Monday, May 11, 2015
PROFILING, WITHOUT COURAGE
The title of this essay references a work that is no longer well known, and which I myself never read: John F. Kennedy's 1957 non-fiction work PROFILES IN COURAGE. My title thus may be a forced pun in that it must be explained. Still, the sentiment behind the title best describes my revulsion at the lack of courage evident in Aaron Kashtan's essay "The End of Comic Geeks," in that he resorts to profiling the only group a psuedo-intellectual can easily get away with attacking: what the author calls"straight white males."
Kashtan begins by accepting a stereotype of comics fandom that he fails to prove, but accepts as a given, just as a hardline conservative would accept that all welfare recipients are sponges:
In comics, for example, the comics industry has a notorious history of excluding women and younger readers - and there is a persistent and largely accurate stereotype of the comic book store as a man cave.
Naturally Kashtan has no interest in the proximate causes behind the purported market-dominance of straight white males (henceforth SWMs). A halfway-intelligent critic would have noted that comic books of the post-direct market phase became concentrated upon superheroes because only superhero fans were significantly loyal to the medium. Once the mass-distribution venues for commercial comics died out, most readers of all the other genres-- particularly the romance comics that once attracted a large audience of "browsing" readers-- simply sought their entertainment in other media. But for a critic like Kashtan, the only thing that matters is the verboten attempt of the SWMs to build a "man cave" that excludes women. I'm convinced that this is the real sin of the SWMs in Kashtan's eyes, for though he mentions "younger readers" in the above quote, his only proofs of the SWM's retrograde behavior are both focused on the maltreatment of women, real or imaginary. Nothing more is said about the marginalization of younger readers, though it would seem obvious to anyone with a non-childish mind that this too came about because publishers were seeking an audience with a dependable income-- in contrast to the "younger readers" who largely deserted the comics medium even before the medium lost its mass distributiion venues.
There follows a summary of alleged SWMs on the rampage in the worlds of gamer culture and science fiction, Kashtan seeks to find in comics a comparable "backlash from white men who are afraid of losing their dominant position."
Kashtan gets very slight points for admitting that comics fandom has not experienced any backlashes as "drastic" as those of science fiction fandom and gamer culture-- though I've had my reservations about the latter. However, since his case would be non-existent without some examples, Kashtan comes up with a couple, both of which I consider nugatory.
The second-cited of the two is the Janelle Asselin fracas, on which I've commented in detail already here. The first-cited is even less impressive, in that Kashtan provides a dumbed-down version of the controversy over the Rafael Albuquerque cover to BATGIRL #41. As most fans know, the artist pulled the cover from DC Comics-- which makes me wonder if he got paid a "kill fee" for his work-- because he didn't want to be a lightning-rod for the controversy, "whether the discussion is right or wrong." There is, in Kashtan's world, no possibility that those fans who campaigned for DC to go ahead and use the cover might have been concerned with artistic freedom in the face of political pressure. In Kashtan's world, where it's fair to profile SWMs but nobody else, this brand of advocacy can only be "fanboy backlash," devoted to keeping the medium "as the private property of men."
Note that at this point Kashtan isn't invoking his demon "straight white males," but only "straight males." I suppose that any objection to attacks on white people will be deemed as a defense of "white privilege" by superficial ultraliberals, but it ought to be deemed as a corrective to the ultraliberals' excessive and illogical arguments. As I stated before, I have no problem with the hypothesis that most or all of the respondents to Asselin's survey were probably straight males, although of course females may also make violent threats, as we've seen from the Whedon-tweet affair. (Significantly, while Joss Whedon has denied that the threats were the reason he left Twitter, he also specified "I have been attacked by militant feminists since I got on Twitter.") Still, as I mentioned in a previous essay, there is absolutely no way to know, in the absence of any arrests and identifications, that any of the persons threatening Janelle Asselin were white. This is a convenient fiction found in Kashtan and many other HU writers, whose idea of promoting inclusiveness is to resort to unjustified and unprovable racial profiling.
Another good one, HU. I'm sure this won't be the last of your bird-brained efforts at prosecuting the "war for social justice."