Dark Time For The Rebellion: Marvel Fires Chuck Wendig For Having Opinions
Star Wars author Chuck Wendig announced Friday that Marvel had abruptly yanked him from a Darth Vader comic and an unannounced Star Wars book. Marvel confirmed severing ties with Wendig but wouldn't comment further on why. However, if you follow Wendig on Twitter, it's not much of a mystery.
Wendig was temporarily suspended from the platform this week for.... well, it's unclear. Wendig claims Twitter was cagey on this point: "They didn't ask me to delete any tweets, they didn't give me a sense of what rule I broke, or when, or what offending tweet had caused the world such pain." Twitter likes to occasionally put users in their own Nancy Drew novel: "The Secret of the Naughty Tweet." Wendig connected some dots and figured the suspension was related to a series of tweets he wrote last weekend related to the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
This was a reasonable statement made by a reasonable person who was reasonably frustrated by the unreasonable events of the past few weeks. Although the climax of Revenge of the Sith is the only part worth watching, no one wants to live through it. But reasonable people on Twitter are a small enough minority that they could have their own GOP Senate majority. Wendig had to block hundreds of abusive users and endure personal threats. He also enjoyed the attentions of what he calls "weepy right-wing-celebrity clowndicks," such as Ben Shapiro, James Woods, Dinesh D'Souza, and Curt Schilling. No member of this conservative clown posse is known for his civility, which reinforces that this isn't about respect for others but control of us. Republicans can put an accused rapist on the Supreme Court -- one who literally shouted his way to confirmation -- and if we, especially women, don't smile and think happy thoughts, we get wished into the cornfield.
The Comicsgate/Gamergate media went on to claim that Wendig was advocating violence against Trump supporters. This is simultaneous laugh/cry level of irony from people who are Star Wars fans: "The intolerant left won't let stormtroopers enjoy their meals at the Bad Shot Bar & Grill in peace. They also mock the Emperor's skin condition. I'm totally all for a Death Star now!"
Wendig has faced years of targeted harassment, ranging from SWATing attempts, online stalking, and creepy YouTube videos. Why? Well, he dared to include LGBT characters and all that other "social justice warrior" stuff in his 2015 novel "Star Wars: Aftermath" and the now usual suspects freaked out. They're the ones who chased Last Jedi actress Kelly Marie Tran offline because she dared have a bigger role in their space opera than random Asian chick in background. The cruelty of what I like to believe is a small but viciously vocal segment of fandom depresses me. Like your typical geek, I loved the Star Wars films... and Sondheim musicals (frankly, that I've successfully reproduced through conventional means is a miracle). I obviously noticed that the movies were white-male centered, but that wasn't unique in sci-fi, fantasy, or superhero comics. I just never guessed that so many people considered that a feature rather than a product of the times that we could move past together. I hoped that we could share. Maybe that was too much to ask.
Apparently it was also too much to ask for Marvel to stand by Wendig. Marvel reportedly fired him "because of the negativity and vulgarity that [his] tweets bring." It was "too much politics, too much vulgarity, too much negativity on [his] part." With all that's going on in this country, isn't a little negativity to be expected? Are we all expected to "sing while we slave"? That sounds boring.
This country is in dire fucking straits, and my call for a lack of civility remains true, no matter who that offends — which, arguably, is the point. Civility means saying things that aren't troublesome, that don't upset the balance, that acquiesce to abusive powers. And make no mistake, these powers are abusive. Children in cages, abusers and criminals at the highest levels of government, a willful acceleration of climate change, voter suppression, Russian meddling, tax breaks for the richest while the poor and middle-class continue to flounder… well, that list goes on and on. And both social media — and mass media — are helping to aggravate that problem rather than grapple with it, because it is advantageous to them to do so. A civil response is a complicit response. We must not be civil. Again, to be clear, violence isn't the answer, either — but you don't have to be polite in your protests. You don't have to curtail vulgar language. They'll reframe any protest you make as being uncivil, down to the notion that they will call protesting itself an uncivil act. Don't buy it. Stand up, be counted, make your voice heard as loudly and as firmly as you must.
It's no big twist to reveal that I agree with Wendig. I also realize Marvel is a business, and it's within its rights to fire Wendig if it believes that'll keep its market shares up. The creepazoids on YouTube are already dancing on his "woke" grave, and I'm sure conservatives will argue that Wendig's political comments are no different from Roseanne comparing a black woman to an ape or Kevin Williamson advocating hanging women who have abortions. But conservatives will probably always equate kicking you in the face with your shouting, "Stop kicking me, asshole!"
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He recently fled Seattle, where he did theatre work for Book-It Rep and Cafe Nordo.