Choking On the Truth

Over at Comics Alliance, Rue Walker has a piece up called The Poison’s Within Us All: Mistreatment and Harassment in Geek Spaces.  It is a very good piece, that is starting to ask questions that have been on my mind of late in regards to how we handle outrages.  If I understood Rue correctly over on Twitter, she will be dealing with some of that in her next piece.

In the meantime, it is a great article worth reading.

We’d like to believe that good and evil are relatively straightforward, not to mention self-defining. A good person does good things because they want to do them, while a bad person does bad things for the same reason. In this magical moral kingdom, intent and action are one, but let’s be honest: they ain’t. The difference between a bad act performed with the best of intentions and a good act motivated by bad reasons is the difference between a mistake and hypocrisy, and I’ve yet to meet a person who hasn’t been guilty, at some point, of both.

The Ultimate Spidey

Yesterday saw the release of the final issue of Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man.  Secret Wars is next (which will apparently suspend/end every comic I currently buy from Marvel) and then after Secret Wars, Miles is an Avenger.

I will not lie…I am not entirely sure I get what the post Secret Wars Marvel is supposed to be exactly.  Is it just blending some of the Marvel worlds into one world?  Will people remember the old universes?  Or will they be living lives as if this was the only universe they ever knew?  Is it just combining the Ultimate and 616 universes into a single universe?  Or will it also incorporate elements of other Marvel worlds?

Will Ganke die?

I have really enjoyed Bendis’s loooong run on the Ultimate Spider-Man books.  I thought he did a terrific job with Peter Parker and Miles Morales.  In fact, after my hiatus from comics, Miles was one of the reasons I thought to check back in on the scene.

The idea that the Ultimate Universe is going away is, oddly, a more bitter pill that the 616 for me.  The Ultimate Universe has been down for the count, only to survive multiple times…and now they will not be coming back…and I am sorry to see it go.

Feminists Are Not Trying To Break Your Toys

So…Frank Cho is under some understandable fire for a sketch he did of Spider-Gwen.  Spider-Gwen is a teen Gwen Stacy from the recent Spider-Verse comic series.  She has had a fairly successful start to her own series.  Cho decided the best way to recognize the character is to do an homage to Milo Manara’s rather infamous Spider-Woman cover.  That cover was met with heavy criticism due to it’s porn heavy pose…

The thing that adds to the issue here is Gwen is a teen, which gives it an extra creepy element.  Part of the problem with this art is I think artists take no account for age of characters.  They just treat all females who are past puberty the same…”sexy”.  Granted, I could be wrong… I am mainly giving a little benefit of doubt here that Cho was not thinking at all about how old Gwen is supposed to be, as opposed to assuming he thinks drawing teen girls in “sexy” poses is totally cool.

Invariably, this gives rise to panic from certain segments of comic-dom that feminists and other SJW are trying to “take away our toys.”  Although I have never seen feminists who advocate the removal of sexy drawings from the spectrum of comics, you do hear folks decry the attempts to “take away the sexy”.  What I have seen is feminists advocating for “better sexy” or appropriate places for the sexy emphasis.  In other words, a Spider-Woman cover should be distinguishable from a Tarot cover.  Teen characters really should not be in porn poses.

I know many feminists who are Adam Hughes fans, and I have not seen any clamor to prevent him from getting work.  Feminists are behind the production of various sexually themed comic book anthologies.  Escher Girls is strictly critical of embarrassingly bad artistic choices done in the name of “Sexy”.  Feminists are not trying to end “sexy” in comics.  They are simply trying to challenge the definition of what is “sexy”.

People who worry about the Phantom Feminists trying to steal all “sexy” from comics need to step back, reassess and understand, the woman they fear does not really exist any more than Powergirl does.  Feminists are not trying to remove supposed sexy from comics.  They are just asking for it to be consistently better when it appears, rather than insulting.

And that is not much to ask.

But It Is Fantasy

One genre that takes a lot of hits for diversity is Fantasy.  And considering how often fantasy books can be very white (*cough*Game of Thrones*couch*) it is a just point.

A common defense is that it is a set in a time and location where there were not non-white people.  This is pretty easily proven false, there is medieval art depicting black knights and noble-people.  The best response, really, though is, “What you can imagine trolls and dragons…but a black person…that kills your suspension of disbelief?”

However, I have seen some extend this statement to condemn use of structures of oppression having no place in fantasy.  Slavery has no need to exist in a fantasy world.  But I am not sure I buy that.  It is lazy to use slavery as your in for having black characters in your book.  But to argue that you cannot address a fundamental flaw in humanity (our willingness to exploit each other for gain)…well, that kind of stretches credibility.

When it comes down to it, I find it harder to believe a fantasy world where people do not exploit each other than I find it hard to believe in a world with dragons and trolls.  After all, the world we live in is full of people who exploit, violate and treat their fellow humans quite badly…and there are trolls.

Using the worst of humanity in your world building gives your heroes something to stand against.  Of course these things can be handled badly (over reliance on rape comes to mind) but that does not mean they have zero place in fantasy worlds.  Imagining a world with dragons?  No problem.  Imaging a world sans the ills that have plagued humanity for centuries?  Pretty hard to buy into.

Restraint Needed

I get the excitement behind doing a pre-origin show like Gotham or Smallville.  But I think it puts interesting limitations that the showrunners are unwilling to abide by.  They want to set the show before the hero exists, so we can see the buildup to that heroic introduction.

It does not seem to long before they start bringing important characters or heavies that will populate the hero’s future.  Gotham has given themselves a bit of breathing room, with characters who are rising in power, but conceivably become something more of a problem down the road.

But it gets silly if you have Superman fighting all his villains before he is Superman…or more frustrating, Jim Gordon dealing with all of Batman’s villains before Batman exists.  And it just does not seem to take pre-origin shows very long to start falling for this trap. Often by the second season (if not the first) they are introducing key characters that really ought not be appearing quite yet.


Threats Are Not Protest

So, in the wake of the Indiana Religious Freedom law, a reporter went out and started to ask local businesses if they would still serve gay people.

One small Pizza joint totally bit, saying they would not serve gays.

The internet explodes with this confirmation of what some of us worried was the worst case scenario…businesses putting up “No Gays Allowed” signs.

There were the folks who bought the domain name of Memories Pizza, their Yelp reviews were overrun mock reviews.

Oh, and the threats.  Apparently, starting with a person online stating they wanted to know who was going to join them in torching the business to the ground.  This was followed by an avalanche of threats via phone and online media.  The shop closed up, stating they may not open back up.  The family said they might even leave town.

Now, of course, if we dig a little deeper, we find out that they never said they would not allow gays into their store.  In fact, they explicitly said they would serve gays.  They would not cater a gay wedding, but that is not the worst case scenario, that is the issue we already say at play.  I find it troubling if you serve weddings you would deny a customer because they are gay.  If I were asked, I would be the wedding videographer for a gay couple’s wedding.  But the family that owns the pizzeria did not say they did not want gay s to come in and order pizza or that they would deny gays access to the dining area.

The biggest problem here is the threats.  Threats are never okay.  I do not care how right you think you are.

Ask any online feminist who has had her personal information spread across the internet, who has received threats of death and rape, not just to themselves but even towards their family.  It is never an appropriate response to threaten a person, no matter how much you might dislike their beliefs or actions.  All these threats did was cause conservatives to hold it up declaring “See?  LGBT supporters are vicious!”*

By going all out to smash one family owned pizzeria, folks created the conservative martyr poster boy.  Heck, over $200,000 was raised for the family. All because some jackasses went and freaked the family out.

Due to the talks of not re-opening, Some are acting like this was a triumph of using the free market.  Those people do not understand the free market.  This is not a triumph.  They would be open had they not gotten threats.   No, closing because they saw a severe decline in business and could not afford to stay open?  That would be the market at work.  Making threatening calls, calling down destruction?  That is terrorism.

We cannot blow off the threats to Memories Pizza all while being angry at Gamer Gate, because it was gamer gate tactics that may have caused them to go out of business.  Gamer Gate is not a problem merely because of who they target for attack…it is how they attack as well.  If you were outraged by Gamer Gate, I don’t see how you can pretend this is different.

We can voice our dislike for the pizzeria’s policies on gay weddings.  We can recommend people not support them.  But you cannot blow off the threats.  You cannot say that the threats were not serious…because we do not know.  I am pretty confident that most (if any) of the folks that threatened to rape various women online are never going to make good on it.  But that does not mean we do not take the threats seriously.  It only takes one threat to get acted upon to do harm.

Threats are the wrong approach.

*Of course, totally ignoring all the threats various liberals have received…