Hey, I sometimes talk about comic books or movies/television based on comic books here on my blog, because I enjoy reading comics (or graphic novels if my saying comic books makes you roll your eyes. )
Yes, I’m a grown-ass man, but there seems in general to be less of a stigma for people to talk about enjoying stories presented in a serialized, visual format. Or at least, I thought so. But October had some weird news relating to comics, and I thought I’d kick some of that around.
I wasn’t reading the Mockingbird comic from Marvel Comics. Not that I have anything against Mockingbird or Marvel.
I kind of have just a handful of titles that I follow, and they’re mostly Image or Dark Horse stuff, and I’m way behind on my reading. This is all irrelevant to the topic at hand…
A news item in October came to my attention that Chelsea Cain had quit Twitter after being assailed by misogynistic trolls, who didn’t like her run as the writer for Mockingbird. I recommend reading the original news from Comics Beat or from Chelsea Cain’s blog where she talks about her leaving Twitter (and debunks some of the hype) if you want to research more.
At the time I was pretty uninformed. I only knew peripherally that:
- She had been writing Mockingbird,
- she was being harrassed,
- this cover image seemed to be part of the discussion:
I didn’t do more research at the time, because I felt I already knew the story. Dudes on the Internet are happy to rally against ladies who participate in forms of entertainment that were once almost all male oriented.
We’ve seen stuff like this before unfortunately: GamerGate and its sexism, women at science fiction conventions accused of being Fake Geek Girls, female cosplayers harrassed and intimidated, bizarre Men’s Rights Activism objecting to the recent (and superb) Mad Max movie, etc. This just seemed like another example of the long list of geek intolerance to bum me out.
But October had more examples for me to digest.
LOGAN GURL POWER
Near the end of October, I saw this on my Twitter feed:
It was a screencap of a Reddit user who was incensed about the LOGAN movie trailer, which in his words were an example of “gurl power.” Hey, don’t rely on my description, here’s his actual post:
Whoa, I thought. This dude is really angry at the upcoming Logan movie. And he’s an idiot.
(I’m going to mention a possible spoiler about the movie. If you don’t want to know anything about it, please skip down to the next section.)
Okay, everyone here wants to be here? Cool.
The little girl in the Logan trailer is either X-23/Laura Kinney or an analogous character they developed for the movie. X-23 is a clone of Wolverine, first introduced in the comics 2004. The idea that a little girl version of Wolverine should not be extremely dangerous is a ridiculous idea.
But the redditor in question has a lot of weird ideas, painting this picture that he’s being persecuted by SJWs, and asking his fellow probably equally beleaguered MGTOW associates for desperate advice. For anyone who doesn’t know, SJW is allegedly an insult that came out of GamerGate (I believe that’s where it originated) that means Social Justice Warrior. MGTOW means “Men Going Their Own Way” which means … whatever. Go your own way, man. Godspeed.
I referred to the SJW term as allegedly an insult, because most people that I know who have been accused of being one don’t quite see the downside in advocating for social justice. I mean, how is that wrong? Or bad?
Anyway, our critic of X-23’s awesomeness almost sounds like he’s in some dystopian reality where SJWs, like Marvel Universe Sentinels, patrol about hunting down Real Men. You know, manly men or whatever.
I didn’t necessarily associate the Reddit post with the harrassment of Chelsea Cain and Mockingbird at the time. Part of that was because I hadn’t yet researched Cain leaving Twitter, but mostly it was because this just sounded like a sad loser who either had no idea who or what X-23 was, or wasn’t a comics fan but was otherwise into the Logan trailer until it violated his 1950s era world-view or something.
I rethought about it later in the day, when I saw the next tweet in this series of weirdness.
We’re not assholes. But we’re assholes.
A few hours after marveling at the complaint about the Logan movie trailer and the canonical and effective portrayal of X-23, this tweet showed up in my feed:
Twitter user, media specialist, and comic book reader Kelly had collected some tweets from a dude suggesting that women should not be reading or writing comics. But hey, don’t trust my summary, here are his tweets:
There’s A LOT to unpack here, about raging entitlement and the desire to put up walls to keep “certain people” out. Wow.
A lot to unpack, but I don’t think I really need to talk much about Ry’s comments, because anything I say will probably be self-evident and unnecessary for me to point out. (Correct me if I’m wrong, I’ll be happy to elaborate on why this guy is a douchebag.)
At first I thought he was just trolling for attention, but after reading his Twitter timeline I concluded that he was being genuine in his awfulness. (Genuine is perhaps too benign a word.) Unfortunately, I “liked” someone’s mention in his timeline about how his tweets were going viral, and he blocked me. That ended my research dive abruptly.
Anyway, his statement about comics being the last safe space for men reminded me of the X-23 detractor and his statement that he had no haven from feminism.
Straight up: that’s ridiculous. There are multitudes of media and entertainment, created over decades and decades for people to choose from, especially men who only want to have male-created, male-oriented content. I’m sure those gentlemen can find things that won’t threaten their masculinity and views of the world, the way a mutant clone female child might threaten.
But it seems like the very notion that comics might be not exclusively the playground for men is somehow threatening. I can’t sympathize with that viewpoint.
So, what’s the point of this post? That misogynist trolls exist? Everyone knows that.
Since I was blocked for reading the trainwreck of Ry’s timeline, I took a look at Kelly’s timeline, the one who had tweeted the screencap of his tweets that had caught my eye. I was kind of interested in finding out what had started this. Had Ry been arguing with people about Chelsea Cain and Mockingbird? His tweets didn’t seem far off the mark from someone who would have been giving Cain grief.
But I became more interested in the activity of men responding to Kelly. There was a lot of “hey, I’m not like that guy” or “most comic dudes aren’t like that” which might even be true. It just isn’t all that helpful to say and is kind of a way to deflect from the issue. What she was saying in response was thought-provoking to me:
I really can’t argue against her statements, and it would be odd for me to try because I’d knowingly be in the wrong.
Growing up, I loved reading comics, and I think it’s wrong to try to exclude anyone from participating in something that I enjoy. But it’s important for me to recognize that my experience and motivation isn’t universal. I shouldn’t be complacent about something I love, just because I’m not directly experiencing any negatives about it.
But wait! Am I now excluding people who want to exclude women from reading comics? Yep. I tend to make exceptions for assholes, who are the exception that proves the rule.
Sorry, dude in dystopian Toronto, being hunted down by flying robotic SJWs. You’re on your own. You’re not allowed to read comics anymore. Unless you want to.
If feminism is ruining comics for guys like Ry, I’m totally fine with comics becoming so feminist, that they repel him like garlic does vampires.
Mmmmm, delicious garlic.
There were some bright spots in regards to Chelsea Cain, with people coming out in support.
It warmed my heart to see iconic DC Comics heroes in support of a Marvel character. A rising tide floats all boats.
I titled this post October 2016 Comics Weirdness for a couple of reasons. Obviously it’s good to date-stamp this for my own organizational use, and it’s about comics, but the weirdness word is the most important one. I suppose my title could be interpreted like I am saying that the anti-woman bias is weird and abnormal, but in reality it’s more common that I realized. I hope that one day, these biases truly are only in the fringe.
Weird isn’t always good or fun.
Okay, one dude with a blog isn’t going to make much of a difference, but being quiet about it doesn’t seem like the right thing to do at all. I was inspired by Kelly’s statement that not bringing attention to bad behavior is an implicit sign of approval, and I don’t want to approve of anyone not wanting everyone to enjoy comics.
I doubt I’ll get much heat from this non-controversial opinion that people shouldn’t be dicks on the Internet (invoking the Wil Wheaton edict) but I’ll be happy to discuss this at length. You know where to find me.
Reading comics. (Or I should get to reading. Because I have a huge backlog.)
I make no claim to the images, and especially no claim to the tweets and Reddit posts above. All those other words are mine though.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2016 Some Rights Reserved