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This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Monday, November 30, 2015


I've already responded, here and here, to the specific incident in which one of my comments was deleted at the Hooded Utilitarian. In the interests of full disclosure, I'll note that I was mistaken earlier this year when I expressed the belief that NB had threatened me with across-the-board deletion. However, now that he's deleted a comment w/o genuine justification, in essence the threat is now real. I give him a grudging credit-- certainly more than the Sequart scumbags-- for allowing some latitude for exchange of ideas, even diametrically opposed ones, on his site. But everyone has his limits, I suppose.

So Berlatsky probably will delete this too. I tried to think what would make a good "parting shot," and decided to expand on this disagreement, which I mentioned briefly here.


Addicted to victimage. It's like Robert Palmer's "addicted to love," but more sappy.

Maybe you'll see the opening phrase before you delete the post; maybe not. But this time, it'll see print elsewhere, if anyone who catches sight of the post chooses to check out the original.

 At times I've wondered if I was wasting my time critiquing Frederic Wertham, because the man is dead and gone and his direct influence is a thing of the past. But you, Noah, have made clear that you intend to carry on his tradition of making spurious connections between things you don't like.

I tried, Noah, to think which of your posts best sums up your philosophical attachment to the concept of victimage beyond the boundaries of commons sense. At one time I might've thought the height of your absurdity would've been your attack on an episode of AGENTS OF SHIELD-- I repeat, a single episode-- because one event in the story reminded you of the real-life shooting of Trayvon Martin. Though that essay weeps a lot of crocodile tears at the series' lack of a strong black protagonist, I wonder how long such a protagonist would have appeared on that show-- or any show-- before you performed a little "ultraliberal lynching" on the producer for some other damned thing.

But no, this one wins the prize for being most absurd.

Your tendency to characterize all "power fantasies" as fascist-- another point you hold in common with Wertham-- is simplistic in the extreme. But at least you're consistent, if only on your own terms, when you attack actual power fantasies, be it those of AGENT OF SHIELD or of FOXY BROWN.

The true height of absurdity is reached in your return comment to me here. I asserted that FOXY BROWN-- which I believe to have been an inspiration to many viewers of color, rather than somehow erasing their real history-- has been inspiring precisely because it allows a black woman to be a near-superhuman warrior. I assert also that because Foxy is behaving in the same superhuman way as any model of male superiority-- my example being Conan surviving crucifixion-- that she's achieving a level of heroism rarely given to heroines of the period.

I didn't expect you to agree, and you tried to brush off the significance of Foxy by complaining about "downplaying the effects of violence." OK, still absurd, but not the MOST absurd thing...

That comes when you do a Wertham by trying to claim that a fictional power fantasy has a direct effect on the real world:

You can see why these narratives are poisonous in the discussion of harassment in comics this week. A guy grabbed a subordinates crotch; the subordinate (a man) froze. Some people commented that he should have slugged him. There’s this heroic default idea that people shouldn’t be traumatized or even confused by sexual violence, or any violence. It tends to reduce sympathy for victims.

This is classic Werthamism, since the good doctor liked to cite, as evidence of pernicious comic-books, incidents of juvenile delinquency in which no actual link to comic book-reading had been cited. You didn't provide a link to the place as to where this real-life story was told. I assume it's here, though Heidi McDonald doesn't mention anything about anyone criticizing the assaulted fellow, and I didn't find anyone in the thread claiming the victim should have slugged his assailant. I take your word for it that someone may have said words to that effect-- but why in the hell would it be a "heroic default?" Why wouldn't it be a "self-defense default," as it would be anywhere outside the subculture of comic books? And what in the hell did any of it have to do with heroic power fantasies?

*Maybe* the alleged persons who doled out unasked-for advice were insensitive-- but your distortion is worse than anything they said.  The real-life victim is to you just a club with which to pound on heroic fantasies, though what happened to him certainly happens in subcultures that aren't built around fantasy-concepts. Your rhetoric collapses if you can't show your readers a never-ending stream of victimage, and when you can't find enough to attack in the present, you resort to harrowing up dead guys like Lovecraft and Frazetta, with the balmy notion that you're somehow speaking to modern-day abuses.

You're doing marginalized peoples no favors by depicting them as perpetual victims. But by all means continue. You won't actually change anything, but you'll give me lots of grist for my own critical mill.

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