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RU’s Views: DC Rebirth and the Deafening Hypocrisy of the Reactionary Fan Base

Written by GHERU on Wednesday, May 25 2016 and posted in Features

RU’s Views: DC Rebirth and the Deafening Hypocrisy of the Reactionary Fan Base

A bad review is just a bad review. Unless it mentions social issues, then it's censorship.

Source: Op-Ed

About two weeks ago, my son turned five. For his birthday his mother and I made sure to get him the LEGO Hulk Buster Smash toy he had been obsessing over for a month. I'm not the biggest fan of Iron Man, but even I have to admit that the Hulk Buster is pretty sweet; especially the fingers. After we built the toy, my son asked if he could go outside to play with his new toy. I replied with "Of course you can, just stay in the yard." Followed by "But I don't think you should take the Legos with you."

Then all Hell broke loose.

Apparently, even after clearly saying "of course you can" to the question about going outside with his toy, my suggestion of not taking the Hulk Buster with him was the same as me "not letting" him take his toy outside. He was so convinced that I was not going to allow him to take his Legos outside that he started to cry. I took a knee, looked directly into his eyes, and calmly tried to explain the difference between "should" and "can" and that, from his point of view, it is easy to confuse the two; that when Daddy says "I don't think you should," it is not the same as "you are not allowed to." That all I was trying to do was limit the chance of him breaking his new toy in the yard where he could lose pieces in the tall grass his Daddy is too lazy to mow on a regular basis.

Eventually things worked themselves out; he took his Hulk Buster outside, proceeded to immediately drop it on the porch where it broke apart, and we spent the next 20 minutes looking for pieces and rebuilding his birthday present. The experience was interesting and drove home the point that I have to remember that he is only five, no matter how old that makes me feel, and that he still has a bit to go before he understands nuances between "can" and "should." When I told my wife about this she noted that it probably wouldn't be "until he was about 7 or 8" before he had a good grasp of such concepts that are second nature to adults.

Two days later, I encountered another example of this thinking. I published an op-ed that, using admittedly colorful language for comedic effect, argued that DC shouldn't use an up-skirt shot of a minor on the cover of a Supergirl coloring book based on a character DC rated T, "[a]ppropriate for readers age 12 and older."  Apparently, even after clearly saying that DC "can" publish whatever they want, the suggestion that a "multinational corporation stuck in a sexual harassment quagmire" might want to reconsider how they are perceived by the very audience they are "attempting to appeal to" is the same as me attempting to "censor" and "take rights away" from DC and its employees. In short, that I was trying to censor the image I posted publicly.

The thought process of both my five year old son and these reactionaries in these instances seems to be:

Entity A saying that Entity B should / should not do Action C = D

Where D equals censorship, restriction of rights, or any other combination of constitutional jargon masquerading as an argument.

This thinking is pervasive in both the preschool and comment section communities. It seems that any time negative opinions about how a comic book publisher "represents" a specific group are voiced, there is certain set of people who automatically comes forth to lament the continued attempts of so-called "Social Justice Warriors (SJWs)" to censor publishers and creators. This argument is predicated on the idea that "should" and "can" are synonyms. That "should not" means the same as "cannot." Or, at the very least, that the writers, bloggers, posters, Tweeters, Facebookers, et al. believe that their suggestions have – or should have – the power to dictate what other people can or cannot do.

But only if those suggestions, bad reviews, and other commentaries mention social issues.


Take a look at the reactions to DC's Rebirth spoilers. Thousands of people saying that DC "shouldn't" reboot again. That Didio and Lee "should" be fired for bringing Watchmen characters into DC proper. Creators "should not" write characters Alan Moore "created." With almost just as many people, many of them artists and creators themselves, shouting about what a news organization should and should not publish.

The same people who got bent out of shape because (according to them) I, a third tier writer on an upstart snark website, thought I had the power to dictate what DC can or cannot publish should be outraged at roughly 99% of the online comic book community for their attempted censorship of DC and all of its employees.

But of course they are not, because...

Entity A saying that Entity B should / should not do Action C = D

...is only true when the reasons a publisher "should" or "should not" do something is due to, what reactionaries see as "social issues."

It's perfectly acceptable to say that Marvel should never have released Rob Liefeld's, now infamous, Captain America image:

It's even OK, and expected, to point out that the image is ugly, disproportionate, and a completely ridiculous representation of the male body; that no one looks like that.

But, say the same thing about a Catwoman,


or even a Supergirl cover,

and those same exact comments are met with a barrage of "censorship" claims and how critics should be ashamed of themselves for trying to take away the rights and jobs of innocent creators.

Many of those same creators are, again, under attack from internet posters who are telling DC that they "should not" use Watchmen characters. Who Warner Brothers "should" fire. What DC "should" publish.

Where are the defenders of rights? Where are the cries against the censorship this mob mentality is calling for? Why is it OK to tell DC that they shouldn't reboot again but it's not OK to say they shouldn't market an up-skirt cover to 12 year-olds?

If the assumption is that I, and the five people who re-tweeted my article, really thought our usage of the word "should" has enough power and authority behind it to dictate terms to DC, then we also have to assume the millions of people writing posts and social media comments believe they have the power to censor; to limit the rights of a multinational cooperation to tell and sell the story they want by ranting on YouTube.

But no one is saying that; because that would be stupid.


I understand how a five year old can't decipher the nuanced meaning between "can" and "should." He's five and believes that Spider -Man and Batman are the only "real" superheroes because he met them at a friend's birthday party. But for adults to believe that "should not" and "cannot" have the same level of power (even implied) and further, that I have both the power and desire to tell anyone what they can or cannot publish, is beyond disingenuous.

When you add to the mix that this "censorship" critique only surfaces when "social issues" are in play, it becomes clear that this argument is not only disingenuous, but also flat out hypocritical. Reactionaries don't care about creator's rights unless those rights are "under attack" due to perceived social inequities or injustices.

Actually, that's not true. Reactionaries are more than willing to toss around terms such as "censorship" and "SJW," but only if the critiques are coming from the left side of the political spectrum. When conservatives call for boycotts due to their social values they are exercising their rights to free speech. They are quick to defend the rights of websites such as The Daily Stormer to call on Nickelodeon to cancel or change their program Bella and the Bulldogs to reflect what they consider to be appropriate relationships between the races and are even quicker to criticize anyone who tries to point out the obvious parallels between what they accuse SJWs of trying to achieve. Bill O'Reilly calling for a boycott of Pepsi until they fired Ludacris due to the artists' values is somehow completely different from calling for a boycott of Superman if Orson Scott Card writes it. Conservative groups creating a petition stating that the Frozen sequel should not include a girlfriend for Elsa are defending their social values from the rampaging hordes of liberals who are trying to force Disney to give Elsa a girlfriend through the usage of online petitions.

A white supremacist telling Nickelodeon what they should air based on his social norms is the same as me telling DC what they should put on the cover of a coloring book. Both of us have the right to voice our opinion however we see fit, and neither of us has any authority to force our "should" upon those we are criticizing.

To return to my initial argument, if you believe that my usage of the word "should" implies the power, authority, and desire to actually mean "can" in the case of a critique of a Supergirl cover then it must follow that others using the word "should" in relation to DC's Rebirth are also calling for the removal of DC's rights to publish what they see fit.

But no one is saying that; because that would be stupid.


The word "should" has no power to dictate anything. It may lead to a discussion where Entity B changes their mind about Action C, but nothing was forced because no member of the dialogue had any implicit or explicit power over the other. DC can't force me to buy their book by telling me I "should" and I have no power over DC to force them to change their cover.

Nor do either of us want such power (& therefore responsibility.)

"Should" has no power. One person saying should therefore has no power. There is no amount of "should" or people arguing for a "should" that will increase the power of the statement. Me telling my son he shouldn't take an easily breakable toy outside has the same power (maybe not perceived, but, again, he is five) as me telling DC that they should pay a bit more attention to how they market to young girls. You know how I know? Both entities still did what I told them they shouldn't do. My son went outside with his Legos, and the cover that I was accused of trying to censor, posted above and located here, will be published.

A million people tweeting a million times that DC should not rape the memory of Watchmen, any more than they already have, has the same power as trying to chop down a sequoia by hitting it a million times a day for a million days with an air guitar. Eventually someone with authority at DC may reconsider Rebirth, may fire executives, may even bring back the pre-New 52 Universe, and a Park Ranger may be convinced that this specific tree needs to be removed, but not because of any overwhelming authority to dictate actions derived from the usage of the word "should."

That being said, if you believe that the usage of the word "should" does actually have the power to censor, to call for a penciler to have his rights taken away, to dictate what story cooperation is "allowed" to publish when I point out what I believe to be a bad move by DC's part, then you also have to believe that all those other people are trying to censor DC when they point out their displeasure with Rebirth spoilers.

Or, at least you should believe that.

But you don't believe that, because that would be stupid.

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