A week of media racism, sexism, and homophobia: from superheroes to “Duck Dynasty”

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Last updated on December 10th, 2021

While it’s not all about comics/animation, the previous week’s seen plenty of racist, sexist, and homophobic stuff in the media that I feel’s worth remarking on anyway, especially since I’m tired of repeating myself in various online forums. To wit:

Scott Lobdell mistreats fellow comic creator MariNaomi

Last week, a comic creator named MariNaomi wrote a blog post about sexist and racist remarks that Scott Lobdell (the same Hemingway who gave us “sexy fun time” Starfire in DC’s New 52 reboot) told her in front of a large comic-con panel and crowd. While MariNaomi didn’t name names, I suspect it was soon apparent his identity was going to be revealed, leading Lobdell to given an apology (somewhat). It’s revived discussion over the problems with sexism, etc. in the comic industry, though I’m not sure what it’ll take to change things. Perhaps it might help if stories like this made it to mainstream media, where DC and Marvel’s valuable movie, toy, etc. intellectual properties’ images were threatened with being embarrassed by their comic staff’s crude behavior.

Yes, I left out comics—DC and Marvel only have value to Time-Warner/Disney as an “IP farm” to create stuff for their toys, movies, etc. I suspect they’d consider cutting back or shutting down the comics side entirely if/when they could figure out how, or if some accountant deems it truly worth doing so. There’s also the low opinion and stereotypes the general public has of superhero comics. The public likes superheroes, and they like comics, but (with few exceptions) not the two together, judging from sales of comics outside of comic book shops.

There’s also the stereotype of superhero comic fans as akin to the cast of “The Big Bang Theory” or the Comic Book Guy on “The Simpsons”: as social skills/empathy-challenged Neanderthal meatheads living under a rock or in their parents’ basements. The lack of apparent concern DC and Marvel’s head honchos have about fixing their business model’s image also seems quite sad. At least, I assume they (or their fans) must be aware that such an image of their products/fanbase exists, unless they don’t read magazines, watch TV, go to the movies, or know anyone who isn’t a fan.

One would think DC and Marvel’s comic staff would be more concerned about not adding yet another reason that might justify shutting their business down altogether, given the lack of mainstream appeal (and stagnant readership base, occasional sales spikes from reboots, etc. aside). Or at least reducing it to a shadow of its former self save whatever’s needed for trademark/”IP farm” reasons—say, just publishing a handful of digital-only comics and keeping the better-selling trade paperbacks (“Watchmen,” “Dark Knight Returns”) in print. (The fact two of their best-selling trade paperbacks date from the Reagan administration 30 years ago might be quite telling.) DC’s planned move of its headquarters to join its digital division/DC Entertainment parent out west makes me think it’ll be DC that goes this route first over Marvel, if it does ever happen…

Paul Dini notes TV execs don’t want superhero cartoons to have female viewers

Speaking of sexist attitudes, a recent interview with Paul Dini (of various 90s Warner Bros. animated cartoons fame) has him note that TV executives don’t want large female audiences of their superhero cartoons, since they supposedly don’t buy toys. For more details on this head-scratching notion, see here.

Apparently Warner Bros. executives forgot that their first successful modern TV cartoon is “Tiny Toon Adventures,” a show that had goofy absurd humor and a female character as one of its two co-stars: Babs Bunny.

“Duck Dynasty” star makes racist and homophobic remarks

Speaking of fans rushing to defend entertainers for dubious reasons, reality show “Duck Dynasty” had one of its stars recently make crude homophobic and racist remarks in an interview with “GQ” magazine. See this Gawker article for a summary of the situation to date, as well as (if you’re like me and don’t watch reality shows, save “The Amazing Race”) an explanation of what the heck’s a “Duck Dynasty.”

Again, have to wonder if people are desperate to see a favorite piece of entertainment stay on the air that they’ll defend such remarks. There’s also confusion about the nature of freedom of speech, based on items I see in my social media feeds being passed around. The US Constitution’s first amendment only applies to the government putting restrictions on freedom of speech. It has nothing to do with private parties, such as my blog or A&E, doing whatever they want—which’d also fall under freedom of speech. A&E doesn’t owe the “Duck Dynasty” folk airtime anymore than I’d owe someone racist or homophobic an opportunity to write a blog post about such here, and it’s within both our rights to do whatever we want with our respective media spaces.

If the “Duck” folk wanted, they could go create a reality show on their own (via the Internet, etc.) and sell merchandise of that, if making crude comparisons about gay men’s interests or insisting my ancestors were happy in the Jim Crow South are deemed that important.

Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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