Batgirl Cover Controversy: Creative Freedom Vs. Political Correctness

Cheshire Cat Studios proudly presents… WASTED EFFORT! A new video series starring everyone’s favorite cynical duo!

LaughingMan and CineMax begin the episode by highlighting the hypocrisy of online feminists and moral crusaders when it comes to fictional depiction of violence against women vs. fictional depiction of violence against men. Evidently, an unrepentant homicidal maniac (the Joker) shooting an innocent woman (Barbara Gordon) through the spine in the seminal 1988 Batman one-shot “The Killing Joke” is an intolerable act of violence as well as unequivocal evidence of the author’s misogyny. (Never mind all the evidence to the contrary, of course.) Meanwhile, a female online personality shooting an innocent man point-blank over a dozen times in one of her videos due to her illogical, paranoid fear of getting raped at all times (only to then turn to the camera and deliver an atrocious one-liner that would make even David Caruso wince) should be seen as nothing more than innocuous, wholesome fun for the whole family. Gotta love those double standards, don’t you?

After that quick little demonstration, the two hosts move on to discuss the actual subject matter of this video: the recent controversy surrounding the Joker variant cover for Batgirl #41 drawn by Rafael Albuquerque. They make mention of Reason Magazine’s conflicting coverage of this incident, taking a closer look at Nick Gillespie’s take in particular. In his article, Nick Gillespie argues that even if you disagree with DC Comics’ decision to cancel Rafael Albuquerque’s cover, we should still view this as a decisive victory for the consumers. How come, you ask? Because according to the author, with the advent of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, the fans now have a unique opportunity to stay in touch with and provide feedback directly to their favorite companies and artists. To quote Nick Gillespie: “Artists must now effectively collaborate with their audiences—not slavishly giving them what they want, but seriously respecting their wishes and desires.”

A noble sentiment, indeed. However, the question that both LaughingMan and CineMax can’t help but ask is: “Was it really the loyal Batman fans who took umbrage with this particular cover?” Or was it a group of professional killjoys and self-appointed moral guardians — some of whom have even proudly announced their own ignorance of the Dark Knight mythos? After all, how else do you explain the existence of #SaveTheCover: A hashtag started by actual Batman readers to apprise DC Comics that they 100% support the controversial cover, as well as to disprove the plethora of erroneous statements made by the critics; such as there not being any covers depicting a male superhero being at the mercy of one of his villains. (‘Cos there are. A lot.)

We can concede that Nick Gillespie’s heart is in the right place. Companies should consider the feedback provided by their own consumers if they want to ensure customer satisfaction and stay ahead of the competition. However, more often than not we see the system get abused by an implacable virtual lynch mob that tries to censor anything they don’t like — all in the name of so-called “progress.” What’s even more demoralizing, however, is that these people’ actions seem to indicate a larger problem present in our society right now: No one wants to sit down and have an open and honest debate about whatever points of contention they might have. Instead, if things don’t go your way, the best strategy these days seems to be to publicly announce your indignation with something and demand immediate reparations. And if someone dares to object to your childish temper tantrum? Just block them on social media and claim that you’re being harassed to win over the public’s sympathy once more.

Hoo boy… Well, we never promised that we would start our new show on a positive note. :S

LaughingMan: Hey Max I got a joke! Knock knock!

CineMax: Who’s there?

LaughingMan: Bang motherfucker!

CineMax: Oh come on Laughing Man that’s just insensitive! mean honestly in this day and age how can any decent human being even think of making that sort of… Oh wait a second the victim was male wasn’t he? Oh well that changes everything then. The fucker probably deserved it anyway.

LaughingMan: Oh just gotta love that selective outrage don’t you?

CineMax: Mm-hmm.

LaughingMan: Which leads us to our new topic. It’s it’s rare that our beloved Reason magazine doesn’t know what the fuck it’s doing as judged by these different um opinion pieces about the same exact fucking topic which is the canceled cover of the bat comic. And as usual we’re late to the party.

CineMax: Yes I believe that at this point most reviewers are aware of what’s happened and as far as the Batgirl cover goes um Reason has made I believe it was three articles on the subject matter. And the one that I read first was the one by uh Nick Gillespie

LaughingMan: Mm-hmm

CineMax: Whom I actually like as a writer. I’ve read some of his articles in the past and usually I’m more or less in agreement with this gentleman

LaughingMan: Usually

CineMax: But the problem in this particular case um I guess it bears saying that reason is a libertarian magazine so what the author tried doing this time is he tried to go with a libertarian you know companies listening to what the consumers are saying type of angle.

LaughingMan: Exactly. The power of the consumers influence the companies.

CineMax: Yes and as many uh commenters have pointed out on that article it wasn’t really the consumers it wasn’t really that Batman fans who took offense with this cover. Because you know the fans they are the ones who are aware of continuity they’d understand the context and the message of this cover. Instead it was a bunch of professional killjoys. They are the ones who are going you know what I I don’t care about Batman, I don’t care about what happened but I am offended by this and therefore you should take it down. Which is why it was kind of hard for me to stomach Nick Gillespie’s article because you know political correctness basically takes another stab in the heart of uh a creative freedom and meanwhile you know they panned the camera little bit to the right and there is Nick Gillespie going “isn’t the future wonderful folks?”

LaughingMan: Hm-hm-hm-hmm. Not exactly. Well the 1988 graphic novel, The Killing Joke, is the inspiration for this particular cover. And of course it’s one of the darkest stories in DC cannon. It’s the one that made The Joker serious-business, and, uh, made him not just, you know, a petty criminal who leaves behind you know laughing gas and uh jack in the boxes and other stupid shit though but actually made him a menace.

CineMax: Yes. And a fascinating villain to boot.

LaughingMan: Absolutely. And in the story, Barbara Gordon, Batgirl, is shot in her spine by the Joker leaving her temporarily disabled. And there’s some allusions to sexual assault because Joker -in order to make Barbara’s dad, Commissioner Gordon, go absolutely crazy, which is his warped logic and the plot behind the Killing Joke- he strips her naked and takes lots of pictures of her dying on the floor, and forces him to look at those photos.

CineMax: Mm-hmm.

LaughingMan: And of course it’s a comic book made by the great Alan Moore.

CineMax: Yes. Who by the way has gone on record saying that the Joker did not in fact rape Barbara Gordon.

LaughingMan: Yes. Of course. Well it’s no coincidence that Alan Moore has often been labeled as a misogynist by those who see his work at face value and can’t be arsed to do some very basic research on his very pro-female views. Cause unfortunately actual research involves reading more than one hundred and forty characters. Speaking of which the controversy started on Tumblr of all places. With the author, Feminist Batman.

CineMax: Of course.

LaughingMan: Because of the internet scrutiny DC pulled the cover.

CineMax: Right. I personally believe that it was censorship because I saw this post on a once again, a Tumblr blog of all places, called something to the effect of Women of DC Rock or DC Female Characters For the Win or something.

LaughingMan: I wonder what their political affiliation is. Heh heh heh

CineMax: But any ways, the post in question basically tried to disprove all the legitimate criticisms that people like us have about you know censorship and the stifling of creative freedom by basically screen capping a Tweet by the current writer of the Batgirl comic saying that it’s not really censorship because this cover does not really reflect the themes and ideas and the direction of the current Batgirl comic book. Which I will agree it does not. However, I would argue that it really doesn’t have to. This Batgirl cover, it didn’t come out of nowhere you know. DC didn’t just decide on a whim to remind everyone of the events of an almost 30 year old graphic novel. Instead it’s all part of a larger promo campaign that will take place in June that’s meant to celebrate the Clown Prince of Crime’s seventieth anniversary. And if we take a closer look at all these different covers, we see that a vast majority of them give The Joker the upper hand and put the heroes in a perilous situation. Yet no one gives a shit that say The Flash is about to get hit in the head with a cane in his cover, or that say the Joke is dancing some twisted dance macabre with Wonder Woman and has a bomb behind her back. Somehow no one gives a crap about that but in the case of Batgirl #sexism #take this filth down.

LaughingMan: But Max, Batgirl is crying on the cover. Surely no other comic book character has cried while being at the mercy of a villain!

CineMax: Oh really? Well in that case what do you think of them apples?

But like Nick Gillespie says, the entire angle he took is the fact that companies are catering to public opinion. Which I think is good.

CineMax: Yes in an ideal world.

LaughingMan: Yes yes. In an ideal world this is great because say like um a company’s putting lead into baby food or something like that. Heh the lead in the baby food might explain a lot of the Tumblrism but but it still means that the consumers still have a say in what corporations do, regardless of how big they get or how much money they have, and how much influence they think they have. However, like you said, is it really the comic book readers who are decrying and denouncing this particular cover. An article by Rob Bricken by io9 titled ‘The Real Problems With This Controversial Batgirl Cover’ says, and I quote, “It’s incredibly sexist. I would hope that even the most bitter of woman-hating male comic fans surely have to agree that male superheroes, unless he was a child, would never be drawn crying while being held hostage by a super-villain.”

CineMax: Really?

LaughingMan: Now

CineMax: Really?

LaughingMan: Yeah. Now let’s take a quick look at this. I would hope that even, and I’m quoting this, I would hope that even the most bitter of woman-hating male comic fans. Okay, there’s no commas in any of this shit. He’s implying that male comic fans are inherently bitter and woman-hating.

CineMax: Yes by default.

LaughingMan: Yes And you know what this is called? This is called fucking bullying.

CineMax: Absolutely.

LaughingMan: And of course io9 is part of Gawker, the very company who, as we covered in our #messiah / SJW trilogy, whose owners and the people who who ran gawker into the ground have suggested in their public Tweets that nerds need to be bullied into submission.

CineMax: Yes

LaughingMan: Fucking screenshot. BAM! Add a firework if you want to Max I don’t give a fuck. The question worth asking is why are feminists attacking the traditionally geeky mediums, video games, comic books, etcetera. Why isn’t Gawker going after rap videos and where’s the outrage for the blatant objectification of women in the Fast & Furious 7 trailer? You have to understand what it’s like being a geek to get what’s going on. You have to understand what it’s like to be snobbed and bullied and maligned by others until your self worth is crippled and stunted. I e these people are easy targets. You have a base of people who traditionally like video games, traditionally like comics books, who are very likely to be submissive and desperate to play the nice guy to get approval. To get that pat on the head. Just look at the geek who in your high school or wherever else carries the books for the hot girl who basically uses him and has no intention of ever reciprocating. So geeks are being threatened, not only with violence -Gawker- but with the snotty promise of being denied sex by being labeled as misogynists if they don’t conform to this world view. Am I saying that feminists are bullying geeks? Fucking right I am.

CineMax: It’s all about establishing your dominance over everyone else though. Up until a few years ago, being a geek was something that was looked down upon by society however with the recent success of super hero movies and t v shows like the walking dead or game of thrones, all of a sudden being into historically geeky stuff like being into comic books or science fiction has become the latest popular trend by the cool kids. As a result you have a group of people who have never given a crap about stuff like comic books, video games, TV, etcetera, infiltrating said mediums and trying to poison them with their own brand of ignorance and bias.

LaughingMan: I was going to say, why don’t these people go after real life misogyny? Why don’t they go after like you know certain uh cultures and religions that still treat women as second CLASS citizens

CineMax: Because that would require some actual effort.

LaughingMan: That would require work! Exactly! To paraphrase Marcus Aurelius, you should never consider the opinions of those who don’t even meet their own fucking standards.

CineMax: Well not only that but why should we give someone’s opinion any credence when that someone freely admits to their own ignorance? Just look at Mary Sue: at the beginning of their article they clearly say full-disclosure I have never read the Killing Joke.

LaughingMan: She Brilliant!

CineMax: Yeah. Of course the author is still going to share her grievances with this cover even though she has just admitted that she doesn’t know what the fuck she’s talking about.

LaughingMan: That’s almost as brilliant as saying I’ve never watched The Accused but since it features a rape scene on a pinball table it’s evil and anti-woman. It’s like b-b-b-b-b-but that’s that’s the fucking point! That’s- You gotta watch the goddamned thing to understand it.

CineMax: But that’s the thing. These people, these #progressives they’re always the ones who say we need to sit down and have an open debate. Yet this you know uh change the cover slash save the cover incident has shown that an honest debate is the last thing they want. They throw out this ridiculous statement, they get proven wrong, and instead of saying Wow you know what, I was wrong, they instead block you.

LaughingMan: Yes, just like the fucking comic book creator!

CineMax: Yeah here’s another screen cap where a woman, who according to her, is a um a rape survivor and her tweet reads do you have a problem with me, a girl and a rape survivor, appreciating the cover as inspiration. And what do you think, did the writer go wow the fans really don’t mind this we should probably keep this- No. Blocked. I don’t care.

LaughingMan: Ha Ha Ha Ha. It’s because these people have to preserve these perfect little immature bubbles, these distortions of reality they have. Anything that’s conflicting gets rejected.

CineMax: Sometimes it’s really exhausting to sit there and look at all of these opinions and go Alright, freedom of speech, they have a right to say it. Bleh

LaughingMan: And they do.

CineMax: And they do but the problem is they never reciprocate. They never look or listen to what we say, and go It’s like You know what, I don’t agree with this but they whatever they have the right to say it.

LaughingMan: Well the freedom of speech simply means that the government can’t censor you it doesn’t mean that people can’t call you out when you talk out of your ass. But again it’s that there’s no exchange of ideas happening. It’s total fascism. You either agree with me or I’ll block you on Twitter. And it’s like Wow, golf clap.

CineMax: Mm-hmm.

LaughingMan: This is the reason why we keep using the term Progressives in double quotes, because this is as anti-classic Liberalism as you can get. And we’re not Conservative. We’re not Liberal. But when it comes to something like Voltaire saying I may not agree with what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it, that is what is at the heart of our complaints. There’s not reciprocation going on, it’s totally one-sided.

CineMax: Right, and just because they scream the loudest it doesn’t mean that they talk for all of us.

LaughingMan: Yes. That’s our job.


A subversive excommunicated from [REDACTED] as a result of a failed coup d'etat, CineMax has miraculously managed to reach and find asylum in the Land of the Free. Here he spends his days working for Cheshire Cat Studios, all the while plotting his inevitable return to the motherland to once again foment the flames of revolution.


The loveable lunatic with the foul mouth and the iconic laugh, Laughingman is the founder of CCS. With more coffee than copper in his bloodstream, he's a full-time website developer by day, and a gamer, editor, and fiction writer by night.

5 Comments on “Batgirl Cover Controversy: Creative Freedom Vs. Political Correctness

  1. Wow! Great show, guys! I really like the condensed to-the-point format and new background. Very classy.
    I actually applied for an internship at Reason once. Sadly, they never got back to me.
    After your podcast with GGR, I did a little research of my own and found that Millennials (those born 1982-1994) is a generation that is entrenched in the pursuit of social justice (not all Millennials mind you). However, like you guys mentioned, most SWJs don’t take to the streets but rather the Internet. It a joke that Millennials are the “me” generation but I think that rings true in how some interact with others online. They want to have their own “special” soapbox and say they are “inclusive” and “non-judgemental” but if they “feel” threatened or don’t like your opinion, all decency goes out the window. They also like to use identity politics as well (as a white cis male, you can’t have opinions on this topic). Sadly, they rally around these causes but I don’t see them apply critical thinking or take things into context (like with the Killing Joke).
    For example, I cannot express how much feminists hate the adult film industry (or the sex industry in general but they have something against porn). At one point in my feminist freshman English class (yeah, it was bad), a text we were reading found a correlation between violent* porn consumption and rate of recidivism for sex offenders. Then, in the same paragraph, the text implied consuming porn causes more rape. Uh, I think you can find the holes in that logic.

    Interesting opinon article on “social justice bullies”:

    Anyways, great work! Can’t wait to see more of Wasted Effort!

    *I don’t think they clarified what is considered “violent” either.

  2. Absolutely loved the episode. Keep going on, guys!

    These “feminists” have to be the joke of the frigging millennium. Like you said, what amazes me is not that these people ignore the good things that DC has made to promote woman-power, but the fact that they ignore content that many people would consider even more hurting. i.e, the abusive relationship of the joker and Harley Quinn. I’ve never seen any “feminist” groups speak out against this.

  3. I was so excited to find you guys had a new video. From my understanding the creator of the varient cover willingly decided to take it down due to the backlash. And to that point, while I’m not happy that the people who pushed him to do so were not a majority comic book fans, I feel it isn’t completely censorship, only because it was his decision to make. It’s his right to do whatever he feels is necessary with his work. That being said however, I hate feeling like the comic book world is trying harder to appeal to those who don’t really read what they put out in the first place. I mean, I get that the comic book companies want to pull in more people (because you know, money) but I feel their priority should be to appeal to the loyal customers they already have, at least that way, you’ll probably have a better chance at raking in the dough. Sorry for the rant. Been sitting on this for a while now. You guys honestly inspire me to make my own videos. I want to be able express my ideas and debate others. Gah. Thank you guys so much for existing.

    Possible future topic: Joss Whedon leaving Twitter and the backlash over Black Widow in Age of Ultron. I would love to see what you guys have to say <3

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