Tag: censorship

Brainiac On Banjo: Batman’s Gay Apocalypse

Brainiac On Banjo: Batman’s Gay Apocalypse

Who is the manliest man? (Batman!) With the buns of steel? (Batman!) Who could choke hold a bear? (Batman!) Who never skips leg-day? (Batman!) Who always pays their taxes (NOT Batman!) — “Who’s the (Bat)Man” (from The Lego Batman Movie) written by Neal Hefti, Jason Rabinowitz, Colton Fisher, Jaron Lamot, Mansa Makili, Brayden Deskins, and Barry Pointer.

In case it hadn’t occurred to you in this specific term, bigotry is ludicrous… among other things. There is no justification for this activity.

According to the Associated Press, the overseers of all things scholastic in a suburban Atlanta Georgia county had Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, over to speak to their students about legendary comics writer Bill Finger. However, they would not permit Nobleman to speak about Finger’s relationship with his gay son, Mark, who died thirty years ago from AIDS complications. According to Nobleman, that relationship was critical to defining Bill.

It was Mark Finger’s daughter Athena who, after being found by Nobleman, worked out a deal with DC Comics’ owner du jour in which her grandfather finally received due credit for his work in co-creating Batman a mere 76 years after the feature was first published. She is, to comics fans, a hero. There’s quite a story in that, and that story has been well-publicized. I should point out that Marc Tyler Nobelman also appears in the Bill Finger documentary Batman and Bill. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Batman’s Gay Apocalypse”

Brainiac On Banjo: The Washington Comic Book Caucus?

Brainiac On Banjo: The Washington Comic Book Caucus?

Who was it that set up a system, supposedly democratic system, where you end up always voting for the lesser of two evils? I mean, was George Washington the lesser of two evils? Sometimes I wonder. Wide Wide River, written by The Fugs.

Well, this is amusing, and it just might be helpful.

Despite having been in Congress less than six months, Robert Garcia (D-CA) is a powerful man. He’s on the House Committee on Homeland Security as well as the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability where he’s the ranking member on the Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs. “Ranking member” means he’s the highest-placed congressman who doesn’t belong to the party in power at that moment. He’s also co-chair of the Equality Caucus, and he’s on the Congressional Progressive Caucus. This, according to the ruling party, makes him the enemy of MAGAts both here and in Russia.

And now, he’s putting together a brand-new caucus. It’s called the Congressional Popular Arts Caucus, it’s bipartisan, and, just to show you he knows his stuff, he’s making the formal announcement at the San Diego Comic-Con next month, which is not all that far from his home. This will not come as a surprise to those who know Garcia as a major comics fan, focusing on DC comics, but I’m sure when he’s caucusing he will watch over the interests of all comics publishers. He seems like a very fair-minded guy. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: The Washington Comic Book Caucus?”

Brainiac On Banjo: Burning Down The House!

Brainiac On Banjo: Burning Down The House!

Every year many bleeding hearts tiptoe through their keyboards decrying the spread of book banning in state and local schools and libraries. And by “every year,” I mean “well, actually, every couple of days.”

As we’ve seen this month, a huge part of the Virginia gubernatorial race focused on the horrific nightmares evoked from the work of author Toni Morrison. She was the winner of the American Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the Nobel Prize in Literature, the National Humanities Medal, the Library of Congress Creative Achievement Award for Fiction, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and over 100 other A list awards. Lord knows, that’s not the type of person whose work you’d want in your library, is it?

Nazis doing what Nazis do.

These lists often come out of Texas because their school library habits influence purchasing patterns all over this bigoted nation… and that’s because, when it comes to electing government officials, Texas is to fascism what Florida is to prostitution.

Therefore, every year I find myself dancing across my own keyboard bitching about censorship. Technically, that word only applies to works banned by a government, so it certainly applies here. But in a democracy – yeah, I know; stop laughing! – the government acts in the name of the people, so I subscribe to the overreaching definition of that term. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Burning Down The House!”

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #073: Fake History, Real Heroes

Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #073: Fake History, Real Heroes

Last Saturday saw the fourth annual Women’s Rights Day with demonstrations all over the nation, many in very inclement weather. This year’s march was fueled in part by the calendar: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, expanding the ability to vote to those without that icky Y chromosome.

I have slightly mixed feeling about that. Every egalitarian victory should be celebrated, but, damn, why should we get all enthused over 144 years of denying half of our population the right to participate in our vaunted democracy? Whereas I can hold a grudge until it screams, we should be educating citizens current and future to all the limitations we have placed on women, including those many that have not been sliced from our massive national discrimination pie.

However, the National Archives celebrates that victory by layering it with a purposely misleading patina of truthiness. They maliciously chose to alter it, and in complete contradiction to their mission, they celebrated women’s suffrage under a veil of lies. Continue reading “Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind #073: Fake History, Real Heroes”

Brainiac On Banjo #051: The Challenge of Ideas

Brainiac On Banjo #051: The Challenge of Ideas

I just checked and I’ve decided I’ve got too many friends. Let’s see who I can offend today. But, first, a couple of disclaimers.

One: For decades I have been uttering I am a first amendment absolutist. There should be no roadblocks in the world of free expression. Yes, people need to stand behind what they say and I’m not at all opposed to laws that hold people responsible for malicious defamation. But there should be no roadblocks between the thought and its delivery. That’s free expression.

Two: I am a fan of Walter Mosley’s. I would have read every novel he’s ever written but for a couple decades he’s been in a Smith-Corona destruction derby with Stephen King. Had I been editing Fantastic Four, I would have found a way to get Mosley to write it. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #051: The Challenge of Ideas”

Brainiac On Banjo #014: Should We Ban Banned Books Week?

Brainiac On Banjo #014: Should We Ban Banned Books Week?

Do you remember all the way back to last Tuesday, when the Washington Post still was referred to as a “liberal” newspaper? Many people believe that. The following day, Wednesday September 26th, was the day the Post just might have turned the corner.

Ron Charles, the Post’s book critic, opined we might not need Banned Books Week any longer. “I just wish Banned Books Week didn’t appear to exaggerate a problem that’s largely confined to our repressive past… Are we winning any converts with this annual orgy of self-righteousness?”

He contradicted his point when he reported how many books were, indeed, banned last year. The label of self-righteousness rarely is self-imposed.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that, over the years, I have edited or contributed to a decent number of “banned books” and have been railing against banning books for, damn, a very long time. When it comes to the Pop Culture Squad, well, suffice it to say I am not alone.

Mr. Charles states, among other things (and I urge you to read his piece, to which I conveniently posted the link in my second paragraph), “Doesn’t Banned Books Week carelessly lump together the interested mother with the book-burning Nazi?” Well, part of the parenting process is the unfortunate imposition of mommy and daddy’s more disgusting values onto their children. Such is life, and many kids challenge those “values” as part of their maturation process. But my blanket response to this sort of challenge is “If you don’t want to be conflated with book-burning Nazis, stop acting like a book-burning Nazi!”

I am opposed to removing any book from any library or any bookstore. The librarian and the bookseller have no right to impose their self-indulgent mores upon an unsuspecting audience. By removing that which they find objectionable, they believe they have the right to transplant their views and politics onto everybody else. They most certainly do not.

For the record, I would not even ban Mein Kampf. Indeed, I encourage teenagers to read this book and to discuss it from both the moral and the historical perspectives. As I often do, I once again quote George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Arguably, that is the most important aphorism of all time.

You may ask “OK, smart-ass. Would you edit a graphic novel adaptation of Mein Kampf?” I’m hardly your go-to-guy for far-right-wing subject matter, although I have proudly worked with many conservative and right-wing talent and I never interfered with their points of view. Adolf Hitler… well, my own backstory just might get in the way of that.

In the hands of the right creative team, a Mein Kampf adaptation might work. But it most certainly would not get racked in libraries or placed on Apple Books.

Librarians are teachers and… well… teachers teach. That means discuss, exchange points of view, and listen. Point out the problems with allowing a person with a small gaggle of follows to shove his or her will down everybody else’s throats. That’s particularly important these days, no matter what your worldview might be. If we don’t keep these discussions going, the next thing we’ll see is these same librarians and teachers cart away all the copies of the greatest American novel, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Actually, we’ve been seeing this for a while now, but most of these culture vultures seem content to merely censor the hell out of the book – thereby voiding the author’s point.

I understand his concerns and I think Mr. Charles’ piece was well-written and rather clever. But when it comes to bringing attention to censorship and the imposition of limits to the acquisition of knowledge, his heart is in the right place but his head’s up his ass.

I say that with respect.

Seriously.