Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Rap about OS Card and Superman? Why not?

So Adam WarRock has recorded a song about the whole situation with Orson Scott Card writing a Superman story.

If Superman was real, you know I think he'd feel
He wouldn't want a man of hate to tell his story
If Superman was real you know the man of steel
He'd say all people could just share in the glory.

He writes in his blog:

Some people say you shouldn’t judge an artist for their beliefs. You should judge them for their works. I don’t believe that. When an artist puts their beliefs out there, they are making those beliefs a part of their works, a part of the whole experience of them as an artist. If you disagree, or are offended by those beliefs, then you can judge them for it, you can boycott or actively protest against their works. This is the machine that we have in society, to fight back against ignorance, stupidity, hatred. We change people’s minds through action, through discourse, through engagement.

He ends, like so many do, by showing a bit from All-Star Superman:

You're much stronger than you think you are.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

One more

Let's just add this link to a Comics Alliance interview with the owner of Zeus Comics in Dallas, who says:

Let me pull back for a moment because you're speaking directly to choice, and I've seen the word "censor" and the phrase "freedom of speech" bandied about in regards to Orson Scott Card and his relationship to DC Comics and Superman. Card can say, write, blog, advocate whatever he wants. That does not mean that speech comes consequence free. Free speech and censorship relate to a government and its citizens. It does not directly apply to businesses and their relationships. Your employer decides your dress code, your hours, your work ethic and in particular the things you can and can not say to your peers or the business' customers. Businesses decide whether or not to hire or fire folks based on things discovered on their Facebook page, Twitter feed, even their appearance.
Now, Card has said some venomous things about the LGBT community and he advocates such through his relationship with NOM. In the same way Nike can drop Lance Armstrong because of his potential to hurt their brand, DC can drop Card because his hate speech towards a group is damaging to DC Comics and Superman. Card is contracted to write a Superman story. DC is under no obligation to publish or print that story in part or in whole. DC will edit that story, ask for rewrites and often dictate the content. For example, DC would not let Card's Superman drop the F-Bomb. Is it censorship of Card's story? It isn't. Its not Card's story. Its DC's story. They hired him and they can decide what to publish. Is it censorship if Zeus Comics decides not to carry the comic? It isn't. Each month, when ordering products through Diamond, I am making a decision whether or not to carry a comic based on values, quality of work, and its ability to sell. That's not censorship, that's capitalism.

Also, in print publishing, the comic shop is DC's customer. It's completely within our right to ask DC to remove Card and/or provide us with a product we can sell. If a writer's personal opinions are so contrary to my audience's values, their work won't sell. The coverage this last week about Card's near two decades of outspoken anti-gay bigotry and anti-gay activism have made Orson Scott Card toxic to Zeus' customers. In the end, it's really Card's outspoken animus for gay people that made the decision.

More about Card

A few more shops have decided not to carry the new Adventures of Superman, written by Orson Scott Card. One in Canada and one in Ireland. The Irish shop, called The Big Bang Comic Shop, released a statement which read, in part:

Ironically in all of this it’s a Superman story. And Superman stands for Truth and Justice. I’m pretty sure Superman, if he were a real living breathing person wouldn’t be into restricting the rights of any person no matter what their sexual orientation was but Mr Card is and that doesn’t represent the principles of Truth and Justice to us. The second irony in all of this, if we were to boycott the title all together we’d be no better than Mr Card restricting people’s right to get this issue if they so wanted to. We’re not about censoring rights, unlike Mr Card.

 A couple of things here: note the lack of 'the American way.' And the idea that the shop management (no names were included in the article I read) knows what Superman would do if he were a real person.

Here's a thoughtful response on how this story relates to one family's opinions about Card's other work--in short, his views on marriage and homosexuality have ruined a story (Ender's Game) that the writer and his family once loved. This isn't the first time I've seen a statement like that.

 And another response, from TG Daily, makes the connection between 'geeks' and gay folks:

We geeks know what it’s like to be excluded in life, and know how painful prejudice can be. Like gay people and other minorities, we just want to be accepted and treated like everyone else, and when it comes to genre worship, enthusiasm and sincerity is all that really matters, not the color of your skin, nationality, or sexual preference. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Card's Superman

Let's dig a little bit deeper into the controversy surrounding DC's choice to hire sf writer Orson Scott Card to create some Superman stories.

First, here's a USAToday article that sums up the issue:

DC Comics ignited a firestorm last week by announcing that Card, who has been criticized over the years for his vocal anti-gay political stance, would be one of a stable of writers contributing to a new digital-first anthology, Adventures of Superman. The series, launching in April (a print version will be sold in stores starting in May), features the iconic hero who has long been associated with the phrase "truth, justice and the American way.''
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender activist website has collected more than 11,000 signatures on an online petition asking DC to drop Card from the project....

In addition to being the author of the 1985 science-fiction novel Ender's Game and many other sci-fi works, Card is on the board of directors for the National Organization for Marriage, which is outspoken in its denouncement of same-sex marriage.

Here's another summary, from The Daily Beast. And one from The Guardian.

DC's response has been to brush it off:

As content creators we steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals associated with DC Comics are just that — personal views — and not those of the company itself.

Beyond the petition, several shops have decided not to carry the print version of the comic.

At issue are both Card's beliefs and his actions. He's not merely someone who believes that certain people should be denied marriage, he sits on the board of an organization devoted to stopping it, and has stated that, should gay marriage become a federal right, people should rise up against the government. Michael Hartney has written on just this point:

If this was a holocaust denier or a white supremacist, there would be no question. Hiring that writer would be an embarrassment to your company. Well, Card is an embarrassment to your company, DC. This is the same. The LGBTQ community will no longer take this lying down. Our civil rights are no longer up for debate or discussion.
Ugh. And of all the characters Card could have been hired to write, you give him Superman? The character that taught me to lead by example? To do the right thing, even when it was hard? To keep going, even when it seemed hopeless? What an insult. Kids are killing themselves. They are killing themselves in a climate of intolerance and homophobia publicly fostered by people like Orson Scott Card. You don’t have to contribute to this. You shouldn’t. You mustn’t.

Christopher Butcher takes it further:

Orson Scott Card is a dangerous bigot. If he will not even attempt to atone for his dangerous bigotry (including: hate-filled screeds, lies, and incitements to violence), then I don’t care if he never gets another job again. Let alone writing a beloved icon of children and adults.

Here's a thoughtful response from Wired, about how the writer is disappointed by Card's views, but doesn't agree that he should be pulled from the story:

Let him write the story, and let DC publish it. You can then choose to buy the comic or not. You can then choose to protest the message in the actual story if you are offended by it. But silencing a voice — even one with as intolerant a message as his — is not the answer. It’s better to hold that intolerance up to the light of day and show it for what it truly is: fear. Fear of the alien. Fear of the other and the strange. A fear that, ironically, it was Orson Scott Card who helped me confront and vanquish at an early age, whether he meant to or not.

Mark Millar has apparently tweeted that calling for the firing of Card based on his views is nothing short of fascism.

But others have been prompted to more reflective statements about their view of the character:

Superman may not live in the real world, but I’d like to think that if he were a real being he would be on the side of justice for LGBT community members.

It's important to point out that the issue is coming to a head because of the character. Nobody seems to have complained much when Card wrote Iron Man stories, as many of the above links make clear. Because Superman is involved, people suddenly have strong opinions. Following on a point from Butcher above, Tom Spurgeon wonders about this:

Butcher's line about Superman having power as an icon above and beyond his role as a corporate-owned character attached to a dubious history of exploitation and issue-alignment, and that this matters, is well-taken. That is very much a blind spot for me. For me, Superman is an empty suit. One of my first Internet fiascoes was a mid-1990s declaration that no adult person actually considered Superman a role-model and being lectured by an array of adults on CompuServe that told me that they very much considered Big Blue a role-model and how dare I suggest otherwise. Live and learn. I'm still always a little confused that the ideal outweighs the uglier aspects for folks that are routinely exposed to both. This expression of that notion here, that being assigned to Superman means something more than if Card were given, say, his own entire comics line, comes from hardcore comics fans, not from like my Mom or from my friends growing up or their kids. It's sort of like if the press corps and Secret Service that dealt with JFK on a daily basis had a more hardcore idealized version of the president than Catholic households in Boston with his picture above the television had, although maybe that doesn't explain it well, and maybe those men and women did hold Kennedy in higher regard.

It's legitimately fascinating that Superman seems to me to have been traditionally claimed by conservatives as having ideals in that direction, and here is claimed for what we tend to think of as American liberal values such as inclusiveness. In fact, the irony from the perspective of this being a headache for DC Comics is that they've sold and sold and sold this viewpoint where they are in shared custody with generations of fans of an important set of ideas and principles wearing a cape, and in this instance they have to deal with the fact that people are going to hold them to that. Good

So there's all that stuff wrapped up in this issue. The general sentiment above is that Card is wrong in his opinions, and that he is in the minority. Some people think that Superman shouldn't be written by a person who feels the way Card feels, who advocates the things he advocates. As I see it, it all comes down to the idea that some people think that Superman should represent inclusivity--he saves everyone. They extend this idea beyond the character and the stories told about him to the complex of events surrounding the creation of those stories, including the people involved in the creation.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Superman and Orson Scott Card

The big Superman news lately, aside form Man of Steel publicity, is that DC has hired Orson Scott Card to write some Superman stories. I've only seen negative responses to this news. Here's one, by Glen Weldon:

In Action Comics #1 from 1938, Siegel and Shuster slapped together a one-page origin story in which he discovers his powers. We don't actually see him in the baby-blue longjohns until the very last panel of this introduction.
But when we do see him for the very first time, these are the first words that appear directly below, the first epithet applied to this newly-minted creation as it was unleashed upon the world:
Champion of the Oppressed.
There it is, coded into his creative DNA from the very beginning: He fights for the little guy.
And that's why this bugs me, and why I'm not the least bit curious about what Card's Superman might be like.
DC Comics has handed the keys to the "Champion of the Oppressed" to a guy who has dedicated himself to oppress me, and my partner, and millions of people like us. It represents a fundamental misread of who the character is, and what he means.
It is dispiriting. It is wearying. It is also, finally, not for me.

Some comics shops are refusing to carry the stories (they're digital, but apparently there will also be print copies for sale), and many people are calling for the company to stop the whole thing. Other people point out that an author's political views shouldn't have anything to do with whether or not he gets a writing gig.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


A guy in Georgia has taken to dressing as Superman while helping clean up after a recent tornado.

He doesn't want the broadcasters to reveal his name. He says he wears the suit to help spread the message of "compassion and friendship." It's effective; he most likely wouldn't have made the news if he weren't in the costume.