Actually Not To Be Panicking

October 1, 2013

Something quite interesting happened Friday night.  It’s a story of hope, involving DC Comics.  That’s worth returning to a topic I thought I was long finished with.  It starts with a website the mere existence of which means the core dysfunction that drove me off years ago has only gotten worse.  It’s called hasdcdonesomethingstupidtoday.com.  Seriously, I thought it was a joke too, but try the link, it’s real.

This website has a counter indicating, as the name suggests, how many days it’s been since the last act of stupidity as covered by an underlying website called The Outhouser.  DC has had a bad couple of weeks leading to multiple resets in a single day.  (And no, this has nothing to do with Ben Affleck.  Let the man be.)   This incident is only tangentially related to the dramas that caused the multiple resets; you can read about those here if you care.  It has to do with the underlying problem and, more importantly, its solution.

For me, it began with a Saturday morning email that big dramas were about to erupt.  It seems there was an article on the mother site where Gail Simone “fan favorite writer and vigilante crimefighter addresses the DC marriage controversy.”  It took a blog she wrote and then commented/extrapolated in such a way that is common on the site, but in this case it was murky where Gail’s remarks left off and the commentary began.  Clearly nothing malicious, but it seemed to Gail that a journalist ‘just made stuff up’ that she never said.  After tweeting this, she publicly asked the article’s author to message her.  His editor saw that request first and responded.  The article was taken down until it could be edited.  (That’s not a euphemism, it’s back up.)  With apologies on one side and gracious understanding on the other, the whole thing was over in about 20 minutes, drama free.

Quite honestly, without DC Comics being involved, I’d still applaud.  Check it out: two rational adults setting something civilly and amicably on the Internet.  It’s better than YouTube kittens.

So, what about that email?  That was sent to me in the period between Gail’s request for a DM from the author and the editor’s response.  It said basically “Look for a counter reset in 3… 2… 1…”
My reaction, without knowing any of these particulars, was PFFT.  I told my buddy that, while I don’t know Gail personally, I’d seen her on Twitter for over a year and a lovelier woman you simply won’t find.  She has a sense of humor and a rational perspective, and I’ve seen her laugh off plenty of trolls, bigots and creeps who simply weren’t worth engaging.  I knew she wasn’t about to turn into Linda Blair and start spewing pea soup and obscenities over a simple misconstruction.

Now, what’s important here isn’t the lack of another negative PR episode involving someone at DC Comics.  It’s that I knew there wasn’t going to be one before I clicked a link.  I knew because the way this woman conducts herself in public, as well as the material she writes, tells me that she’s not that kind of person.

Back to DC proper.  Several people have tried to position themselves as the voice of reason over the past few weeks (or maybe they’re just fence sitting) saying that DC has a PR problem, an image problem, a perception problem, etc.   The implication is that it’s not the men at the top, the decisions they make, ideas and attitudes that prompt them or the way they choose to express those ideas that’s bringing the tempest upon them; it’s the failure of the marketing and publicity departments who don’t have their backs.  It’s their job to foresee these issues before they occur and be there to give the right spin.

Technically, I suppose it’s true:  In the same way I instantly gave Gail the benefit of the doubt because she comes off like a good person, we all assume the absolute worst whenever someone from DC editorial or management speaks because we think they’re assholes.  Those last 5 words can be described as ‘an image problem.’ But to say that image problem is the problem is, well it’s rather like this:

Press Secretary: The important thing is not to look like we're panicking. POTUS: See, and I think the important thing is to actually NOT BE panicking.

Maybe the impression so many of us have that this company is nothing but the corporate embodiment of a petty, insecure man-child lashing out maliciously but impotently at all that confuses and frightens him isn’t quite as important as the reason we have that impression.

Originally posted as: What if they gave a PR Disaster and Nobody Came? on Blogger


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