Comic book companies: Value your fans, not their gender

In my inbox, among the more “serious” of my newsletter subscriptions such as Vox Sentences or AdWeek’s BrandWeek Report, you’ll also find the daily digest from Comic Book Resources.

That’s because in addition to trying to stay smart for my day job, I’m also a huge fan of pop culture and comics.

So when I opened the newsletter last week to find an article about the new DC Comics cartoon Justice League Action, I clicked on it immediately. The original DC Animated Universe, after all, is what ignited my love for comics to begin with.

However, this excitement quickly turned to frustration as I came across the following quote in the interview:

“We wanted to do a show for kids, to appeal to boys in particular,” [Producer Alan] Burnett added.

This quote made my heart sink to my stomach. Why? Because it reminded me of the very reason Young Justice, another great DC animated series, was cancelled: Because executives on these networks don’t want young female audiences.

Is it pure sexism? Not exactly. They didn’t want a female audience because girls don’t buy toys. This is what Young Justice creator Paul Dini said in an interview citing the network’s reason for cancellation.

That logic seems a little silly in retrospect, given the backlash Disney has faced for excluding Rey from Star Wars sets, Black Widow from Avengerssets and Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy sets.

Evidently, girls are buying toys. Or, at least trying to.

But evidently networks airing cartoons are still using the same old logic when it comes to young female audiences.

What’s worse to me is not just the gender issue. It’s the fact that the show’s creators are saying they’re not dedicated to making the best show possible, regardless of what gender audience that would bring. Ideally a great show, I should think, would get the attention of boys and girls.

Going back to the DC Animated Universe example of Justice League andJustice League Unlimited, those were great shows that have stood the test of time.

And they weren’t great shows despite the fact they had story lines that featured strong, interesting women. No, they were great shows because of it.

Because they were dedicated to telling the best stories possible

Hell, they even have an episode where Vixen and Hawkgirl worked together to defeat an enemy despite both being in love with the same guy. Wow, women can work together instead of tearing each other down. What a novel idea.

I could cite more recent examples like the fact that Jessica Jones won a Peabody Award or that The Force Awakens had a female protagonist and was a massive box office success.

But I shouldn’t have to.

I get that companies want to make money. I too, after all, have a job.

But my job in public relations also had taught me that consumers value brands that are transparent and authentic, not just money-grubbers who don’t believe in what they’re selling.

Comic book companies: Commit yourselves to making the best product despite what the networks or marketing department might say. Regardless of whether that product is a comic, TV show or film.

Make the best products, and they will attract the right audience. Because the right audience is an audience of loyal fans who appreciate your work, not just an audience made up of a specific gender.

This post originally appeared on Medium

R-Rated Comedies with Heart

Last night I had the interesting experience of seeing the new Channing Tatum film “Magic Mike.” Yes, with the new Spiderman, Moonrise Kingdom and Ted all out in theatres I went to see the stripper movie.

For those of you who don’t know, Magic Mike is a film about Mike ( Channing Tatum) who works at a strip club in Tampa owned by Dallas ( Matthew McConaughay). During his day job as a roofer, Mike meets Adam (Alex Pettyfer) and the film follows the relationship between the two. Adam, a very young and irresponsible guy trying to find his place, provides a nice contrast to Mike, who approaching 30 has been saving in order to leave stripping and pursue his dream of starting a custom furniture business.

While stripping is a large part of the plot, the film is surprisingly good at presenting realistic, and in some cases likeable, characters. Mike is a stripper, but he’s also a guy struggling to turn his life around while facing the challenges of a small business owner.

Although I’m sure most women people attending aren’t going to the film for character development or back story, the script pushed far enough to make me want more than just Channing Tatum showing off his dance skills or Alex Pettyfer bemusing me with his American accent.

Where were Adam’s parents? Why was he living with his sister Brooke( Cody Horn)?

And most importantly, why is Mike in such a state?

Tatum’s Mike has street smarts, charm, looks and a half-baked drive for success. He’s skilled, but not in a white-collar sense. He comes off as uneducated, but not stupid. Perhaps it’s my own life experiences with real-life Mikes( none of whom are strippers), but I was drawn to the realism of the character.

Too often I find myself going to films and being dazzled by the characters for their realism but not because they are relatable. In a way, Magic Mike defies that.

It’s not a film about blue-bloods or glamour. It’s a film about lower-middle class 20-somethings in Tampa, Florida. When’s the last time you watched a film set in Tampa, Florida?

At the end Mike has to make a decision: Does he keep living his life in the world of stripping and move to Miami or will he stay in Tampa and choose a different path? Miami, the city of nightlife and excitement. Tampa the city where there is apparently only one strip club and an IHOP.

Tampa or Miami? In a way it’s a question we all ask at some point. Where is the line where we decide our dreams are delusions and our realities might be more satisfying than fantasy.

Maybe it’s not F. Scott Fitzgerald, but if you can look past the thongs, questionable soundtrack,and the trauma of seeing Matthew McConaughey play the same character he plays in every comedy, then Magic Mike deserves 2 hours of your time.

Rating: I’d have to give this movie at least a $20 bill. Which translates to about 3.5/5 stars…

For a deeper look at the connotations of women seeing a movie about strippers and what this says about society’s ideas about objectification of the opposite sex please check out these articles: