One thing about criticism originating on the net that irritates me to no end is the tendency to jump the gun. The world we live in now demands instant comment, instant views often before all of the facts are known. This sucks because a lot of bullshit does not get corrected when it needs to. Now, some errors are corrected, but how many?
Take for example the Shirley Sherrod incident from 2010. While she was vindicated in the end, for several days she was absolutely vilified in the press. A woman was forced to resign from her job because of a bullshit story. Luckily for her, it did not take long for her to be vindicated, but how many similar victims are not so lucky?
And, there is the Red Hood and the Outlaws controversy at the beginning of DC’s New 52. Yes, the depiction of Starfire looked sexist, but six issues in and Starfire is not the bimbo fanservice that she initially appeared to be. As a serial comic book, it takes time to build up characters and story lines. Now, how many people even know that their initial reactions to Starfire are disproved by later issues?
Do not get me wrong, one of Starfire’s roles is to provide fanservice. It always has. And, depictions of women in comics and a lack of women comics creators are still issues that desperately needs to be addressed. But it should be done in thoughtful and well researched ways.
Now, this brings me to the continual controversy of whether or not R. Scott Bakker is misogynistic. I now go on record and state that I read The Darkness that Comes Before several years ago and have not read anything else by him. Do I think he has a problem with women? I honestly am not sure. Is it sexist to have as the lone female protagonist a prostitute? A prostitute that does have at least one very disturbing sex scene that borders on rape? I remember that she is a strong character, but does that strength of character negate (or is negated by) the nasty things that happen to her?
It has been years since I have read that book. I am not sure whether or not he has a problem with women (and with LGBT). Bakker’s comments on his criticism can be taken as either: 1) he is playing around with his readership’s expectations and pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable or 2) he doth protest too much. It could also be a case of readers not being able to divorce writer from work. Not everything a writer writes comes from the inner recesses of his or her soul. Not everything is autobiographical.
The problem, in the end, is controversy and debates do not last long. While remnants of the nihilism and fantasy debate still lingers a year after it first flared to life, the argument largely lasted about a month or two. Is that enough time to really interrogate the subject from all angles? Personally, I hate having to jump guns. I like to stew my thoughts on a subject for a while. I acknowledge that my first impressions are usually wrong and that it takes me time to come to better approaches. Pity there is so little stepping back and thinking.