Here at The Outhouse, we don't want to beat a dead horse (haha okay we can't say that with a straight face), but it looks like this story requires one final update. When DC, as part of a talent search contest, initially released an out of context script for an upcoming Harley Quinn comic which featured Quinn naked in a bathtub, about to commit suicide, it sparked a week of controversy that saw DC dragged through the mud on the internet, in the blogosphere, and even in the mainstream media. As fans and pundits raged, DC did their best to place the blame anywhere but on themselves: on the fans, on the media, and on writer Jimmy Palmiotti. We're not going to recap it all again - you can read about it in great detail right here.
The heat on DC got so bad that yesterday, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Psychiatric Association, and National Alliance on Mental Illness all got together and released a joint statement condemning DC:
We believe that instead of making light of suicide, DC Comics could have used this opportunity to host a contest looking for artists to depict a hopeful message that there is help for those in crisis. This would have been a positive message to send, especially to young readers.
The Outhouse has made our position clear on this. While we do believe that, when handled well, no subject should be off limits for addressing in art, and yes, even DC Comics are "art." The problem was always DC taking this single page of a script, removing it from the greater context of the book, and then blasting it out to the public, many of which have no frame of reference to understand Harley Quinn's nature, the reputations of creators Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, or even comic books themselves. Might the script have been acceptable when published in its intended format? Nobody ever got the chance to find out. It was a boneheaded move that just one of DC's paid PR representatives could have prevented if they gave it a moment's thought before publishing.
Well, it looks like DC has been forced to agree, as they issued a statement today (emphasis ours):
The purpose of the talent search was to allow new artists an opportunity to draw a single page of a 20-page story. True to the nature of the character, the entire story is cartoony and over-the-top in tone, as Harley Quinn breaks the 4th Wall and satirizes the very scenes she appears in. DC Entertainment sincerely apologizes to anyone who may have found the page synopsis offensive and for not clearly providing the entire context of the scene within the full scope of the story.
Was that so hard? DC, you could have said that last Thursday and avoided most of this.
So, did DC actually learn a lesson here? Well, we doubt they really believe they did anything wrong. However, the fact that they were forced to apologize means that they recognized that they could not simply browbeat and bully people into shutting up, sending Jim Lee out onto Twitter to condescendingly tell fans how wrong they were for being offended. Whether the tone and intention of the script was misinterpreted or not, DC was forced to admit that the reason is that DC failed to supply the context. This marks a departure from DC's usual strategy of simply mocking or ignoring their detractors, and it's probably a good thing.
Of course, whether making light of suicide is something they should be doing, and whether releasing another Harley Quinn comic, on September 11th no less, that allegedly depicts Quinn as a grim and gritty terrrist who blows up buildings and murders children (we haven't read it and cannot comment, but it has been sent to us multiple times in the last few days), contradicts their claims that Quinn, in the Nu52 at least, is a lighthearted, humorous character, is a debate for another day.