The Religion Of Comics

By | Monday, May 07, 2007 Leave a Comment
There are any number of things one can do online, as I'm sure you're aware. (Like, as the cover to the right suggests, saving Supergirl!) Many of those things are, in fact, the same but catered towards a different audience. Shopping, for example. You can buy just about anything you want online. But there are some web sites that focus on books, some that focus on music, some that focus on office supplies... Similarly, there are untold hundreds of message boards in cyberspace, each with its own spin on a topic. Some boards are polticial, some are academic, some are related to movies, some are centered a single individual.

Personally, though, I spent the vast majority of my time online in the service of comics. It's the subject that interests me more than any other, so it should be no surprise that my focus online carries that passion as well. Further, I've found small niches online where I can engage in discussions about comics with people who, while they might not always agree, will at least bring civility to the table. When I first came online, I found a great number of outlets to discuss comics, but many of them were filled with people so passionate about their beliefs that they refused to even accept the idea that someone might have reason to disagree with them. Whether they had a favorite artist or character or storyline or whatever, they felt that their ideas were "correct" and that anyone who disagreed with them was an unreasonable, condesceneding jackass. Needless to say, it wouldn't take much to send these folks flying off the hanle about the topic du jour.

It makes a kind of sense that religion and politics tend to stir up the greatest arguements. After all, those subjects are based almost exclusively around an individual's belief system and accepting something as simple as someone else holding to a different belief system suggests to many people that their own is not valid. (Which is not necessarily true, of course.)

What strikes me as more interesting, though, is that people can get just as passionately fired up about comic books. It's sadly not difficult to find a simple discussion on favorite characters devolve into nastiness. I stumbled across just such a incident recently, and was surprised how many people weighed in on the subject without saying anything constructive. (I don't run across these very often, fortunately; I suppose it's fair to say that I've largely insulated myself from this type of crowd. I say that by way of explaining my surprise to folks who surely must see this daily.) There were folks who were quite adamant that their opinions were right, and anyone holding an opposing view was clueless. Name-calling and profanity were used early on, and some people quickly resorted to the equivalent of "I know you are, but what am I" arguements.

It strikes me as interesting because people are placing their belief in the mythology of comics as vehemently as if it were any insubstanitable belief system. We all know Superman and Spider-Man don't exist, so why get upset over various aspects of that non-existence? (By a similar token, we can't prove the existance of any deity or the absolute correctedness of any given political policy, so the passionate arguements still don't really make sense to me there either.) And even if you did, it's not going to do anyone any good to shout obscenities at the other party. People aren't going to listen to you if you blatantly insult them. (And I just went through that rant here.)

What was somewhat refreshing, I will say, though, was how many people did NOT jump up and down screaming that their opinion was more right in that incident I alluded to earlier. I was privvy to some of the web traffic numbers and it was clear that, at least from what I could see, only about 5% of the people seeing the incident posted something blatantly antagonistic. That means 95% of the people, whether they agreed with one side or the other, understood that their comments would likely just fan some flames that had no need to be fanned. That was pleasantly surprising to me, and almost restores whatever little faith I once had in humanity.

But back to my point, I find it intriguing that people -- any people -- have adopted an obviously manufacured mythology as their religion. I'd seen people claim they followed the path of the Jedi or describe their personal pon far, but I had thought that such claims were at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek. As I see events where people get so incensed over the opinions of others, that calls my original belief into question. Rest assured, though, I don't intend to restart The Crusades over it!
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