally, like it has for so many. If you sit down with a “Comicsgate” person, I imagine, and try to engage them, which is what people like M-Wolverine seems to be saying we should do (if I’m wrong, I certainly hope he puts me straight), you try to argue with them rationally. You point out that their “Golden Age” never existed. You bring up Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, Stan Lee and John Romita Sr., Evil Richard Nixon, even Action Comics #1. You explain to them that showing Red Sonja in a metal bikini isn’t really the best representation of an “empowered woman.” You point out that Luke Cage might not have been the best way to portray a strong, independent black man. You point out metrics that show that comics aren’t dying at all, just changing to serve a different demographic, much like they did in the 1970s and 1980s, when people stopped treating comics as disposable entertainment and began collecting them to re-read. None of this is new, and none if it is bad. But the problem is: Even if you engage them in this way, it doesn’t matter. Irrationality cannot be reasoned with. These are people who got angry at a group of women for drinking milkshakes, for crying out loud. Their nostalgia for a time when white men were on top of the pyramid has overwhelmed their rational minds, and they have no interest in confronting this weird new world, where women don’t passively submit to sex, where they demand equal pay for equal work, where black people tell them that maybe cops shouldn’t shoot first and never ask questions, where Muslim women don’t want to show off their skin (I have some problems with the hijab, but it’s still a fact that many women really want to wear it), where Christians can’t simply act un-Christian to people because that’s how it’s always been done, where homosexuals want to be treated as actual human beings rather than animals you can kick.

You can tell a woman designed this outfit

This is different than a simple difference of opinion. I have mentioned before that the people who frequent my comics store are overwhelmingly white and male (we do get some women and some other minorities, but they’re definitely in the minority), and they skew older, as well. They’re not necessarily conservative, but we do have at least one dude who voted for Trump, and the owner himself is fairly conservative. I like the Trump voter; I don’t know if he regrets his vote, but he was definitely more anti-Clinton than pro-Trump, and he didn’t like Obamacare, so I’m curious how his health insurance premiums are doing. He buys a lot of mainstream superhero comics and not much else, and we often talk about “the state of comics,” because he’s a person who thinks very strongly that certain characters should remain unchanged. So he sounds like a prime candidate to be a “Comicsgaters,” but he’s an adult, so he’s not. I don’t agree with him on everything and he doesn’t agree with me on everything, but we have nice discussions. He thinks Marvel (it’s usually Marvel; he’s generally happy with the way DC is functioning these days) should be keeping their legacy characters and not hiring so many bad artists. When we discuss art, the gender and ethnicity of the artist never come up; he just likes the more traditional kinds of superhero artists and doesn’t like the cartoony style a lot of Marvel books have today. He thinks America – the comic book and character – was very racist toward white people, but I never read it so I can’t argue, although I do scoff at him a little when he says it. But he never said anyone should threaten the creators. He thinks that Marvel should have a core group of “traditional” heroes, and if they want to promote diversity, they should create new characters, which I tend to agree with and I wish Marvel and DC made it more financially lucrative for their writers and artists to do so. He gives almost every Marvel book a chance, no matter who writes it. Squirrel Girl is one of his favorite comics, and this past week he decided to give West Coast Avengers #1 a try, even though it’s written by one of the most “SJW” writers around right now, Kelly Thompson. He very much enjoyed Jason Aaron’s “Chick Thor” story while at the same time wishing that “Dude Thor” would return. My point is that people have differences of opinion on what kind of comics Marvel should publish, but it’s perfectly possible to discuss them even when you disagree with each other. So why doesn’t that work with the “Comicsgate” crowd? Because they’re children. Emotionally, of course. Have you ever tried to discuss something rationally with a child? It’s really difficult. They don’t understand logic, they don’t care about logic, and they just want to talk about their point of view. Sound familiar?

5. “Everyone does it.” It seems what made the most people angry about M-Wolverine’s comments was his insistence on looking at the extreme examples from both the left and the right. I think he goes too far claiming that Matt is doing exactly what the “Comicsgate” people are doing – as others point out, Matt simply reprinted public statements made by said “Comicsgaters” and didn’t publish their real names or addresses and didn’t call for any of them to be threatened or harassed – he just used their own tweets to show their behavior. So to claim that Matt is the “same” is another ridiculous statement, and it undercuts M-Wolverine’s entire point, which is not a bad one – extremist behavior makes everyone look bad. But Matt does write briefly about the other side of the spectrum – the specific example of Ruby Rose’s casting as Batwoman – so I’m not sure why M-Wolverine was so hot about it. “Everyone does it” veers close to “whatabout-ism,” where people accused of crimes try to explain it away by asking why others aren’t being targeted as well. Trump and his cronies have taken this to a depressing art form, and while yes, it would be nice if everyone who ever committed a crime was punished appropriately for it, that doesn’t give anyone license to commit their own crimes.

M-Wolverine wants to remain calm, like Kevin Bacon in Animal House, which is a fine solution. He doesn’t want to rush to judgment, which is another fine solution. There is a problem with people rushing to tweet their stupidest thoughts and later thinking better of it. The ubiquity of smart phones has made it far too easy for anyone to vomit out whatever is in the darkest parts of their brains, and that’s never a good thing. It can lead to a mob mentality and lots of pain for people who don’t deserve it and all kinds of collateral damage. M-Wolverine brings up the fact that you can’t question certain things – police shootings or accusations of sexual misconduct – because the leftists will shout you down. Well, I have no idea if that’s true or not, because I don’t engage with any of that shit on-line. I don’t know what anyone said to Ruby Rose about her lesbianism or Jewishness (anything I’ve read about it only says that she was harassed, not what form the harassment took), and the only reason I know about what these “Comicsgate” people say is because I read about it in columns like Matt’s. So I have no idea how accurate M-Wolverine is. It’s funny, though, that he’s decrying two things that we used to not be able to question at all in the opposite directions – police shootings and sexual misconduct – because obviously police wouldn’t shoot someone unless they deserved it and obviously men had a perfect right to treat women like sex objects. The pendulum perhaps has swung too far the other way, but now that symbols of white male authorities are the target, suddenly white men are saying, “Hey, let’s slow down a bit here and consider all the sides!” But M-Wolverine is right, in a way. We should investigate all police shootings to make sure they’re valid or invalid. If you say that, though, people will point out that police almost never get indicted for shootings, so the power structure is saying that almost all police shootings are valid, and that’s just ridiculous. We should believe victims of sexual misconduct, but that means believing the dude who says Asia Argento raped him, and that doesn’t mean that Harvey Weinstein didn’t rape Argento. There are thousands, probably millions of examples of people being abused when they were kids turning into abusers when they’re adults. Does that mean we should ignore their own abuse because they abuse others? M-Wolverine gets defensive about Christianity even though he says he’s not a Christian. But the Catholic Church covered up sexual abuse by their priests for years and they still won’t admit to it completely and don’t seem inclined to do too much about it, despite the hippie pope that everyone loves. You can understand why people are justifiably angry at Christians. Should they take the time to single out the corrupt Christians? Sure they should. But what white guys fail to understand is that oppressed people have been saying this stuff for decades and no one listened. So you’ll have to forgive them if they’re not inclined to give groups the benefit of the doubt.

The other problem with “everyone does it” is that it makes all outrages equal. Not everyone on the right is Hitler and not everyone on the left is Stalin, but in the hyperactive world we live in, that’s what happens. So it becomes easy to not only condemn both sides, but not take action against anything. If you don’t like Nancy Pelosi and Trump, you can simply call them both corrupt politicians and move on, but that ignores the very real damage Trump is doing to our country, which Pelosi really can’t do because she’s not in a position to do so. It’s easy to do nothing, and usually, that’s perfectly fine. I ignore the rantings on the internet all the time, and that’s fine. I will vote for people who I think will stop Trump, and that’s what I can do – I don’t love any politicians, but I think there are people who will try to stop Trump, and I personally don’t care if it’s to advance their careers. I don’t support Ethan van Sciver because I don’t like his art, not because he’s a bit unhinged on Twitter. I might think about not buying his work if I did like it, but I’m not sure what I’d do. I don’t have a problem with ignoring extremists at all. M-Wolverine says you get shouted down no matter which bear you poke, and if he’s right, why engage at all? As Matt pointed out in his column and I’ve made the case here, with certain people, you can’t engage because they’re not thinking rationally. The reason I think the right-wing crazies are worse than the left-wing crazies is not because I agree with them, as M-Wolverine claims people do. It’s because the right-wingers are fueled by nostalgia, and deep down, they know they can’t go back unless they force things, and that leads to violence. The left-wingers are fueled by a “politically correct” agenda, so even if they rage about Ruby Rose, deep down, they know casting an actual lesbian instead of someone pretending to be a lesbian is a big step forward, so by the time the show airs, it won’t be an issue (at least I don’t think it will be). As for police shootings and the MeToo movement – well, yes, accusing people of things they didn’t do isn’t great, but if it makes the cops and other people in position of power a little bit less likely to shoot someone or grope someone, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s “punching down” versus “punching up” again – the “Comicsgate” people are “punching down” while the MeToo people are “punching up.” Mistakes can happen on both sides, but it’s a lot more forgivable if the person is “punching up.” Maybe it shouldn’t be, be life isn’t fair. It’s about time white men learned that, too.

I know this is probably tl;dr for some of you, and I apologize for that. I did want to respond to M-Wolverine in the comments, but I knew I’d probably have a lot more to say about it. The anger he provoked is interesting, because some of it was perfectly justified – again, he insulted Greg, which was weird, but as I knew he would, Greg responded his own self – but some of it seemed to miss the point of what M-Wolverine was saying, even as he missed some of the points of what Matt was saying. “Engaging” those you disagree with is never a bad idea, but it’s clear that the “Comicsgate” people aren’t interested in that. All that’s left is to call them out for their bad behavior, and if their behavior turns criminal, report them. But M-Wolverine’s point about both sides is valid, even though in today’s world, it seems like saying the two sides are perfectly balanced in terms of their extremist behavior is ridiculous. Maybe I’m just not getting the right news, I don’t know. The world is an annoying place these days, and I think it’s perfectly fine to try to figure out what people want even if they act poorly in trying to get it. The problem becomes when they become irrational. Fandom has always been a bit weird, from sports fans to pop culture fans, and it’s sad that people can’t enjoy what they enjoy and ignore the rest. I haven’t bought a comic starring Spider-Man in over a decade, and he’s one of my favorite characters. Do I care? No, I do not. There are far too many more important things to occupy my time. Extremists of all kinds are children, and it’s too bad we’re occasionally forced to act like they’re adults.

Anyway, that’s off my chest. I think I’ll go back to writing about movies and comics I dig for while. This stuff is too heavy, man!

39 Comments

  1. dhacker615

    I disagree on Point 1.

    The quality of art has very little to with the content of its message. Great art can have a horrible message. Bad art can have a wonderful message. Punching up, down, or sideways doesn’t really matter.

    The classic example of this is Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia, which is an amazing, beautiful film made to advance the cause of Nazism. But there hundreds of less extreme examples. Nearly every action movie from Dirty Harry through until The Matrix are Conservative. Many of them are great. The Dark Knight Returns is a masterpiece about how The Poors just need a rich white guy to tell them what to do.

    It is better not to think too hard about the (admittedly accidental) subtext of the whole Marvel Universe with its billionaire weapons manufacturers, super soldiers, and Norse Gods. The folks who read that as a good medium for right-wing ideology are not exactly wrong.

    However, certain genres are better suited to certain messages. Satire tends to be conservative despite the contrary evidence of countless bad memes. It wants you go back to the couch and avoid change.

    Superheroes certainly CAN be a great vehicle for progressive messages, like Siegel-Shuster Superman, Moulton-Peters Wonder Woman, and Alan Moore’s entire oeuvre.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Dean: Well, we’ll just have to agree to disagree. 🙂

      The problem with art is that you have the technical side and the artistic side, and one can be great and the other not so much. Olympia (and let’s throw in Birth of a Nation, too) are technical masterpieces, but they’re both dull as dirt. So are they great art? And I would argue that as entertaining as the Dirty Harry movies and other action movies are, they’re not great art. But feel free to disagree!

  2. tomfitz1

    Nothing wrong with nostalgia, just so as long as you realize that those good (or bad) ol’ days are gone now — and those are never, ever coming back.

    As for Asia, and Ruby Rose — I like them, they’re hot. 😉 I know, that they’re unavailable for obvious reasons — they’re still hot! Sue me! 😉

    Comicsgate: sigh, well. the less said about them, the better. I really don’t have anything good to say about them. How could anybody possibly say anything good about them?

  3. Donmilliken

    I would argue that there’s a difference between liking old stuff and nostalgia, which tends to idealize a past never personally experienced or at best only half remembered from a child’s limited perspective.

    Much like the fabled, ‘Father Knows Best,’ vision of the 1950’s so beloved of many conservatives, the GamerGaters’ era of comics without political agendas never existed except within their own minds.

  4. Some random thoughts:
    1)No, superheroes are not fascists. Fascism is an ideology (say what you will about the tenets of national socialism …) and it’s more complex than being a vigilante or using force outside the law. One definition describes fascism as a national rebirth movement that includes going back to the fundamental principles of the nation (as imagined by fascists at least) and requires all individual rights become subordinate to the nation-state. That doesn’t fit unless you count Iron Cross and Captain Nazi as superheroes. Plus, of course, superheroes do lots of stuff that can’t even remotely qualify as fascist: saving people from fires and floods, reuniting lost children with families, getting cats out of trees.

    2)From comments ” Satire tends to be conservative despite the contrary evidence of countless bad memes. It wants you go back to the couch and avoid change. ” I disagree. Satire is mockery and mockery is pretty much a universal impulse. It may not inspire change, but it doesn’t work against it either.

    3)Rereading Dark Knight I was struck by what an oddly dated bit of right-wing fantasy it is. The subtext is straight out of Dirty Harry 15 years earlier: cops are useless because of red tape, politicians are hand-wringing wimps who are soft on crime (by the time the book came out, the wimps were in the other direction, running as tougher and tougher on crime to pacify voters), the media are parasites, only the guy who stops crime by whatever means necessary can accomplish anything. It’s still a good read (even though Gotham In Flames happens apparently every other month these days the chaotic climax packs a punch).

    4)I’d argue Superman in the 21st century is unpolitical. His principles are simple ones like “stop bad guys hurting other people” “respect the law” and “accept everyone as long as they’re not out to hurt people.” Which yes, are political, but they’re also kind of generic American principles (which is not the same as saying they’re universally accepted), like “fight for freedom” and “equal rights for all.” To the extent they’re liberal it’s because a segment of the current right-wing doesn’t think helping people who need it or tolerating differences are commendable positions, but even so.

    5)I think willingness to engage is up to the individual rather than a general rule. David Gerrold has talked about engaging with homophobes and convincing some of them to see things differently. I’ve seen other people have similar changes of heart. On the other hand, y/a writer and blogger Foz Meadows has written about time wasted on people who appear sincerely interested and are just trolling; she admits not engaging may hurt people who really are sincerely curious about her views, but she’s taken the troll bait too many times.

  5. Rantel

    It really bugs me when people say things like Superman “should” be a conservative because of when and where he was raised. Obviously individual demographics tend to have similar opinions within themselves on such matters, but those are just generalizations. Conservatives and liberals can come from anywhere. I was born and raised in a rural part of Ontario that has voted solidly Conservative for decades, I dropped out of high school, married my high school sweetheart, I work a blue collar job in a woodshop… and I’m probably the staunchest leftist I know. I’m sure there are other people in the exact opposite situation. People defy categorization all the time. Saying every Kansas farmer would be a right winger (or every Californian college grad would be a left winger, or what have you) is lazy, un-nuanced writing.

    1. Donmilliken

      Very much agreed. Where Clark was raised is irrelevant, it’s the people who raised him that made him who he is. I think that the only belief he has that matters, the one that most motivates him, is the idea that all people should treat one another with respect, that everyone needs help sometimes and that we should always offer our help to the best of our ability. Hell, if Superman’s anything he’s a Socialist, but I don’t think he has any particular political leaning, he’s just a guy who wants to help and if you’re not helping too, he wonders why.

    2. BB

      Rantel and Donmilliken, Greg’s just playing the odds that Supes would have grown up conservative. I grew up in Kansas in the 80s/90s and this state is red red, especially in rural areas. My parents are very Ma & Pa Kent-like, too, working very hard and helping others, but definitely conservative. Anyways, it’s just a good bet the Kents would bleed red in rural Kansas, and those odds haven’t changed much since the 90s either.

      1. Rantel

        I never denied that most… Kansans? Kansasians? Kansasites? are conservative. I was just sharing a story of my personal experience, how my family comes from a very similar situation but are anything but conservative. People of all political stripes live everyhwere, regardless of majority opinions. That’s the whole point I was making.

        1. Rantel

          Addendum: I mean, surely whenever an election rolls around, SOMEONE runs as a candidate from the Democratic Party in Kansas, and SOMEONE votes for them. Maybe they don’t win very often, but they’re certainly there.

      2. dhacker615

        Looking at his biography, I would say that it is pretty unlikely that Clark Kent is a conservative.

        1. Kansas has always been a deeply Republican state, but it is actually fairly recent that movement conservatism has dominated state politics according to Thomas Franks’ “What’s The Matter With Kansas?” The Kents were probably Republicans, but that has not always been synonymous with conservative.

        2. Basically the first thing Clark Kent did upon becoming an adult is move out of rural Kansas.

        3. Given the choice of nearly any career, Clark Kent chose to be a journalist. He could’ve been an athlete, but money wasn’t a driving concern. He could’ve been a soldier, but he didn’t want to serve “The American Way” in a military sense. He could’ve seen his powers as a gift from God and become a preacher, but he apparently isn’t religious in that sense.

        Basically, every life decision from every version of the character suggests someone with left-of-center politics.

        1. Greg Burgas

          I don’t really care if Superman is liberal, conservative, or apolitical. I’m just pointing out the odds of him being raised in Kansas in the 1980s/1990s lean toward conservative politics. The point I always make with stuff like this is the one M-Wolverine is making – that writers can’t even conceive of it. If someone lives in New York or Los Angeles, in a writer’s mind, they’re automatically liberal. Is everyone telling me that everyone who lives in a big city is liberal? But then, if they’re raised in “small-town America,” they’re liberal because they’re “smart enough” to realize that liberalism is where it’s at. I don’t care if Superman or any other superhero is liberal or conservative. I just think it would be interesting to explore the idea. Maybe Superman was conservative and realized it wasn’t for him. Maybe he left Kansas because he experienced something that made him think it was a lousy philosophy. I don’t know. But writers – not just comics writers, but all writers – often take the path of least resistance, and that’s really all I’m saying.

          1. M-Wolverine

            In regards to this, this is a way better way of saying what I was saying. I think the point is well taken that a guy who becomes a newspaper reporter probably would lean liberal. And a conservative Batman-liberal Superman would make their disagreements…interesting. But too often it’s more the fact that the writers can’t conceive of their heroes being conservative, even if it’s more likely the character would be. Or that if it’s almost undeniable, then you have to regularly turn them into a bad guy, like Tony Stark. Even if you’re doing Civil War mental flips where the guy who started Armor Wars to not give the government his tech is going to agree to be their head agent, and the guy who has been a soldier all his life suddenly is going to rebel about working for the government. (And in smarter hands the politics could really have been explored, because following law and order without question seems very conservative, but big government controlling everything seems liberal, so there are ways both sides could be painted as the worst, or best, of the ideas, and how the heroes reconcile these issues).

            As you said, I’d rather they just do good and it’s vague enough that anyone can see themselves in the heroes. I don’t want fascist Batman or communist Superman. I’d rather it’d be more generally right and wrong, as things anyone can aspire to.

  6. Nobody raised by Jonathan Kent could ever be a knee-jerk partisan in either direction. As Abraham Lincoln is supposed to have said, but somebody else did and it’s well worth hearing, “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”

  7. Donmilliken

    Yeah, Jonathan Kent was a man who believed in what’s right more than he believed in what’s ‘right’ or ‘left’. Living in Kansas all his life he might well have had some conservatice views, but he’s a guy who would never vote for someone just because they belonged to a particular party. He’d vote for the candidate he believed was better for the job and better for the country, even if that might sometimes mean voting for someone he personally disliked and/or disagreed with on a lot of stuff. And he’d always vote, however inconvenient it might be to get to the polls, because it was his duty as an American. Those are the kinds of values he instilled in his son.

    Anyway, you know that great Mr. Rogers quote, how he would often tell the story of when he was a child and when there was something sad or scary happening his mother would tell him to look for the helpers? Because whenever something bad happens, no matter how awful, there are always people ready to help and that’s a good and reassuring thing to know about the world? Superman is the helper. He’s also the child who sometimes needs reassurance that the helpers are there. But then, he’s also the mother, always ready to reassure others with the knowledge that no matter how bad things get, someone’s there to help. That’s Superman.

  8. M-Wolverine

    Well, this has become a thing, hasn’t it? But at least it’s getting some page views.

    I’ll say Hatcher, to not confuse the Greg’s, but if anything seems to get personal, I’ll say it seems people ignored it as not personal when he tried to discredit any ideas and anyone who says them as not serious, and tries to shout them down. He’s done the same thing to Le Messor in the past; I just have no problem arguing back. So again, I’d say no one got anything they didn’t dish out first.

    I agree with the first/most part of #1. Art does usually come from a more liberal place. It also usually comes for a more broken place, where people are working through their issues via their art. (Note: I don’t think the two, liberal and broken, have anything to do with each other. Just that being liberal isn’t the only factor in creating art). It almost has to, because art requires baring yourself and putting yourself out there in a way the average person doesn’t want to, feel the need to, or can do. And that’s certainly not a conservative impulse.

    I’ll disagree with you that conservative characters are inherently boring. That’s just lazy writing. You can’t tell me corporate wheeling and dealings aren’t exciting, when they’re on screen so often. And for however boring that is in a comic book, it’s no less boring than running a soup kitchen on the printed page. You don’t need Frank Miller’s Batman to make him a conservative hero. Beyond socking criminals and going vigilante, his Wayne programs could certainly be steered to job creation and training, and other pick your stereotype “boot straps” type things. But by making him a guy who probably supports and funds all sort of programs you make him apolitical and accessible to all. But if you want Superman to be the one liberal in a conservative Kansas, which does have some drama built into it, don’t tell me that one conservative in a liberal environment isn’t fodder for good drama. Heck, that other column shows what drama can be created. But you have a Family Ties and they start by making fun of the conservative, and he becomes the star of the show.

    I have no problem saying Christianity hasn’t been all that great. It’s just that you can say the most outrageous things with a blanket brush (see Mr. Clam) and think it’s ok, where you would never say that about other religions. Or if you want to go the other way, some hard core conservatives would attack other religions but get offended at someone dissing Christianity. I think if you have a problem with religion, which is a fair point, you probably should with all religion. And not say “it’s ok to all out slam Christianity because they’ve been in power in their country, but hey, Muslims oppressing women horribly is ok, because some of them like it.” Because different countries have different minorities and power groups, and if it’s wrong when they’re the majority it’s wrong when they’re the minority.

    1. Greg Burgas

      M-Wolverine: Well, I think saying that Hatcher writing about discussing things with his conservative colleagues and you saying that’s the same as “I’m not racist; I have a black friend!” is still being deliberately obtuse, but that’s neither here nor there, I suppose. Your defense is odd, though – everyone else insults people, so I can too? If you claim, as you do, that you’re just arguing back, then why sink down to anyone’s level (if indeed someone is on a lower level than you are). I argue with you, but I don’t insult you, because there’s no benefit in that. And people have insulted me in the past, but I’ve tried very hard not to retort in an insulting manner, because what does that do?

      Corporate wheelings and dealings are boring, because when they’re portrayed on screen, they’re always secondary to the main plot, which is either that the characters need to become more compassionate or that the corporate rich guys are horrible and need to be taken down a peg. I understand your point, but I’m not sure if it’s true. But that’s fine.

      I’m an atheist and I think all religion is bad for humanity. I don’t like anyone oppressing others in the name of anything, but I think it’s worse when religions do it because they claim to be speaking for a supposedly benevolent entity. At least when the U.S. oppresses people you can point out the evil to it. When religions do it, you can’t point out the evil to it or everything will think you hate God. Well, I don’t hate God, because God doesn’t exist and I think we’d all be better off if we stopped worshipping guys nailed to trees or rocks that fell from the sky or what have you. I was just pointing out that you seem to think there’s anti-Christian oppression in this country. That’s ridiculous, right? If your point was that if we attack Christians we should attack Muslims and other religions too, that’s fine. But in this country, Christianity is by far the dominant religion. What do you want us to do, say “Hey, Christians, you’re oppressing those homosexuals, but don’t worry, because we don’t like it when Muslims in other countries do it too”?

      That’s why I think people are getting upset here (which I don’t think they should; we should all be willing to be challenged here) – you seem to think that if we call out bad behavior on one side, we should immediately clarify it with a codicil – “But both sides are bad!” I have no problem calling out bad behavior when it happens, but each instance is separate. That’s why I mentioned “whatabout-ism” – it’s not the point that people everywhere do bad things, it’s that we’re talking about this specific bad thing. If you have something else to say to expand on it, write a post. Then you can write about whatever you want, and we can debate it! That’s always fun!

      1. M-Wolverine

        I said I wasn’t going to propagate this because I think we’re spinning wheels and tempers and I’m not looking to escalate. I will address a couple of things you point out because I don’t know that I responded on it before, and because you ask so nicely. 🙂

        I did forget to address the “I’ve got Black friends” thing. I’ll admit it was a little tongue in cheek, so it probably wasn’t completely fair, especially in printed word. I don’t actually think Greg H. only has token relationships. It was just a bad illustration of how I could certainly see the opposite claim turned around. But it probably wasn’t very good. So for that “insult” I’m sorry.

        I’m not sure I agree that corporate stuff can’t be entertaining, from law suits to Wall Street wheelings and dealings. But I’d certainly acknowledge that this, like almost anything, is secondary to the human story. But that’s true of any setting. Entertainment about things and situations and not people rarely grabs anyone.

        I’m pretty “agnostic” on the whole religion thing. And no, I don’t think Christians are oppressed. I think “oppressed” and “evil” are words that get thrown out there way too easily. And as an aside, it ends up hurting in a cry wolf way. You spend 8 years calling Bush Jr. a nazi, then when a guy who is really bad takes office, he’s what, a nazi+? It just sounds like one is ridiculous over everything. Likewise the other side attacking Obama, when you can certainly have problems with a lot of his policies, just like most politicians, but if your go to is he’s evvvvillllllll no one is going to take you seriously. So cry no tears for Christians. But too often I see Christians who complain about how their beliefs are being treated, but treats others beliefs the same way. And likewise people who would say awful things about Christians, but wouldn’t say a negative thing about any other “minority” religion and call you racist if you did. (Even though religions aren’t races). Again, either you think religion is a good thing, or it’s not. And should be applied equally. And in all cases we probably shouldn’t blanket ALL Christians, ALL Muslims, ALL Buddists, and so forth.

        1. Greg Burgas

          M-Wolverine: Yeah, that’s why I try not to be tongue in cheek on the internet, because intent is really hard to judge. I’m extremely sarcastic in real life, but on the internet, I try to go so over the top that it’s hard to think I’m serious, and then I usually add a smiley emoji just to drive the point home. But I see what you were saying.

  9. M-Wolverine

    I will say the good old days were what we liked as kids, and that’s pretty much baloney. I also think another side of us gets nostalgic about how ground breaking comics were, when things like GL-GA stood out because they WERE different. (And in that case, pretty heavy handed as you said, and better art than logical story. I mean, really, that panel is monumentally stupid. So when GL saved the earth a dozen times, he was only saving the white people?) Most of the time comics were Spider-Man punching Doc Ock in the face, and that’s not really all that political one way or another. So if things are nostalgic it’s more about the superhero comics getting forgotten for messages in a lot of comics. But it’s not the main reason they’re failing, as they’re are tons of market things that are far greater than that.

    I think the guy you know at the shop is probably the guy we’re talking about. Who is glad to try new titles, and has no problem with who writes what and if everyone has a chance. But he just wants to read his Tony Stark comic too. And would be glad if everyone was pressuring the companies to make their own, new, GOOD heroes that represent all types. But it seems like progressive has gotten regressive, because today we wouldn’t have a Black Panther character or movie; because they’d have never have made the character and just had African Captain America (which isn’t supposed to mean “African-American Captain America,” because while that has a funny ring to it, the incongruity of the former is the amusing part). Like or dislike him, but why the hell do we need Brian Bendis on Superman? Give him some obscure character to boost sales on, and let some up and coming new minority writer with great ideas work on Superman. He doesn’t need the help.

    I’d wholly disagree with your ideas that conservative views are more “dangerous.” I’d say probably equally, but by definition most conservatives are fine with way things are and aren’t out there trying to change things. If anything this extreme brand of conservative assholes who have perpetrated these things probably learned it from the left and copied their worst traits. Because the vast majority of violent rallies come from anarchists protesting “the man” in its various forms around the country. The nazis have gotten more insidious because they usually know the law better than the local authorities and know exactly what they can get away with. By its definition things have to change, even break, for progress, so I’m not sure how that is more bent to violence. And as your examples shows, Hitler, Stalin, if you want to use violence as your means it doesn’t matter what your philosophy is.

    As I said later, probably after this was published, I’m not sure I see the point of it. Either you can change their minds and it’s not a good idea to shout them down, or you can’t change your minds, and then, what’s the point? To make one feel better about oneself? To call them out? They feed off the negative vibe. Again, if you want to get on Twitter corp. and everyone and push for them to have harsher guidelines to attacking speech, and want legislators to get with the 21st century and have laws that cover an Internet world of harassment and threats, I say go for it. You’re doing something productive about it. Everything else just seems like self-congratulations “these people are awful, aren’t we better?”

    It’s funny you talk about whataboutism, when your main point is “X group has been dealing with this forever so excuse me if they’re not sympathetic.” I mean, as pointed out in the other column comments, two wrongs don’t make a right. But again it comes down to who is doing the “wrong.” And that was the problem, and the point.

    1. Greg Burgas

      I don’t get your last point. Of course two wrongs don’t make a right. But when the wrong has been pointed out over and over again and never gets fixed because the people doing the wrong don’t understand that it is wrong, what’s to be done? I honestly don’t know. Do you? And I’m not being pissy, I really don’t know.

    2. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

      Well, we need Bendis on Supes because he’s been doing an incredible job, so far!

      Also, both Hitler and Stalin were neither liberal nor conservative. They were authoritarian, populist dictators who wrapped themselves in ideology in order to accrue power, which was their goal in and of itself.

  10. “I’d say probably equally, but by definition most conservatives are fine with way things are and aren’t out there trying to change things.”

    We’ve had the New Deal for nearly a century, women’s suffrage for a century, second-wave feminism for 50 years, equal rights regardless of race for a little longer. There’s no shortage of right-wingers who object to all of those and want them rolled back. Longing for the 1950s, as some conservatives have been doing since the Reagan era, isn’t trying to keep things the way they are, it’s trying to change the way they are.
    Yearning for the Victorian era (I’ve seen that one since the 1990s) even more so.

    “If anything this extreme brand of conservative assholes who have perpetrated these things probably learned it from the left and copied their worst traits. Because the vast majority of violent rallies come from anarchists protesting “the man” in its various forms around the country.”
    The Anti-Defamation League lists more than 100 instances of right-wing terrorism (including acts, attempts and plots) in the past 25 years. The right-wing doesn’t need leftist examples to be violent.

    1. M-Wolverine

      I guess it depends on your definition of “no shortage” but if you really believe any significant portion of those who identify as conservative want to repeal women’s rights or make minorities second class citizens again you probably need to take off your tin foil hat. Because that’s just the “other” demonizing I was talking about. Everyone has been making the point that “we’re talking about extremists – GamerGate, ComicGate, etc.” but their actual feelings don’t see to reflect that. That’s like saying there’s no shortage of left-wingers who are totally ok with killing cops, because they’re all fascists. Which if of course ridiculous. A tiny percentage who believe these things, sure. But blanket statements are silly.

      1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

        The issue, of course, is that neither women nor minorities currently enjoy the full rights accorded to American citizens.

        Therefore, wanting things to stay “the same” is functionally identical to wishing to deny them those right.

    1. M-Wolverine

      Shout down? No, I’ve shown that’s not possible. At least as long as I’m allowed. Intimidate with your “power of creator” and scare away. Yeah, that’s possible, and has been done, to Le Messor specifically. By you. No bullshit.

      1. Really? Messor and I had a conflict in March, largely based on the fact that he hadn’t heard much about ComicsGate and thought I was being harsh toward them. I pointed him to some links about the facts of the matter.

        He is still here, still writing posts, still part of the site.

        Get over your persecution complex.

  11. “I guess it depends on your definition of “no shortage” but if you really believe any significant portion of those who identify as conservative want to repeal women’s rights or make minorities second class citizens again you probably need to take off your tin foil hat. ”
    It’s off. I still believe it. And I don’t know if they’re still extremists when they’re within the mainstream of the Republican Party. It’s not demonizing, a majority of the Republican Party is that bad. And a substantial minority while they may not be all in on white supremacy and male supremacy, is willing to accept it.

    1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

      Yup. Ryan and McConnell are quislings and, as evidenced by their continued service as respective heads of the House and Senate GOP, so are the majority of Republican Representatives abd Senators.

      There’s not much to argue about, there.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Paul: Nope. My daughter has a traumatic brain injury, so she is still in diapers even though she turns 16 tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this). She can’t walk, doesn’t sit up very well, and doesn’t have a big vocabulary. So that’s what I mean about how being an adult can suck, because I would have never thought in a million years that I’d be dealing with this when I was a kid. On the other hand, she’s alive when a lot of people in her position died (she was in a car accident), she’s amazing, and she’s a lot of fun when she wants to be. So being an adult can suck, but it’s also great. That’s my point – I wouldn’t want to be a kid again, because I’ve experienced so much amazing stuff as an adult.

        1. Greg Burgas

          Paul: Oh, don’t worry about it. I write about it occasionally, but I forget that not everyone knows about it. You have nothing to apologize for, because it’s not a common situation that I’m in, certainly, so it’s not surprising you thought it was a typo.

          Thanks for the nice words. She’s a great kid, and she, my other daughter, and my wife make being an adult not too bad! 🙂

    1. Matt_of_Geek

      For a given value of ‘fun’, yes.

      I’m of the position that a story is a good story as long as it has some form of emotional impact on you. Maus is not a fun story but it is a great one. Persepolis is not a fun story, despite some comedic moments, but it is a great one.

      To switch genres, Grave of the Fireflies is not a fun movie but it is definitely a beautiful and brilliantly made film.

      1. Terrible-D

        I haven’t read Maus since middle school, but I would agree that Fun may not be the best way to describe it. I have never seen grave of the fire flies, but Robot Carnival would be a movie that fits the bill.

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