Archive for Media

Superman Smashes the Klan!

Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan by Rick Bowers

I picked up this book a few weeks back, and I wasn’t expecting a lot — I know Scholastic Books publishes a lot of good stuff now, but when I grew up, it was strictly for kids’ books — and not particularly good kids’ books either. But I ended up liking what I read here.

This is basically a history book, with its initial focus on the history of Superman, from the early youths of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, through their initial failures in the comics biz, to the unstoppable success of the Man of Steel, and clear through the way Siegel and Shuster got screwed out of their rights to the character. There’s quite a lot of info about the years when “The Adventures of Superman” was one of the most successful programs on the radio, earning millions of dollars for his advertisers and enthralling legions of fans, both kids and adults.

The book’s other focus is a fairly detailed and warts-and-all history of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi organizations, and hate groups in 19th and early 20th centuries. And a lot of this is stuff that was definitely never taught to me when I was in school, mainly because textbooks have always seemed to put more emphasis on teaching kids the national legends instead of the actual facts. There were times when the KKK and pro-Nazi groups had a lot of political power — and a lot of times when they were mostly devoted to fleecing their members of every dime they could get. And a lot of the time, there were a vast number of people, ranging from everyday citizens to federal officers to Southern newspaper editors, who hated the stuffing out of the Klan.

And it all comes together after World War II when the advertising execs for Kelloggs — who also managed the Superman radio show — decided they wanted to try pointing the power of Superman at the nation’s social ills, particularly racism and intolerance. And what was interesting to me was that the radio producers didn’t just bang out some scripts for Superman to fight some Nazis — they did intense research on how to educate children about racism, and they interviewed people about what the Klan was like behind the white hoods. One of their interviewees was a man named Stetson Kennedy, a publicity-hungry Southerner with a serious mad-on against the Klan — he heroically infiltrated the organization while simultaneously campaigning publicly against it.

And what they came up with were a couple of storyarcs that infuriated the KKK and the rest of the nation’s racists. And that by itself is a pretty awesome victory.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s well-written, it’s detailed, it’s entertaining, and it’s filled with really interesting characters, including Siegel, Shuster, Stetson Kennedy, radio producer Robert Maxwell, education consultant Josette Frank, and even several of the Klan’s leaders, who generally come across as either charismatic lunatics or craven greedheads.

There were a couple of things that I knew already, being a longtime comic fan — but it was still nice to see them pointed out in a book designed for younger readers who probably aren’t as familiar with the history of Superman. The first was that in Superman’s earliest appearances, he was a very, very political guy — and he definitely came across as a liberal, since most of his opponents were greedy politicians, crooks, and factory owners who were making things hard for the common man. The second reminder — there were a huge number of Jewish people who had a hand in Superman’s success, including Siegel, Shuster, their publishers, and even their radio producer — no wonder they were so interested in putting the smackdown on the nation’s hatemongers!

I was pretty impressed that this book didn’t sugar-coat very much. These days, you read the newspapers and watch the news shows, and they’re absolutely devoted to never saying whether any group is right or wrong. If they mention the Klan these days, they definitely never say that they’re evil racist scumbags — that wouldn’t be properly Broderian or moderate — and they might offend some lunatic on hate radio. Rick Bowers really doesn’t do things that way — Superman’s the good guy, the Klan are the bad guys, and that’s really all there is to it. He also doesn’t mince many words about how Siegel and Shuster got mistreated after DC got its claws on Superman, and that’s pretty refreshing, too.

So there’s Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan by Rick Bowers. I liked it — go pick it up.

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Deadlines and Breadlines II: I hate to say I told you so, but…

Stepping away from comics again for a bit, just so I can rant some more.

Just last week, I had my post about the sorry state of journalism, with regard to salaries — in other words, the reporters who do all the hard work get crap wages, while the big-shot columnists — who tend to be the noxious black mold infecting the editorial pages — get millions of dollars, book contracts, and a guaranteed job for life. In fact, at one point, I said:

You wanna really see some improvement? Take David Broder, Maureen Dowd, Richard Cohen, Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Jake Tapper, Joel Stein, Thomas Friedman, George Will, Jeffrey Rosen, and the rest of the no-talent brigade, tie them to the outside of a rocketship using rusty barbed wire and a staplegun, and fire them into the sun. They’re an embarrasment, and they’re a drain on the finances of an industry that can’t afford their prima donna salaries.

Lo and behold, the second person on my list, Maureen Dowd, just got caught blatantly plagiarizing material from blogger Joshua Michah Marshall. Her excuse? She wasn’t trying to copy Marshall, she was just exactly quoting something one of her friends said, who somehow managed to exactly quote Marshall. Gee, what an amazing coincidence, right?

So obviously, the New York Times is faced with having a gossip writer — oh, ‘scuse me, political columnist — who is not only a plagiarist but a liar — a combo that the Times used to punish with a pink slip. How is the Times going to deal with Dowd? It’s a dead-solid bet that nothing will happen to her. After all, she’s a columnist! She gets paid a lot of money! She gets to go on TV! And now she’s extra controversial! ‘Cause controversy sells papers! In theory! (They used to say good reporting sold papers, but now it’s controversy, ’cause they’d have to pay reporters more.)

Heck, maybe Jayson Blair should call the Times up and ask them if he could be re-hired, since they’re all okay with plagiarism now.

Again, what is the New York Times getting for the huge salary they pay Maureen Dowd? They’re getting a plagiarizing, lying embarrassment. They’re getting a nice, fat black eye. They’re getting their reporters — who all know that they’d be fired in a heartbeat if they got caught plagiarizing so unashamedly — asking themselves why they work so hard for a company that pays them so little and values the useless superstar columnists more than the people who do the real work. I hope they’re pleased with the results, though I doubt anyone else is.

I stand by my rocket-to-the-sun columnist solution, with the stipulation that I’d probably need a whole fleet of rockets to make enough of a difference…

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Deadlines and Breadlines


I’ve still got a nice, tall stack of comics to review, but there are just days ya gotta unpack the rants.

So I get a call last week from a newspaper I’d sent a job application to. Some poor lady on the other end of the line was asking if I wanted to work for them.

Now I’m not anti-newspapers — I’ve worked for several of them in the past and generally enjoyed my jobs there — but we’re all very aware of how unstable the newspaper biz is right now, and I’d long ago decided that any newspaper that called me to talk jobs was going to have to stand up to me quizzing them hard about their financial stability. Yes, part of my strategy is to scare them off from me if they think I’m too aggressive for them — better that than to move several hundred miles away and then get laid off again.

Anyway, the person I was talking to flunked the test bad. She told me they were going to survive — their parent company wasn’t doing so well, but the actual paper was healthy and was the only paper in town, so they just couldn’t possibly close, and they’d already been cut back to the bone, so there was nothing else that could be cut anyway. When I told her that the A-J was pretty healthy, was the only paper in town, and had gone through a number of cutbacks, and it still hadn’t kept me and a bunch of other people from being laid off, she didn’t have much to say.

Then I asked about the salary, and she told me it paid $10 an hour. I told her not to consider me for the position any longer.

Listen, y’all can consider the source on this — I’ve worked at a couple of newspapers and several radio stations, but never in a position of management, never as an editor, never as a publisher… but there are two major things that newspapers are doing wrong right now.

* Underpaying the employees. The newspaper I talked to is a picture-perfect example. They want to hire smart reporters who’ve got all the right education, who’ve spent a few years in college earning their journalism degrees, who they’re relying on to enhance their reputation as on-the-ball members of the journalistic community — and they want to pay them fast-food wages. If some guy walked in off the street, high school dropout, no real skills, no previous writing experience, they’d tell him to get lost. They’d insist that he had to have the education in order to get their poverty-level job. Heck, I’ve got a Masters degree, over a decade of writing experience, and previous newspaper employment, and they still thought I’d be willing to accept $20,000 a year.

This is insane.

I’m not saying reporters should be paid $100,000 a year. But there’s no reason to force skilled, highly educated employees to work their butts off for crap wages. If you can’t afford to pay reporters enough to keep them out of the poorhouse… then just quit. Seriously. Shut down the paper, open up a McDonalds franchise, and you can pay high school kids minimum wage all day long. Eventually, some smart businessman will realize that he can keep a newspaper open, informative, and profitable while still paying the employees enough to keep them and their families comfortable.

* Overpaying the columnists. I’m dumb enough to read a bunch of the columnists at the big national papers. I know, I know, it elevates my blood pressure and just makes me cranky and foul-tempered all day. These guys get paid millions of dollars a year to blather nonsense and lies all over the editorial pages, they go on TV and blather, they go to DC cocktail parties and yuck it up with their fellow multimillionaire columnists, they’re considered big media stars, important opinion-leaders, and their invented bulldada is quickly picked up as the Conventional Wisdom that fuels the talk-show screamathons.

Honestly, they should all be fired. Use their bloated salaries to try to stabilize the newspapers, boost salaries a bit, invest in some new strategies to make journalism profitable. But 95% of the big national editorial columnists are useless hacks who couldn’t keep a job if it weren’t for their guaranteed no-fire positions.

You wanna really see some improvement? Take David Broder, Maureen Dowd, Richard Cohen, Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg, Jake Tapper, Joel Stein, Thomas Friedman, George Will, Jeffrey Rosen, and the rest of the no-talent brigade, tie them to the outside of a rocketship using rusty barbed wire and a staplegun, and fire them into the sun. They’re an embarrasment, and they’re a drain on the finances of an industry that can’t afford their prima donna salaries.

Obviously, there’s more stuff wrong with the modern practice of corporate journalism that I don’t have time to get into. They spent way too long standing in White House briefing rooms saying “WMDs in Iraq? Wow, I totally believe you” and haven’t yet come up with any way to convince us that they’re not going to keep believing whatever lame bullcrap some monied storyteller invents for them. The national papers seem to be run solely to put more reporters on TV. Too many seem to prefer to resent the Internet instead of figuring out how to make it work for them. A lot of them would seem to rather chew their own hands off than report anything negative about public officials or other prominent media pundits. But again, I could go on and on and on about this, and still not get done with my list of pet peeves, so I’ll stop right here.

That’s my two cents anyway.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: According to an e-mail from someone claiming to be Jake Tapper: “i’m a correspondent for ABC News, not an editorial or opinion writer for a newspaper….”

Duly noted. Jake Tapper is, in fact, the Senior White House Correspondent for ABC News. He’s still not getting off the side of that rocket-to-the-sun, ’cause spending your day googling yourself when you should be covering the White House for ABC News would seem to be picture-perfect proof that you’re getting paid too much for not working enough. Unless he’s got some really good questions for Robert Gibbs in today’s press gaggle — and not just the usual “Whyyyy did Wanda Syyyykes have to be so meeeeean to poor iiiinnocent lamb Rush Limbauuuugh?” — then I’m expecting a note on ABC News President Robert Westin’s desk with an explanation about why you’re wasting company time surfing comic book blogs.

(Unless, of course, Jake Tapper didn’t really send me an e-mail. In which case, Jake, someone’s spoofing yer e-mail addy!)

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Politics in Comics: Transmetropolitan

Well, the election is tomorrow. Seems like a great time to talk politics and comics again.

Transmetropolitan” seems like an especially appropriate topic — Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s epic and controversial series paid more attention to the subject of presidential politics than any other comic series I’ve ever seen. Our setting was the City — that’s all, just the City — in a cyberpunk and dystopian — but still fairly funny — future. Folks are splicing themselves with alien DNA, you can go into restaurants and eat human flesh, police brutality is the expected norm, and a popular TV show focuses on puppet pornography. Everywhere you turn, there’s sex and violence and more sex and more violence. Into this urban wasteland steps our noble and incorruptible hero:

That’s Spider Jerusalem: rageoholic, atheist, misanthrope, drug abuser, frequent nudist, and righteous journalist.

No, this isn’t your typical hero — there’s a scene where he injects drugs into his eyes, he kills several people, he commits assault and battery quite casually, he hurls grenades off his apartment balcony, he propositions random women for sex, and his weapon of preference is a specialized gun called a bowel disruptor, which does pretty much what you’d expect it to do. But for all that, he’s still the most trustworthy, most moral, and generally best person in the series.

Not sure if he’s the picture-perfect journalist, but if more of them operated like Spider, maybe we’d have more politicians who’d be less willing to lie to the press. Ain’t nothing to make a politico clean up his act like being told, “I know you lied to me, so I’m going to beat you senseless with the fender from a ’58 Chrysler, then I’m going to print an article telling everyone you’re a lying bucket of yak vomit.” Heck, I’d be happy if they left out the horrible beatings, as long as they’d burn sources who lied to ’em.

Anyway, Spider sees the pursuit and revelation of The Truth as an almost religious calling, and there’s nothing that makes him madder than corruption.

Unsurprisingly, this means he runs afoul of these two guys.

Two different presidents, the Beast and the Smiler.

The Beast is a fairly petty tyrant, but at the end of the day, he’s just interested in getting through the day with himself and as many of the American people as possible alive. He’s massively corrupt, and he likes to punish people who go against him. He hates the City, and vice versa. He hates Spider, and vice versa.

In the interest of getting the Beast out of the White House, Spider initially and grudgingly supports Gary Callahan, nicknamed the Smiler because of his rigid and obviously insincere smile. Unfortunately, what Spider initially figures is just your garden-variety politician-grade neurosis is actually full-blown psychopathic megalomania — Callahan is a master manipulator and a complete sociopath. He stages riots, uses and abuses prostitutes, makes deals with really awful people. He kills multiple people, including his wife and kids, because he wants the political sympathy boost that he’d get from their deaths. He hates everyone, particularly Spider, and once elected, he makes it his primary goal to do everything he can to hurt the City, Spider, and the entire human race. In comparison, the Beast almost comes off as a good guy — that’s how rotten Gary Callahan is.

Warren Ellis is a pretty hardcore liberal. (Conservatives and squicky parents should use extreme caution in visiting his website.) It’s pretty clear that he based the Beast on Richard Nixon (though both the Beast and Callahan use Nixon’s “If the President does it, it’s not a crime” philosophy to justify their actions), but there’s quite a bit of dispute on who the Smiler is based on. Some folks think it’s George W. Bush, some folks think it’s John Edwards. I think it’s really unlikely to be Edwards, despite the similarities in appearance, just because when Ellis introduced Callahan, Edwards was a really, really minor politician. I also don’t think he’s based on Bush, for the same reason, but I also think that as the series progressed and Bush became more prominent, the Smiler became more similar to Bush. I think it’s most likely that Ellis based the Smiler on former British prime minister Tony Blair. Ellis is a Brit, after all — seems that he’d base his primary villain on a politician he was more familiar with.

Was there a deeper meaning to the series? Maybe not — part of what made “Transmetropolitan” such a great series is that it’s just a ripping yarn from beginning to end. But I do think that Ellis also believes, like Spider, that we should expect more from our politicians, that we should hold them responsible when they’re exposed as corrupt, whether we initially supported them or not, and that we should elect better people to lead us.

I dunno if Ellis gives a rat’s patoot whether or not you vote. But I do. You should go out and vote tomorrow, if you haven’t voted already, and you should care enough for your country that you give some actual thought into who deserves your vote the most. Not who yer momma wants you to vote for, not who your neighbor wants you to vote for, not who the babbling buffoons on TV want you to vote for. Vote like a grownup — like an honest grownup, not some delusional “I’ll believe whatever bulldada a politician tells me so I can feel good about myself” nitwit — and not a freakin’ sheep. Think about the choice you have to make, because it’s a pretty important choice.

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Comics as Journalism


I’m going to assume that you all know about the huge Chinese earthquake on May 12th, right? Tens of thousands of people dead, probably the biggest and most tragic natural disaster we’ve seen in the past several years.

Well, there’s a Chinese cartoonist named Coco Wang, and she decided she’d draw what she’d seen.


Steel yourself. This is utterly heartbreaking stuff, completely soul-crackingly sad and triumphant stories, beautiful stories of death and survival, horror and humor. But you need to read these comics. Read Coco’s introduction, then read the “5.12 Earthquake Strips” over in the sidebar. They’re all pretty short, so it won’t take long. But go read them.

And look at that art style, too. It’s not complex or realistic at all. It’s deceptively simple cartooning. Some of the most powerful stories can be told with simple and straightforward art. It drags you into the narrative, because it’s easier for any reader to picture himself or herself as part of the story.

Beautiful work. Please go read it.

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Pundits and Punishment


The Spirit #10

And there is another beautiful cover. The guy’s name is Darwyn Cooke, ladies and gentlemen. You should go hunt down everything he’s done, ’cause it’s all that good looking.

This is a bit of an odd issue. It’s basically a combination of murder mystery and media parody. Someone is killing off the political punditocracy, and instead of sitting back, cracking open a cherry coke, and enjoying the culling, the Spirit decides to track down the killer. If you’re idea of a good time is watching a crazed killer hunt down barely-disguised versions of Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, Stephen Colbert, Lou Dobbs, Anderson Cooper, Hannity and Colmes, and more, then you’re gonna have a plenty good time with the fictional schadenfreude.

And yes, it is making a fairly serious, though screamingly unsubtle, point about the rotten state of our TV news media. And though some parts of it are a bit preachy, I particularly liked some bits — there’s a page where a bunch of news anchors blather about their colleagues getting wiped out, and the crawls at the bottom of the screens are about horrible disasters and tragedies — real news shoved aside for the sake of ego-inflated pundits talking about themselves.

But it’s still fun. The mystery was actually excellent — the solution is wildly improbable, but it’s still got the oomph that a good mystery needs.

And the entire comic is jam-packed with Darwyn Cooke’s gorgeous, gorgeous artwork. Why ain’tcha run out to the store to buy it yet?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Didn’t you hear me tell you to go get it?

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The Tragedy of the Great American Hero

Richard Jewell, 1962-2007

Five’ll gitcha ten, you don’t remember who this guy was. Heck, there are people who would really prefer that you forget him. He’s an embarrassment, a reminder of their own failure and foolishness and hate.

And you might be wondering why the guy running the comic book blog is writing about a guy you’ve never heard of.

Let me refresh your memory.

In 1996, Atlanta was playing host to the Summer Olympics. Big money, big TV audience, big publicity. The U.S. picked up 101 medals. Muhammad Ali lit the torch in the opening ceremonies, and everyone thought that was pretty much awesome. Kerri Strug injured her ankle and still landed a near-perfect score on the vault. Kurt Angle, before he became a professional wrestler, won a gold medal in freestyle wrestling with a severely injured neck.

Richard Jewell was a nobody, overweight, unremarkable, unsuccessful, living with his mother. He got a job as a lowly security guard at Centennial Olympic Park during a concert on July 27. He noticed a stray knapsack lying under a bench, got suspicious, called it in, and started moving people away from the area. Three pipe bombs inside the knapsack exploded, killing one woman and injuring 111 people. A Turkish cameraman died of a heart attack while rushing to film the incident.

Jewell was hailed as a hero who certainly prevented the deaths of dozens of people. But after four days, the FBI decided he might be a suspect. They tipped off the media. And for the next several weeks, while the feds repeatedly searched his mother’s house, many media companies all but declared him guilty of the bombing.

The FBI eventually had to announce that he wasn’t a suspect, and the press slinked away, probably looking for some small cute animal they could stab. Jewell had gone from nobody to hero to villain… but instead of being hailed, again, as the hero of the Olympic Park bombing, he just went back to being a nobody. He had trouble getting jobs because many still believed he was the bomber. He got settlements from the New York Post and NBC, though the Atlanta Journal-Constitution fought his suit clear ’til his death.

Turns out the bomber was a psychotic “Christian Identity” terrorist named Eric Rudolph. Rudolph later bombed a lesbian bar and two abortion clinics, setting secondary bombs that would target police, fire, and emergency medical personnel. When the cops finally identified him, he went into hiding for over five years. When he was caught, he took a plea bargain solely to avoid the death penalty. He’s expressed no regrets, and he sends out letters that are generally considered harassment against his victims and incitement for his supporters to commit more violence. He’s scum, a racist, and a terrorist, and I’m thoroughly happy that he’ll die in prison.

Last year, Georgia governor Sonny Perdue officially commended Jewell for his heroism. I gotta tell you, from what I’ve read, Perdue hasn’t been the greatest governor around, but when I heard that he’d done that for Jewell, my admiration for him jumped sky-high. He got the chance to take a guy who’s been dumped on by life, despite the good he’d done, he brought him back before the public, and said, “This guy’s a hero. Give him the respect he deserves.” That’s a beautiful thing to do for someone. It doesn’t make up for all the crap he’d had to put up with, but it was great to see that someone remembered him.

Jewell was diagnosed with diabetes early this year, and his kidneys were failing. He died on August 29th. The media reported his death, but too many omitted their parts in trying to put a hero in prison.

If we lived in the Marvel Universe, Captain America would’ve shaken Richard Jewell’s hand on national TV, lectured us about our fickle loyalties, and made sure Nick Fury gave Jewell a good job in SHIELD. If we lived in the DC Universe, Batman would’ve cleared Jewell in two days, had Rudolph in custody in three, and the Wayne Foundation would’ve made sure Jewell and his mom spent the rest of the rest of their lives comfortably well-off and suitably respected by everyone.

We live in the real world, where people have fan websites for murderous terrorists like Eric Rudolph, and where there are no statues honoring heroes like Richard Jewell.

That’s insane, and that’s all there is to say about it.

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Comic Book Conventions and the Media


My Avengers, let me show you them

The only comic book convention I’ve ever attended was one I went to back in the early ’90s at the University of North Texas in Denton. Everyone fit into one fairly small room in the student union building. I think there were a dozen or so people selling comics. No one dressed up, there were no special guests, no one got excited. And I probably wouldn’t have gone at all if it weren’t a five-minute walk from my dorm.

Something like Comic-Con last weekend in San Diego? Never been to anything like it, probably never will. Too big, too far away, and I’ll never have enough vacation time to go that far away, much less enough money to cover admission.

But John Rogers went to Comic-Con and gives us his thoughts on conventions, culture, and the media.

The Con’s current scale hammers home the hackiness of the standard American media narrative. I noticed multiple news camera crews, and each time it was the same. 124,000 people at the Con, give or take. But if you turn on your news coverage you won’t see the giggling, happy five year-olds with their parents, having the “together family time” we’re always whinging on about. You won’t see the young woman who wrote and drew a comic about her time as a soldier in Israel. You won’t see the scrum of young Marines I spotted as they compared Magic the Gathering cards. You won’t meet the junior high teachers who are using my comic in their predominantly Hispanic classrooms to spark discussion about racial representation in the media. You won’t see the indie film-makers, the kid who shot this 25 minutes in a week and left every industry pro who stumbled across him slack-jawed.

A thousand stories, tens of thousands of families … yet the newshacks couldn’t wait to hustle up the dozen or so real freaks in costumes, the literally .001% that gave them what they wanted. Not even the kids in the Harry Potter outfits, or the Japanese anime kids, or even the clever unfolding Transformer rigs — no, they found every empty-eyed overweight forty-five year old Flash or flab-rolled part-time stripper Catwoman and latched on tight for the creepy interview.

In the American media there are two constants. In politics, it is always and forever 1968, and liberals are Dirty (F***ing) Hippies. In culture, anyone who decides to poke their head out of the cultural world of the CBS primetime line-up is a sad, basement-dwelling loner screaming into his Hello Kitty pillow as crackling video dubs of the original Spider-Man cartoon flicker on his television.

And that’s not a bad view of the way things are nationwide. In all the years I’ve been buying and reading comics, I’ve seen mighty few Howling Freakshow DoomBeasts hanging around Star. Frankly, I can think of two — every other person I’ve seen there is as normal as normal can be. Kids, parents, men, women, old, young, businessmen, cowboys, goths, geeks, punks, preps, you name it.

Of course, if the national media had to interview ten typical comic book readers, they’d panic. “These aren’t real comic book fans!” they’d scream. “Get us the freaks and weirdos! Get us people who look like the nerds we knew in high school! Get us people who look like the stereotypes we have in our heads!”

And that’s really what I think a lot of that stuff is about — maintaining and enforcing cultural taboos and divisions. The media — and the national media in particular — has a point-of-view that’s firmly ensconced within the status quo — usually by necessity. But nowadays, some folks within the national media have gotten it into their heads that they’re supposed to promote the status quo, rather than just report from within it. And the way they promote the status quo is to marginalize the square pegs who don’t quite fit into society’s stereotyped round holes. Hence: nearly all media depictions of comics fans are Comic Book Guy, goths wear trenchcoats and shoot up high schools, feminists have hairy legs and hate men, gays wear leather thongs and dance on parade floats, environmentalists are granola-eating hippies, blacks are rappers, Hispanics are either gangsters or illegal immigrants, Muslims are terrorists. True? Of course not. But you can’t get a cookie-cutter culture without demonizing a few Nutter Butters (or something like that).

The point is to tell the audience that those people are not normal, and you shouldn’t want to have anything to do with them, or you’ll be abnormal, too.

Is there a way out? Probably not. There doesn’t seem to be much of a way to make the national media less shallow. Is there a way around the problem. Sure. Do what lots of people do already — do what makes you happy, and don’t let the clucking busybodies on TV scare you off.

(By the way, the comments on Rogers’ blog post are outstanding all the way through — make sure you read them, too.)

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The End of Bat Boy!

The Weekly World News — self-dubbed “The World’s Only Reliable Newspaper” — is closing up shop.


What will we all read in the supermarket checkout lines now? “In Touch” magazine just doesn’t have enough articles about the World’s Fattest Cat…

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