The Beat’s Gregory Paul Silber has been accused of having a bit of an… obsessive personality. Each week in Silber Linings, he takes a humorous look at the weirdest, funniest, and most obscure bits of comics and pop culture that he can’t get out of his head.*
(*Editor’s Note: Not so much this week, though. This week he’s just going to complain for 1,400 words. – JG)
Happy Festivus! Back in October, I tweeted my disappointment regarding the news that Mel Gibson would star in The Continental, a TV spinoff of the John Wick movies. Somehow one of the big entertainment sites added my tweet to a “moment” before it got any engagement. The next thing I knew, dozens of randos were in my mentions yelling at me for expressing what I still think is a pretty lukewarm opinion: that I’d rather not see an actor with a well-documented history of hateful and abusive behavior added to one of my favorite franchises.
I bring up this bout of social media stupidity only because in trying to insult me, one of the trolls accidentally gave me a great idea:
Btw I know it’s uncouth to respond to trolls but I’m sincerely grateful for Silber Whinings. Look out for it in my column come Festivus (“The Airing of Grievances”) pic.twitter.com/faaw7XHuiR
— Gregory Paul Silber (@GregSilber) October 19, 2021
Granted, Twitter user Krimp Fugly didn’t seem to think through his attack. First of all, unless he uses a secret alt, Mel Gibson doesn’t appear to have a Twitter account, thank goodness. Also, even if Gibson was somehow familiar with my work, the thought of him reading it is endlessly delightful. Do you think he liked my essay about the comic where Swamp Thing had sex with his human girlfriend? Maybe he read my deep-dives into the death of Mr. Peanut and said “this Silber fella may be a filthy oven-dodger, but he sure is funny!”
Anyway, I like to give credit where it’s due, so thank you, Mr. Fugly, for inspiring me to try something new in this column with “Silber Whinings.” Here’s the thing: perhaps as a serendipitous result of the title, Silber Linings has almost exclusively been focused on talking up stuff I like. But after almost a year of consistent positivity, aren’t I entitled to a few complaints? Besides, it’s nearly Festivus: the December 23rd holiday popularized by Seinfeld and characterized by the customary “Airing of Grievances.”
So without further ado, here are just a few of the things that have been pissing me off in the lead-up to Festivus 2021.
People who ask why I don’t draw the comics I write
Oh yeah, why haven’t I ever thought about doing this totally different creative pursuit that takes years to master and also I don’t enjoy? It was hard enough to get to a point in my writing where I could look at something I published more than a year ago and not cringe.
Shortly after I started writing for The Beat, I discovered what appears to be an entire cottage industry of no-name news and entertainment websites that generate all their content by wholesale stealing articles from legitimate outlets word-for-word. Sometimes they’ll bury the source link at the end of the reproduced article, or even add a statement denying any responsibility for the swiped content simply because they provide a link. They often link to other sites that plagiarized me earlier, rather than the site for which the piece was intended.
It’s still bullshit regardless. I doubt these kinds of sites are driving traffic away from me or any other writer in a significant way, but as a writer I’m inclined to believe plagiarists are absolute scum of the earth. It’s part of a larger, more troubling trend where random meme accounts on social media, and even major corporations in many cases, straight-up steal content and face zero repercussions.
If you’re going to plagiarize me – and please don’t – the least you can do is do the thing I’ve seen a bunch of plagiarism sites do where they clearly put my words into Google Translate and then translated the translation back into English. If I was still teaching I’d use it to show 4th graders how two words being synonyms doesn’t mean they mean exactly the same thing. It’s hilarious.
Here’s an example, based on my instant-classic essay about why fictional violence is fun: “I plan on letting my friends do a lot of the speaking, so whereas it’s simply you and me right here I’d like to offer my very own perspective on what makes comedian e-book preventing so enjoyable. But earlier than I do this, we now have to speak about what makes fictional preventing so enjoyable in any storytelling medium.”
Comics Beat managing editor Joe Grunenwald
He knows what he did.*
(*Editor’s Note: The feeling is mutual, Silber. – JG)
That Thing Where “Convenience” Stores Lock Products Behind Transparent Cases
If anyone with decision-making power at CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc is reading this – and I’m sure you are – I’m begging you to just let me buy stuff without having to press a stupid little button that alerts the whole store that some stupid little asshole needs an employee to drop everything they’re doing to help him buy his stupid little dermatologist-recommended razorblades for his delicate, sensitive skin.
Seriously, I know all the big pharmacy chains do this because they think it prevents theft, but what you’re really preventing is people patronizing your business when they might just as easily order the same stuff online. And look, if every once in a while somebody gets away with stealing body wash… maybe they have bigger problems than your multibillion dollar corporation’s loss of eight bucks?
I’m going to keep saying this until it doesn’t need to be said anymore: a piece of art or media being about a thing isn’t necessarily an endorsement of that thing.
I thought everyone learned this by 6th grade, but ever since the internet learned how easy it is to get clicks (especially hate-clicks) when you call a beloved piece of pop culture “problematic,” more and more people seem to be under the impression that one’s taste in entertainment is representative of their moral worth. That’s absurd for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which being that people seem less and less capable of accepting that great fictional characters can be morally complex, that great fiction may give you complicated feelings about right and wrong and everything in between, and that it’s not the job of an artist to say “this movie/book/song/whatever is about X, which is Good, and Y, which is Bad.”
And while we’re on the subject…
The Word “Problematic”
“Problematic”, up until very recently, was a useful word! You could use it to describe something that has problems. Now it’s been so overused as a catch-all for anything imperfect that it’s practically meaningless.
“That guy’s problematic” – I’m sure he is! Can you please be more specific about what you mean, though? Because “problematic” could mean he was once rude to a barista on a bad day, or that he’s committed sins so unforgivable we dare not speak of them in polite company. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t call out bad behavior, just that we ought to be precise with our language.
“Nerd” versus “Geek”
If you care about the semantic differences between these words, you’re a dork.
People who say “risky” when they mean “risque”
Risque things can certainly be risky, but “risque” means a specific thing that isn’t synonymous with “risky.”
Journalists who don’t credit artists when talking about comics
With the explosion of comic books being adapted into movies, television, and more over the past decade or so, you’d think more mainstream entertainment reporters would take the time to gain a rudimentary understanding of how comics work when announcing the next big development deal. I’m not suggesting they need to read comics or study the medium’s rich history in depth. I literally just mean they should understand that since comics have pictures as well as words, that when you’re naming the creators you need to mention the artist and not just the writer.
This isn’t just about (for lack of a better phrase) “political correctness,” but factual correctness. It’s not merely rude to call Brian K. Vaughan the “creator” of Y: The Last Man at the expense of Pia Guerra, it’s erroneous. And when it comes from people who are paid to understand the entertainment industry, which generates untold billions of dollars from the minds of comics creators, it’s truly ignorant.
They’re still a thing, apparently, although they’ve either gotten quieter about it lately or we as a collective fandom have gotten better about tuning them out. And they’re still a hate group, just another arm of a desperate reactionary culture war in which the core ethos is that everything the world has to offer needs to be catered entirely for the tastes of cishet white boy nerds with misplaced nostalgia for the Reagan era. Fuck CG and all its apologists.
Alright, glad I got some stuff off my chest. Come back next week when I’ll be nicer. Happy Festivus!