Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

February 11, 2010

At Least Now We Have Evidence That Political People Are Even Goofier In The Head Than Comics People

So the story about an obtusely negative, super-minor reference to Tea Party advocates in an issue of Captain America has wound its way through the usual mish-mash of electronic media firebrands and the mostly strident dumbasses who attend them. I suppose a comics fan interested in this stuff should read this pretty typical howl and Joe Quesada's admirably calm and rational response. This includes an explanation as to what happened -- a last-minute production add that referenced a Tea Party-specific sign -- and an admission that not catching it earlier was a mistake.

This reminds me of 25 years ago when some of the kids in my church group got upset by a scene in Ghostbusters where Ernie Hudson quotes the Bible, except that things get processed differently now. Things like this get processed as if they really matter to people other than 14-year-olds obsessed with identity issues, which I find idiotic and sad. It's not that there aren't wonky side issues galore. A cultural observer not wanting to turn off his computer and go back to bed with every keystroke could probably work up something of value about the expectation that something like Captain America comics should be blandly neutral when it comes to political issues, or that during the decade that the Brubaker Captain America recalls, the 1970s, Marvel used goofy codewords like "Maggia" as stand-ins and whether or not this would have worked here, or the trouble with deriving political points out of minutiae while ignoring the politics of the superhero generally.

Mostly it just depresses me. Marvel shouldn't be pressed to apologize for inadvertently pissing people off -- it's art. Art isn't there to support anyone's self-conception, and a lot of the better art out there challenges that kind of thing every chance it gets. Everyone should learn to live with it. Not only should Ed and Joe and Marvel be believed when they offer an explanation, they shouldn't have to offer one. They shouldn't have to see their explanation interpreted as a broader apology, either, which is doubly unfair. In the end, they should feel free to have Captain America fight The Teabagger if that's what they want. Or the evil twins Hope and Change. Whatever. I promise you the republic will survive. Also, it struck me as super creepy that Ed Brubaker's tweets were dug up in this Fox News article not just as the interesting sidelight they're portrayed as being but as a kind of broad implication that maybe he shouldn't be believed when he says this specific thing was unintentional. How do you answer that? I suppose no one expects an answer. While someone out there will certainly suggest this proves comics' relevance, I don't think there's any victory to be had in becoming the latest pile of chum feeding the snapping leviathans of American political churn. What a stupid story.
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink

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