Adi Tantimedh writes;
It’s been quite a week for DC Comics, with the double-whammy of JH Williams III and W. Haden Blackman leaving Batwoman because the editors wouldn’t let them write her marrying her girlfriend, then the highly-publicised artist’s tryout competition where artists were invited to submit artwork of a naked Harley Quinn contemplating suicide.
While the Batwoman decision initially seemed to be borne from homophobia, DC have since said it wasn’t so much against a gay character getting married, but a superhero getting married. The call for artists to draw a naked Harley Quinn, though, was a lot less justifiable beyond just plain insensitivity.
Or so we thought.
While the main executives at DC are off attending conventions, their PR department decided to hold a brief press conference to clarify the company’s stance. Since it was the end of the week, the event had to be quickly put together, and reporters were invited to attend the venue at the last minute.
That turned out to be a strip club in Midtown, on West 50th Street and 9th Avenue late on Friday night. The PR flack, who asked not to be named, left a list of approved reporters with the bouncer at the entrance, who were shown into the club where the pole dancers were dressed up as Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Supergirl. By the time we found him, he had a small pile of empty Red Bull cans on his table and he had already stuck twenty dollars’ worth of singles into the dancers’ garter belts.
“Do you know how hard it is to find a decent titty bar in Manhattan these days?” he said. “Most of ‘em have been zoned out to Queens or Long Island, never mind one even close to Time Square!”
Let’s call him Douchey Cat. He seemed to like that – or maybe that was the Red Bull talking.
“’Course it’s all Red Bull! Cocaine is so passé. Besides, Red Bull is cheaper for the buzz!”
Back to business. He told us that DC wanted to make their position clear on their most recent actions, which many people consider a PR disaster. It wasn’t a matter of editorial indifference or farcical cluelessness as many of us had assumed.
“Bitch, please!” he said. “You really think we didn’t plan all this? We WANT you to hate us!”
That took us by surprise. Why do you want to be hated?
“Love is overrated. Marvel gets all the love and the goodwill right now. They have the movies everyone loves. They have books that sell more than ours. People keep saying we want what they have, but you know, if we can’t, then we have to carve out our niche. Why not get everyone to hate us? It’s a lot better than people being indifferent and ignoring us. We just look at everything Marvel does right and then do the opposite. It’s been working out great so far.”
So about Batwoman’s non-marriage…
“We don’t have a problem with the gay people. We just don’t care about them one way or another. We sure do love their money when they buy our books. What the hell, why not? We’re all fans of girl-on-girl action in the office. We’re not against gay marriage. We’re just against superhero marriage. A superhero can’t be cool if he or she gets married! It’s a ball-and-chain! Marriage sucks! It’s the end of your life and your freedom! Just ask any man!”
“Look, we didn’t set out to piss out the gay community. But then they’re a minority of our readers anyway, so we’ll survive. And everyone’s talking about us not letting Batwoman get married. We got written up in the Hollywood Reporter. Mission accomplished!”
And the naked Harley drawing contest?
“Suicidal naked Harley drawing contest!” he said. “Don’t forget the ‘suicidal’! It’s very specific! Now don’t tell me you don’t like crazy chicks! And what’s better than a crazy chick who’s gonna be dead in a minute? It means she’ll shut up soon! That’s the best kind!”
“Don’t look so surprised. You should have figured it out by now. Remember the three magic words?”
“Women in Refrigerators! Back in 1994, we killed Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend and stuffed her in a fridge for him to find! This is just a natural progression of the gender policy in our stories we’ve maintained! We haven’t changed! Girls are icky! They’re only there so we can show our superheroes aren’t gay! They’re best as nagging girlfriends who eventually get killed to give our heroes reasons to get mad and fight-y! Storytelling 101!”
But Gail Simone, the writer who coined the phrase “women in refrigerators”, is a woman and writing for you now.
“So? She doesn’t have time to talk about women in fridges anymore now she’s writing comics for us. Everybody wins.”
Everybody except the readers.
“Look,” said Douchey Cat. “If we actually listened to the readers, if we did actual market research, we’d be publishing comics that people would actually LIKE! All our books would be selling in the hundreds of thousands instead of the couple of thousand or eleven or twelve thousand that most of the sales are stuck at. Why would we want more than that? WE DON’T CARE WHAT THE READERS OR FANS THINK! If we did, we wouldn’t have done New 52! We wouldn’t have turned our superheroes into immature douchebags who just punch each other at the drop of a hat. Hell, why do you think we reduced Superman into a dickhead who’s as dumb as the average dumbass instead of a nice guy who’s better and smarter than the rest of us? We’re not incompetent. You think all that sustained, consistent stupid shit we’ve been pulling for years that people hate is by accident? That we’re just clueless, insensitive and incompetent? No! WE WANT YOU TO HATE US!”
Better to be hated than ignored? That’s the strategy?
“Absolutely! It puts us in the media spotlight and takes the attention away from Marvel! We dominated the comics newsphere this week! Marvel can have their movies and bigger sales, but we have your HATE! It means you care! You really, really care!”
But if people hate you, they stop buying your books.
“No they haven’t! That’s the beauty of it all! They say they will, but they keep buying them anyway! That’s the thing about the core audience! No matter how much horrible shit we do to the books and their favourite characters, they keep buying them! It’s like an abusive spouse relationship! We think they’re hate-buying our books now. Hate-watching TV shows and hate-reading books is the new big thing now, and we want to be at the frontline of that trend! And this week proves once and for all that our strategy works! Hate is the new Love! We’re WINNING!”
With that, we left Douchey Cat ordering vodkas and stuffing more dollar bills into Wonder Woman’s g-string.
It was two in the morning. We couldn’t find a cab home.
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Look! It Moves! © Adisakdi Tantimedh. Who wrote Justice League of America: Age Of Wonder: for DC Comics back in the day…