I got into comic books pretty late in my life compared to many others. I read some comics near the end of my senior year of high school- mostly pirated, and started actually buying and collecting trade paper backs around the end of my college career. There was so much to catch up on and read, there were and still are many stories I can preoccupy my time with from Marvel Comics long history of publishing. Comics started to get odd at some point though. Around maybe the releases for Civil War 2, more specifically, or at least that was when me and other friends who’ve collected books noticed. I’m told by others who have been in the hobby longer than I that it’s been an ongoing problem for many years. Though I don’t think it was as blatant until around this time.
From the looks of it seems like new writers are trying hard to push against not just tropes of an established genre, but societal and cultural norms. A sort of activism. The problem is I think they’re bad at it. Terrible to the point of pushing not just fans, but new readers away. It’s not a new concept to write and try to move the needle to change the world or views of others towards a more positive perspective. Don’t lay it out so thick though. Many writers will now set up characters or villains as a straw-man for arguments they believe they’ve already come up with answers to. Some writers try changing the personalities and life styles of long established characters in just one page, or awkwardly have character talks about the trope or societal norm they’re trying to subvert in the same speech bubble- which comes off as a little awkward.
There are better ways for writers to get these ideas across to their readers. Especially in ways without alienating current customers and scaring away new ones.
Recently friend of mine asked if I watched a show called Schitts Creek. I have and I watched enjoyed it with my conservative Christian parents. In the show a lead character comes out as Bi, falls in love with another man in town, and by the shows end marries him. The show might play this out as bit idealized, but those conservative Christian parents I mentioned loved the character and were happy for him and his new husband to be. There was no attacking of the viewers who didn’t agree with the lifestyle choice, no berating of a character who all of suddenly hated them for getting married. It was two men who fell in love and got married and it was played pretty straight forward.
Moments like that are more powerful in changing peoples mind and moving the needle in the right direction. The director of the show was apparently told by fans and others how they were so surprised a show would portray scenes and events like that. I feel many shows and cartoons back in the day did that very commonly though.
The people like these writers at marvel either want to change the world over night, relieve themselves of the stresses of their own life and experiences at the expense of their readers, or at worst signal to their in-group on how they are trying to change culture. The way their doing is too toxic to work. At the very least you might be able to attack people enough that they are afraid to speak their minds in certain public forums, but you’re not changing their minds.
From watching a comedic talk show my own father will point to Ellen DeGeneres and say “She’s gay, but she’s so funny and nice I love her”. Some people would be tempted to think or say “Why does it matter that she’s gay she’s just funny and nice!?” or think of how backward that thinking is, but do you know how powerful that is? For someone in their 50’s who you’d think would be stuck in their ways to say something like that out loud? It’s these little victories that change culture and how people perceive the world.
If you’re trying to share a message through your medium. Maybe check if you’re using the right medium and if you’re doing it right. You’re trying to convince people not shun them.