January 26, 2011
Fredric Wertham was a fraud, albeit a lucky one. He wrote his book at a time (1954) when the United States was in the midst of a paranoiac surge. Despite being the most powerful nation on Earth, the American population was seeing communists and other subversive dangers everywhere. It was a time of blacklisting and vicious racial prejudice, despite what the "Happy Days" crowd wants you to believe. Due to this national mindset, Wertham's piece of crap was taken seriously, although it was nothing more than one more example of adults censoring the kid's material because the adults have lost the happy mindset of youth. If his book had been published at some other times few people would have ever heard of it. Many years ago there was a phenomena called "Garbage Pail Kids" that were cards featuring gross characters. There was a time when the cheap novel was considered to be a corrupting influence, especially to the impressionable "fair sex" a. k. a. females. Even now you have the occasional fool that objects to a school mascot that has the word "devil" in it, as if that very term and imagery is going to turn the brains of people to mush. This stuff happens all the time; it is nothing more than censorship executed by people with very simplistic and incorrect views of the world.
January 21, 2011
Excellent question, Sean, although it's not a new phenomena. This type of censorship and panic happens not only with comics but with video games, computer games, movies, and even books. There will always be conservative people who don't want certain materials getting into the hands of their children. The problem isn't always the parents, though, as friends and siblings often share these items. Also, liberal parents might be unconcerned, so they won't think twice when their child introduces another child to questionable materials.
To answer your question, I think it's utter rubbish. I do agree that anything we read, see, and hear influences who we become, but there are a lot of other factors to be considered as well. I also disagree that the government should moderate what children read. That is a parent's responsibility.
The real concern this question raises is when does childhood end and adulthood begin. Childhood is sacred, and parents don't want their kids growing up too fast or loosing their innocence prematurely. It will happen, though, and it's only a matter of how and when they transition into adulthood. Perhaps the fear is wrapped up in the fact that parents loose control.
I don't believe in censorship, but I do believe that children shouldn't read certain materials until they are old enough to understand what they are reading. There is something to be said about knowing the difference between fact and fiction, something that small children don't always recognize.
This issue is easily resolved with warning labels indicating what type of audience a comic is written for. There is a big difference between something like Archie
. I'm not saying I wouldn't let my kids read one over the other; it's a matter of when they have the faculty to understand the more adult reads. This is something that parents and children/young adults need to discuss when they reach that age. After all, kids mature at different rates. What works with one may not work with another.
The key is communication not censorship.
January 21, 2011
A typical childish ignorance which escalated into a kind of medieval witch hunt and the funny thing is that Wertham was supposed to be an empirical univesity educated psychiatrist but his " findings" are just unfounded hysteria. And typical for politicians, they picked this nonsense up and used this for their own promotion because they thought this would make them popular. This sillynes even moved to Iceland in the 50's and our very own Silly twits in congress made some stupid laws banning comics which is even more funny by the fact that hardly any of these comics were imported in Iceland in these days. Here is a video clip on youtube about this comical Farce. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xr62iKBwQTM&p...E2615922345D2E&index=10
January 21, 2011
I think it's a mistake to single out a genre, be it comic books, video games, or violence in movies/TV, and claim that the entire genre has a generalized negative effect on people's behavior. Most normal readers/players/viewers can consume such fare without incorporating deviant behavior into their own daily lives. That said, it must be taken into account that less stable or intelligent individuals often base their actions upon what they see or read, as witnessed by the various acts of violence that occur in real life. In my work as a school psychologist, I've encountered kids who "copy cat" ideas gleaned from various sources of entertainment. There are no easy answers.
January 21, 2011
Good question, Count.
Thanks to Wertham, EC Comics was basically cancelled. Gaines, the founder, had to find another outlet and so went to magazines, which were outside the influence. This was during the McCarthy era and the high juvenile delinquency at the time.
Rather than handle the delinquency, they blamed comic books rather than parental negligence. Why the Congress got into it is beyond me. Clearly a violation of the first amendment to attempt to regulate the comics industry.
From what I understand, the comics code authority was created by the publishers themselves to demonstrate to Congress that they were capable of their own regulation and did not want government interference.
At present, there is no longer a comics code. I have not seen any stamps on any comics cover over the recent years. Instead, the Big Two are labelling their own issues with mature readers only, or creating such side publishing as Vertigo books. Dark Horse has their own mature readers stamp as well.
The Conan books are just as bloody and gory as the old EC Comics Vault of Horror or Tales from the Crypt in the 1950s. Even today Wertham's book is a highly prized collectible! So no, comic books are not a direct cause of violence. Video games and computer games were getting that kind of talk as well.
Thanks for the good question!
January 21, 2011
Comic Books...wow! I have read comic books from many generations. I am not against comic book censorship at all, since it is attractive to the young mind. I do have to state that comic books are now being bought by working adult and so stories that are not "the funnies" should be published to attract a more mature audience.
I do believe that it is the responsibility of the shop owner (mature comics are sealed in stores, Watchmen was sealed in the 80's) and of parents to know what their kids are reading. There are also "PG" ratings and even "R" ratings when it comes to comics. The problem is super-heroes are more grounded to reality than ever, and they are more realistic. The more intelligent and more complex a story gets, the more it goes away from family-oriented themes. Honestly, the amount of violence you see in comics aren't any more than what we see on TV and in movies. It is up to the parents to teach the kids the values of heroism and that the stories in comics are a mere reflection of such.
But hey, I think the comics code should be more streamlined. Thor is not for kids, nor are the issues of Spider-man under Straczynski. FF is not the same comic I've read in the 60's and 70's. Conan is always under mature content and even Kick-ass has an NC-17 rating. So, if they eliminate such things, they better just eliminate freedom of expression altogether. I love how comics have matured but then as with any evolution, it will have its detractors. It does need a more aggressive code though, made by someone who knows....and understand the medium. I would agree with a more aggressive rating system but as for controlling the medium, I will not agree. Hold up, I see Disney's more family-friendly approaches to Marvel these days...
Now if you want to talk about why investors who do not care about comics drive the high prices there days...let me know. This is just the ramblings of a man who does not know any better. For me, talking about it is just giving him credibility.
February 01, 2011
What are we back in the 50's where they had to institute a comics code? My understanding is that most comics are read by adults. Kids are busy with video games and other diversions. I noted that comics today have a lot less dialogue then those from 20 years back. It seems that it is a lot easier with computers to come up with great artwork and a lot harder to come up with well written prose.
February 01, 2011
I see what you mean, CO. It's interesting that, 50 years later, we still struggle with this question.
January 29, 2011
Just as a follow-up, I found out today that DC Comics has dropped the Comics Code completely and will install their own grading system like Marvel's. Also Bongo Comics and Archie dropped them as well. I think the last vestiges of Wertham's book have finally bit the dust after all these decades.