Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Does The Comic Book Community Have An Outrage Problem?

Greg Hinkle's Angry Illustration
"Comics has an outrage problem.
 I don’t mean people getting up in arms over things, either. That’s an issue unto itself, and like anything else, it could be better than it currently is in several different ways, but that’s not today’s conversation.

What I’m talking about is how we—the comics community—describe, talk about, and address the concerns of people who are upset about one thing or another. The way we talk about outrage fatigue, outrage-of-the-week, faux outrage, outrage-o-matic, misplaced outrage, another outrage, this outrage, that outrage, and why it’s gross and short-sighted. How we use “tumblr” as a pejorative but ignore the poison in our own forums and followers.

The way we use the word outrage suggests that the outrage in question is fake and irrational, on account of being poorly thought-out and overly emotional. It happens every time someone brings up a point to do with equality, sexism, racism, or justice... They’re invalid, an inconvenience, annoying, or fake because you can see the emotions driving it, and emotional reactions aren’t valid."

-- David Brothers, "Beyond Outrage"

David Brothers works at Image as an editor. Whether it's on the team comics blog Comics Alliance or on his own blog, 4thletter.net, he also has a history of writing thought and in-depth essays. The quote is from the beginning of the linked essay "Beyond Outrage" and he addresses how the comic book community as a collective seems to treat those who are upset and are angry about it, with calls for self-examination and reflection.

I think I agree. There is a distressing tendency in many nerd-centric circles to accentuate the positive at the expense of pretending the negative doesn't exist, to treat the those that are hurt as overracting, to cast criticism of things we like as criticisms of us. To me, I think this lead to not just creative stagnation, but community stagnation. It takes black creators and fans, fans of color, and all fans that are members of marginalized communities and pushes them further into the margins-- and sadly, sometimes even out of circles entirely.

When has showing a little empathy and trying to understand where a person is coming from ever hurt anybody? Why is there this distressing tendency to silencing those that criticizing things they love too?

What do you think readers? Do you agree? Are we off base? Sound off in the comments.

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