#gamergate evil SJWs hypocrisy irony alert misogyny

That Batgirl Thing: It’s About Ethics in Harassing Critics of Comic Book Sexism

(A blurred-out version of the withdrawn cover art.)
A blurred-out version of the withdrawn cover art; click on pic for the original.

A dustup in the comic book world reminds us — as if any of us needed reminding — that the world of comics fandom is filled with a lot of the same sort of garbage people who’ve been harassing (mostly) women in the name of #GamerGate.

The sightly confusing story: On Friday, a bunch of “variant” comic book covers featuring The Joker alongside an assortment of other DC comics characters were posted online, with DC planning on releasing two dozen more “variant” covers for June.

One of these covers, intended for Batgirl #41, featured The Joker and a terrified-looking Batgirl, an unsettling reference to an quarter-century-old graphic novel called The Killing Joke, in which the sadistic Joker crippled Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl, with a shot to her spine. The Joker’s sadism was highly sexualized, with the graphic novel strongly suggesting that she had also been sexually assaulted.

Well, a lot of Batgirl’s present day fans were upset by a reminder of this dark storyline, in part because, as Jude Terror writes on The Outhousers, a cover referencing sadism and sexual assault is a bit “contradictory to the lighthearted tone” of Batgirl comics today.

After hearing this criticism, the artist behind the cover, Rafael Albuquerque, asked DC Comics to pull his artwork, noting that he never meant “to hurt or upset anyone through my art.”

DC Comics granted his request. But DC’s official statement also alluded to “threats of violence and harassment,” which many people took to mean that Albuquerque and DC Comics had been bullied into pulling the artwork by, you know, those evil “social justice warriors” we hear so much about.

Nope. It was the” antisocial injustice warriors” all along. Albuquerque made clear that he hadn’t actually gotten any threats. As Batgirl writer Cameron Stewart noted, it was the people who criticized the cover who were getting threats.

That’s right. Albuquerque and DC took down the artwork because some of the DEFENDERS of the artwork were harassing critics in their name.


Naturally, the people who previously brought so much ETHICS! to the world of gaming have some highly ETHICAL opinions on this controversy.

On Kotaku in Action, Reddit’s home for the #GamerGate crowd, commenters complained that Albuquerque and DC had given in to “a bunch of screeching hens on Twitter.”

“Another win for the feels-censors,” one commenter lamented. “Yeah for moral panic and outrage for they win the day!” another commenter remarked sarcastically.

“I say fuck ’em,” still another commenter defiantly added. “Be as fucking edgy as you want, and if anyone complaints, just tell them “don’t buy it moron”.”

But my favorite comment is probably this one, not just for the “let me explain to you how art works” stuff but also for that slightly ironic bit at the very end.

PantsJihad 97 points 20 hours ago*   Very Amateur game dev here.  Going to come out and say that this is a huge fucking disappointment. And not because of the SJW angle, or even the censorship angle.  That cover was an incredible piece of artwork. Let me explain WHY.  Artwork, be it games, movies, music, or even a comic book cover is a means of communication. However, what makes art different from a sheet of raw data is that art is capable of conveying emotion as part of its payload, and that different consumers of the art will take different things away from it. Discussion of these differences in what we take away is what largely makes up the fun of being part of a fan base.  That image did an absolutely fantastic job of conveying the emotions of that scene. It is positively dripping with them.  What kills me the most about this, is that many people won't ever see that incredible work, stop for a moment and have a chance to admire how effectively that artist communicated the emotions of that scene. These people are being, without their knowledge, denied this experience. It is being stolen from them without their consent "for their own good" by those who can't handle a picture.  And thus, we get to the root problem of censorship. I think Mark Twain said it best when he said:      "Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak because a baby can't chew it"  Maybe it's about time these endlessly outraged types retreat to their fainting couches if they can't handle the powerful artwork being created within a medium.

Dude, I hate to have to tell you this, but you’re part of a movement whose main goal is to shut down peope who disagree with you.

#GamerGate has spent the past, what, six months, harassing and threatening and trying to ruin the lives and the livelihoods of game developers and journalists and cultural critics for the terrible crime of … saying things you don’t like about gaming culture (sometimes even while being female).

Indeed, #GamerGaters have managed to convince themselves, if very few others, that it’s somehow “unethical” for journalists to publish anything #GamerGaters don’t like. And then they complain about “censorship?”

Uh oh.
Uh oh.

H/T — Big tip of the hat today to Skiriki, for alerting me to this and providing helpful links, and to lifestyled on GamerGhazi for a post highlighting some of the best — i.e., worst — comments from GamerGaters on Reddit.

105 replies on “That Batgirl Thing: It’s About Ethics in Harassing Critics of Comic Book Sexism”

* The creative team on the Thor comic decided to try a new artistic direction, make change the main character to a woman.

This is a travesty that corrupts the core philosophy of the comic! The audience expects a male Thor! SJWs are ruining everything!

* A guest artist produces an alternate Batgirl comic cover that references an abduction and possible sexual assault from an older storyline; after listening to feedback, the creative team decides this is contrary to the core philosophy of the comic.

How dare they censor the artistic decisions of the artist! Why should he have to tailor his vision to the audience? SJWs are ruining everything!

Unsurprisingly, most of the KiA commenters didn’t even notice that this wasn’t in the main Thor comic, and assumed the team responsible for the character change did this as well.

The few who did notice, instead used it as evidence that the corruption has spread throughout the whole organisation.

(Still — I looked at the rest of the 2 page spread, and allowing that I lack any further context for the passage, I have to say that it seems pretty ham-fisted. Surely there was a less clumsy way to make the joke…)

Context: That’s the villain (an evil future Loki) telling how things went in his timeline, while the main character is forced to watch. He also says “What’s up, Doc?” to Thor, and yells “Avengers Assemble!” when he summons undead. The whole issue is full with jokes of varying painfulness.

Did I mention that Marvel’s Loki is a troll?

He’s medium aware too… also in that issue he jumps out of the panel at one point.

used it as evidence that the corruption has spread throughout the whole organisation.

It took them this long to notice that Loki: Agent of Asgard is aimed at fangirls? (I admit being a fangirl, who took the bait.) That series that almost outright opens (1th issue 4th page) with a shower scene, and a filked song from Wicked? Not to mention the part about the slash fic. Or the speed dating. Or the Ho Yay. Or the gender bending.

Also it began earlier than the new Thor.

… Oh yeah… I forgot. They are allowed to whine about stuff they don’t read. 😛

I admit, I found the cover pretty viscerally disturbing. The powerlessness in it is upsetting, and I have to give the artist kudos for being able to communicate that terror and paralysis so clearly. That said, it really sounds like it was done at a bad time. (I don’t read Big Two stuff much anymore, so I’m going by what other folks are saying.)

I also think the artist was a good guy for being willing to withdraw it when people started being hurt by it. I think it takes a lot of awareness in an artist to not just double down and presume the audience is stupid, and I think that shows some thoughtfulness and sensitivity.

It’s the context of the piece that’s a problem, not the image in a vacuum. There’s a reason we never see male superheros portrayed in paralytic victimized fear, and that’s because they’re intended to be power fantasies. Female supes, not so much. And THAT does bother me, quite a lot.

It’s also something I deal with personally in my own work. I’ve been working on autobiographical comics about the incest in my family, and it’s actually really uncomfortable to draw myself, and my male self-image, crying in the fetal position. Drawing it happening to the female or more ambiguous members of the system (or using the vessel as a shorthand) is easier, but it’s UNCOMFORTABLE drawing it as me. I’m trying to use that discomfort to my advantage (it’s an uncomfortable situation!) but it’s still something I’m aware of.

RE: Malitia

I applaud your impromptu online service. The digital Loki god will approve, I’m sure.

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