Unexpected Allies: Decibel Magazine’s Feminist Take on the DC Reboot

In the December 2011 issue of Decibel magazine (“America’s only extreme music magazine”), I read the interesting, but expected Dave-Mustaine-this-time-he-is-totes-over-his-feuds-he-means-it-even-if-he-is-called-SuperDave-and-Junior-isn’t-called-Junior story; lots of short articles with bands filled with fourth-degree clones of Zakk Wylde; and the usual review of extreme albums that I won’t be listening to.

But unexpectedly, especially for a magazine dedicated to metal and other extreme music, there is an actual for-real feminist take on the DC reboot that says that treating women as soulless objects is not entertainment. For an audience that reads a magazine featuring bands with album covers that will give children nightmares.

Unfortunately not online, Joe Gross’ one-page column dissects the reason why the reboot doesn’t make economic sense, by turning away girls and women (and men and boys) that aren’t interested in a “cruel, violent vibe and crueler sexual politics”, asking the question “Who the fuck is this crap for?”

He says that between the reboot “and a noticeable decline in women creators at DC, it would be tough for the company to have constructed a bigger “Fuck you, we don’t want your money” to potential female readers”. And that is a potentially huge loss for an industry that could use new readers — or at least not lose older newly disgusted fans. Perhaps it is just those that I know, but a large percentage of the comics fans I know *are* people of difference (such as women/girls, people of color, gay/queer, some other other, or a combination) — not the stereotype of Comic Book Guy.

One of the benefits of having this article written for this particular audience is demonstrated by the pull-quote on the page:

I’ve seen hardcore, [gnzo p!@#] that treated women with more dignity that DC is treating those two gals [, Catwoman and Starfire]

THAT knowledge is not likely to be found by writers from traditional feminist sources, even third-wave ones.

Gross also references “the terrific essay” by Laura Hudson on Comics Alliance, The Big Sexy Problem with Superheroines and Their “Liberated Sexuality”.

Thank you, Decibel. And to Shortpacked (who created the economics of comics comic above). And to all of the disappointed seven-year old American comics fans, may I suggest mahou shoujo (and manhwa)? It isn’t without issues, but that’s where I’m sending the comics-loving kids in my life.


Update on Hallyu Wave: It’s getting closer

Of our very diverse blog posts, some of the most popular are about hallyu, the export of Korean pop culture. While still very much a subculture outside of Asia, the idea of k-pop music used as psychological warfare against North Korea is being considered — in a similar way to the use of the music of Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, Queen, and Sesame Street was used at Guantánamo.

So who are potential psychological weapons of cute pop music? Some of the most likely candidates are Girls Generation (song above that will get stuck in your head — and yes, that is a sample of New Order), Brown Eyed Girls (video directly above) and the Wonder Girls. The Wonder Girls especially have been marketing themselves for a worldwide audience, including websites directed to the U.S. and other English speaking audiences.

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When Cultures – and Subcultures – Collide on Twitter

The final game of the World Cup is tomorrow, an offline event that has the potential to shut down Twitter with the amount of online traffic it generates. Not that shutting down Twitter is much of a feat these days, considering how often I see the Fail Whale on a daily basis, but it’s still notable.

A few news stories have been published about the online impact of the World Cup. it’s especially interesting for fans in the U.S. Until recently soccer was primarily seen as a cult interest for sports fans in the United States, while it’s a way of life for fans pretty much everywhere else in the world. Due in part to the U.S. Soccer team’s decent performance in the competition this year, but also due to real time-global communications tools like Twitter, many United States sports fans actually participated in the global conversation about the World Cup. Anecdotally, I noticed some resentment among some U.S. Twitter users who stated their exasperation with the World Cup talk dominating Twitter conversation for the past month.

I noticed a similar pattern last year, and a couple of weeks ago, with the BET Awards, when for one Sunday evening, all of Twitter’s trending topics were dominated by hip-hop and R &B artists or other random musings about black popular culture. Last year’s BET awards discussion seemed to take some Twitter users by surprise and the resulting commentary turned nasty and at times racist. Since then the “news” of black Twitter users seems to have become more accepted, but there seems to always be a disruptive element whenever the “mainstream” of Twitter conversation (tech stuff, social media, Justin Bieber, celebrity death news) is temporarily silenced by unexpected conversation from a seemingly “niche” audience.

On a somewhat similar note, I remember being surprised (and delighted!) last year when briefly, the 10th anniversary of Nine Inch Nails “The Fragile” started trending on Twitter – seemingly organically, as in it was not a campaign of any sort. It was just something people wanted to talk about.

Of course, that is the curious power of a medium like Twitter, so driven by real-time conversation and offline events that people want to talk about. It’s not just the large, impactful, meaningful events that become part of the conversation, like the Iran elections, or the Gulf oil spill, but more mundane happenings, like a cable TV awards show, or the anniversary of an album, or whatever. Audiences – very different types of audiences, defined by behavior, nationality, fandom, age, you name it – use the tool to connect and talk about whatever is current and discussion-worthy, even if its not of universal interest.

These diverse conversations get little moments of awareness each day on Twitter, sometimes they take hold long enough in trending topics to be noticed by “outsiders” of the community having the conversation, which is when things get interesting. In the case of the World Cup it showed the potential for a truly global conversation to take place, and even bring “outliers” along for the ride. I think this is the headed toward being the standard now, understanding that the assumed audience of social media, and of Twitter specifically, is much more diverse than we are always aware of. As we see communications on Twitter allow for translation capability in the future (please?) hopefully we will see the opportunity and chaos of even more diverse conversation and community online