Censorship. Censorship never changes.
Hot on the heels of Milo Manara’s Spider-Woman variant debacle last year, the social justice crowd are back at it again, showing that they’re very much equal opportunities when it comes to badgering bewildered artists by this time targeting DC.
So what imagined crime has rustled their jimmies, now? It’s only the ever-present boogeyman of our time: Rape Culture. A variant cover for Batgirl #41, featuring our heroine being held hostage by the Joker in an obvious homage to The Killing Joke, has received criticism from progressive nutbars on Tumblr for the sin of depicting Batgirl in a vulnerable fashion and, of course, alluding to sexual assault. Because there is nothing in this world that these people cannot twist around and turn into a rape issue.
I can joke all I want, mind you, because today DC went and fucking caved in to their demands that the cover be pulled.
Before we go any further, here’s the proposed cover that has now been scrapped:
As you can see, it is clearly deviant and must be purged –you’ve probably committed at least three rapes, yourself, since looking at it– but why did the artist, Rafael Abuquerque, choose this particular composition? I’ll let him explain:
“My Batgirl variant cover artwork was designed to pay homage to a comic that I really admire, and I know is a favorite of many readers. ‘The Killing Joke’ is part of Batgirl’s canon and artistically, I couldn’t avoid portraying the traumatic relationship between Barbara Gordon and the Joker.”
Seems pretty straightforward to me. It’s also worth noting that this variant is part of a series featuring The Joker to mark his 75th anniversary, though admittedly this is the only one to not do so in a light-hearted manner. Given the pair’s infamous and dark past, however, I can think of nothing more appropriate than to reference the most defining moment in their shared history.
Fuck that, though, the cover might be triggering to some people, whether they’re actually victims of anything or not, and that is problematic and therefore it must be removed from the public consciousness, comrade. Never mind the fact that it may also help victims of abuse cope with their trauma, that’s inconvenient to the narrative: block and move on.
Here’s what I love most about this kind of hand-wringing behaviour: I can guarantee you with one-hundred percent certainty that if the variant cover had featured The Joker and Batgirl in a comedic fashion, like the other variants, SJW spaghetti would still have been flying everywhere as they pissed and moaned that it was making a mockery of abuse victims or glorifying Stockholm Syndrome by not acknowledging Batgirl’s valiant struggle in overcoming her trauma.
There really is no way to win when you’re dealing with professional victims, and while DC may believe they’ve done the right thing by capitulating to their histrionic demands, I promise this will not be the last we hear from them; just like making Thor a woman wasn’t enough, they had to go that extra mile and inject a bit of SocJus propaganda in there while they were at it.
All you do when you make concessions like this is open the floodgates to every puritan with an axe to grind. What are you going to do when they start demanding you remove all scenes of Batgirl getting injured, because it encourages violence against women? Any gay characters in your series? They can’t get hurt; encourages homophobia.
I understand DC wanting to grow their audience and tap into new revenue streams, but what they will undoubtedly come to realise is that the majority of the most vocal dissenters in incidents like this are not their audience. They never were, and they never will be. They are parasites who move from community to community in order to, as Internet Aristocrat famously put it, ‘shit them up’ by demanding things be changed to cater to their specific whims while at the same time never investing anything worthwhile into that community.
We’ve seen it in atheism, we’ve seen it in gaming, film, music, books…it’s really nothing new. Social Justice is just McCarthyism with a new coat of paint. It’s the Comics Code Authority, it’s the Hays Code, it’s the PMRC…these people have been doing this for forever and a day, and the culture of unfaltering political correctness we’ve allowed to permeate in our society –creating the kind of culture that allows a British paedophile to escape prosecution because he claims Islam taught him women are worthless— has allowed them to gain a real foothold in almost every facet of our daily lives.
You name it, and I guarantee there’s a progressive in that sector trying to fuck it up and make it a nightmare to be in.
So while stories about comic books might seem insignificant, especially when compared to what I just linked, and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking I’m blowing this out of proportion, remember that from little vindictive acorns grow big, fuck-off fascist trees. Nothing good is going to come of this: the more ground you give, the more they’re going to take.
One day we’re going to wake up and wonder what happened to all the cool shit artists used to create, now they’re only allowed to paint in shades of grey and have to burn all their work once it’s finished.
Anyway, let’s carry on with the retardation rodeo: Some people, including the writer of the Batgirl whom I already showed, above, have complained that the variant clashes with the light-hearted tone of the series’ new direction, which is probably true, but here’s the thing: It’s a variant cover, not the official cover of Batgirl #41. No one was being forced to buy or look at that cover if they didn’t want to, it would have existed purely for collectors who wished to commemorate the anniversary of one of the greatest fictional villains of all time.
With that in mind, it is a pretty perfect piece of art: It’s a truly terrifying composition and Albuquerque has done an impeccable job of capturing both fear and malice in a relatively simple image. Nothing about it glorifies or makes light of abuse, but when you’re dealing with people to whom context may as well be a foreign word, I guess that doesn’t matter.
Even if your only knowledge of The Joker comes from watching the Batman films, as I assume is the case for many of the misinformed morons championing this campaign, then you’re probably unaware of how dark and disturbed a character he actually is. Even Heath Ledger’s lauded portrayal –regarded by many as being so dark it was cited as a contributing factor in his suicide– barely scratched the surface of how depraved the character can really be.
In truth, we’ll probably never see a film, game or cartoon adaptation of the true Joker because the moral outrage it would cause would pale #ChangeTheCover’s antics into insignificance.
Comics are the only place where The Joker can truly be himself.
This is what really pisses me off about these fuckwits who arrive late to the party, pretend they’ve been here since the beginning and then start to get salty when they discover things that upset them. If they actually knew the subject material then surely they’d know what a pivotal moment this was in Batgirl’s history, and what a fitting tribute the VC is.
The Joker is not supposed to be a likeable character. He is insane, amoral, vicious and unpredictable; the complete antithesis to Batman’s character. People who actually appreciate complexity in their stories and understand that comics are more than just a series of pretty pictures to gawk at understand this about the character, and so when he commits unspeakably horrible acts we understand they are not supposed to make us comfortable as readers, but are instead meant to build a rich lore for a complex character.
These people didn’t bat an eyelid when Bane broke Batman’s back, they didn’t mourn the brutal death of Jason Todd, so don’t ever fucking try to tell me they give two shits about wanting to elevate an art form when they attempt to neuter it in this way. All they want is to control it and mould it to fit their sterile agenda.
If these people were even remotely sincere in their wishes for comics and video games to grow up and advance as a medium then why would they, at every turn, try to stamp out any kind of material that is even remotely challenging to the consumer? That’s the exact opposite of maturity: it’s fucking infantilisation of the audience; shielding them from anything uncomfortable and pretending the world is never a horrible place to live in.
It’s this attitude that now has professors openly and unabashedly saying they are against students having the right to express themselves, and that they should instead attend college and university so that they can be ‘indoctrinated’ –their words, not mine- into the correct way of viewing the world.
Again, you might think I’m attempting to link a bunch of unrelated points together –what the fuck does academia have to do with comic books?– to make this seem like a bigger issue than it is, but the reality is The Killing Joke has existed for 25 years, with it’s extremely dark and controversial history. It is not alone in this respect, so why is it only now that suddenly, more and more, we are seeing these social justice slacktivists hitting out against them? Because colleges are pumping them out by the truckload, gender studies degree firmly in hand, ready to smash the patriarchy by consistently portraying themselves as weak-minded victims who are completely incapable of accepting any form of criticism.
These are genuinely unsettling precedents, and if we don’t use every opportunity to fight back, then eventually we really won’t need works of fiction because we’ll be living in one, penned by George fucking Orwell.
And on that note, I’ll leave you with the words of the late, great Christopher Hitchens, on the misguided notion that censorship’s true goal is to protect anyone: