Super cute or dumbing down?

A return to lost innocence or dumbing down? The new Johnny DC books announced today are skewing very, very young – very cute, with absolutely no conflict.

I’m kind of torn on this. On the one hand, anything has to be better than Countdown, and from promo art alone these seem very skillfully crafted books. Also, any step away from the Geoff Johns school of nihilistic tedium in the DCU has to be welcomed.

On the other hand, these new books represent another stage of surrender to the worst excesses of middle-class over-protective parenting as it manifests itself on all sides of the political or class divide, serving up an innocuous gloopy world where no-one ever gets hurt, nothing is ever scary, there are no winners or losers, and parents never have to address any difficult questions. It’s the same mentality that bans score taking at kids’ games, and teaches them that being really, really bad at something isn’t a failure.

Well, fuck that. While I’m all for titles that don’t dwell in sadistic nihilism, like a lot of recent DCU titles, this seems a step to far in the opposite direction. Where’s the heroism in a world without good or bad, conflict or fear? I grew up with Doctor Who, old Batman comics and other fiction where people got hurt, killed even, and bad guys needed to be fought. Life wasn’t always fair, bad things happened. The world of these stories ween’t impenetrably dark, but neither were they conflict-free sweetness and light. In fact, conflict and struggle was key to the moral centre of the stories, and was not a bad thing to learn from an early age.

I can’t help thinking that this sub-Care Bear nonsense will receive short shrift from kids themselves – the popularity of Harry Potter et al shows that young audiences are still interested in exciting stories where the heroes have to deal with serious odds. They know the score, they know that scoring is important.

Mark

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August 11, 2007. Tags: . Uncategorized.

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