Shark Biters

May 15th, 2010 by | Tags: , ,

Over at Rich Johnston’s blog, some b-team scrub named Ryan Mullenix wrote up a post in response to Chris Sims’s piece on the racial politics of DC’s current style. Sims’s piece was good, and I liked seeing frank discussion of racial issues on a big-name site. Mullenix’s piece… well.

I did it better a year and a half ago.

I’ve got a gang of problems with the piece. There’s no citations, no context, nothing that explains what was going on in the books, no creative teams, no historical context, and nothing worthy of examination. It’s a loose collection of anecdotes piggybacking on a pretty good piece in an attempt to troll for hits. It’s lowest common denominator work at best, and cynical hit-whoring at worst. If you can’t even spell somebody’s name right… well, the craft shows.

These lists do no one any favors. All they do is arm people for crappy, hysterical battles where both sides are too busy shouting to do any listening or learning. “Well CASSANDRA CAIN is ASIATIC!” You couldn’t get any more specific than that, man? What’s more, you couldn’t find something better than some outdated way to say “asian?” Is Cass Cain a member of the Nation of Gods and Earths? You couldn’t take the time to figure out which type of Latino Kyle Rayner is? You couldn’t spell Teth-Adam correctly?

Johnston says that Mullenix “seems to find a striking overall theme.” I think he found the exact sort of thing that makes talking race online such a pain in the neck. I think he found a surefire, cynical, and effective way to log some fat hits for advertisers. I think that he didn’t say anything worth reading. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe I’m wrong.

But people who don’t know anything should speak when spoken to.

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16 comments to “Shark Biters”

  1. I think the insults take away from the legitimate discussion of the issue. I, also, feel using this to link to “I did it better” could be seen as hit-whoring off the hit-whore. Not saying that you are, but that hit-whoring can be seen where it sometimes isn’t. And something rings weird about saying “on a big name site” when it happens to be a site you work at.

    I do think that it was a rather small effort better suited for a conversational blog entry by a fan than run as an article on BleedingCool, though. I think we’re holding it to a certain standard more because Rich wanted to run with it than this Ryan’s fault.

  2. Ha! OK, now I see what the “I did it better” actually linked to, it is quite clear that there’s no hit-whoring the hit-whore.

  3. I was going through my RSS feeds and found myself saying “What the fuck?” out loud. I’m glad you caught this, David, and I want to echo your sentiment that if you have nothing constructive to offer up regarding this issue — an issue that deserves serious consideration and analysis, and not irresponsible, slipshod commentary — then just keep your mouth shut.

  4. @Kevin Huxford: I figured I could either rewrite an old post in response or link to an old one that basically says exactly what I wanted to say.

    On the big-name site thing– whether I write there or not doesn’t really matter. My hits here are pretty good, but CA (and to a lesser extent iFanboy, who I also write for) gets probably ten or fifteen times what I get daily. Whether I was there or not, it’d be a big-name site. I think you’ll also agree that the big name sites tend to soft-shoe around issues of race or sex when it comes to news stories. That’s a hole that should be filled, I think, and I appreciate the fact that someone (who isn’t me) did it on a site people read in an effective and well-executed way.

  5. David, thank you for linking to your earlier post. You’re definitely right that Sims took on the issue better, but mostly I just really enjoyed the comment thread from that old post, particularly the responses to Big Bob by Tucker Stone and “White People.” It’s a nice antidote to all those YouTube threads I or my girlfriend always find ourselves reading (particularly the WhiteHouse channel :/)

  6. Harsh! I thought if anything the list was semi-useful as a starting point for someone who might be interested in doing further research. And I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume whoever wrote it really thought he was doing something useful and proving a point, not just looking for hits.

    But otherwise, you’re absolutely right.

    (By the way, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now and I’m really enjoying it. I think this is my first comment here.)

  7. I forgot about the comments on that old post, least of all the hilarity of Big Bob. Whatever happened to that guy? Probably got taken down by the Non-White Non-Christian Non-Male Power Structure, I guess.

  8. No, I agree that it is a subject that doesn’t get enough serious attention on bigger sites.

    I’m not saying you were wrong to call it a big name site, just that there was something weird to how it “sounded” with you working there and not tacking that into the statement. I’m not even saying it is a genuine “lack of full disclosure” thing and any way I try to work it out in my head that tries to add that fact into the write up (without changing anything else about it) sounds clunky.

    I do think that this Ryan guy is probably getting harsher criticism than he deserves, not because his work is of any better quality than you’re judging it to be, but that it got elevated to “primetime” by the editor when it clearly needed a few passes before it could approach being ready. His attempt seems to be earnest and he’s not the one responsible for deciding it was worthy of the limelight.

  9. should Manhatten Guardian count? He was created by Grant Morrison and for all the important stuff he does in DC a LOT of what he writes gets ignored or retconned.

  10. Kevin — This Ryan guy writes an article that uses Asiatic instead of Asian, leaves off the dates and claims the list is evidence of a recent trend, and includes Kyle Rayner while leaving John Stewart off the list.

    Consider this. He includes Kyle Rayner…

    And leaves off John Stewart.

    I’ve used this comparison before, but it can’t be emphasized enough. That is putting Quicksilver on list of Jewish villains at Marvel, and forgetting MAGNETO.

    I refuse to believe anyone is this stupid by accident. He’s a plant. Pass out the pitchforks.

  11. Took the thoughts right out of my head David. That piece was just kind of random and everywhere, and I’m fairly certain he pulled a couple things from his ass.

  12. I thought it worked in the same fashion as the original Women in Refrigerator list. There were some omissions and stretches there too, but I thought it presented unofrtunate consequences well.

  13. The way that the death of Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend and the death of Donna Troy’s husband were treated as equally refrigerating was a problem with the original WIR list, and not entirely unlike some of the examples Mullenix cited.

  14. the big problem with any follow ups to the Women In Refrigerators list is this: There are so many comics out nowadays across such a huge expanse of time that you can cherrypick examples to prove anything about anything. Horrible things happen to people in comics. Especially these days in DC comics. Enough horrible things happen that a trawl through something like Scans Daily can provide you with an article’s worth of examples of ANY demographic group being mistreated. Hell, you could prove that comics have an anti-disability bias with just as much ease. Start with Prometheus throwing Babs Gordon out of a window, continue to Mr Sinister, Charled Xavier, and the stairs.

  15. I’m late back to this post, but I might as well put it to the record. The original WiR list had a lot of problems. That it still gets passed around by foolish people doesn’t make this one any better.

    I will say I’m more kindly inclined towards WiR because it wasn’t compared to a real life event and the compiler never attempted to pass off a list that spans 25 years of publishing as a “Recent trend.”

  16. @Ragnell: One thing WiR had going for it is that when it was created, talk about women & comics online isn’t what it is now. It provided a useful and mostly accurate launching point/touchstone that this Bleeding Cool list doesn’t.