I bring this up because of the foundation he builds his arguments on -- that the world is actually pretty fair. One such part of his foundation is that discrimination is a thing of the past in this Century Of The Pacific. There are laws in place, and no one will violate the law (people double-park and smoke dope, and he thinks laws will stop discrimination?), and most people have gotten past that lizard-brained mentality of diiscrimination. Anyone that does it is the outer fringe. They don't control anything. They are just waiting to die out.
Tell that to Marvel Comics.
I have said, repeatedly and ad nauseum, that the comic book field and the fandom itself is chock full of discrimination (same with the sci-fi fandom, where there are still male writers asserting that women just aren't equal to men, but that's a column for another day). After the systemic destruction of the indie comic field that came from the black and white boom, most fans left are white males with a mindset that leans Atheist. These people consider themselves the kings of the castle because the comic companies that are left and survived cater so much to them (completely overlooking that, just like porn, they are being exploited themselves, they just like the way they are being exploited). I've said it before and I'll say it again -- walk into any comic shop, with men looking like powerful Greek gods and women looking like $5,000 a night hookers, and tell me with a straight face that comics are egalitarian. Anyway, they cough up the money, they are who the comic companies specifically target, and this is their domain.
However, Marvel is caught in the middle of a cultural shift. Yeah, the comics are male dominated. But the movies? The movies are appealing to everyone -- whites and blacks, men and women, gays and straights. Marvel is now owned by Disney, and Disney is in charge -- remember, part of what made Kevin Fiege the Tall Hog At The Trough was how he defied Ike Perlmutter on the subject of things like Black Widow merch, with Perlmutter refusing to allow it because it wouldn't sell as well as boy toys. Disney likes their stuff to reach out to other audiences. Marvel famously tried to open their publishing line-up during Marvel Now! with titles like Mockingbird openly courting female readers with a social activist mindset. The books crashed and burned for one obvious reason -- girls are less likely to be comic book geeks than guys (once again, look at what comic shops are like. Not a lot of women find that environment appealing). But when the books were cancelled, the MGTOW crowd cheered about how this proved "political correctness" was a "false narrative" and how companies producing anything other than adolescent male power fantasies should just give it up.
I will come back to the idea of the "false narrative" in a bit. For now, I want to focus on the latest proof that the "false narrative," of comics being an exclusionary treehouse, is actually true no matter how much they dismiss it. For this, we go to just last weekend, at the New York Comic Con.
The bigger comic shows, such as Reed, which puts on both NYCC and C2E2 in Chicago, like to have retailer meetings so store owners can see what the publishers are coming up with and directly address said publishers with any concerns. I covered one for Bleeding Cool, and the reason I haven't covered more is, frankly, I think such meetings are a waste of time. The one I covered, Marvel was laughed at and derided for marketing stunts specifically intended to create false rarity and gouge the fans on money. And I'm not kidding -- I sat next to a retailer who was openly laughing out loud and making snarking comments while the Marvel rep spoke. But when Valiant went up after them and listed their own marketing stunts that specifically created false rarity and gouged the fans, these same people cheered and celebrated that. Since there was really nothing happening there that I couldn't gleen from the show floor itself and talking with my sources, I didn't bother with any more.
Back to scene. So Marvel had it's little retailer meet and greet and presentation at NYCC last weekend, hosted by Nick Lowe. And things started off like they usually do, with retailers complaining of fan backlash for the marketing stunts and such. So far, pretty standard stuff. One retailer complained about the lenticular covers. This started a lot of grumbling from retailers, and opened the floodgates for more to complain about whatever crossed their minds.
Then, one dipshit in the crowd brought up that Marvel had female versions of its characters instead of males. This prompted people to start complaining about Marvel changing all its characters at once. Then two older retailers started spewing that diversity doesn't work. According to a Bleeding Cool reporter covering the gathering, those two retailers repeatedly used the words "black," "homo," and "freaking females." To the credit of others in the room, this prompted an angry backlash against the two retailers, but things devolved into chaos. Lowe desperately tried to point out that they are trying to tell stories for everyone, that they are not doing it at the expense of their old heroes, and there is room for both. In other words, "If you and your customers don't like diversity, don't order the books and let other people who do enjoy them have their good time." But that wasn't enough, and the panel busted up with everyone angry and ready for a scrum. Senior Vice President Of Sales David Gabriel offered his email address so anyone with concerns could contact him directly, and that was when everyone got shoo'ed from the room.
It's kind of like how we now have Nazis marching openly in the street. These people didn't materialize out of nowhere, they've always been there, waiting for an opportunity to rise. The idea that these people, who got where they are by controlling and exploiting fear, hatred, and discrimination have no power, are ultimately powerless because of laws and supposed social evolution is wrong. And yet, despite the fact that they are out there and are now showing they've always been there, commentators continually talk about the "false narrative" of widespread discrimination.
I am offended by the phrase "false narrative." It's like calling someone "crazy." It's dismissive. You just slap a label on it and you can now refuse to acknowledge points, you can refuse to consider what effects your words and actions may have, you can basically refuse to treat people like fellow human beings because, instead of actually engaging and seeing what is real and what isn't, you can use words like "false narrative" to build an ivory tower to live in. It's discrimination with the same results, the devaluing of fellow human beings for your own selfish ends, just with a trendier name attached to it and an intellectual lie that people are just seeing the truth instead of using their political ideologies to be just as psychotic as the very people they claim to be fighting against.
Because these forms of social psychosis are still out there.
Even in something as innocent as comic books.