Comically Bad

If your local TV station is working extra hard lately, that’s because it’s February sweeps. When I toiled in the business of marketing TV news, I used to love sweeps and all its sensational over the top stories. It made my job fun. And though it meant more work, it was work that came easy to me.

I’ve seen it all, some of it good journalism and some of it tawdry and awful — and some of it very, very flimsy — like WNYT’s story on the dangers of comic books.

Sex? Violence? Corrupting the minds of children? The points raised in this piece are precisely the same as those brought up when a US Senate subcommittee grilled comic book publishers at hearings in 1954. The hysteria they drummed up worked; the publishing industry created the Comics Code Authority to enforce a set of self-imposed standards of decency. Purists believe it ruined the business.

That the story completely ingnored the history of comics and how they were censored in the past really tells me something. It tells me someone did zero research — but can you really expect context from a story that doesn’t offer one shred of fact to support its premise?

And is it true that Comic Book Content Causes Concern for Some? Yes, in the story there’s a psychologist who’s concerned, and some comic-loving parents who understand the definition of age appropriateness — but I’d say they are only mildly concerned.

The takeaway? Monitor what your kids are doing so you can protect them from inapproprate material. OK, I guess the story did do one thing really well: it did a great job of overstating the obvious. There’s some news you can use.

By the way, if you’re interested in comics and how they were censored in the 50s, get a copy of The Ten Cent Plague. This is a must read for comic fans — and an eye opening look at what happens when you let social conservatives start running things.

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