Monday, 30 December 2013

The media isn't helping the 'misogynist' comic book reader stereotype


I'm pretty late to the game with this, so I apologise in advance. I wanted to talk about how us nerdy types are represented in the press, sometimes unfairly.

I've been reading about the reactions to Shailene Woodley being Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2 flick. More to the point, the reactions of a few photos of her walking around, presumably on set. The New Statesman wrote an article entitled 'Comics fans react with disgust at photos of a woman on her way to work', relating to people on the Bleeding Cool (and other) forums expressing their distaste for the actress on the grounds of her looks.

Reading the comments, it's easy to see why comic fans get a bad name. There are a tonne of vile, sexist remarks on there like, "a quick google shows an average looking girl with makeup at best. You can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig." That's reprehensible. I'll say right now that there's nothing wrong with Woodley - she's actually pretty amazing and I'm sure she'll do a great job as MJ.

We know that some people are just closed-minded morons with a stick up their arses about women. It's not just a thing we see in comic book or rolepaying game fandom.

However, the New Statesman article is misrepresentitive of comic book readers - hell, even of Bleeding Cool forum dwellers. It's tarred us all with the same brush and that's not okay.

Let's look at some other comic book fan reactions, shall we?

"Yep, went straight to the vile comments. Looks like poor taste extends beyond terrible superhero comics and onto Bleeding Cools forums. I think she'll be great in the role. She's a great actor."

"There's bound to be some quite absurd comments on the forum about Woodley's looks. They've already started. Crazy. First of all, she's obviously a cute kid. Secondly, that's not the point of my sharing these pictures, so I'm disappointed to see people just pile onto that. It reflects far more unpleasantly on anybody making the comments than it ever could on Woodley herself."

"They're a couple of unprepped set pics, see how good you numpties look walking down the street!"

"I am aware this forum has given bad feedback before, and probably will again, and we don't censor it (as much as possible), either. But I feel kind of icky and horrible for being a member after reading some of the cunty bollocks that's being posted here."

"Well, I think she's lovely. I've never heard of her before, but googling her there are many more glamorous photos of her than those quick pics. I like the less styled look though for Mary Jane I'm sure she'll be done up."

There are more, but you get the picture. There's not a single mention of any of these in the New Statesman article. Some people reading the article are going to go away and think, as a generalisation, that all comic book readers are sexist pigs. I'm not making excuses for the ignorant arseholes that hold those awful views, but I think it's important to get facts straight before publishing a story like that.

Anyway, people should be more worried about the film-makers piling a billion villains into the new movie than what MJ looks like.