Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Beating up on The Beat

In a post called "Things We're Sick Of," The Beat's Heidi MacDonald tries to clamp down on recent comments on her blog regarding comics industry rumor-mongering (regarding DC Comics Executive Editor Dan DiDio). Apparently, Ms. MacDonald is sick of:

Uninformed speculation. Granted it is an interesting time in the comics industry, and a lot is happening. However, wild guesses and baseless speculation is a waste of time and prevents accurate information from getting out there. And trust me, none of us know what is going on behind closed doors at any comics company.

General shittiness. Behind every rumor is a real person. Let’s all try to remember that.

The problem here is that just days ago MacDonald was trucking in "baseless speculation" herself:

"While rumors on the floor of the con were running to Didio..."

So, from now on if the Beat posts Internet chatter or behind the scenes rumors then does that mean Heidi MacDonald is breaking her own rules? Or does it just mean the readers can't respond to it? Will the Beat no longer trade in Internet chatter and behind the scenes rumors? Or is this another example of people in the comics industry acting as they are the gatekeepers, the guardians of All That Is Good, and the rest of us are just unwashed idiots who don't know whereof we speak, unless of course we are allowed in "the club" by either getting a job in the industry or hanging out with the right people at convention after parties?

Frankly, I think comics people have extremely thin skins compared to every other single industry in the known universe. Sports writers regularly write the worst about athletes and then have to interview them in the locker room. Even small town politicians may not like the local paper but they still usually have to tolerate its presence while the rabble get to voice their opinions at public meetings and in the paper's letter columns about the job they're doing. I work at a small town newspaper and the kind of stuff that gets said about comics pros, editors and publishers is nothing compared to what gets said about your local Drain Commissioner or City Councilman. When you assume a public position you also take on the nasty fact that the public gets to comment on your job performance, even when you think they don't have a clue what they're talking about. A lot of news about the goings on in the government or corporate America are "wild guesses and baseless speculation." The way to combat rampant rumors and idle speculation is with little things often known as facts. For some reason the comics industry treats facts and the truth as if they are things to be avoided at all costs.

For some reason in comics we get this "who cares about the fans" attitude as if everyone criticizing the industry (or someone in it) was some unwashed fat tween hyped up on Monster energy drinks, bitching on Newsarama between playing Guitar Hero and checking his MySpace page. There's never an acknowledgement that a few comics readers might be thoughtful and intelligent people who may have a wealth of life experience and knowledge both about comics and the 99.99999% remaining portion of the world. I don't doubt that many comics fans are complete idiots, I've met enough of them to understand that. I guess what I want to see is something in the middle, is that too much to ask? Can't we separate the people who want to bitch and moan about the comics they buy every week from the careful observers of the industry who just want what is best?

All that said, I completely understand why Heidi said what she did. I have some experience moderating a blog that sees heated discussions and it does get tiring how some people can't seem to moderate themselves and have to say things they wouldn't say in person. But it seems that just days after trucking in gossip, The Beat is trying to act as if it had nothing to do with the exaggerated rumors of Mr. Didio's "demise" at DC and fanning the flames of the industry gossip that ended up catching the ear of a mainstream news reporter. That finally lead to a public statement that said Didio was safe in his job and now we have all the gatekeepers who passed along the gossip decrying said gossip. Heidi likes to say she's "hearing things" but then not report what those things might be, which usually means idle speculation will fill the void in The Beat's comment section and elsewhere. I think someone needs to call her on that, but since Heidi's "in the club" it probably won't happen, unless it's by someone like me who's firmly not in "the club." Team Comics rides again...

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