I Swear To Be Critical

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Welcome to Part Two of WWAC’s contribution to our most recent Blog Carnival! Our topic: is there a difference between censures and censors? If so, what? Be sure to check out the accompanying posts from our friends at The Hooded Utilitarian, Panels, Deadshirt, and Paper Droids!

Marvel Comics. Written by Willow Wilson. Art by Jake Wyatt. Issue #6. July 16 2014. Comics.

Ms Marvel #6

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. — Winston Churchill

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Censorship is to suppress something based on morals, values, politics, etc.

To censure is to express your disapproval.

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In Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1, he writes that “text is vulnerable to criticism.” Text is not just words on a page but images, commercials, movies, television shows, and so forth. It’s what we CREATE and DISSEMINATE.

Comics are no different.

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To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing. — Elbert Hubbard

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Progress is found in criticism because criticism challenges the “just is” and the “it’s always been.” Diversity in our comics and those who create them makes the medium better. It’s the “eat your vegetables so you can get big and strong.” So why not strive for big and strong?

Criticism doesn’t aim to suppress a voice but to invite it to a combative dance. A jab of context here. An uppercut of history there. A swift kick at racism, sexism, homophobia…if there is any to be found.

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Critics critique fellow critics because critiques are texts that are vulnerable to criticisms.

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Five years ago, Kamala Khan wouldn’t be possible. Now, I have a young Muslim woman of colour leading her own superhero book at one of the biggest comics publishers, and she’s representing ME. In a sea of white straight men, Kamala and the others like her are the center of a wave crashing into the cold blue waters. The still water of yesterday will not be the same still water of today or tomorrow. It will not be reduced but changed. It will not be suppressed but multiplied into various schools of thought and expression. Representation will be re-presented, reimagined, reified.

But representation doesn’t mean the end of criticism. Enjoyment does not negate critique.

I critique comics and the other media that I consume because I want them to be better. I want to challenge and ask why. I am a student of censure. I’m doing my part in this constant dialogue of consumption and creation and consumption and creation. Now it’s your turn to consume so you can create.

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With courage, strength, honesty, compassion, and self-respect, I solemnly swear to be critical.

Will you return the favour?

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About Author

Former senior editor for WWAC. Part-time contributor. BA in criminals (a minor in daydreams). Batman seeks her advice constantly. Bylines at Book Riot, Teen Vogue, Slate, Quill & Quire and Hyperallergic.

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