Geralt and Yennefer
- 3 weeks ago
Dread of the Gleaming Seal (Alliance) Phantom Assassin ( Many photos credit to http://imgur.com/a/iMNXx/all ! ) at Otakon 2014
- 4 weeks ago
Gaming journalism has come under intense scrutiny from public critics in recent years. This critical analysis attempts to identify trends of corruption and conflict of interest in the field.The nature of this work a qualitative evaluation of journalistic integrity within the industry.
Entertainment, in its various forms, comprises billions of dollars of the American economy and international economies worldwide. While traditional forms of media such as film and music may come first to mind when considering this massive industry, the video gaming industry is another entertainment sector with a huge impact on the global economic environment. In 2011, the console, handheld and pc gaming industry, excluding games for mobile phones, made 78 billion USD in revenue globally (Reuters, 2011). The industry is, without dispute, enormous and affects the lives of citizens in 49% of American households alone, who own at least one gaming console (Electronic Software Association, 2012). The video game journalism industry that reviews and rates the products from this steadily growing sector potentially not only affects that 78 billion dollar revenue but also the 67% of American citizens who play video games (ESRB, 2012).
It is important to first stress the size and scope of this industry before addressing the ethical issues involved in gaming journalism. With Electronic Arts (EA) winning the Consumerists “Worst Company in America” award for the second consecutive year, various gaming journalism outlets have argued that the gaming industry is too frivolous to be taken seriously as a major concern for consumers (Morran, 2013). The very journalists who make their living from this industry are even now attempting to delegitimize it; potentially so as to not face the ethical scrutiny associated with other multibillion international economic sectors (McLellan, 2013). The statistics stated above demonstrate the importance of said industry to the American and global economy as well as its impact on the lives of billions of people. For this reason, it is important to carefully examine the ethical practices of the gaming journalism industry that affect and alters the course, in some instances, of the products the gaming industry produces. To further understand gaming journalism from an ethical standpoint, the history of entertainment journalism and critique should be analyzed.
Film criticism has old roots and with the coming of the age of advertising, has had extensive experience defending the integrity of film reviewers. More than a half century ago, British film critics publicly denounced attempts from advertisers to offer incentives for better film reviews (Time, 1953). Things have changed over time, with Young (1996) having stated that many film critics no longer posses inherent integrity for the field, giving out positive reviews regardless of film quality. Lovegren (1997) reiterated this by discussing the prevalence of corruption among film critics, particularly from less prestigious newspapers and magazines. There are several reasons why film critics, as well as gaming journalists, are encouraged to give positive reviews to films.
The most ethically dubious of these involves any acceptance of physical goods or monetary rewards in exchange for a positive review; however, not all cases are so overtly amoral. Many different types of entertainment media place review embargoes on their products so that no one reviewer can release information about that product until all other reviewers can. Since journalism requires timeliness and relevance (Campbell, 2006), the reporter who publishes a review first gains a distinct advantage over his or her competitors. In cinema, the dates of review embargoes are fairly strictly set at this point in time. If a film company were to offer to lift their review embargo in exchange for good reviews on a film, ethical issues with journalistic integrity would arise. Another ethical issue is that of ad space. While movie critics still may work for offline, print media, almost all game journalism exists primarily online. Newspaper and magazines do receive money for advertising space and therefore may be just as tempted to publish good reviews for more ads; however, newspaper and magazines often have various advertisements from a variety of products. Video game journalism website ad space is purchased almost exclusively by video game companies. These three ethical issues affect the film industry and have for much of the course of its history; however, many film critics, such as the late Robert Ebert, are highly respected and viewed with a sense of credibility. Despite some overt corruption in film criticism, such as the case of Sony, which was implicated in a scandal involving a fake movie critic hired to provide positive reviews of their films (Quill, 2001), many people still trust film critics. This is not the case with gaming journalism, which has become the center of debate and scrutiny among the gaming community. Keeping in mind the ethical issues facing film critics, gaming journalism should bed held up to the same standards and examined with the same level of criticism.
Accepting bribes is likely the most overtly unethical practice gaming journalists have been accused of. Even from the perspective of ethical egoism, if a journalist is caught taking a bribe, the backlash both from their employer and their reader base online would be catastrophic. Taking bribes for good games serves no logical ethical value. From a non-consequential standpoint it betrays the principals of beneficence, fidelity to the industry, self-improvement and justice. Similarly, far more people could be potentially harmed from reading a false review and buying a poor product than the happiness gained by one individual by obtaining said bribe. Proving that bribing from PR professionals or advertisers occurs can be difficult as evidence is usually scarce; however, the game journalism industry is so rife with corruption, numerous articles and examples have been found. While some deals may be more underhanded, others are made completely public. In 2010 at E3, the largest gaming press event in the world, Microsoft’s PR department gave out free Xbox 360 Slims (a $300 product) to all attending members of the gaming press (Hannan, 2010).
While examples of promotional PR items sent privately to reviewers are harder to definitively locate, evidence of their existence is not completely absent. Raider (2006) stated that during his time working as a reviewer he saw multiple free products and promotional items sent to journalists. Journalists at the 2012 Game Media Awards were told to Tweet positive messages about the upcoming Tomb Raider game to receive free PS3s (Florence, 2012). Kotaku writer Steve Totillo, even after publishing an article explaining how promotional items were never accepted by Kotaku staff, later posted a picture of his apartment containing promotional flag for the game Assassin’s Creed 3, which is valued on eBay at approximately $2,000 [Fig.1].
Occasionally, promotional items alone don’t even appear to be enough. During the launch of Dante’s Inferno, publisher EA (who also hired actors to pose as religious protestors and picket the game’s release) sent out boxes to various gaming websites with checks for $200 [Fig.2.]. Gifts may not be limited to things of monetary value. Jessica Chobot, a reporter and journalist working for gaming website IGN had her likeness added as a minor character to the game Mass Effect 3 in 2012, one of the largest budget games of the year (Scimeca, 2012). Bribes can even be obscenely inappropriate. Australian PlayStation2 Magazine editor Richie Young claimed he was offered everything from trips abroad to prostitutes for influencing the reviews published by his magazine (Sliwinski, 2007). Metacritic, one of the largest online sources for movie and game reviews has begun banning certain game journalism outlets as they claim some reviewers “can absolutely be bought” (Trotter, 2011). The evidence indicates that gaming journalists are not only being offered a plethora of bribes, but taking them en mass. In order to become a more ethical industry, journalists and PR professionals should, at least disclose the promotional products that are given openly. Transparency is necessary to protect the consumer. This type of honesty about bribes allows for fidelity to the reader and helps to illustrate possible bias on the part of the reviewers.
While evidence of bribes are abundant, it is sometimes slightly more difficult to illustrate the ways in which video game companies use review embargoes as bargaining chips with reviewers and magazines. Maintaining a good report between PR professionals and journalists is important for both sides. Journalists want information about news and access to games as soon as possible. PR professionals should want accurate information to be published. By virtue of being employees of game companies,however, they also have a vested interest in ensuring their games receive the highest possible ratings. Eidos Montreal asked any journalist intending to give the game Tomb Raider: Underworld a score lower than 8/10 to avoid posting their reviews online until several days after the game’s release (Garratt, 2008). From a standpoint of ethical egoism and non-consequentialist self-improvement as a journalist and fidelity to Eidos Montreal’s PR department, many journalists may be tempted to withhold their review. While journalists are called to publish timely and relevant information, they must also cultivate a relationship with PR professionals in their industry. To refuse withholding the review may mean destroying that relationship. From the ethical standpoint of utilitarianism, withholding the reviews could serve to do a great deal of harm to consumers. If reviewers held off on posting their reviews online, many people may purchase the game only to later learn the reviews they had read for it were limited to the positive ones. It is unjust and unfair to the consumer, who is unable to determine the actual quality of the product, the very purpose of reviews.
Eidos later went on to supposedly offer to break review embargoes for Batman: Arkham Asylum for magazines and reviewers willing to give the game a score above 90% (Raider, 2009). While Eidos publicly denounced the claims as false rumors spread by anonymous games journalist and modern muckraker Ram Raider, GamesMaster magazine went on to release their review of the game early, giving the game a score of 96%. Gaming journalists and journalists in general promote their magazines and their work by providing the most popular stories in the most expedient manner possible. Arkham Asylum was a heavily anticipated game and every games journalist logically would want the opportunity to be the first to publish a review of it. Although this would serve a journalists duty of loyalty to their employer and may even serve their own self-improvement interests by gaining popularity, once again, it does far more harm than good. Similarly to the situation with Tomb Raider: Underworld, when the first reviews consumers see are all positive, it gives the potentially false impression the game is entirely positive. This can cause a great deal of harm for those consumers who spend money on a product they do not subsequently enjoy. In the case of Arkham Asylum, it would go on to receive immensely positive scores across the board; however, had the game not actually been a quality product, purchasing it could have hurt a large number of consumers. From a non-consequential perspective, the ultimate quality of the game is of little consequence. The potential damage false reviews for an early release could cause is not only unjust but betrays both the PR professional’s and the journalist’s inherent duty of beneficence.
Several weeks before GamesMaster released the first review of Arkham Asylum, EA supposedly offered the same deal to journalists for their game Dragon Age : Origins. The review embargo was originally slated for November 5th, but magazines such as PCGamer began releasing reviews nearly a week early, all with scores at or above 90%. Staff writer at French gaming magazine CanardPC, Omar Boulon stated that his magazine chose to wait to publish their review until the embargo was officially lifted out of a duty to their readers (Raider, 2009). As with Arkham Asylum, Dragon Age received overwhelmingly stellar reviews and although CanardPC also gave the game a good score, they refused to release their review early on principal. Many other gaming magazines published their 9 or above reviews before the embargo and despite the fact that the game’s actual quality may have been that high, the ethical issue once again lies in the non-consequential duties to justice and beneficence. PR practitioners and journalists alike have a duty to do no harm to the public. Lifting embargoes for good reviews almost forces reviewers to give those high scores simply to remain relevant. By the time CanardPCs review of Dragon Age : Origins was released, thousands of people had already made the decision to buy the game based on reviews influenced by the power of the embargo. The potential for great harm to the public is present whenever embargoes are used to manipulate journalists and review scores.
When gaming journalists refuse to engage in the tactics used by PR practitioners and advertisers in the gaming industry, they are often spurned and sometimes completely unable to gain information from certain companies again. Dan Hsu (2008), editor of Electric Gaming Monthly (EGM) said that his magazine was denied access to press releases and information from Nether Realm Studios (Mortal Kombat), Sony Sports, and Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed) because his magazine had posted less than perfect reviews of several games. While his colleagues at other magazines received information immediately, EGM was denied access to press releases and news. PR professionals and journalists ethically need to work together to ensure that the public receive accurate, relevant, and timely information. In the games journalism industry, many PR practitioners seem more concerned with punishing journalists who provide honest reviews than with ensuring accurate information about their company’s product is published. The ethical duties of beneficence and justice of PR professionals dictate that they should still work with journalists who are providing an accurate coverage of their product. PR practitioners should not simply work with those journalists most willing to just publish unedited press releases, but with any journalist interested in reporting honestly about their product or service. Press releases always have spin. PR practitioners have a duty to their employer to make them look good; however, this spin should exist within the limits of honesty and justice. It may be the right of PR professionals to deny access to journalists that do not publish wholly positive information; however, it is ethically dubious and potentially harmful not only to the consumer, but to the company image and it’s relationship with journalists in general.
In most industries, the ultimate goal of public relations is to foster and develop an ongoing relationship between a company and its stakeholders. This is not necessarily the case in the video gaming industry. Beyond blocking the types of information game journalists can receive, a recent trend prevalent among game journalists and their PR colleagues is the systematic defamation of a game company’s stakeholders and consumer base. As has been previously illustrated, gaming journalists have a very vested interest in maintaining a positive relationship with PR professionals from various game companies and as such, when the reputation of a game company is damaged, many games journalists are quick to defend it, most commonly by making a mockery of frustrated consumers. Despite how seemingly counter-intuitive the idea of both journalists and PR professionals disgracing their very customer base may seem, in the gaming industry, it has become commonplace. One particularly prominent example of consumer base defamation involves the previously mentioned Worst Company in America (WCIA) “Golden Poo” award, given yearly by The Consumerist Magazine. In 2012, EA won the award after thousands of Consumerists readers expressed legitimate complaints regarding Digital Rights Management (DRM), microtransactions, nickel-and-diming, always online functions, sever failures, false advertising and a host of problems with major releases such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3. Within 15 minutes, major game journalism website Kotaku released an article in which it stated EA should not be criticized because other companies do more harm and implied heavily that EA was being attacked due to the inclusion of same-sex relationship options in the Mass Effect franchise (Schreier, 2012). The next day, several additional articles were posted criticizing customers for their dissatisfaction with EA. Many echoed the sentiment that not only were consumers angry because of the inclusion of homosexual characters but that there was a plan from consumers to attack EA because of their supposedly LGBTQ*-positive attitude despite the fact that this was not one of the complaints raised by voters on the Consumerist poll (Brightman, 2012). These accusations continued sporadically until 2013 when EA was once again nominated for the WICA award. Peter Moore, EA’s chief operating officer, preempted the company’s second time receiving the award by stating that the main complaints made by consumers were primarily comprised of the players included on the cover of EA’s football franchise Madden, and a right wing conspiracy to attack the company due to its use of gay and lesbian characters (Moore, 2013). Not only did the 2013 Consumerist posts not once reflect either of these statements, but no other game company that has included LGBT characters, who are abundant, has ever been nominated for the WICA award (Morran, 2013). As the 2013 WICA award was announced on the day of this writing, the gaming journalism community’s response is still filtering in; however, based on the results of last years award, it is likely the response to the 2013 award will be similar.
Game journalists, as with all journalists have a duty to provide accurate information to their readers and like PR professionals, have a duty to uphold the moral standards of beneficence and justice. When PR professionals promote their journalist colleague to print vitriol against their consumer base, they uphold neither. Not only is there no moral basis for intentionally insulting customers, there seems to be little to no financial basis either. Games journalists are often quick to side with a company rather than provide honest and accurate information. When the game DmC : Devil May Cry was released, a reboot of the popular Devil May Cry franchise, many fans expressed frustration at the gameplay, frame rate, character designs, and writing; however, most games journalism articles focused on the changes made to the main character Dante’s appearance. The game received a great deal of negative feedback from consumers even before release. When reviews began being released, many openly mocked consumers and fans of the old Devil May Cry series. Rather than talking about the issues brought up, they focused entirely on the character Dante’s appearance (Parfitt, 2013). Game developer Ninja Theory also claimed negativity toward the game was based on changes to the character’s appearance. Subsequently, accurate information about the game was frequently unavailable. It is impossible to determine how Ninja Theory and game publisher Capcom’s PR departments will distribute information for future games, but by dismissing claims of problems with the game, based on what has been previously demonstrated, it seems likely journalists who met criticism with mockery may be higher on the list for press releases. Such practices may be moral from the standpoint of ethical egoism, but do far more harm than good and are not done with non-consequential ethical intentions in mind.
The final and arguably most difficult area of game journalism to examine is the issue of advertising space and website funding. Video game journalism websites are currently primarily funded by video game related advertising. These websites are able to operate due to the funds they receive from advertising, and would not be able to continue to function without it, as with most websites and print media. The morality of this type of advertising is particularly called into question when these website feature what claim to be critical reviews of the products being advertised on the same page. Consumers cannot trust a review of a game from a website that also features numerous links to purchase that game on the sidebar. There is an extreme pressure on game journalism websites to publish articles and reviews that praise games from the companies that buy the most ad space. Advertising professionals, however, act unethically when they put these pressures onto journalists, who are essentially unable to resist the push to publish positive reviews from a purely economic standpoint. From a non-consequential perspective, advertisers who utilize this tactic betray their duties of beneficence and justice to the public and their consumers, who are unable to receive accurate information or reviews of games they are interested in purchasing. Additionally, the amount of game advertising on reviews has become to abundant that many consumers have already begun to discount game journalism completely. From a consequential perspective, this harms the game companies, the journalism sites and could potentially harm any individuals who do read reviews biased by advertising dollars.
It is important to demonstrate exactly how reviews are and have been affected by advertising. Publisher EA’s game, Mass Effect 3 had an extensive advertising campaign and was one of the most highly anticipated games of 2012. After and before the game’s release, many websites featured numerous advertisements for the game. Even after it’s release, the ads remained prevalent and often filled the entire screen of the pages containing supposedly critical reviews of the game itself. Gaming website Rock, Paper, Shotgun had their entire front page covered with advertisements for Mass Effect 3 as well as links to their review of the game [Fig. 3]. During the release of Blizzard’s long awaited Diablo III, website PCGamer not only had their front page painted with advertisements for the game, but released various videos that included an un-boxing of the game’s packaging and articles such as “Why is Diablo III so satisfying?” [Fig. 4]. Smothering a page with advertising for the game they are also reviewing is not pure evidence of unethical behavior from advertisers or games journalists; however, given the pressures on these websites to maintain their advertising funding, it would seem likely many of these releases are given a spin to suit advertisers.
Several journalists and advertising professionals within the industry have spoken out about this trend and the effect it has on game journalism. In an interview with games journalist Rumphol-Janc (2012), an anonymous former employee of EA spoke about about the way in which advertising directly affects game journalism. The source said “I can tell you that just about every preview and review you read spouts out a lot of marketing’s message”, in his interview with Rumphol-Janc. Journalists are always in communication with various PR and advertising professionals. PR professionals provide stories to journalists who then investigate those stories and publish information for public consumption. Due to the use of press releases with positive spin and inherent personal bias, journalism can never be truly objective; however, the extent to which advertisers can influence journalists in the gaming industry goes far beyond the limits of professional ethics. Dan Hsu (2005) similarly mentioned that in his time working as editor he witnessed the way in which advertisers control cover stories. Many gaming magazines, he said, were willing to essentially sell their cover story to the highest bidder. Perhaps the most famous example of the effect of advertising on game journalism is the case of Jeff Gerstmann ,a writer for Gamespot who was fired for refusing to give the game Kayne & Lynch a positive score. Gamespot had heavily featured advertisements for the game at the time and shortly after Gerstmann rated the game a 6/10 he left the Gamespot staff . It was later confirmed that Gertmann was fired, primarily due to the score he gave Kayne & Lynch (Plunkett, 2012). From a non-consequential perspective, this type of advertising hurts the industry, is done with malice and non-beneficence, and is completely unjust for the consumer. It also can serve to do a great deal of actual harm both to the consumer and to the journalistic publications that feature this type of advertising.
The culmination of unethical practices conducted by the game journalism industry and by the advertising professionals who interact with it can be neatly illustrated by one image; that of one of the world’s more prominent games journalists, Geoff Keighley at the Spike TV Game Awards, surrounded by a poster for Halo 4, bags of Doritos and bottles of Mountain Dew [Fig. 5]. The Spike TV Game Awards are a major awards ceremony, nominating the best games in various categories. Geoff Keighley served as executive producer for the event, due to his famed expertise in video gaming. This supposedly serious event is marred by the inclusion of shameless advertising. Consumers cannot trust information they receive from journalists and programs that feature such explicit ads. Not only does this hurt the games journalism industry, if not complete disgrace it, it does nothing to further the image of the companies who provide the advertising. From every ethical standpoint, this type of advertising injures stakeholders and those to whom advertisers hold ethical duties. They fail their duty to themselves, beneficence, justice and fidelity to the field of advertising and systematically have destroyed the integrity of games journalism industry. While it may appear overwhelmingly obvious the effect advertising has in this the case of Keighley, consumers less informed of communication practices may be unable to detect the influence in many other cases. It can no longer be taken seriously by consumers and has become little more than a joke among the 67% of Americans who play video games.
In conclusion, there are a plethora of unethical practices carried out within the games journalism industry from advertisers, PR practitioners and the journalists they interact with. Unless drastic change is made, the entire industry will become absolutely fraudulent, essentially tricking the few consumers who still read these outlets into buying products. As it stands, the industry is suffering from these unethical behaviors and even from a purely financial standpoint, the outlook is grim. Without transparency and ethics, games journalism will descend into complete irrelevance while the video gaming industry continues to grow.
This article was written in 2013 and is dated but I have never posted it online and felt that in light of some recent controversy it may be of value or public interest. This critical evaluation is not intended to be inflammatory, but serves merely as an examination of industry corruption from the standpoint of academic research in mass communication.
Figure 1: Photo from Kotaku Writer Steve Totillo’s Instagram Containing Promotional Assassins Creed Flag
Figure 2: Check from Publisher EA for $200 Sent to Journalists as a Promotion for Dante’s Inferno
Figure 3: Front Page of Rock Paper Shotgun, Including a Link to their Review of Mass Effect 3
Figure 4: Front Page of PCGamer, Including Various Articles About Diablo III
Figure 5: Journalist Geoff Keighley, Executive Producers of the Spike TV Game Awards
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- 5 months ago
Its best to start with the most obvious name on this list, beloved creator Frank Miller, the guy who wrote Sin City and 300. Miller got his real start with superheroes, penning Daredevil Born Again and The Dark Knight Returns and was lauded for his work in the 80s. It’s not clear at what point in time Miller decided to become a raving fascist lunatic but if you go back and look through some of his most famous work you can see that all the elements for an all-expense paid trip to ku klux krazy town are there.
It took years for Miller’s political views to percolate into a warm simmering pot of seething racism and insanity it is today. 300 is probably the most prominent example of his early racism, what the portrayal of the Persians and all, but you can see it scattered about his general work like offensive little breadcrumbs. It wasn’t until after 9/11 that Miller completely snapped (or came out of the crazy closet, Im not sure which) openly demonizing Muslims, culminating in the publication of his work Holy Terror, which is a comic featuring a poorly disguised Batman analog who goes around terrorizing “terrorists”. If you’re the type of person who likes to watch comic-themed train wrecks in action, you can read equally offensive rants from him on his blog which serves as a veritable landfill of his opinions on world events and is bursting with quotable gems like Miller’s claim that the Occupy movement “is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness”. Stay classy Frank.
It’s hard to talk about Loebs descent into madness because it starts in real tragedy. Loeb is the writer of several acclaimed comics including Batman: The Long Halloween, Superman for All Seasons and the Marvel color series. He also was a lead writer on Smallville and Heroes. The problems for Loeb started when his son was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In 2005, Sam Loeb sadly passed away and Jeff has, understandably, never been the same since. Before I go on, let me clarify that Jeff has every right to be devastated by the passing of his son.
Not even a hug from Superman could make this less sad.
I don’t blame him at all for the way he’s reacted but I can and do blame whoever has let the man continue to make comics. The true crazy surrounding Loeb is really about why anyone in the industry still lets him work on projects when it’s clear how much that tragedy consumed his life. Loeb has been juxtaposing Sam into every book he can since his death, from making him the inspiration for Clark Kent becoming Superman to having him take the place of Dick Rider as kid Nova. No one can ride the dick like Rich, not anyone. Loeb has continued to make more and more absolutely irrational decisions in the years following Sam’s death including writing Ultimatum which was remarkable because marked the first time a literal piece of human feces was sold as literature. He also drove the aforementioned Heroes series into the dirt following the first season, climaxing the show with a circus-themed story arc all over everyone’s faces. He then went on to remove all joy from Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes by stripping its plot away leaving it naked, defiled and canceled since he apparently believes children cannot understand narrative storylines.Luckily he gave us Ultimate Spider-Man in its place, the only cartoon more insulting to the collective human species’ intelligence than Annoying Orange. As I said, I don’t blame Loeb but why the name of all that is holy does Marvel keep giving this man work? He is quickly on his way to becoming a super villain. He must be stopped.
Unrelated but just as painful
Steve Ditko is best known to the common public as the guy who drew Spider-man for Stan Lee. Maybe. A lot of people seem to think Stan drew Spidey too. Like all things pertaining to Lee’s input in the Marvel method creative process; however, it’s likely that Ditko had a lot more to do with the initial characterization and development of Peter Parker than Lee would like to let on. Ditko has become more and more reclusive over the years and now lives basically as a hikkikomori, presumably spending most of his time cuddling with his Ayn Rand hug pillow and jerking it to particularly cum encrusted copy of Atlas Shrugged. Yes, Ditko and Ayn have been involved in a passionate love affair for decades now and his love for her is evident in basically everything he’s done since the sixties. After leaving Spider-man for no apparent reason, as Ditko was oft want to do on projects, he created the character Mr. A who is the Question but written by a crazy person. Since Mr. A is completely creator owned by Ditko, he differs primarily from Vic Sage in that he’s a rant-spewing John Galt-esque mary sue whose entire series is just a Fountainhead fanfiction about how all things are either good or evil with no grey area.
Ditko has been working on the Mr. A character since the 60s but almost everything he’s written since is riddled with the same stench of Rand. Mr. A just tends to be the most absurd expression of Ditkos Ayn-boner since it’s completely unmoderated by reason and editorial process. It features diatribes on how criminals are inherently evil from birth and how people on welfare are dirty, lazy thieves. Ditko may be one of the greatest artists in comic history but that doesn’t mean he’s not absolutely insane.
Contrary to the other nut-jobs on this list, Alan Moore and Grant Morrison are not actually insane but rather time-traveling inter-dimensional space wizards whose rivalry is so intense it tears the fabric of reality itself which is why they merely seem insane to those of us sadly incapable of magic.
Alan Moore does a lot of LSD and got married to two hot ladies at once because his wizardry made polygamy legal in a 500 foot radius around him. He also has a bitchin beard. He hates modern comic books because he’s doesn’t like all the dirty muggles writing them these days and messing them up. More than all the filthy mudbloods on the planet, Moore hates muggle-loving Morrison for accepting them into the Sequential School of Art and Wizardry. Another spell he’s particularly fond of casting is hypocritum, which allows him to magically criticize other writers for things like making mature cape comics, seeing as he’s certainly never written a superhero comic aimed at adults ever.
Grant Morrison also does a lot of LSD but also a lot of shrooms and mescaline and basically everything. Unlike Moore who keeps to himself and actually tries to hide his wizardry from the common folk from time to time, Grant used the hypersigil he developed in the Invisibles to bring a gender-swapped version of himself into existence and then married her. Even Alan can’t say he married himself. While Alan may hate Grant, Grant apparently doesn’t care, which is unsurprising considering how incredibly high he is at all times. Also, he presumably has bigger things to worry about, like getting abducted by aliens again.
Basically what I’m trying to say is that Alan is Salazar Slytherin and Grant is Godric Griffindor. If you need any more proof, just look at the fact that Alan worships a snake. Harry Potter is not fiction; it’s a cleverly disguised documentary of the comic book industry’s development since the late 70s.