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Post By
Menshevik

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,141
In Reply To
America's Captain 
Maintainer

Location: Bayville New Jersey
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 11,533
Subj: Re: What confuses me is...
Posted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 at 12:49:59 pm EST (Viewed 82 times)
Reply Subj: Re: What confuses me is...
Posted: Sat Feb 24, 2018 at 06:37:37 am EST (Viewed 91 times)



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      It is not necessarily the protagonist who is at a severe disadvantage. In superhero comics it is often the supporting characters, innocent bystanders etc. who find themselves at risk in attacks by powerful villains etc. and who quite often end up dead in the course of a story, which apparently doesn't bother you as much as the presence of alcohol or drugs.



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    Do I really need to parse my words so painstakingly? I'm not writing a Master's thesis. But OK - I don't like seeing supporting characters at the kind of severe disadvantage that always accompanies rape or (sexual or other) child abuse.



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    You have, nevertheless, hit on a key point. I'm not bothered in the least by death in comics, or in any medium. How could I be? Take death out of any medium and that medium will collapse. Death has been integral to comics, literature, TV, movies, and the live stage from the earliest days of each. Death is also integral to life on this planet from the earliest days of multicelled organisms. Death has also been integral to religion and philosophy from the earliest days of each.



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    Not the case for rape. If you could do a word count of "die" and "death" in all storytelling, and a word count of "rape" in all storytelling, the first count would colossally dwarf the second.



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    Death saddens me but it doesn't revolt me. It doesn't nauseate me. If I could safely watch a war as a ghost on a battlefield I would do so with interest. Maimings and agony would horrify me. Death wouldn't. Maiming and agony are avoidable in life if luck is with you. Death is not. Death is coming for us all. Rape and sexual or other child abuse are also avoidable in life if luck is with you. The vast majority of us will live our lives without suffering rape or sexual or other child abuse. Not one of us will escape the clutches of death.



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    I also feel compelled to study death from an abstract philosophical perspective. Philosophy could almost legitimately be defined as "thoughts about death."


Very nice and deep, but I think it is clear enough from my quote above that I was not speaking of death in general or in abstract terms, but of violent death. And like maiming and agony, rape and child abuse, violent death is avoidable in life if luck is with you. Maybe even more so than the first two (throughout most wars in history more people tended to die of non-violent deaths, e.g. from agonizing diseases, than of combat wounds, and generally the wounded (maimed) tended to outnumber the people killed in action).

I would also point out that a lot of comics, literary, movie and other genres manage quite well without or nearly without violent deaths, for instance most forms of comedy (comics take their names from that - they're not called "tragics" ;\-\) ) and many genres aimed at children or an all-ages audience. (Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Scrooge McDuck have exciting adventures all over the world where people aren't killed, and Tintin in nearly a half-century of adventures had to witness very few violent deaths, some of which were accidental or half-accidental.)


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      Um, no. Villains lose, but more often than not will (almost inevitably) come back later to menace the public again. While their victims all too often stay dead, maimed etc.



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    True, they tend to return, and their victims stay dead. But they still lose (again and again). To a large extent I read comics to watch villains lose.



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        The whole point of a rape story is that the rapist gets away with it - at least for the time being. The child abuser gets away with it - at least for the time being. The villain wins - for now. There is no immediate justice. Instead, injustice reigns for a time, perhaps a long time.
      That is not different in principle from stories in which a villain kills.



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    Villains who kill get put in jail (or, ridiculously a psych ward) very soon after the killing, generally speaking. (No need to trot out the story in 1976 when this didn't happen.) My big problem with the Joker is that he gets away with far too many murders. Where the Joker is concerned, justice does not reign. This is why I hate Joker stories.


You asked for this, I couldn't resist: Not a story from, but one from 1939 - the guy who murdered Bruce Wayne's parents. From what I read in the relevant wikipedia article, he was never identified in some versions of the story, but at the earliest Bruce only caught up with him quite a number of years later after he grew up and became Batman.

In any case, you may hate Joker stories but strangely enough while there is "alcoholism", "prostitution" and "child abuse" on your list of taboos, you did not have something about murderers like the Joker getting off almost scot-free...


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      And why can't you accept the appearance of rape, child abuse or prostitution as episodic in comics?



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    Because comics don't need those topics. Comics could be true to themselves aesthetically and philosophically for a thousand years without once raising those topics. They're extraneous. So I'd rather they stayed away.


That is as true (or untrue) for any medium. Also, when one looks at e.g. the changes a relatively young genre like the Western (less than 200 years old) went through, I think talking about comics (much less superhero comics) managing a thousand years without raising certain topics is a bit bold. Especially as (superhero) comics in actual fact did not manage to do that within much less than a century.


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      That is not a description of the superhero genre as it has existed since its beginnings, but of your ideal, and I'm beginning to think that you are stressing the fantastic aspects and downplaying or even ignoring the realistic ones with a certain aim in mind. Superheroes from the 1930s onward have fought street-level crime, and that wasn't different in the Silver Age. Spider-Man may fight the Green Goblin, but he also fights gangsters, muggers, drug-dealers and what have you. The first villain he fought was a small-time burglar whom he didn't stop from murdering his uncle. And he is still haunted at least as much by what that burglar did as by the Green Goblin's deeds. (As an aside, a lot of the time the Green Goblin does not menace New York as a whole, he's more intent on gaining as big a slice of the city's crime as he can; in the early stories he and many other Spider-Man villains were more or less just gangsters with a bit of a power upgrade).



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    Here again we're parsing words as if I were writing a Master's thesis. Yes, you're correct, Spider-Man doesn't only fight the Green Goblin, he also fights Hammerhead and his goons, or the Kingpinn and his goons, or the garden variety burglar. Yes, you're correct, Spidey's villains don't often menace the entire city, but only a portion of it.


Definitions are important, and one shouldn't play fast and loose with them or blur important distinctions (such as "death as a general concept" and "violent death"). Yes, some superheroes fight cosmically powerful beings like Galactus or would-be world conquerors like the Red Skull, but not all of them do and even those who do rarely are written as doing this all the time. Superheroes fighting "ordinary" or "near-ordinary" criminals is something that has happened and continues to happen with great frequency, so the crimes committed by "street-level" thugs etc. have been treated as fair game in superhero comics from the beginnings of the genre and continue to do so.


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      So? This is merely a matter of personal taste, it says nothing about the genre the story in question may belong to, it does not make me try to redefine a genre so that stories that don't accord to my tastes become violations of "rules".



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    This is a thread about what we want or don't want. It isn't about anything BUT personal taste. As for rules, they're MY rules governing what I buy. They're not intended to be rules that govern what people produce. How could they be? I lack the power for that. I addressed this particular topic in a previous post. Saying what we want or don't want is not the same thing as calling for censorship.


No, you misunderstood me, maybe I shouldn't have used that word here. With "rules" I meant things like your criteria for a "proper" superhero story, so that when a superhero story contains drugs or rape or child abuse you see it as "extraneous matter".


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      t also says nothing about "relevance" or "realism" in certain genres.



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    I think you may be right here. I'm beginning to regret my use of the word "relevance" in the thread's original post. At the time, I couldn't see any reason a writer would write about something as noxious as rape except out of a desire to be relevant. Rape is in the news so let's put rape in our comic book stories. I still don't see any other reason. But my own reactions have nothing to do with relevance per se. I don't dislike relevance in principle. I would welcome a story about terrorism. I also welcome the current trend in X-books to treat mutants as unwanted immigrants. Stuff like that is cool.


Maybe you should be looking at how rape, child abuse etc. have been and are treated in other genres and media. After all, while not as numerous as stories of murder and manslaughter, stories involving rape and attempted rape have been around since antiquity, and that really was before they had news media.


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      And it certainly doesn't say that the mere presence of a certain taboo subject prevents me from enjoying a story - it always is a question of HOW the subject is treated, not of whether or not it is treated in the story at all.



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    Yes, you noted that previously. The quality of the storytelling is your bottom line. You don't judge by subject matter. That was a good point.





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