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Saturday, August 5, 2017

'Comic Fans' Don't Have To Be Your Audience. 'Comic Fans' Are Over.

Wow, that title sounds familiar. I wonder where I've heard something like that before? 

When I spoke previously about the Exponential Outrage Theorem, I had no idea it would become relevant again so quickly, and in such a ludicrous manner. Several years ago, I commented that Marvel was playing a long game in diversity, and it was working for them; they were introducing new characters while promoting legacy characters to keep them around, which respected both new and legacy characters, and DC was making some very public and messy mis-steps.

Since DC's Rebirth event, they've become wildly popular amongst comic fans, and the diehard Marvel purists (as well as more casual fans) are starting to turn away from Marvel due to creative decisions such as the disrespect shown the character of Thor, turning the ev0l cis-het white male Captain America into a 'Nazi', and the introduction of a black girl who got her start by stealing things from MIT as the new Iron Man lead. Sales have slumped a bit in comparison to DC, who is not only overtaking them in comics sales and popularity, but also just had their first broadly-accepted cinematic universe movie in the fantastic Wonder Woman (which despite having a female lead and a female director, was devoid of any out-of-place identity politics).

Last week, an innocent Marvel editor took some of her co-workers to Ben & Jerrys, and posted a selfie getting milkshakes. This innocent act earned her a deluge of abuse, harassment, and threats, which were detailed on such sites as Bleeding CoolUpworthyThe Mary Sue, and talkradio.co.uk, who went so far as to label this the "new Gamergate." OH! That explains the title. I was wondering where I got that from. So these articles went on, as they always do, to display the requisite six nasty tweets the editor...

...what? Oh, I'm sorry. I'm being informed that they did not display the six requisite tweets from literal nobodies. Bleeding Cool supplied 5 mild tweets from literal nobodies, Upworthy only 3, and both sites showcased a literal deluge of support from industry insiders, fellow co-workers, and assorted random people. The Mary Sue supplied no negative tweets at all. No screenshots were provided of the alleged DMs from anyone. Most of the coverage consisted of this same pattern: a small example of mildly rude tweets, then easily 3-4 times as many pictures of random people with milkshakes supporting the editor and her friends. This hardly paints a picture of hostility. In fact, The Mary Sue even went so far as to respond to the criticism of their coverage with what can only be described as plugging their ears and shouting "I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I??" This is quite possibly the most juvenile piece I think I've ever seen on their site, and that speaks volumes.

With all due respect (that being very little) to talkradio.co.uk, the only way in which this seems to be a 'new Gamergate' is in that an enthusiast press is attacking its audience for what seems to be a minor slight at most, all the while celebrating what good people they are. I've seen far too many overblown outrages over the last few years to take anything at face value anymore, and the evidence is getting flimsier and flimsier each time it happens. This is, by far, the most exaggerating instance I've seen. It's so exaggerated that someone did some preliminary math over in Reddit's r/comicbooks and, basing the number of Marvel readers (conservatively) on the number of issues of their biggest book sold (roughly 225,000) against the 7 negative tweets they found (reminder that Redditors, at least most of them, are not paid to do the work that journalists don't bother to do), they came up with the fact that three-thousandths of one percent of Marvel readers objected to the milkshake picture in any form.

I am tired. I am very tired. This tires me. But I will not stop pointing out the sheer BS that happens every time something even remotely controversial gets drummed up in entertainment press. This is by far the worst offender so far, as it's provided the least actual coverage of the alleged wrong-doings and wasn't even based on an announcement or change or anything like that, but just a selfie.

Stop trying to paint your readership as monsters. Stop trying to fit your customers into a little 'basket of deplorables' and expecting them to thank you for being good people when you do. It doesn't work like that.

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