Once again, Vox proves to everyone just how tone deaf it really is.
Demonstrating the usual Leftist refusal to see reality for what it is, Vox continues to utterly miss the point, inserting its own biases and making excuses instead of listening to what people really think.
I have been reading and collecting comics my entire life. Believe it or not, the first thing I ever read when I learned to read at 5 years old was a Superman comic book. I read comics as often as I could as a kid, and I started collecting comics in High School. I was heart-broken when my entire collection, some of which was irreplaceable, was stolen a few years back. I’m 42 now, with kids of my own, and I have never lost my love for the characters, though the comics themselves, and the companies, have been losing my respect for years (DC is only just now beginning to get it back).
As an “OG” comic nerd, I stand solidly in the category of hating what Marvel (and to a lesser extent, DC) has been doing in recent years.
A character’s race or whatever is as immaterial to me as a real life person’s would be. Which is to say that someone’s race, etc., is to me, only one small part of the totality of who they are. So it’s not “diversity” that has pissed me off, it’s the alteration of long-established characters, done not for reasons driven by the story itself, but for outside, political reasons. And this is what Vox has either missed or ignored, as usual. No one cares if Marvel or DC creates a black or gay character. Just stop bowing to political correctness and ruining established characters.
As an example, DC has this newer character called Bunker. A member of the Teen Titans, Bunker can create solid objects out of psionic energy (think Green Lantern, but purple, and without needing a ring). As a gay Mexican, and possibly an illegal alien, Bunker checks several of the “diversity” boxes. But the character stands on his own as a good character, irrespective of his race or sexuality, because the creators made him a PERSON before anything else. Bunker is someone you can care about and sympathize with, whether you agree with some aspects of his character or not. And that is really the point.
I have long complained about comic books making the mistake of writing their characters as though they were just power sets in costumes, rather than PEOPLE first. Good stories flow from the motivations, desires, and conflicts of the people involved, not from editorial fiat. Instead of fixing that problem, however, Marvel made it worse, by writing characters as races, genders, or sexualities first, power sets and costumes second, and as people somewhere down the line, if at all. This is the result of the PC culture’s irrational mandate to seek diversity for its own sake. It has ruined most of Marvel’s core books, made them all but unreadable to anyone whose mind is not properly prepared (read: turned to mush), and alienated its core audience.
As a result, Marvel’s sales have slumped significantly, and a similar thing has happened to DC, though not to quite the same extreme. But notice that DC is in the middle of a course correction as well, with its (surprisingly fun) “Rebirth” storyline, whereby it is restoring its characters to their “Post-Crisis” incarnations and doing away with much of the mistake that was “The New 52”.
In DC’s case, most of its changes were made because it felt that “The Culture” demanded that their characters be more “edgy” and “relevant”, so it moved away from concepts like Superman as a “boy scout” who fights for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” – particularly the last part; as if there’s something wrong with the American way. But, in the midst of the change, DC failed to understand that, when fans made fun of Superman for being so good (and for wearing his “underwear” on the outside), it was the kind of good-natured teasing that goes on between dear friends, not hatred for who the character was. DC forced Superman, and many other characters, to be more “relevant”. And the readers, unhappy with the fact that DC was not being true to who their characters were, bolted.
In other words, we understood that the people in those costumes were not behaving like “themselves”, and it was because something outside the realm of the comics was influencing events inside the comics, rather than the characters themselves. “Rebirth” has stated this outright. Look at the story’s concept: A force outside the DC universe has come in and altered things. Everyone is starting to realize that it’s somehow wrong, and they’re acting to fix it. It’s a tacit admission of the problem plaguing DC as a company, and the comic book industry as a whole.
Take that problem and multiply it by ten, and you have what has been happening at Marvel.
The fans rebelled because Marvel changed its characters for PC reasons, not because of things that happened in universe, and grew out of the characters’ motivations, actions and consequences thereof. And that is what Vox has missed or ignored, also for PC reasons.
That is the problem with Vox’s article, and it is the problem with many of their articles as well. They write stories designed to support their preconceived notions, rather than simply reporting the “news”.
Furthermore, Vox basically insults people by calling them racist/sexist/homophobe/etc. if they don’t like what Marvel is doing. They don’t have the intellectual honesty to really ask why long-time fans are angry, and they wouldn’t accept their answers at face value, anyway.
Vox claims that we don’t like what Marvel is doing because we are opposed to “diverse” characters, while ignoring the irrefutable evidence of past successful, “diverse” characters. When well-written, such characters can be compelling and relate-able, and that is what makes them successful, not their skin color or their sexual preference. But Vox’s article demonstrates that it doesn’t understand the industry or the fans at all. In fact, I bet they never actually talked to a run-of-the-mill comic fan before writing this article.
Comic shop owners order what their customers want, yes. And the system is set up the way it is because it works. And yes, I can tell you, as someone who’s always wanted to write for comics and never made it, it can be VERY hard to break into the industry. And good luck really changing anything if you do. But that is almost immaterial to what has happened to Marvel, and it’s entirely self-inflicted. If the fans had liked what Marvel was doing, they would have supported it with their dollars, and the same system would have reflected the fans’ happiness in Marvel’s sales.
The system is NOT the problem, as Vox claims; Marvel’s editorial choices are. But suddenly, when outsiders who want to protect Marvel’s “diverse” direction for political reasons, need an excuse for that direction’s failure, it’s the distribution model that is the problem?
I say thee nay. Vox is way off base here.
Marvel took an honest look at its sales, saw a sharp downward trend, and saw when it began, and they understood that the fans were unhappy with the direction they’d taken. Marvel finally realized that they are obligated to their fans, not to “outsiders” like the “media” who, really, couldn’t care less about Marvel’s comics, but simply demand political conformity. And so Marvel wisely decided to reverse course.
If they continue listening to the fans, and restore the status quo, they will, over time, see their sales increase again. But if they bow to pressure from people like the lock-step Leftists at Vox, they will drive their comics completely into the toilet, and they will ultimately cease to be as a comic book publisher. It’s their choice.
People don’t like to be beat over the head with other people’s views, and that is really what Marvel’s change in direction amounted to. And comic fans are very territorial when it comes to their books, especially longtime readers like myself, who read comics when it wasn’t cool, and when you could be ridiculed or beat up for it. Vox has a LOT to learn when it comes to understanding the way people think and why they behave the way they do, and it shows. Maybe next time they should try to actually find and talk to real comic fans, not just ‘journalists’ and industry types, who believe it’s in their interest to agree with the media. Vox should try finding out what the die-hard fans are actually saying, and report the whole story, rather than their PC version of it. THAT is what journalism is. If they do, they might find that their own readership increases, as well.