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

May 13, 2016

DC Releases Statement On Harassment Policies

CBR has the statement and brief context here.

I fully expect the reaction from the fan and professional communities most attuned to this story will be shrugged shoulders and derisive laughter. And they're right to the extent that it's a misapplied reaction at best, an outright misfire at worst. In fact, what I read on-line isn't dissatisfaction with policy but a vote of no-confidence in the company's culture and management in enforcing whatever rules and policies exist. I don't see that really addressed here, at least without knowing what "internal and external resources" means.

There is a positive way to look at this, which is if there's an investigation into current practice there will be an outcome to that investigation. Depending on the outcome, why policies were in place so deficient they needed to be shouted into question by ex-employees and concerned fans on the Internet also needs to be addressed as its own thing. If the Eddie Berganza demotion were to have a different outcome now, whoever came up with the previous policy needs to held responsible for that policy or its implementation. When you're facing a charge against culture and attitude, you can't simply soft-reboot a workplace culture and declare the past out of continuity, particularly when it's being brought to you by the exact same creative team.

I actually urge everyone to copy DC in one sense: let's all do a general review and expand our interest in these matters, even if it's just to change our own behavior in ways that aren't just not-actionable, but that perhaps go the other way as strongly as we feel we can go. Why can't we have the most respectful, harassment-free industry? In the way that comics should really think hard about not having unpaid interns and support a general contempt for the idea of free work because of the industry's horrifying history of financial exploitation, we need to think hard about maybe not having social-time at the workplace in all of its forms and perhaps developing contempt for the idea of mixing private and professional lives to the level we do now, because of the culture's history of harassment and abuse.

Also, it's disappointing that DC leadership failed to put a name or several names into the statement itself. Someone needs to be the face of this projected new way of doing things. If not, the face of this issue remains Eddie Berganza's. I also urge all of DC's leadership that has a reporter's name in their rolodex to do interviews on this. Let's get it all out there, as much as you can do. I'd be happy to do any and all of those folks here, but I just hope someone gets to ask some questions.

One more thing: anyone at DC that let this release be put out on a Friday afternoon after a news day where one of their superstar cartoonists of the last quarter-century announced a fight with cancer should be considered for demotion. Doing it this way just screams "we're trying to avoid this/hide this." Even if there's a formulation in your head when this was the primetime best timing for this announcement, I'm sorry: that formulation is wrong. Seriously, my Mom is at least that media savvy and she's still mad about Jane Pauley leaving the Today show.
posted 9:00 am PST | Permalink

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