Thursday, September 25, 2008

Open Letter

You know, when I was in college I had this creative writing professor -- he had really red hands and always smelled of alcohol and tobacco -- who said to me,

"Valerie, when you write, it's like you put your arm in front of the table and saw it off for everyone to see."

Images of the comedian Gallagher filled my head; I pictured giving my audience a clear plastic tarp they might use before my readings to protect them from the spray of my blood.

But this was a warning from my professor; "for my own good." He suggested that instead of writing such intense pieces, I should try "slice of life" stories.

"You know -- make observations about food and things like that."

I genuinely think that's what certain readers of this blog want. They want observations of food and things like that. They want me to write, "hey, what version of Blue Beetle do you like the best?" Perhaps I could scan some images from kooky comix from the 1960s and give them funny captions -- or even, if I'm really feeling ambitious, re-letter them with ironic dialog.

And every once in a while I might write, "hey look at the boobies on Wonder Girl!" And I'll do this watered down offended-by-the-misogyny thing, and I'll reproduce all these images of Wonder Girl's boobies, and I'll use words like "boobies" a lot. Nothing of any value is ever really accomplished by such posts, and they serve more as advertising for the actual comics than anything else (and perhaps a little bit of titillation). But sometimes in the comics blogosphere, advertising and actual commentary get a little mixed up. And that's okay. Because it's just dumb comics, some dumb fun, a little snack-sized bit of trivia to distract from the cubicle.

And then one person or another, who uses their attachment to fictional characters to attain some sense of control over an uncontrollable world, will get upset that I spelled a character's name wrong, or I think this or that about him or her (or "it," as we are talking about an imaginary creature and not a real person). And so the little dramas happen, the little meaningless blips on the radar, the dramas that take away from me valuable time I could have spent elsewhere -- moments I could have spent with real people, moments I could have used to continue to actualize my Self. Instead of using these moments wisely, I spend them in online debate with the equivalent of red stapler guy from "Office Space."

"You're too negative," one person or another will complain, desiring more of the little bits of trivia from the Internet that they use as a mild opiate to distract them from reality.

Darling darling, I might say back -- this economy is fucked. We are so fucked that you have no idea, and you will continue to have no idea until they hand you a box and ask you to clean out your desk and are escorted out the door of your work establishment because they suddenly closed. And you will act shocked and angry, and you might even crap your pants at the swiftness of it all.

But God forbid any stray hair of reality gets through your blog material. You don't want Daily Kos or The New York Times and certainly not the Wall Street Journal. Isn't that a crazy suggestion? That you might read WSJ? I mean -- for a non-comics related story?

What, a comic book company treats their employees in an illegal manner? DOWNER! You don't want to read about stuff like that. What, our nation's youth is being fed a steady diet of violence in their entertainment? DOWNER! You don't want to read stuff like that. You want to read about which Hulk is stronger -- Red or Green. And look, I have nothing against the Hulk, of either shade. But did you know that NASA convened recently and had a press conference about anomalous solar wind patterns that might have a serious impact on the Earth?


Back to the opiates, opiates so trivial and minute and ultimately meaningless and interchangeable. Don't get me wrong -- the sheer pathos of it is fascinating to me. The fact that within ten years -- maybe even five -- we will be so close to so much calamity, that New York has no fucking clue how to be sustainable in the event of an emergency, the fact that we as a planet are overdue for so many earth changes that we are not prepared for. We are -- or rather, many of us are -- so weak, so pampered, so downtrodden by the comfort of our cubicles and so weighed down by the sheer girth of our collectibles, and so goddamn unprepared.

The relevant part of the Superman mythos, in my opinion, wasn't his exploits once he came to Earth -- it was back on Krypton, when those assholes were given a heads-up and decided to sit on their thumbs.

And you might think: "she's really lost it! she's talking about all this downer stuff that's so over-the-top and that will never happen! nothing bad ever happens! things will always be the way they are now." And you know what, if that's your opinion -- and you think obsessing over superhero trivia is somehow saner -- God bless you. That would make you one happy moron.

But here's the scoop, darlings: it's not worth it for me. I made 35 cents from Google ads today. I shit more money than that on any given morning.

It's been explained to me, by several people, that the thing to do is just to post frothy bits of trivia -- the cleverly annotated Silver Age scans, the "which Blue Beetle is better," the promo pieces, etc. Why be controversial? Why be opinionated? It only makes enemies out of people who could be friends. Gotta think smart!

I mean, even DC! If I start running puff pieces on them, one day I might get more than just World of Warcraft spinoffs in the mail to review! I might just get Booster Gold! If I finally sign that pesky NDA, they might send me a fucking statue! That's nothing to sneeze at. I've known people who've sold out others for less. Then I can run those "which Blue Beetle is better" posts with a clear conscience. And my stats will go up. Next thing you know -- I'm making $6 a day on Google! OMG!

But the best part about becoming a Stepford blog -- even with that hipster frosting on top, so I can court the crossover readership with BoingBoing, et al -- will be that I will no longer be sawing that arm off for everyone to see like my professor in college warned me about. I will be making pleasant observations about food and stuff.

So really, that's what I'm going to do for now on on this blog, because I no longer give a shit. It's like an experiment, an Andy Kaufman routine. I watched a lot of Andy today. I watched some of Richard Pryor too. There's this one censored bit from his old TV show where he came out on stage naked with his penis edited out; he kept insisting the network wouldn't censor or control him, but it wasn't true. And it wasn't true in real life; he went from raw and relevant to being a buffoon on skis in Superman III. Quite a fall. But hasn't that happened with so many of the edgy comedians? Robin Williams. Eddie Murphy. It's like Hollywood cuts off their dicks. And then there's Grant Morrison on Final Crisis. But never mind.

But if I did the extended Andy Kaufman routine, and just pretended that everything was dandy, if I just presented myself as another blog hack -- you know, one with a pseudo-controversial sheen, but nothing smacking of any sort of real change or radicalism -- that might be interesting. That might engage me enough, the sheer theater of it, to keep it up for a good long while.

And the funny thing is -- after this post, which is so long and so full of DOWNER! that I doubt there are many of you who have gotten this far -- I don't think that many people will care or remember. I think they will see "what Blue Beetle is your fave rave" and just take it from there. You know, I'll plug books for people. I'll be used strategically for one promo or another, one agenda or another. In time I'll get lots of swag. And it's good for my career! Let's not forget that.

But I do resent it. But we know what the real currency that makes the world go around don't we? It ain't being ferociously honest, that's for damn sure.

Anyway, there are probably a portion of you out there who actually want to read about important things, who want to read the whistleblowing stories, who want to converse with other people about things outside your window. And there are many message boards and forums upon which you can converse with likeminded others. But I'm curious to see how many people there are who are reading this and agree. So if that is the sort of material you want, let me know; click the "about me" to your right.

And that's it.

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