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Thoughts on DC Backlash For Deleting Batman Image Over Chinese Controversy

November 30, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

WARNING This column deals with sensitive subjects and pictures. If you are easily offended by political imagery, I urge you to click away now.

Still here? Good. You might have read that DC Comics found itself in the middle of some drama when Chinese social media users targeted the company for using Frank Miller’s artwork for his upcoming Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child to promote said book. 

Below is the artwork in question. Look away if you can’t stomach implied political overtures:

What is the above picture guilty of? It allegedly references the Hong Kong protests. In response to the reaction on Twitter, DC Comics removed the artwork from its promotional cycle. 

This is the artwork they removed:

The trouble began on Thanksgiving day when DC’s Instagram account posted about the upcoming Miller Black Label book. As you can see, it shows Batman throwing a Molotov cocktail with the text “the future is young” in the background. 

This was shared across social media and caught the attention of Chinese social media site Weibo and the messaging app WeChat. Immediately they put two-and-two together and drew the conclusion that this was an obvious reference to political protests that are currently going on in Hong Kong and DC must be in support of the protest.

A backlash formed and we even saw a call to boycott DC comics. Again, the image in question:

It should be noted that no one posting online has actually read the book and DC has not made any statement whatsoever in support of or against the protests. 

Soon after DC removed the posts from its social media it received flack from US and other social media accounts worldwide, like Hong Kong, accusing the company of bowing down to China and censorship. 

As we’ve seen more of recently, businesses are caught between trying to serve more than one master. Please one government at the expense of another. It’s a lose-lose no matter what direction you take. 

Is it censorship? Pretty clear that it is. Suppressing an image to appease a government entity is what we’re dealing with and DC doesn’t have any wiggle room to explain it any other way. 

The fact that we’re dealing with a Frank Miller book makes it even more apropos. Again, this is the image DC and China doesn’t want to be seen:

What do you think DC should have done?

article topics :

Batman, DC Comics, Steve Gustafson