Saturday, January 17, 2009

If You Don't Like Ridicule, Stop Being So Ridiculous


There's been some recent uproar in the comics blogosphere about Valerie D'Orazio's recent Occasional Superheroine posts, particularly a recent one about Final Crisis (Warning: link includes MAJOR SPOILER), which I found out about reading from Sally P's post and later Kalinara's.

I first started reading Valerie's website when she started posting her "Goodbye To Comics" memoir, which I found compelling if difficult to follow. Since then I've viewed her blog from time to time. But recently her blog has become increasingly annoying and even maddening to read. I've refrained from commenting on Val before, in part at the urging of bloggers like Ragnell.

But sometimes you just have to call people on their bullshit.

For those unfamiliar with Ms. D'Orazio's history, she was a former editor at DC during the start of Dan Didio's tenure, and she left there under some bad circumstances (from what I could tell, she got screwed over). Recently, she landed an assignment with Marvel to write a new Cloak and Dagger series.

So it's understandable if she wears a pro-Marvel, Anti-DC bias on her sleeve. The problem is that Val also drapes this bias across her entire ensemble.

The frustrating thing about Val's blog is that I agree with many of her criticisms of DC and Didio's regime, taken by themselves. He's made a lot of bad decisions that were disrespectful to the characters he's supposed to be stewarding, particularly some of the female ones. There was the rape and murder of Sue Dibny in IDENTITY CRISIS, as well as Stephanie Brown's "experiences" with Black Mask's power drill, and whatever the hell is going on with Mary Marvel (I exclude "Final Crisis" from this because in the end Morrison stayed true to Mary's character, in his weird way) . Not that he's been kind to DC's male characters either. Remember Ted Kord getting shot in the head? How about Marvin getting mauled by Wonder Dog? So there's some validity to some of Val's rants.

However, she seems to be under the impression that Marvel under Joe Quesada is a much brighter, more optimistic, and more female-friendly environment than the DCU.


Sally's already mentioned the "Heroes for Hentai" cover, but what about Tigra's "respectful" treatment at the hands of Brian Bendis and his "badass villain du jour", the Hood? Or the Scarlet Witch's treatment in "Avengers Disassembled" and "House of M", which took all the good work Kurt Busiek and George Perez had done with the character and flushed it down the toilet? Oh, and let's not forget this. All of these things happened under Joey the Q's watch.

And if you want to talk about a comic company taking a dump on its major character's legacy, you need look no further than the Spider-Man "One More Day" storyline, where Quesada was so literally hell-bent on ridding Spidey's marriage to Mary Jane from canon that he had Marvel's flagship character MAKE A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL in order to make that happen. All of this was done to reverse the effects of another terrible decision made on Quesada's watch, namely Spidey's revealing his secret identity to the public in Civil War. In my eyes, that's waaaay more disrespectful than having Bats use a gun or get reduced to a charred corpse.

So you can see that DC and Marvel, along with their leaders, have been equally guilty of horrendous decision-making and disrespect to their characters and fans. But Val's blog suggests otherwise, painting a false picture of DC as the Evil Empire and Marvel as sweetness and light. She also paints a false picture by neglecting to equally represent the good things both companies have done recently.

Yes, Didio's DC gave us such debacles as Countdown, Death of the New Gods, Amazons Attack and the continued employment of Judd Winick, but it also gave us Green Lantern:The Sinestro Corps War, Blue Beetle, Secret Six, Peter Tomasi's Nightwing run, and Booster Gold, just to name a few. And Quesada's Marvel may have given us Civil War, but it's also blessed us with gems like Nova, The Twelve, Annihilation, World War Hulk, the Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius specials, MODOK.'s 11, and, well, any recent comic written by Ed Brubaker.

I presented the pros and cons of each company above because I want to paint a fair picture of the difference between the two companies.

Val apparently doesn't.

But that's not even my biggest problem with her. That would be her handling of posters on her blog who disagree with her. She's shown an increasing tendency to take cheap shots at the offending posters, often impugning the intelligence, taste, and even the feminism of posters who dare disagree with her or like something she doesn't. Whether they're trolls or not, she treats them like they are.

Here is a comment from a poster named Najika in the post I cited above:

Najika: Hello Val. First time poster, long time reader. I just want to say a couple things and then I'll stop bothering you.When I first discovered your blog I absolutely loved it. I was just discovering the online comic book feminism community. Your blog was definitely the best. I really liked your insider views too. But the real appeal was how you never failed to call out the big name companies on their crap.Flash forward a few months and it seemed like something had changed. Instead of calling everyone out on their errors, it seemed like you only called DC out on stuff. This confused me a little. I looked through your blog archives and saw that you used to work for DC and it wasn't pleasant for you.I can see why an unpleasant experiance with a company would make you be hard on them. After all, you have an insight into them we don't. But I'm still disappointed with the new direction you've taken. It seems to me like you've started to ignore the rest of the industry and focus on DC's mess-ups exclusively. I'm bummed that the take no prisoner feminist views seem to be gone. When Ultimate Wasp met her gory end the rest of the blogosphere called Marvel out on it. Even though people have directly asked you about it in Comments sections you haven't addressed it once. I also have to agree with other commentors when they say you aren't really being fair to DC. They have a great all-ages line and publish lots of great titles that I, as a feminist, love to read.Of course, this is your blog. If you want to talk about DC instead of feminism that is your complete right. But I'm not sure if I want to read about it. That's all I wanted to say. Thanks for your time.

Now tell me if this is a fair and appropriate response:

Val: Najika, if you support DC Comics, then personally, I really can't consider you a feminist. Sorry. It's like "yeah, I read about your bad experiences with them. that stuff about sexism. that's too bad. but can you cool it on them? I want to read about feminism, but I don't want to ruin my comic book reading experience."It's like if you had a horrible sexist thing happen to you at a certain coffee shop. And I stop by, and read the stuff you say about the coffee shop. Now, I consider myself a serious feminist. Ad I DO want to hear your opinions on sexism. But I tire of hearing about that coffee shop. Because I want to buy a fucking cappuccino there. They make good cappuccino, and I don't want to feel guilty about buying it. Now, you might feel offended that I have heard your story, yet not only have patronized the sexist coffee shop -- but had the temerity to tell YOU that YOU should stop talking about how you were hurt there. Because I want to enjoy my cappuccino.For you to tell me to stop posting about this stuff and post about "feminism" instead -- it's like you didn't read a damn thing I wrote. Go enjoy your comic books, and enjoy your "feminist" blogs. Hope you find one that hates Dave Sim -- he's such a good, soft target.


Now, I'm still unsure where I fit in on the feminist spectrum, so a comment like the one above would just roll off me. But a lot of the bloggers I link to, particularly those of the distaff variety, take great pride in their feminism and would take serious offense to it being questioned simply because it's different from Valerie D'Orazio's.

If she's not treating specific individuals like this, she's treating abstract groups the same way, pulling strawman arguments seemingly out of nowhere and accusing people of having sinister hidden agendas:

Val: Please refrain from telling me what to say on my blog, who to like, and what to feel. If you don't like this blog, if it doesn't move in lock-step with whatever agendas you have -- please pick one that does, and go to it regularly in place of this. You will not offend me. Or go start your own blog.But. Do not. Tell me. What to think, what to write, who to like, or demand that I answer to you.Who the hell are *you* to demand that I answer to you? And what are *your* real motivations? Get out from behind your computer and start living out your own dreams, and stop crying like three-year-olds about how I should stop what I'm doing and justify every decision I make to you. You are not my friend, nor my family.It isn't about about Final Crisis this or Wasp that for you, I can almost guarantee that.

For the record, I didn't see any posters who were trying to do anything of the sort. Which means either Val deleted the ones who did (which, to be fair, is very possible, since she gets more responses to one of her posts than I get to a full year's worth of mine), or she's full of beans.

Either way, I take offense to the polarizing rhetoric she's using, as well as her "either you're with me or you're bad" mentality. Because I've seen it in action before, back in 2002-2003. And what did we get as a result? The Iraq War, that's what. While it may be unfair to lay that on Val, I can't help seeing the similarity.

Look, Val, nobody's trying to tell you what to do or what to write in your blog. You can write whatever the hell you want. Even if it's complete bullshit.

It's just that we reserve the right to call you out on it, either on your blog or somewhere else.

As Sally P and Kalinara have done on their blogs.

And as I'm doing on mine.


At 7:44 AM , Blogger SallyP said...

You present a very reasonable and researched riposte to Valerie's behavior...which is the problem of course, as this is the Internet, and there should be lots of screaming and yelling.

Oh well.

I guess I just don't get Valerie. Or perhaps I do, she just seems to really enjoy wallowing in her status as a victim. I understand that some pretty awful things happened to her, but it HAS been some time ago, and she's blogged about it endlessly, and perhaps it is time to move forward and take a little responsibility for her own happiness. Or something.

At 8:43 AM , Blogger notintheface said...

It's like Batman acting as if Crime Alley was the only place in Gotham with crime in it. And then chewing out Commissioner Gordon when the Commish tried to tell Bats otherwise.

At 8:19 PM , Blogger SallyP said...

At least Batman works off his agressions by going out and punching people for a good cause instead of crying on his batblog.

At 9:19 AM , Blogger notintheface said...

That's what he has Nightwing for.

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