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Thursday, January 14, 2021 

Joseph Illidge keeps up the advocacy for political correctness

In another example of PC beliefs on display, I discovered Joseph Illige, an editor who once worked for DC, writing all about how the leftist idea of social justice must be incorporated into Marvel - and practically every other publisher and such - as though they'd never actually done it before:
On May 25, 2020, a 46-year-old Black man named George Floyd was killed during a brutal, forceful apprehension by Minneapolis Police officers. The following day, video footage of Floyd’s killing was widely distributed through social media, and the first of many protests nationwide began that night.

America reached a boiling point, and the overflow spilled into the businesses of various global industries and corporations.

The American comic book industry was no exception.
But no honest mention of the horrifying arsons committed last year in areas like Seattle, Washington, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, let alone Floyd's own criminal record, right? Guess not. Among the publishers who pathetically pandered to the PC mindset was Valiant:
Valiant Entertainment, publisher of the “Bloodshot” comic book which served as source material for the film starring Vin Diesel, delivered a message to the public beginning with the sentence “Black lives matter.”, a clear reference to the global activist organization and movement founded seven years ago after the killing of Trayvon Martin. The final line of text in the publisher’s message was the Black Lives Matter hashtag.
Wonder when Valiant will be turning out its final comic, seeing how far their business has fallen last year, and the film adaptation tanked, maybe deservedly? The whole notion anybody has to get political like this is dismaying, especially when it's as knee-jerk as it's been.
With the end of an historic year for America and a new year of anticipated change on the horizon, we are compelled to examine how these three industry leaders proceeded to modify their businesses in alignment with their public statements, well aware that some projects and initiatives preceded the catalyzing act of George Floyd’s murder.

Marvel Comics, leader of the comic book industry’s Direct Market which encompasses comic book publishers, distributors, and retailers operating mostly within the United States, made a handful of announcements throughout the last half-year as a reflection of Disney’s stance for inclusion and against racism.
Does that stance include opposition to anti-white racism? Not only does Illidge obscure the serious issue of the arsons, murders and sexual assaults that BLM has practically wound up condoning in their selective reactions laced with violence, he even acts like race-based representation never happened before in past history (why no mention of Christopher Priest, for example?). It's just sad. He later hints he's dissatisfied with Valiant in the following:
In a move which effectively and further distinguishes them from the primary superhero publishers, Valiant Entertainment made no new announcements in 2020 of projects involving Black writers.

However, in October the company re-announced the upcoming return of their horror series “Shadowman”. The titular character is a Black man with mystical powers who serves as the newest guardian between Earth and “The Deadside”, an extradimensional realm full of demonic creatures and sorcerers.

Valiant’s awareness of the cinematic horror genre business as dominated by producer/writer/director Jordan Peele of “Get Out”, “The Twilight Zone”, and “Lovecraft Country” is made clear through one of their cover variants for “Shadowman”, an homage of the movie poster for “Us”, a Peele film. Utilizing the imagery of Black horror for a book starring a Black lead makes sense from a marketing standpoint. Regardless of the absence of a Black writer for the series, Valiant Entertainment’s “Shadowman” is being designed and positioned to attract consumers, including and especially Black consumers.

As a publisher proudly standing with Black people worldwide against systemic racism and proclaiming the truth of how much the lives of Black people matter, Valiant Entertainment’s lack of announcements for new stories or projects with Black writers is seemingly paradoxical.
There's honestly something wrong with putting that kind of an emphasis on horror themes, because Illidge himself risks making it sound as though horror is a great genre where to star Black protagonists, and draw consumers. What about comedy and fantasy adventure? Why don't they factor in here? This is ludicrous, right down to his hinted dissatisfaction with whether Valiant's keeping on with the politically motivated vision he's upholding. Besides, has it ever occurred to him that if any systemic racism is still prevalent, it's because of the left-liberal politics he regrettably condones?
Marvel and DC are inescapable brands with characters eight decades old, and the comic book publishers are the IP engines of multimedia universes worth billions of dollars. They are owned by global media and communications giants with long-term goals based on the continuing multi-platform delivery of superhero narratives.

Clearly, both publishers can and will take the risk of publicly and proudly increasing their stable of Black writers in a nation suffering from a schism regarding the perceived value of Black lives.
But what good has it done when no talent or merit factors into the argument or the finished product? DC's fortunes are already looking gloomy, so there's not much point in lecturing us about how and why his former employer should go about their business when said publisher could be halfway out the door as it is, with Marvel close behind. Another mistake Illidge makes is failure to properly acknowledge all lives matter, based on personality, as Martin Luther King argued in his time.
Valiant Entertainment, on the other hand, is a company with characters shy of being three decades old. A publisher operating in the superhero game alongside Marvel and DC Comics by primarily focusing on the production of White male hero ascendant stories. The risk of showing the comic book industry that Black writers are equal to their White peers, through hiring more Black writers, is relatively greater for Valiant.

That said, 2021 is a great opportunity for the publisher to embrace the courage their name exemplifies. The same courage they showed on June 1, 2020, when they made a public statement in support of Black lives and “against the injustices of systemic racism”.

Standing hand in hand with the top two superhero publishers, Valiant Entertainment made the statement of conviction that human equality is necessary for a better society.

In service of a moral imperative.
Some "valiance" they demonstrated alright, along with a "moral" imperative. Did they take a general stance against violent crime in all forms? Doesn't sound like it. So what's his point? He's coming off rather one-sided, I'm afraid.
This year, entertainment companies far and wide have noticeably increased their Black writer pools, so we would be hard-pressed to believe that public support of Black writers endangers the profit imperative. Just as we would be hard-pressed to believe a publisher publicly embracing Black lives would leverage Black suffering to elevate themselves during a time of economic, social, and political upheaval.

In 2020, the comic book industry was the nexus for a reckoning with its inherent sexism, sexual harassment, and racial injustice. The response was a partial purge of sexual predators, staffing changes to facilitate the promotion of female executives to higher positions, and both the increase and promotion of Black executives. Publishers including BOOM! Studios, Image Comics, Vault Comics, and IDW took action to varying degrees in service of a better comic book industry.
Racial background doesn't endanger profit. Lack of merit, and too much ideology, does. That's one of the reasons why Ta-Nehisi Coates is such a vastly overrated writer. Besides, something tells me the problems with sexual harassment won't stop with the way they're handling things.
There is no industry conceivably more nimble, more suitable, more qualified to support Black lives through action than the comic book industry, and the expectations for its leaders to usher in an era of permanent change will be high, as a result.

With the end of corporate bloodbaths on the horizon and the redesigned publishing plans aligning with the publishers’ capabilities, increased hiring of Black writers is both feasible and expected. The idea that two publishers have to share one high-profile Black writer does not track with the vast number of high-profile Black writers across the various entertainment mediums.

Those Black writers would be well-served at companies with a diverse workforce reflecting a well-rounded worldview, with Black editors and executives to serve as their mentors and supporters because they understand and live in the world through a distinctive and insightful existence. A perspective that cannot easily be understood regardless of the number of books and workshops produced and created to explain racism.
This sounds more like ghetto mentality than an effort to really be part of a wide crowd. It implies it's virtually impossible for whites and Asians to understand anything about it, period. And it's not going to guarantee sales will improve. At the end, he says:
The measures needed for lasting systemic change must be integrated into corporate infrastructures, baked into the companies, their promise to the world, and the hearts and minds of their staff.

Otherwise, the collective actions of the day will serve as nothing more than a temporary crossover event of borrowed ideologies, lacking an arc toward true justice.
Again, lack of talent is what'll bring them down. Also notice how he avoids acknowledging whether there's a problem with leftist ideology, apparently more interested in making it sound like whites "borrowed" the very ideology to explore it for their own personal interests. Some way to thank Stan Lee for his own past efforts. I'm very disappointed with Illidge, who's only being political here, and not willing to ponder that ideology as conducted today is exactly why US comics are flopping so badly. Because the way they're written serves more to create a divisive atmosphere than a unifying one. Most Japanese manga, if they allude to politics, don't go out of their way to cite real life parties like Republicans and Democrats the way US comics are, and say the former are inherently bad while the latter are inherently good. That's why some manga and anime creations can have what it takes to make you think, even if you don't agree with the overall premise, in contrast to modern US mainstream, which spectacularly fail to learn a thing or two from their Asian counterparts.

And most consumers in general don't like being lectured and preached to the way the industry's doing now, something Illidge fails to consider, in his leaning toward ghetto mentality. It's a shame such divisive viewpoints have wound up perpetuating an atmosphere wherein the US is sadly collapsing from political correctness laced with alarming antagonism coming from leftist ideologues. Racial quotas do not improve entertainment value. Only merit does, yet people like Illidge continue in their refusal to ponder that. And that's why the mainstream industry as we know it is falling down.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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