Don’t Be That Guy: Blackest Night Edition
I complained, recently, about people not being honest about cheesecake, and how people should just own up to using boobs for the sake of boobs. Well, my wish is apparently the internet's command.
The latest internet controversy stars some familiar faces for those of you who like to stand ringside at comics blogosphere brouhahas, including Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool, Ragnell (formerly of the When Fangirls Attack blog), and Larry of Larry's Comics, whom you may remember as "that guy" from "Don't Be That Guy: Retailer Edition."
Let's start with the picture that lit the match, which was
taken used by Larry to promote sales of DC's "Blackest Night" crossover at his store, and subsequently run by Johnston in his Bleeding Cool column:
I'd also like to clarify right up front that while Johnston claimed the image "was also run past DC Comics marketing in case there was an objection - and there was none," a DC spokesman confirmed to me unequivocally that that the picture was NOT approved by DC. Perhaps DC simply did not answer Johnston at all, but this is a pretty disingenuous way of expressing that, and one that confused commenters into thinking DC had actively approved it -- an assumption Johnston did not correct.The comment war that followed on Ragnell's blog involved name-calling, an argument over whether or not the picture constitutes porn (which it doesn't), and a request for a gender swapped version of the image. One commenter thought perhaps turnabout would be fair play, and wondered how people would feel if the image were of two hands cupping the nether regions of a dude. Good question! Let's find out:
I'm reminded of the time that Shaenon Garrity tore apart a particularly bad issue of "JSA" where Power Girl responded to a difficult situation by taking off all her clothes, hugging a teddy bear, and crying -- prompting Garrity to imagine how that scene might have looked with Power Girl's cousin, Superman, as the star:
I think gender swapping can be helpful, sometimes, because we're so suffused with sexualized imagery of women in comics that after a while it can really start to seem like static. But in all honesty, I can't say the original image bothers me too much, because it is what it is: boobs. Boobs without context. Boobs for the sake of boobs. Boobs.
What else is there to say, aside from the fact that making this type of imagery as a retailer -- not to mention making it this badly -- means that you've totally written off women as readers and customers, and you have no problem turning comics into a stag party for a bunch of hollering morons who don't particularly care about the quality of something as long as there are naked lady parts involved.
For his part, Larry manages to preempt most of my criticisms by owning up to the fact that he actively feeds the lowest common denominator for cash, and doesn't care about the consequences:
Ran a fun promo in the shop. Got some creative pics. Figured this one was Rich's speed.
I know its sophmoric [sic], and the problem with the industry today.
I know its insulting to women in some way, and the reason they are not flocking to comic shops.
I know, I'm the shop owner that hurts the industry. Whatever..
Customers got a kick out of the promo, got creative and had fun. I sold a sh-tload of product. That's all I really give a rats ass about.
I can say many things about Larry, and have, but I can't say that he isn't honest about what he's doing, not just in terms of selling sex, but selling it in the crudest, most stereotypical and immature way possible. It's also pretty telling that after taking a picture like that he immediately thought, "Rich Johnston is the guy who will really like this!" and, that he was right.
Really, there's so much less to argue about when people own up to being d-bags that don't care about the industry, or the medium, or really anything besides the cold, hard cha-ching of their cash register. So if you ever wanted to know what comics retail looks like when you scrape the very bottom of the barrel, there you go. And if you ever wondered who the publishers are selling to when they put out equally coarse material, now you know that too.