Sunday, October 19, 2014

Let's Take a Look at the News Hostility Scoreboard

I have a few things I want to touch on and I'm not sure how to work them all in so let me start this way.

1. I'm not a gamer. I don't know much about video games. Or care. However,
a) the important aspect of the discussion is not the games or the games journalism but the death threats, rape threats, harassment of women, and related misbehaviour by some carbon units who seem to have forgotten that they aren't melodrama villains, and
b) I don't need to know anything about video games to know that I'm against that. Plus
c) it's not like the same kind of thing isn't going on in the comic book world also.

2. Most intelligent things that there are to say about Gamergate have already been said by others, and more cleverly than I would have said it. So I won't drag you through all of that again. (Although here are some links if you want them: 1 2 3 4.)

3. In general I'm opposed to death threats, rape threats, harassment, murder, rape, and assault of all kinds.
a) Just so there's no confusion, I can also say that in specific I'm opposed to those things when directed against women who have some thoughts about pop culture.
b) Not that that's a particularly original idea, but
c) it may gain weight by repetition (which is most of the reason why we're going through this section of the discussion in the first place), so:

4. Zoe Quinn, Anita Sarkeesian, Janelle Asselin, Brianna Wu, and anyone else who has to deal with similar mistreatment have my complete support and encouragement and also my hope that all this is resolved in a satisfactory way.
a) (Where "satisfactory" is a catchall adjective that includes many possible outcomes including jail time for some of the troublemakers out there.)

(Note: the internet has acted as the primary medium for this trouble and harassment. I'm happy to say that, in all the time I've been operating this website, there has never been any of that kind of action here. I thank you all and here's to many more years of just that.)

I mean, like everything else isn't bad enough, now people want to reenact the Salem witch trials only with witchcraft subbed out for freaking video game criticism? You'd think that inequality, climate change, and Ferguson MO would keep us all sufficiently busy. What the hell is wrong with people?

It's very tempting, in these times, to just say, "Well, screw it, then! Everything's terrible, and I don't care anymore, and everything might as well fall apart." To resort to cynicism, in other words.

Stipulated that everything is terrible. I don't want to try to tell you that everything isn't terrible.

But not everyone has the option of giving up. (I mean, in some situations they do. If we're talking about--and I will be--giving up on DC Comics, then everyone has that option. There's nobody in the world so disadvantaged that they can't cut DC Comics out of their life, with the possible exception of DC Comics employees.) Giving up is a privilege.

Look at me: reasonably prosperous straight white male. It's easy for me to look south across the border and say, "Wow, that country is messed up. Cops pulling you over and taking your stuff, banks stealing people's houses, cops gunning people down in the street for the pure joy of it... I'm not going there." But, see, I can easily afford not to go to the U.S. For the people who live in Ferguson, it's not so simple. How would they go about giving up, assuming they wanted to? Move to another town? Hide in the basement 24/7?

The more options you have, the more giving up on the world is an option. The fewer options you have, the more you're forced to fight back. The irony here is that the people who can fight back the most effectively--the people I describe as having "more options"--are the people least likely to actually do so.

My next step is not to say that I know what I should do, or you should do, or anybody should do. (And for the most part that discussion doesn't belong on this blog.) But I do know that checking out on the world is not the way to go.

Which brings me back to DC Comics. (Remember comic books? This is a blog about comic books.)

A while ago I got so fed up with the various wretched things DC was doing that I stopped buying their comics (except for Legion of Super-Heroes, until there wasn't any more of that for me to buy either). And there were another couple of companies that did things I didn't care for either, and I stopped dealing with them too. But, you know, you do enough of that kind of thing, and you start to get a sense of the limitations of the tactic.

1. It frequently doesn't work. As in, whatever company you're boycotting may very well ignore you and keep on with what they were doing. And then where are you?
2. It's really another version of checking out of the world.
3. You can only do it once. Imagine this scenario. XYZ corporation says that they're going to do Plan A. You don't like Plan A, so you tell XYZ corporation so, and you tell them that if they stick with Plan A they'll lose you as a customer. XYZ corporation weighs these considerations and keeps going with Plan A. You take your business elsewhere. A few months later XYZ corporation announces that now that Plan A is going so well, they're also going to start in on Plan B. You like Plan B even less than Plan A. But now what are you going to say to XYZ corporation about it? You can't become even less of their customer!
4. You lose touch with what the people you're boycotting are up to.
5. If you keep doing it, you will eventually reach a point where you can't deal with anybody anymore (and you will reach that point, because, as stipulated above, everything is terrible) and you're basically a hermit in your house.

The problem is with exerting influence over powerful economic or political entities that are very good at not listening to anybody they don't have to. I don't have any secret trick for doing it, but my thinking now is that you can do it better by maintaining a relationship with them than by cutting off that relationship.

So I'm lifting my sanction from DC Comics. I mean, who knows what they'll get up to without me watching carefully, amirite? It's not because I think they deserve it; it's just that I'm starting to feel like all I've really done is leave myself out of the discussion. So I'm climbing back in. Slowly. I can't think of a whole lot of DC titles I really feel like reading these days, although there are assorted back issues and collections, and of course the Legion showing up in Justice League United, which I would have gotten anyway, and it's about time I bit the bullet on Astro City... We'll see.

Labels: , ,


Blogger Tybalt said...

Well, I enjoyed that.

1:10 AM  
Anonymous Vikrant said...

You seem to have more faith in the current DC regime than I do, Matthew! Even the upcoming Legion appearance in JLU has me less than interested.

1:30 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Tybalt: Thanks.

Vikrant: I don't, actually, but it's not like the company isn't putting out any good comics at all. As for the Legion, well, I've got this blog here and if I don't review new Legion comics I might as well shut it down. And why should I shut it down just because DC isn't getting it right? (Assuming they continue to not get it right.)

7:29 AM  
Blogger The Nephilim said...

Hello! This is the first time I have read your blog. I was directed here by Martin Gray's page. I have to say that I rather enjoyed it, more so than any other blog, that I've read, dedicated to the Legion. I especially liked the bit dedicated to Colossul Boy. Good stuff.
I, too, am skeptical of how good the Infinitus story is going to be. We have been burned by a lot of false starts when it comes to the Legion. At least this time it is by someone who is a big fan and not just someone editorially mandated. I guess we'll see how it goes. I had high hopes that Jeff Lemire might be heading up a new Legion book. But, since he is leaving DC for Marvel, that's not going to happen. Maybe his Legion/Justice League story will inspire another creator to pitch a new Legion book.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Thanks very much.

I was always pretty confident that DC would bring the Legion back one of these days. After all, the Legion is one of their oldest and largest properties. The question is, are they bringing it back to bring it back or do they actually have someone with some kind of vision for the book? Because we haven't had that since... well, I was going to say Mark Waid, but I suppose Jim Shooter did too, much as I was disappointed by it.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I mean, assuming that this story does lead to the Legion getting their own series again.

10:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home