I’m a comic fan. I read the books, I follow characters and creators specifically, I have a friggin’ website dedicated to projecting my love/criticisms of the weekly books, but I do not consider myself part of any “fandom.” I don’t claim any character as my own the way some people will (though I will pimp Jubilee and Dazzler any chance I get. UNDER APPRECIATED I SAY!). My recent forays into the world of Tumblr, which is in and of itself a harmless site, have led me to some places that I don’t want to go again. It is a streamlined portion of the internet hate machine the likes of which is not often seen.
I mean, yeah. Look, I can see where it’s funny. I don’t think it’s really meant as a direct statement that books like Birds of Prey shouldn’t exist. I doubt the person that made it gives two shits either way and was just trying to get a laugh. But this thing immediately got reblogged by like eighty bajillion folks and the feminist hordes who champion books like Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman started gnashing their teeth and getting overprotective. And it was at that moment that I had a sort of realization about comics and their part in the readership’s everyday life.
I realize that a healthy portion of the comic reading population latches onto a particular title or character because of how they can relate to the characters within. That is the sign of a character’s strength in their ability to resonate with the reader. But I’ve noticed that any percieved slight against a character or a book is taken extremely personal by the people who have claimed that character as their own. You do NOT want to see what some Wonder Woman fans are saying on Tumblr right now in regards to that new costume. Jim Lee and Stracynski might want to avoid going into public spaces for a little while.
I’ve been accused of taking comics too seriously in the past. I immediately hung my head in shame because that’s the last thing I want to do. When you start taking all of this too seriously, you come off as the kind of fan that the nightly news mocks when they cover a comic convention.
I’m not saying that you can’t be passionate. But the average fan-person seems to deal in black and white absolutism when it comes to “their” character. That anything said that goes against the grain of their definition is inheritly wrong. Is that graphic above insulting to women? Certainly, it’s meant to mock and insult. Was it malicious? I can’t immediately assume so. I’m sure there are plenty of female comic readers who have made similar jokes about the chest-thumping over-wrought masculinity of something like Conan the Barbarian or something similar. I love Conan, I’d probably see such a graphic and say “Heh, yeah,” not call for the burning of male genitalia on a social networking blog.