Denigrating Language in Comics (Mature Discussion)

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This is disgusting, and it’s just one example of the use of the “R” word in comics. Most, if not all, derogatory language and slurs are considered unacceptable in todays popular culture but this slur is still relatively common. Why is there no moral outrage? How is this still considered acceptable?

This would never happen in a comic today, but New Frontier was released in 2004, before the movement to stop using that word really started. The story also takes place in the '50s, when the word would’ve been thrown around a lot more freely than today or even in '04. That hardly makes it acceptable or anything, you just have to consider the full context to better understand why it’s even there in the first place

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I get that, but there are other slurs common in the 50’s that aren’t present here. It’s just that one. Why is that one slur considered culturally acceptable when others clearly aren’t. The problem is that even if people are re-examining this slur, it’s a very recent phenomenon. We live in a society that claims to be progressive and committed to being inclusive. This term should’ve been erased from our cultural vocabulary a long time ago.

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I can’t seem to find any explanation as to why it was used in New Frontier, but I’d guess that’s because nobody ever thought to ask it of Darwyn Cooke since there really wasn’t much mainstream backlash to it before the 2010s. I definitely agree that it shouldn’t be used outside of a strictly medical context, and I feel that there has been a lot of progress in erasing it as a slur over the past decade. At the end of the day, there’s nothing we can do about its usage in previous years. All we can do is help make sure it’s used as an insult less and less going forward

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The backlash against the term in comics happened about a year after The New Frontier ended. The release of Frank Miller’s All Star Batman & Robin #2 (with the subsequent backlash) was a major turning point. The usage of the term has been highly criticized since that time.

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I completely agree that the past is past. I just still hear that word a lot in everyday speech so I still call it out. I’m glad that there’s been some backlash. That’s encouraging.

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the word used today would be mentally challenged not "retart "

All comics are a part of their specific time period and will use idioms/insults of the that time. Look at the Golden Age of comics. They are ripe with denigrating language across many areas. Our language evolves as our society evolves.

There are still plenty of stigmas around mental health today. Apply the word bi-polar or schizophrenic and see how the public responds to it.

While it is regrettable that such pejoratives we’re not thrown by the wayside decades or centuries ago. It is what it is. Like it or not. For good or ill. If one takes something out of the context of its time. Applying the morays of today against it. We might as well remove all of the comics written before the last 24 months on a recurring basis.

One might be better served by looking at the progress made on the unacceptably of the term within the last 16 years.

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I agree with @DeSade-acolyte. As someone who has family with autism, I’ve become more aware of the consequences of such a word. However, I’m also aware of the context given in the comic along with the time it was written and the era it’s representing.

I believe in leaving the comic as it is, though. I don’t believe in censoring or erasing things that might be problematic from history. I think leaving it in keeps with how the comic was published; George Lucas-ing projects to change with the climate is a dodgy prospect, but on the other hand I also think leaving it in gives us a chance to have a frank and mature discussion about it, like we’re all having now.

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I think it’s because the villain is the one who says it and he gets what he deserves or changes his morals at the end of the story. Also what @DeSade-acolyte and Bob Dylan said, “The Times They Are a Change’in”.

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I have… complicated feelings on this subject. Particularly this word. On the one hand, while I wouldn’t make the choice myself were I a professional writer, I understand a comic using a slur or otherwise offensive term in a context where it is understood that the word is negative and saying it is a negative act. I’m thinking of books like Scalped, or March, or Superman: Smashes the Klan. On the other hand, the usage of said terms in general isn’t something to be done lightly, and this particular word, as you’ve said, is used more prevalently and with more general acceptance than, say, most racial or homophobic slurs, so I think the intent might be more easily lost. I’m not defending its use in this book, although I will say, warts and all, I do love The New Frontier.

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I’m not going to post every comic book I see that uses that term but I’ve seen it used in recent comics. It’s not a thing of the past. I posted this because I happened to be reading it at the time. This is not just a DC thing. It’s industry wide. I’ve been called this before and it hurts. Talk of historical context is all well and good until you’ve been targeted by this slur.

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The other factor in this particular instance is the passing of Darwyn Cooke. It’s too late to call on him to do better, and it’s tricky to call on current writers to do better without seeming like we’re taking cheap shots at the dead. That said, current writers DO need to do better.

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I concur that going back now and censoring it is counterproductive. I’m saying that this term is still used. I’ve seen it in more recent comics. As I said in an earlier reply, I only posted this one because I was reading it at the time. I live with ADD and have been on the receiving end of this term. This is a current issue, not just a historical one.

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I wish you well in your future :slight_smile:

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:point_up:That, far as most media goes.

But when you hear it in the real world, sometimes it helps to let people know. Like, don’t patronize, but especially among the elderly, some people just have no idea.

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In the New Frontier, I’d say it makes sense given the time period as people were still using the terminology that way. Cooke didn’t shy away from the N word when that little girl ratted out John Henry.

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I’d argue that’s a very different case, though. There’s a difference between thematically relevant racist language and casual, contextually-irrelevant ableist language.

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Agreed. I wasn’t raised in the 50s where New Frontier took place so I’m not too sure how the R word was used back then. It is definitely not as accepted now but I do work with older people that still use it to mean stupid. Hell, when I was younger, everything that wasn’t cool was referred to as “gay” too.

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Wait is this a joke?