“I don’t give a shit…”
Gail Simone on haters she gets of characters of the LGBT community or of color, Womanthology’s C2E2 panel
This is true, I did say this, and it is truthfully how I feel about it. I used to try to be more understanding about people who objected to progressive issues in my comics. But I realized that was misplaced politeness. It’s how I feel and I think there’s a value to saying it publicly and loudly. When people complain about too many lgbtq characters, or things of that nature, I just can’t be bothered to pretend to take it seriously anymore. It just feels ridiculous, given the history of non-visibility in comics of such characters.
But I remember this moment and I think I could have answered more universally.
What happened was, there was this beautiful adult African American woman (I think, it’s hard to say to say for sure from the podium), and she asked a really articulate and heartfelt question, what did we think of the backlash against females of color in the media, things like the bullshit over Hunger Games film casting, that sort of thing.
And my answer was about how I felt creators should respond, which is to not give a shit what people like that think, to continue to strive to do better. And to give those people the full weight of consideration that they deserve, which is none, nada, zero.
It’s good advice generally, but I wish I had addressed her question more specifically. She was asking about POC, specifically WOC backlash, which is a real thing, a real problem, and my response was more about general lack of inclusion and how to respond when people object to attempts to address it. But after we moved on, I really felt like I hadn’t addressed her question directly.
I wish we’d had a bit more time to talk about her question specifically. I tried to find her afterwards to talk but got grabbed for group photos and stuff.
On the off chance that that questioner is reading this, here’s the rest of my answer.
I agree that there is a POC/WOC backlash among genre fandom. I think it runs from blatant and obvious for some, to a lot more sinister and maybe even unconscious among others. But it’s there. It still feels like WOC are being addressed as low on the social hierarchy in comics, or we get stereotypes or pointless sexualization of WOC.
I do think those people who object to more lgbtq, poc, and more inclusive casts in general should be ignored, not in the sense that they can’t be confronted (by all means, that behavior should be fair game for mockery at the very least), but in the sense that their opinion isn’t really something to consider when you are actually in the creative process. It doesn’t matter if they are frothing racists or the more insidious types…making them upset is almost a perk of the job, in my opinion.
In answer to the question, yes, the backlash is painful to watch. But you know, sometimes the creative process is spurred on not by positive feedback, but by a LACK of positive inspiration. Sometimes you look at the Hunger Games backlash and all the other bullshit whitewashing and it makes you angry enough to create more, to fight a little harder, to be more inclusive. It definitely has made me examine my own work and want to do better.
I hope that is a little more direct. I stand by my answer, I don’t give a shit what those backlash people think. But the truth is there, they do exist. My hope is that their comments spur creators to prove them wrong, wrong, wrong, a million times wrong.