Sunday, May 21, 2017

Is Diversity Killing Marvel?

In the struggle to get out of my own grief slump I've been trapped in, a lot of shit has been going on over in the world of comics. We've talked about a fair bit of it in the past in some form or another, but the newest thing going around is the idea that Marvel Comics sales are going down due to an overabundance of "forced diversity" within their overall line.

Translation: white guys are made about brown people & women getting any sort of spotlight.

That wasn't entirely a joke there just now either, as that seems to be the major problem. White dudes coming out to whine about how Marvel has been pushing too many non-white characters and too many women are being highlighted. It's funny to think that supposedly heterosexual guys are getting mad because there are too many women in their comics. But then, I suppose that since artists have been drawing women in more outfits that are not rooted in male sex fantasies, I can see them getting testy over it. Remember when one crotchety old creator complained about Ms. Marvel not wearing the previous outfit? Was that Miller or Larsen? Oh yeah, it was Erik Larsen.

I never expected a man who always dresses his women so practically to be upset like this. Such a shock.
Do you know how much it surprised me to see him say that? Not a bit. Because he's a part of a bigger problem with sexism as it relates to superhero books. Not just in how he draws his women, but often in how he treats them as sexual objects. I was a Savage Dragon fan growing up. I read the comic for years, ate up the cartoon, and even had some action figures. When they did the Savage Dragon/TMNT crossover I was on cloud nine. But I can tell you that I felt very uncomfortable from time to time due to the blatant sexism on display constantly.

You don't really have to look very hard to find examples of it either.

Most of his female characters constantly have their asses out, they're often treated as sexual objects, they all tend to look like interchangeable dolls, and then there is Horridus. She was a very non-human looking character that I figured was not going to get sexualized who I really liked...and then Larsen had her blow Dragon. She did this without asking first, which is rape at worst and molestation at best. It's a rough area, because she didn't really know better, but yeah. And Dragon's immediate reaction was incredibly threatening, making me think I was going to see him beat this naked woman who had no idea what she did was wrong. I felt more than uncomfortable, I felt angry. I stopped buying the book.

Which, from what I've seen since then, was probably a good thing. Wow.
But sexism is only part of it, because these crying man-children get just as angry about race. They kicked and screamed over a Muslim girl being Ms. Marvel. They whined endlessly about the new Ghost Rider being Latino, even more than they did over him having a car. All the way to Sam Wilson being made the new Captain America they screamed of the obvious tokenism of it all and how it's all the SJWs faults for ruining their books. Sam Wilson, a guy who has been Captain America's best friend for decades, was treated like he was something new being forced upon them. A character who has more than earned the mantle. But all these people are also quick to say "but you're just gonna call us racist for not agreeing" as if it a proper defense. Here's the thing, boys: you are racist if the idea of diversity angers you. No getting around it.

There's good news though because now you can cut out the middleman & cosplay as Hate-Monger.
The reality is that everyone is racist to some degree. Society programmed us to be and many of us are often unaware of it. The important thing is to not get angry when you're called out for it, but to recognize that about yourself and try to be better moving forward. I'm fairly good at not being racist, but I also grew up in an area where being racist would get you killed so it was good for fixing a lot of those problems. But the internet is all about anonymity. We get on here and we don't have to worry about looking people in the eye as we spew hate at them. We don't have to face consequences or deal with guilt as we launch on very public tirades. It's not like the world outside because on the internet you're often just a name floating in the void.

Doing that at the beach though? Yeah, that'll make you go viral.
Male comic fans are often hard to deal with. Many of them are obstinate, loud, and refuse to budge when it comes to what they grew up on. Much like other irritable geeks we've talked about, they're ruled by their nostalgia to an almost terrifying degree. I'm not immune to that assessment either. I get upset just like anyone else when it comes to characters I love being done wrong. But then, that's part of the problem too because a lot of these nards aren't upset about characters being done wrong. They're upset because the women aren't dressed provocatively enough, the many legacy characters aren't white enough, and because they feel threatened by the idea of change in regards to their precious comics.

Anyone else remember the shitstorm about Galactus getting that update that actually made him interesting again?
So, is it diversity in their line that is currently hurting Marvel's sales? I'm gonna go with a big resounding no, as a lot of their more diverse titles have actually been doing remarkably well these last several years. Books like Ms. Marvel, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Thor, All-New Ghost Rider, and Black Panther have all been big hits both with readers and with critics. No, the things hurting Marvel are actually fairly simple. The obvious first one is the whining shitlords who will go out of their way to make getting into comics that are aimed at new readers seem like a needless chore. They act like gatekeepers trying to bar entry to the fandom because of some sense of seniority they think they have. If you think it's okay to treat new fans like shit, you're no longer being a comic fan. You're being a twat. What's reason two?

Take a wild fucking guess.
I know this really nice guy who runs a comic shop. We often talk about what's going on in books and movies. We disagree sometimes but we respect one another's views and it's all good. Bringing up Marvel though? That's a sad topic for him. And that's because of the big giant fuck-you event they have been pushing for the longest time. The event built on cheap shock and taking a steaming hot squat on the memories of Jewish creators. He's upset about Secret Empire...and he's definitely not alone. Ever since the big reveal of Nazi Cap, there has been nearly non-stop discussion about the entire thing from beginning to end. Criticizing it either gets applause or gets you labeled a SJW/PC patrolman who is against "new interesting ideas" and "creativity" in comics.

Nothing says "new & interesting" like doing something that's already been done...but with Nazis.
Nevermind the fact that the writer behind this whole thing is known for being a shitty human being, that the entire story is built around a pale imitation of the Dark Reign event, or even that they're trying to pretend that Hydra aren't Nazis. This entire thing has come at a time when a more diverse readership began reading the new books, a readership made up of young men and women who wanted to read about heroes to escape the horrible reality where bigotry is increasingly prevalent and people fueled with hate attack innocent people for being different. And Marvel, looking at all of that, decided to push the fucking Nazi event out at this audience, who then slowly started walking away from these books because they don't want to support the company anymore. In other words, Marvel is killing Marvel.

I know, Wade. I know.
Longtime fans have been so tired of constant events, leading many of them to drop books over time as well, but the whole Nazi thing has driven many of them away too. As a result of this and digital sales not being factored in, Marvel's books are all averaging in the 20,000s. The only big seller? The event book, which is being supported largely by guys who will argue with people that Hydra totally aren't Nazis and that America Chavez isn't an important or popular character despite her having her own book and having a massive fanbase of people who are interested in seeing someone different than the often vanilla stable of classic heroes. Legacy heroes like her offer a chance for new readers to get into something that can create lifelong fans.

Legacy heroes bring in new fans who get interested and look into the old stuff as a result of the new.
They don't want to learn, to try new things, or to change the status quo...but they will support a known racist who is spearheading Nazi event book. So, Marvel Comics, if your success is determined by clear and blatant sexism/racism then it's not really going to be success, is it? Because all that's going to do is keep you stagnating in those same murky angry white dude waters where your readers will be more interesting into who they can beat off to rather than quality material. If you're okay with that, why not just publish porn books and be done with it? As for me, I'm gonna bugger off and go cook tacos. Later days, bleeders.

And by the way, good writers (like David Walker) can take real world issues & tackle them well. Just a reminder what good writing looks like for all the people who suffer the writing of Nick Spencer.

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