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2014 ALA Youth Media Awards-Nonfiction

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Media Kvetch | DC Comics and Netflix

Posted by Rebecca G. Aguilar, M.Ed. on February 15, 2013

Netflix Drama
2013 Season 1
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright
Director: David Fincher

A stack of nonfiction to read... but this week I'll be kvetching about the DC Comics controversy surrounding Orson Scott Card as well as Netflix’s original series, House of Cards.

First… Netflix and metrics. The release of 13 episodes of House of Cards has disrupted my television viewing habits. The much-raved-about Netflix series stars Kevin Spacey as ruthless Majority Whip Francis Underwood and Robin Wright as the formidable Claire Underwood.

This experiment in downloading and streaming high quality television programming was discussed Wednesday on Tech News Today.

Citing a Tech Crunch story, the netcast’s hosts said that House of Cards has been the most-watched piece of content on Netflix. No viewer numbers or ratings were provided by Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos, who made the announcement. Why bother with metrics when traditional television advertising is not part of the equation?

Netflix utilized infometrics to produce the series. Research from their vast store of viewing information found that Netflix subscribers preferred programming associated with Kevin Spacey and David Fincher.

What to make of the buzz at the water cooler? Do you watch all 13 episodes of House of Cards in one marathon viewing? Do you schedule to watch each episode one-by-one? Are viewers patient enough to wait for another season of episodes?

Are we going to need a new set of vocabulary for what we do when we watch television like House of Cards?

Next… the refusal of DC Comics to cancel Orson Scott Card’s run on the digital launch of Adventures of Superman. The caped superhero’s fans are furious with DC Comics for giving Card such a huge platform when he is an outspoken and activist homophobe (as well as a misogynist and possible fascist).

Card has not only written about his anti-gay views but serves on the board of an organization working to ensure their brand of homophobia becomes entrenched in the law and our society. I address this controversy today after signing an AllOut.org petition protesting the DC Comics decision to retain Card.

I was once a fan of Card’s pulp sci-fi and have read Seventh Son and Ender’s Game. Yet... who didn’t suspect that something might be amiss in Card’s worldview?

Card is not the most talented writer: his characters are two-dimensional; their story arcs have big gaps; his writing is basically proselytizing. His Hugo and Nebula award-winning Ender’s Game somehow managed to capture the imagination of fans for its high concept science fiction.

A character bullied by his brother at home, his teachers and other students at Battle School? A child who annihilated an entire alien race, but remained innocent because extreme violence was not his intent? Readers granted Card a wide berth because Ender was so sympathetic.

Sci-fi writer Elaine Radford in 1987 penned an essay arguing that Card wrote Ender’s Game as an apologia for Nazi war crimes. In 2004, Foundation published an essay, Creating the Innocent Killer by John Kessel, raising questions about Card’s intention-based morality.

Radford writes: “If I wanted to nutshell it, I’d say that my objection to Ender’s Game is that our society already focuses too much on telling the powerless to forgive and forget.”

A closer reading of Ender might have uncovered extreme right-wing views buried in the compassion and forgiveness which Card pretends to give credence.

This dispiriting quote is attributed to Card: “You have to earn your right to speak with victory.”

Category: Media, DC Comics, Netflix

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