Basement Dwellers, Open-Mindedness, and Whining on the Internet

Ever since the following panels appeared in last week’s issue of Justice League International #1 (November 2011) by Dan Jurgens, Aaron Lopresti, and Matt Ryan, it’s been making the rounds on message boards and Internet forums.

Subtlety, thy name is DC Comics.

This is, of course, an obvious reference to the continuing online debate over whether or not the 2011 reboot of the DC Universe was a good idea.

In all fairness to Dan Jurgens, his mouthpiece in the above exchange, Booster Gold, is quite clearly advocating the position that it’s the job of the writers to win over the unhappy members of the fanbase by producing a quality product. In fact, many online posters have been openly mocking the haters and claiming that, if you happens to be offended by this line, that’s only because it hits a bit too close to home. If you take a closer look at the subtext in the aforementioned panels and the latter argument as a whole, however, there are several unfortunate implications that may or may not be immediately apparent:

1. Basement dweller: This is an ad hominem attack, pure and simple. An attempt is being made to link dissenting arguments with a negative lifestyle in order to discredit them, the assumption being that someone who is an (implied) basement dweller could not possibly come up with legitimate criticism. This is, of course, ridiculous.

2. Open-mindedness: The base assumption here is that all ideas have equal merit and should thus carry the same weight when it comes to making decisions. Again, this is pure drivel. If a patient develops cancer, he can choose to either undergo chemotherapy or hope to be healed through the power of prayer. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that both options most definitely don’t deserve the same amount of consideration.

3. Whining on the Internet: It is widely assumed that complaining about something on the Internet is inherently useless and pathetic and therefore automatically beneath consideration. This is the same flawed argument that’s being made in Point 1 – i.e. guilt by association – and, as with most things in life, how seriously you’re taken depends on what exactly it is that you do. Ranting, raving, and engaging in character assassination on a message board, for example, is an exercise in futility while making clear, concise, logical, and well-researched arguments on a website and spreading the word through social networking is far more productive and stands a far better (albeit admittedly limited) chance of appealing to the masses and making your voice heard. (And in case anyone’s wondering, that link was an attempt at self-deprecating humor, not ego-stroking.)

4. Ignoring the protestors: Let’s make one thing clear: DC Comics is not a democracy. Anyone who’s in a position of power over there did not acquire it by the popular vote of the fanbase. They were hired or appointed. As far as I know, most of the decision-making lies in the hands of a six-member executive management team, specifically Jim Lee, Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, John Rood, Patrick Caldon, and Diane Nelson. Whatever they say goes, and, while they might take the opinions of longtime fans and their own in-house creators into account, they do so at their own discretion and are under absolutely no obligation to do so.

That last point, I believe, lies at the heart of why fans are so vocal and upset: over the past ten years or so, several unpopular decisions have been forced through due to executive meddling that have been detrimental to fan-favorite characters. While Hal Jordan‘s return to the role of Green Lantern and the revival of the Green Lantern Corps has been a tremendous success, others such as the Flash and Green Arrow have suffered tremendously, with increasingly desperate attempts to fix the very messes that editorial mandate created in the first place only making things even worse. Unfortunately, the only options fans have to voice their displeasure are either complaining on major online message boards in the hopes that the Powers That Be at DC Comics will listen or to vote with their wallet and stop purchasing anything unless conditions improve.

And since the former is being widely dismissed by parties on both sides of the issue as the ravings of comic book fandom’s lunatic fringe, I guess there’s only one choice left, isn’t there?

Congratulations, DC and Dan DiDio, you’ve succeeded in dragging this closed-minded basement dweller into the new digital era of comic books. I will most definitely be reading more of your titles in the future than I have in the past 27 years of collecting.

I simply won’t be paying you a dime for any of them.

The Internet, after all, has far more practical applications than simply being a place to whine. 😉

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5 Responses to “Basement Dwellers, Open-Mindedness, and Whining on the Internet”

  1. M Says:

    Amen. I think it’s just a matter of time before DC changes it’s approach. No company can survive by actively and consistantly ignoring/offending it’s fanbase, I don’t care if you’re Coca-Cola, you’re not gonna last if you call your customers losers for expressing concern.

    Side Note: I also think it’s just a matter of time before your blog finds a huge following, so please don’t be one of those bloggers who quits within the first two years.

  2. Lunar Archivist Says:

    Thanks for the kind words. Let’s hope you’re right and that my blog does eventually take off! 🙂

    I don’t really think badly of Dan Jurgens for using that line considering that Booster Gold’s his author expy (though he is guilty of hamfistedly inserting the dialogue and making it look absolutely cringeworthy). I have no respect for DC editorial, though. Dan DiDio, Ian Sattler, and now Scott Lobdell have all made comments along the lines of “We’re glad we upset you! That means our stories have impact!”, thereby demonstrating their complete cluelessness. The fanbase isn’t angry because the stories resonated with them, they’re angry because they sucked.

  3. gerardo Says:

    Im with Booster Gold, He is a reminder that there are people who cares inside DC while there are others that clearly claim the fans should be ignored

  4. Lunar Archivist Says:

    Yeah, the problem is that the ones who think that fans should be ignored are running the show.

  5. David Says:

    ‘They do so at their own discretion and are under absolutely no obligation to do so.’ When was the last time you managed to run a big company with help?

    ‘Unfortunately, the only options fans have to voice their displeasure are either complaining on major online message boards in the hopes that the Powers That Be at DC Comics will listen or to vote with their wallet and stop purchasing anything unless conditions improve.’ You missed option 3 – write a lletter saying you want changes to happen.

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