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Sunday, May 14, 2017 

Scott Snyder and diversity propaganda

A Salon writer who's pretty much ignorant of exact history in comicdom interviewed writer Scott Snyder about several topics, including diversity. Let's begin first with the interviewer's biased takes on history, and even sexuality:
More recently, the triumphant “end of history” supposedly signaled by the fall of the Soviet Union, whose spell was broken by the shock of Sept. 11, 2001, forced a new maturity in subject matter onto the stories told in mainstream American comic books.
Sigh. Not if we consider J. Michael Straczynski's Spider-Man issue that wound up blaming America, subtly or otherwise, for the terrorist attacks on 9-11. Or even Brad Meltzer's Identity Crisis miniseries, which was built on similar themes from a metaphorical POV. If one looks more carefully under a microscope, you'll notice there've been various examples of scapegoating America running amok in many US comics, and probably European as well. That's not what I'd call "mature".
Mainstream American comic books can be progressive and forward-thinking in some ways, but also regressive and conservative in others. For example, in too many comic books, women were and continue to be hyper-sexualized and subjected to the male gaze. People of color are often depicted in stereotypical ways, or as flat, uninteresting characters better suited to be sidekicks than central characters. Gays and lesbians, until fairly recently, largely did not exist in mass-market American comic books.
Well, there's one poor fellow who clearly doesn't like sexy babes. Man, I feel sorry for him. Seriously, if he's suggesting sexualized portrayals of women is inherently or exclusively conservative, that's quite amusing. And as for that line about people of color being depicted stereotypically, I guess he considers the early stories with Black Panther, Storm and Cyborg from better days nothing but flat-as-a-pancake tedium? Sigh. He sure doesn't go to see the forest for the trees. And homosexuality's actually existed in comicdom for more than 3 decades now. It's just a question of whether the writers are allowed to say it's a poor role model (and judging by what kind of editors run the show, they're not), or whether they want to (and judging by their politics, they don't). It's also pretty apparent that it makes no difference how poorly homosexuality was handled in Scott Lobdell's take on Alpha Flight when he turned Northstar full-fledged in 1992; they won't comment on how bad that story was in the finished product.
If comic books are indeed reflections of “the now,” how will they grapple with America’s changing demographics? What of the need for “diversity” and “inclusion” in comic books from mainstream publishers like Marvel and DC? The rise of Donald Trump’s neofascist movement and his election as president have been traumatic for the American people (and the world). How will this be reflected in popular culture generally, and comic books and graphic novels specifically? And how can comic book creators keep the “super” in “superhero” while also writing grounded and believable characters readers can relate to in such tumultuous times?
Depending on what people are in charge, the answer to that question is: they can keep the stories super - or make them so again - by not resorting to the same far-left idiocy the Salon writer is. Avoid the newfound obsession with declaring Trump nothing but a right-wing fascist while ignoring any and all problems of the sort found on the left-wing. And, don't say the country's been traumatized by Trump's election either. Besides, wasn't Nidal Hasan's bloodbath at Fort Hood a traumatizing incident?

Now, here's some of the political segments of the interview with Snyder. For example:
Popular culture is an insight into our collective subconscious. Given the rise of Donald Trump and the political crisis and trauma he has created in America and around the world, how do you think comic book creators and others can balance writing about political issues without being superficial and telling poorly conceived stories? How do we figure out a happy medium as storytellers?

That’s a great question. When you’re beginning with a character like Batman, you have to recognize that he’s not on anyone’s side. Batman is everybody’s hero, and so you have to find a way of making the message resonate without being too didactic. I’m a lefty. But I don’t want Batman saying, “This is why you should vote for Bernie, or vote for someone else.”
He may not want to depict the Masked Manhunter campaigning for Sanders, but what about Clinton? I recall the neo-Valiant book written by Louise Simonson that was basically an endorsement of Hillary's campaign, and he hasn't verified whether that was a mistake.
What do you think [longtime Batman writer] Frank Miller would say about this question of politics and graphic novels?

Frank is a Bernie fan, by the way, weirdly. That said, I think the way you do it is you consider [that] Batman cares about everybody. He’s everybody’s hero, so he’s not about who wins the election, he’s about the ethics of the situation. He’s about seeing us all get through it together, he’s about recognizing the fears and concerns and legitimate anger, everything on every side, and saying, “The thing you do not do is to become the worst version of yourself, where you’re fighting in ways that are simplistic and brutish and reductive. We’re better than that.”

What social or political problems does Batman actually ever solve? Does he solve problems of race or class or sexism? No, of course not. Does he solve crime? Of course not. He’s just a fictional story. But it takes on another layer when you think about him within Gotham.
That's weird indeed. I thought Miller, who unfortunately signaled a boomerang back to the left some time ago, was a Clinton supporter. Weirder still is Snyder's awkward description of Batman. Of course Bruce Wayne is a fictional character. But within the context of a fictional story, there were plenty in better days where Batman did solve many crimes, and to be sure, even some involving racism and sexism. And while Batman should certainly be everyone's hero, even that could use a little clarification: he should be the hero of everyone who believes in life and honesty, for example, and not evil and death. Also, let's note that though Snyder may say Batman is everyone's hero, there's plenty of higher-ups at DC who don't think so: the leftists who run the store, and aren't exactly willing to make him a conservative's hero. Let's remember the time when one of the annual issues for Detective Comics ran a story by the UK writer David Hine whitewashing Islam and making the French look bad. It doesn't take a genius to guess the higher echelons don't consider Batman a hero to appeal to Europeans in trouble.

The article also brings up Marvel manager David Gabriel's recent case:
There was a recent controversy where David Gabriel, a vice president for Marvel Comics, blamed the company’s weak sales on “diversity.” Any thoughts on that?

I would say first that I’m pretty sure those comments were taken out of context, or perhaps misspoken. But what I would also like to say is that for me, diversity is what I grew up with. I grew up in New York and the idea that there need to be characters that are representative of what the reading population looks like right now is super-important, and the way that I handle it is different.

For example, I think that a story supports characters. That’s the issue. It’s less a response to diversity or a response to politics in comic books. I think there are other reasons why books might not be doing as well as they want, and there are easy things to blame.

I would also just say that I know that the creators and the people who produce books at Marvel. They are progressive. They are people who deeply care about the comics community and trying to make their line both inclusive and exciting and robust. I think sometimes we just get caught up in the conversation about sales and retail.
If he didn't grow up with Armenians, for example, or make any effort to try and fit some characters with such a background into a mainstream book, then he didn't grow up with diversity. And he shouldn't be claiming Marvel or even DC cares about the community when they repeatedly, in one way or another, make every effort to ruin tasteful storytelling for the sake of ultra-leftist politics. Even if Snyder wasn't pushing politics in his book as heavily as many of the Marvel contributors are till now, he hasn't done much to improve upon the bad example quite a few writers/artists have set.
I was at a convention and a young African-American brother asked me for my thoughts on his independent comic. We went out and had some drinks and I told him, “You’re trying to write a book that is self-consciously ‘black.’ How about you write a good story that happens to have characters who are black?” Don’t say, “I’m going to write a book and I’m going to have people of color in it and I’m going to craft the story around that.” Because that doesn’t work.

Exactly. How do you tell a story that feels organic and true? If you’re making a calculus that I’m doing this to raise the “diversity bar,” you’re always going to flop.
Which is exactly what happened with both Marvel and DC alike. They've both pushed this diversity propaganda farce in some way or other, along with ultra-leftist propaganda, and it hasn't impressed anybody because it's either forced and contrived, or absolutely tasteless and offensive. It's pretty weird that somebody who's more or less stated he favors the diversity propaganda from Marvel/DC at all costs is suddenly making a case for organic storytelling, because that's not what the mainstream have been doing at all. And their newfound hostility to female sexuality isn't helping either. If organism matters when making an indie comic, why doesn't it matter when making a mainstream superhero comic? That's discrimination of a very bad sort.

As a result, this whole article only winds up a total joke that doesn't really answer anything.

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Meanwhile, this was just announced today in most interesting irony:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/13/15636276/marvel-black-panther-and-the-crew-cancelled-ta-nehisi-coates

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