April 12, 2013 by Julia
1. I’ve been using the “Education” category for the ridiculous stories of propaganda and bad behavior coming out of public schools these days, but I’m starting to think that we need a second category, since that sort of thing isn’t even “education” at all. Perhaps “Schools Behaving Badly?” Anyway, some civics teacher in Wisconsin is teaching middle school students that “conservatism” is “the political belief of preserving traditional moral values by restricting personal freedoms and encouraging prosperity through economic freedom” and “liberalism” is “the political belief of equality and personal freedom for everyone, often changing the current system to increase government protection of civil liberties.” That’s not just behaving badly, that’s demonstrating a clear lack of qualifications to teach middle school civics. If you cannot correctly define basic political terms, you don’t get to teach about politics. I would think that is an obvious statement, but apparently not.
2. N.H.L. Announces Initiative to Support Gay Athletes. Really? Is this necessary? Why do gay athletes need more support than, say, black athletes? Why does any athlete need special support?
“It’s not a big deal if you’re straight or gay or whatever you are, it’s a matter of being a good teammate,” Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said. “We take a lot of pride in viewing the locker room as a family and treating each other like brothers. If one of those brothers feels ostracized for what he is, it’s just wrong.”
In case an N.H.L. player comes out during his career, “the important part is creating an atmosphere where somebody is comfortable and doesn’t have to worry about what kind of reaction he’ll get from his teammates,” Ference said.
Right, you’re all teammates, so treat each other well. Duh. That’s how team sports work, genius. If someone’s too unprofessional to understand that, then he should be sent packing, because he has failed to exhibit a basic skill that is required to play the game. Not all the players have to agree, but they do need to be good teammates to each other. What gets me is this need for the NHL to come in and educate people how to be nice to each other. You need a special program so gay players can feel included? Are you saying that gay people are more fragile than other people? Because seriously, I don’t see a NHL “initiative to support black athletes,” even though there are not many in the NHL and they are not treated well. But, if the NHL thinks a condemnation is enough when black players are targeted (it is, by the way), why isn’t that enough if a gay player is targeted?
I couldn’t care less about the sexual orientation, race, nationality, etc. of any player–my only two criteria for liking a guy are 1. attitude and 2. ability to play hockey. That’s it. If you play hard for 60 minutes and show me some class, discipline, and talent, I’ll like you, period (unless you play for a couple teams I outright despise, and then you have to work harder to make me like you–but there ARE guys who play for other teams besides my favorite team that I like, because of their attitude and style of play). I just think the notion that grown men who play a professional sport that includes fist-fights and trash-talking as normal, expected parts of the game require a special initiative to feel supported is patently absurd.
3. I talk a lot about gun control-related incidents of Schools Behaving Badly, but let’s not forget that perfectly innocent adults are also victims of gun-control advocates. Monachus Lex has just started a series on innocent victims of gun control that is definitely worth following.
4. Okay, I don’t see how the introduction of a minority character into a comic constitutes Actual News, but apparently it is (see, e.g. half-black, half-Hispanic Spiderman and Muslim Green Lantern). Seriously, how is something like that of any importance whatsoever to anyone who does not actually read comic books? Are there people who refuse to read a comic until someone of their particular minority is featured? I don’t get it. I’m interested in how the characters act and develop, how they interact with each other, how the world operates, what sort of interesting plot twists occur . . . i.e., everything except the race, religion, etc. of any particular character. In fact, I think defining a character solely by such a trait is not only poor writing, but usually the sort of propagandizing I don’t want to buy each month.
Which is why when I read that DC is introducing a transgender character, I rolled my eyes because WHY IS THAT NEWS?, but then was pleasantly surprised to see this from Gail Simone:
[Simone] added that she thinks most superhero comics readers don’t have a problem with increased diversity, but rather with stories that promote sermonizing over storytelling. Alysia will be “a character, not a public service announcement … being trans is just part of her story.
That’s it! Tell me a story, that’s all I ask! If I start to suspect that your story, which I am invariably reading for escapism purposes, is nothing but a self-righteous sermon, I will stop reading it. I don’t need to be lectured–I can already think for myself, thanks. But if your transgender character is an interesting person, doing interesting things in an interesting world, I will want to keep reading. (Caveat: the introduction of a transgender character will have no effect on my DC-reading habits whatsoever. DC is cancelling the only title I read, Sword of Sorcery, and the only other DC comic I have read, Ami-Comi Girls issue 1, was not very good. I’m kind of mad about Sword of Sorcery, actually–the art, story, and characters were great)
Update: on the way to work this morning, after I had already written the above on Thursday evening, the morning radio show was discussing this story. SERIOUSLY. Can someone please explain why in the hell the general public cares (or ought to care) about the (sexual orientation? transgendered status?) of a random character in any given comic book title? When a female does something in a sport or industry I care nothing about, I don’t suddenly become interested because hey, we have the same genitalia, so NOW I AM HER FAN.
Perfect example: there is a female NASCAR driver. I think her name is Danica Patrick? I’m intentionally not verifying this, to prove the point. Anyway, when they announced that she would race, I wasn’t like, OMG SUDDENLY I LOVE NASCAR BECAUSE THERE IS A WOMAN IN IT! You know why? Because I don’t like NASCAR! It’s boring, and car crashes give me panic attacks. Therefore, I do not care if there is a woman race car driver. I don’t care whether there is a female Green Lantern (is there? I don’t know, and if there isn’t, the introduction of one would not make me suddenly read Green Lantern or DC), I don’t care about the woman who tried out to be a kicker in the NFL (I really only watched football this year because there was no hockey for a while), and I wouldn’t give two shits if something extra controversially womanly occurs on Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, or Downton Abbey, because I don’t like those shows. Well, okay, I just have no interest in Doctor Who or Downton Abbey, I can’t honestly say I hate them. Game of Thrones is not for me, though. Anyway, my point is, why the hell is it news for the general public whether or not there is a transgendered (black, Hispanic, Muslim, etc.) character in a comic book? It’s not, and the vast majority of people do not care. How many people who don’t already read comics are going to run out and pick up a title in the middle of its run just to see a transgendered character? Yeah, not many. At most, you may see a small uptick in sales of an issue 1 (such as for the Spiderman or Green Lantern characters mentioned above–anyone know what the sales of those titles were/are like?), but you’re only going to retain readers by telling a good story about interesting people in an interesting world. I just don’t understand why it is considered “news” by national media outlets.