I want to take a few minutes to talk about the recent #FireRickRemender Twitter protest. I won't get into the merits of the story because from what I read, people want him fired because he wrote a scene where two consenting adults had sex. Also worth noting is that these two consenting adults are fictional characters.
I understand there are complications to this scene that some offended comic book fans would use to argue that the scene was somehow an instance of statutory rape or that it degraded the Falcon, a major character in comics who finally got his due in this year's Captain America movie. I appreciate how these people feel. I also think they're wrong in their understanding of the book. The scene definitely made me uncomfortable - but that's because it's drama and sometimes drama makes you uncomfortable.
But arguing the story is not what I'm interested in doing right now. What bothers me - and should bother *everyone* -- is that people are calling on a company to fire someone because of something that company asked him to do.
There seems to be a grave misunderstanding in today's protest-hungry world of entertainment fans into how far their opinion should really matter. You don't like a story? That's fine - don't read a story. But unless that massive dislike leads to a nosedive in a book's sales (which has not occurred, despite how much comics journalists like to spin the numbers), then you not liking someone is not equal to a moral judgment. And to call for someone to be fired for doing a story that was approved by a group of very good, very talented and very smart editors, editors who represent the interests and opinions of a broader corporation, is offensive. Imagine saying a police officer should be fired because you don't like that he gave out parking tickets, or if a teacher was fired for teaching a sex ed curriculum approved by a school - that's what these people are demanding. Rick's not writing in a vacuum here, not with a character as important as Captain America. Like the stories or hate the stories, they're not just Rick's stories, they're Marvel's stories. A fan who demands one person lose their job because they don't like a story is a fan who has demonstrated a severe lack of understanding of how any of this really works.
I know Rick Remender. I was fortunate enough to work with him for a while. You might call me biased. Well, I am. I am biased. I'm biased towards a good writer and good storyteller who's doing his job. I'm biased toward a passionate creator who puts his all into his work. I'm biased towards a responsible freelancer who knew how to communicate with his editors, and even if he got into arguments with them, always treated them with respect at the end of the day. I'm biased toward a loyal collaborator who has fought to create opportunities for countless talented artists who don't normally get the recognition they deserve and helped bring some of the most diverse creators into mainstream comics. And, yes, I'm biased towards a wonderful father and family man who is being accused of advocating abusive behavior towards children. I'm also a little pissed to hear people compare the plight of fictional characters to something as serious as child abuse or child exploitation.
But I think most of all I'm outraged to see people so cavalierly throw around the idea of "firing" someone just because they don't like a story, and you should be too. And make no mistake, they're not saying "fire him from the book," or, "oh, put him on a different assignment." They're saying "kick him to the curb because I don't like his style."
I've fired people. I've been fired. It is one of the most difficult, painful things to go through, on either side. It doesn't happen easily, and a moral person doesn't fire someone because they "don't like them." It's serious. And it should be treated that way.
I ask the people tossing around "Fire Rick Remender" like some sort of shitty movie catchphrase to think about what they're really saying. I'm asking them to think about whether or not they truly believe a standard should be set that says we should demand someone's head every time we simply don't like something, rather than simply say, "well I won't be spending my time and money on that."
I'm asking them if they really think a talented, hard working person ought to lose their job because a story made them feel uncomfortable.