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Comics break their solemn if unmade vow not to have political opinions

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, January 9, 2009 2:58 EDT
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Did you know that comic books have a professional obligation to refrain from expressing political opinions, at least of the variety that could convince readers to vote for Democrats? Neither did I. But apparently, it’s supposed to be an earth-shaking scandal that Spiderman is paling around with Obama in one of the latest issues. Newsbuster told me so.

I for one think it’s an act of charity. The last thing your average comic book geek needs—and I say this with full love, a comic book on my lap, and piles of them around my house—is to dig way past the adorable geeky stage into the scary misogynist Republican geek stage, from someone who maybe strikes out on occasion to someone who radiates so much loathing and self-loathing that potential sex partners flinch and run away. If seeing Obama shaking hands with Spiderman can reach the eyeballs of enough geeks that they take a left turn into the rumpled-glasses-cute-indie geek arena and away from the anti-choice-”libertarian”-khakis-and-Limbaugh geek arena, then Spiderman has done its readers a great service. Your choice, crossroad geeks: Crush on Tina Fey, or crush on Ann Coulter.

I’m amused at the ever-growing list of media outlets that are not news outlets yet have, according to hysterical wingnuts, an obligation to either lean right (which is “fair”) or, if they can’t lean right, they have an obligation to pretend that their creators have all been struck so stupid that they can’t tell one candidate or side of an issue from another on a dare (which is “balanced”). This list of media outlets required to shut up or give equal or greater time to the looniest of right wing nuttery include:

Hollywood movies
Sitcoms
Comic books
Liberal blogs (horribly biased and should be forced to pretend to be outraged at Democratic scandals, even the faux ones concocted by wingnuts, at least according to the hate mail piling up in my email inbox)
Google illustrators
Country-western singers (who are permitted to be insanely right wing to the point of fascism, but who aren’t being fair or balanced if they criticize a single right wing stance)
“The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”
Guests at cocktail parties attended by Caitlin Flanagan
Anyone with input into Obama’s potential appointments—turns out there’s a brand new rule that says that Presidents are obligated to offer lots of juicy positions to members of the opposition party, a rule that didn’t exist in the past 8 years
College professors and possibly students expressing opinions in class, if they are patriotically incorrect opinions

That’s just a sampling. However, there is absolutely nothing unfair or unbiased about the existence of these openly right wing media outlets that have no liberal counterpart:

Fox News
Most talk radio
The Wall Street Journal
The op-ed pages of many major newspapers in the “liberal” media who publish conservative op-eds at a 2 to 1 basis
Churches

In fact, churches get double super awesome protection for right wing nuttery. If you’re a church and you give money, time, or propaganda to a right wing campaign such as the campaign for Prop 8, you not only don’t have to be fair about it, but if anyone criticizes you, they’re a radical terrorist whose free speech rights should at least be seriously reconsidered in the name of tolerance.

If all this seems very unfair, consider that right wingers have to be handicapped because they fall so far behind in the logic, reality, and compassion departments. Honestly, letting liberals talk at all when they have such a huge advantage when it comes to basic reason seems deeply unfair.

What’s kind of depressing is seeing how right wingers are so unimaginative when it comes to making up unbelievable claims to injury due to bias from people who have no real-world obligation to keep their liberal-leaning opinions to themselves. There’s entire swaths of the world running around feeling like they can just say what they like without running it by a committee of angry right wing bloggers to make sure that it’s an acceptably conservative opinion or, in absence of that, lacks “bias”. Sure, going after Google illustrators for perceived bias was an imaginative stroke, but there’s so much more that could be done. Think of all the political pop music out there, with the vast majority of it leaning hard to the left. It’s clear that cultivating a handful of talentless right wing musicians hasn’t really filled the gap; perhaps it’s time to start demanding that Green Day and Kanye West offer up a song praising Bush or condemning women’s suffrage for every song that criticizes the war or even hints at anti-materialist values. On TV, anyone who looks like a classic Democratic voter—single women, non-white people, gay people—should dress head to toe in American-flag based clothing for balance, and if someone like Tina Fey still looks like she’s got some intelligence shining in her eyes after that, maybe we should encourage her to perm her hair for balance. Maybe enough complaints aimed that the FCC can get this done.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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