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Cronin Theory of Comics – If “Groupthink” is Your Argument, You Don’t Have Much of an Argument

One of the things that I’ve tried my best to instill in this blog (and I’m quite pleased that I have VERY rarely seen it used by any of the contributors on the blog) is the idea that we will not infer motivation behind someone enjoying or not enjoying a comic book.

If I think someone is wrong about a comic, I’ll say they’re wrong. If they say I’M wrong about a comic, I’ll explain why I think I’m right.

What I won’t do is say “you’re just saying that because ____.”

I’m not going to infer what motivates people’s opinions regarding comics.

And I would appreciate the same courtesy from our readers.

If you find yourself falling back on “groupthink” as an argument, you really don’t have much of an argument. Just explain why you think someone is wrong to like/dislike the comic in question. “Groupthink” is one of the laziest and flimsiest arguments out there, and it is specifically ANTI-discussion, as what is the point of discussing something if you’re asserting that the other party is lying about their opinions?

Everyone mostly likes Watchmen, right? Everyone mostly likes Batman Year One and Born Again, right?

Is that “groupthink”?

You won’t see it argued, because most people AGREE with liking those comics.

“Groupthink” only comes up when a group of people don’t agree with YOUR stance on a particular comic (whether you like it or dislike it). THEN suddenly a large group of people liking/disliking a comic is “groupthinking.”

And that’s bogus.

Don’t drag discussions down into pejorative inferences.

113 Comments

It’s almost as bad as this one…

“People only like (insert title) to seem hip/intelligent/cool/etc…”

groan….

Yeah, that’s it exactly.

“You’re just saying that because ____ (you want to seem hip/intelligent/cool/etc.)”

Just make your arguments, people.

And if you don’t think it’s worth it, then just don’t make an argument period. Better than than throwing around pejoratives.

This is about Morrison isn’t it?

runs off to check the Final Crisis #3 Review comments

HA! I KNEW it!

If I had a nickel for everyone who has accused me of only liking Morrison’s stuff because everyone else likes it, I’d have at least $5. Which, while it doesn’t sound like a lot of money, is a hundred different accusations. So it certainly feels like a lot to me.

I wish people would stop, though I do have to admit – sometimes I think that some people only HATE a series because it doesn’t seem cool to like it. That’s not fair either, so I should probably watch myself with that.

I honestly don’t even mind if people, like, THINK it.

That’s fine, I’m not expecting people to, like, cleanse their spirit or some such nonsense. :)

Just don’t use it as an actual argument like it means anything.

I’ve come across a lot of comic vendors with this attitude…
Customer: Oh cool! I love character X
Vendor: You shouldn’t like character X. Character X is crap. The writer hates superheroes… You should be reading Character Y, written by this guy, who is a genius…
Customer: If you hate character X, why do you stock the comic?
Vendor: Because people buy it even though it’s crap…

Sure, sometimes, in retrospect we can look back at something and say “Oh boy, why DID I buy ten copies of X-Force #1??? Rob Liefeld REALLY can’t draw hands and feet…” … but, slamming a book that you haven’t even read just because it’s selling well is just trying to “be cool and alternative” in a group of people who ALREADY ARE cool and alternative… At least I think we all are… (comic book readers that is…)

That’s the irony that I really enjoy about Punks (particularly in the UK)
“I’m rebelling against conformity.. By conforming with all the other punks…”

Yeah, I know what you’re saying. But it’s lazy reasoning to fall back on something like that as an excuse. So I should watch myself anyway. I hate catching myself in lazy reasoning, and if I keep myself from going down that path I can come up with better arguments in the first place.

You’re absolutely right! Someone who doesn’t like Final Crisis shouldn’t like it because it’s a muddled, incoherent mess of Silver Age fanwank that hasn’t gone anywhere even though it’s nearing its halfway point, and why did they even need to bring back Barry Allen for this, his role could have been filled by Wally or Jay or hell, Bart for that matter, and honestly, if you’re going to shock us with, “Oh, an Alpha Lantern is corrupted by Darkseid,”, could you maybe have them established for more than about three months as being incorruptible first, and…

But I’m rambling. :) Seriously, you’re absolutely right. Lots of people dislike things I like, or like things I like, and all I ask is that they give them a try. Few things are more irritating than hearing, “Oh, you just like that because it’s popular.” The flipside of the argument is obvious–they just dislike it because it’s popular. But somehow, their nonconformism is always authentic, while your conformism is a sham. *sigh* Whaddya gonna do?

Stay away from conformist nonconformism?

Another problem with it is… I mean you don’t go to a stark trek convention and accuse people of liking star trek because of groupthink. It’s almost certainly not groupthink if people share opinions on books, it’s probably that people came here because they shared tastes to begin with. I know I did, I started poking around for comics blogs, and here was a place that liked the same stuff I like (except Morrison, who I do not generally like, but… I just skip most of his books and skip the articles about them here. problem solved).

Well, I know I’VE done it, and gotten flak for it (you remember, don’t you, DL&M?). But I agree.

However, you should also rant against the people who, if I (and I’m just using myself as an example, because I’m sure it happens to everyone) don’t like something, tell me “You just don’t get it.” Yes, I do get it. And I don’t like it. This also seems to happen with regard to Mr. Morrison. If I don’t like the latest issue of Final Crisis, I’m sure I’ll get at least one person telling me I just don’t get it. That’s equally annoying, because it presumes that not only do you not like “cool” stuff, you’re an idiot to boot.

If I had a nickel for everyone who has accused me of only liking Morrison’s stuff because everyone else likes it, I’d have at least $5.

I think people like Morrison not because so many other people like him but rather because he’s confusing and vague in a fancy, articulate and dizzying intellectual way. His words sparkle and he rattles off fascinating-sounding high concepts at a machine-gun clip (even though he doesn’t really take the time to explore or execute them very well) And pop-culture intellectuals have a natural tendency to overvalue the depth of anything that sounds deep but is hard to understand. I’ve fallen into this trap back when I was a big Morrison fan and when I wasted months trying to decipher the messages of the Matrix Reloaded.

I dunno, Brian.

There’s a very thorny scenario going on current in relation to the two big current works of Grant Morrison, and I appear to be getting my ass chewed to bits like clockwork and called “stupid” consistently for “not getting it”.

I’ve never even once found myself reduced to questioning someone’s intelligence BECAUSE they are enjoying and praising RIP and Final Crisis. It only seems to go the other way, at least as far as I’ve noticed, because I’m NOT enjoying them and NOT praising them. I’ve questioned the stories and been slammed.

Is this happening because of “groupthink”? I don’t know. I’m honestly not smart enough to see into people’s heads to read their motivations. It feels like it does, but I’m aware that part of that reaction is a defensive reaction after finding myself surrounded by a dozen other posters violently disagreeing with me. Feeling “ganged up on” doesn’t prove anything about motivations, I can fully admit that.

At the same time, I’ve also had the logic “why don’t you just stop complaining and wait for the end” tossed out at me, as a dismissive tactic. To me, the danger of that is that it implies motives on MY part–that I’m complaining just to hear myself speak. And the sense that someone has to shut down debate to avoid being labeled a malcontent doesn’t sit well with me.

Yeah, “you don’t get it” is bad, too, unless it’s being used as “you don’t understand it,” which is a fair point, I think.

If it is just “you don’t get it” as in “you don’t appreciate it like us better people” then that is bad.

At the same time, I’ve also had the logic “why don’t you just stop complaining and wait for the end” tossed out at me, as a dismissive tactic.

I never tell people to stop complaining and wait for the end.

Hell, I don’t tell people to stop complaining period.

Spiffy, you’re absolutely right… If you just don’t like something, you shouldn’t be forced to like it…
If we all liked the same things it would be a boring world…
One comic book for everyone!
One football team… (WHO IS THE OPPOSITION??)
One car manufacturer, producing only one car…

etc.

etc.

However, you should also rant against the people who, if I (and I’m just using myself as an example, because I’m sure it happens to everyone) don’t like something, tell me “You just don’t get it.” Yes, I do get it. And I don’t like it. This also seems to happen with regard to Mr. Morrison. If I don’t like the latest issue of Final Crisis, I’m sure I’ll get at least one person telling me I just don’t get it. That’s equally annoying, because it presumes that not only do you not like “cool” stuff, you’re an idiot to boot.

Great point, that does appear just as often as groupthink comments. And often it comes no matter how clearly you articulate your points and itemize your grips about Morrison’s shortcomings. Like the comment above likening people who don’t like Morrison to people who prefer to stay at the kiddie side of the pool because they fear the deep side. To me I have no problem with the deep side or the shallow corner of the pool, I just don’t like the side of the pool that’s cluttered with old forgotten junk, murky and hard to navigate.

Great point, that does appear just as often as groupthink comments

No, it does not.

Not nearly as much, really, as “groupthink” is applied not just to discussions about Morrison.

Which only further highlights the silliness of the argument, as the “group” in the “groupthink” differs from creator to creator, which, in and of itself you would think would dispel the entire notion, but apparently not.

Or, we could think that the stories aren’t confusing and enjoy sharp dialog and big ideas. Reading a Morrison comic does not require a huge investment in understanding his beliefs about chaos magic any more than reading an Alan Moore comic requires an understanding of his; it’s all subtext–there if you want to look into it, easily ignorable if you don’t.

That said, I’d guess that most of the people that read Morrison do so in the same way that I do. They enjoy the aforementioned dialog and ideas, pay some attention to the themes, and just plain like having a superhero comic willing to take these things on. What they don’t do is spend a lot time obsessing over it, and trying to make sense out of every minute detail (and yes, I do realize that I’m falling into the ecological fallacy here).

Blackjack, I don’t get the sense that most people are trying to force me to like anything. Again, I don’t have a window into people’s heads to see their motives–all I can comment on are MY reactions and the impact I see on overall discussion.

It’s more a sense that if I choose to open my mouth and engage in criticism of specific things I found confusing, or that (god forbid) I though were inconsistent or “glossed over”, that I’m some kind of “downer”. Its the sense that questioning something is equal to either a lack of intelligence, a lack of vision, or some other lack.

I absolutely, categorically refuse to ever state that someone who likes Grant Morrison, or Final Crisis, or RIP does so because they are lacking in anything. On a fundamental level I don’t believe it either. And yet the reverse logic seems to be just… assumed. That I have to be lacking in something. At least from where I sit it FEELS like that’s an assumption being made over and again.

Maybe that’s “groupthink”, maybe its not. Its just an observation, and probably a subjective one.

T.: My comment about the kiddie steps and the pool, had nothing to do with depth… It was just a badly thought out analogy…

I was trying to say that you shouldn’t be surprised that the first few issues of Morrison’s Doom Patrol are so different to those further into his run… The first few issues are drawing you in slowly… rather than just turning your world upside-down, the world gets tilted slowly until you suddenly realise that your upside-down…

I can utterly understand why someone who had read the first dozen issues of DP would be shocked to the core if they then picked up issue 37 for example…

The examples given were prime examples of Morrison gradually blending in his vision with the previous version…

I wasn’t trying to get into a “This is for kiddies/This is for adults” argument/insult game…

All I was trying to say was if this person has tried so many Morrison comics and HATED them, then why are they still buying his comics???

Ah, understood Blackjak. I misinterpreted.

Spiffy: Sorry, bad writing again… Having a bad day at work… not thinking straight…

“Force” is wrong…

“expected” perhaps?

The kind of comment I’ve found disturbing in some of the FC/RIP discussion threads?

Here’s one from a FC thread. Not written about me personally, but I noted it because of what it implies about any criticism:

A forum poster said: “there are plenty of us who had zero problems figuring these things out, so there’s no way this is anyone’s failing other than yours.”

In a weird way this is actually a bandwagon statement, but FROM THE PERSON WHO WOULD BE IN THE BANDWAGON, assuming there WAS one. “We get it and you don’t.”

Here’s another one from an RIP topic:

A forum poster said: “if you can read and understand a newpaper then you should be able to read and understand RIP. Why are people pretending this is so weird and difficult? Is it because oooh it’s that brain-addled hack Grant Morrison? I hope not. I hope these people are just generally lacking reading comprehension and not jumping on a bandwagon”

This second one is interesting in that it turns this “groupthink” argument around, from the supporters to the critics. Apparently there are bandwagons running in multiple directions!!! :-)

Of course! But when you’re on the bandwagon, you often don’t think that you are!!
And god forbid if you fall off that bandwagon, or try to straddle two!
;-)

I don’t mind the first post you quoted.

He’s saying that the comic is clear, so if you are saying the comic is unclear (which I presume is what the person he is responding to is arguing), he disagrees with you. Sure, he’s saying it less politely than I would, but that’s the point he’s making.

The second one is different – it’s just what I told you I didn’t want people doing, so, well, what? That’s bad, too.

It’s not like I’m saying “Don’t use a groupthink argument…unless it is in favor of Grant Morrison!” That wouldn’t make much sense, no?

Don’t use groupthink arguments period. I won’t, I expect the contributors here not to, and I’d like the same courtesy from our readers.

My point Blackjak is that while its easy to see people talking about the masses liking something and labeling it as “groupthink”, its a bit harder to suss out the same argument in other directions.

Implying there’s a majority that “gets” it, and a minority that doesn’t, would seem to be the defender of a status quo making the groupthink argument work to their OWN benefit. Instead of a critic using “groupthink” to attack a position, its a defender using it to cut the legs out from the other side.

Then there’s the other tactic, implying there’s a “groupthink” motive in any possible criticism. You know… not because there’s any chance of the criticism being valid, but because picking apart great works of art is, you know… the cool thing to do.

This goes beyond comics, too. For example, I’m getting really tired of hearing it attributed to intended Obama voters.

Brian, the first one actually bothered me more. The argument SEEMS to be, “if a dozen of us got it, and one of you didn’t, the problem has to be with you”.

The fallacy here is that just because there’s only a single person making an argument, it doesn’t mean that person is the only one who has that point of view. There’s an assumption that he HAS to be, just because he’s the only person speaking up (at least in that particular place).

“The problem is with you” argument assumes a LOT. Both about the person making the criticism AND the mass of people who aren’t around to comment.

The guy is saying the comic is unclear – that’s not a subjective statement, so bringing in others is fine.

“I think he said blue”

“No, he said ‘glue’. I heard ‘glue, and so did these 12 other guys.”

It’s an objective argument.

If the guy is saying he didn’t like the comic, then no matter how many others you mention, it is inapplicable, as liking IS subjective.

Spiffy…

They are one and the same… they are both “Groupthink”… Both just saying the other group is wrong…

A critic using “Groupthink” to attack a position is being a lazy critic…

Like Brian says… If you dislike (or like) something for a particular reason, then why not give those reasons?? Rather than standing behind someone else and shouting “yeah!!!”

Liking something is subjective. “Getting it” is not. So it’s kinda of an apples and oranges thing to compare the arguements. Saying “you like this because….” is pretty worthless in terms of a discussion. Explaining something to somebody who has claimed that something doesn’t make sense is what discussions are about.

Yeah, Dan, but again, it depends on how the term was used.

If it is used as “you don’t get it because you have no taste,” (and that APPEARS to be how Greg seems to think the term was used in relation to him) then that’s not cool. If it is “you don’t get it because you don’t understand it,” then that’s cool as an argument, I think.

No, it does not.

Perhaps I notice that type of argument more because it offends my sensibilities and you notice the groupthink one because it offends yours. For example in the Final Crisis #3 review that led to you making this post someone made this comment:

“I also think that a lot of people like him because it’s the “cool” thing to do.”

To which Joe Rice retorted:

That’s such an annoying, insulting falsehood. I wish people would just drop it. People like things because they like them, not to try to be cool.

and

The insinuation speaks more to the self-perception of the insinuator than anyone else.

This exchange led to your “groupthink” post, which is a valid point. Various other commenters chimed in in agreement about how tired they were in hearing the groupthink critique.

Yet earlier in the same comments section what does Joe Rice say?

If you thought any previous work with “Crisis” in the title wasn’t complete crap, I’m not surprised you don’t like Morrison.

What’s the insinuation there? That obviously you don’t like Morrison because you are a moron, as shown by your ability to enjoy any previous title with the name Crisis.

Both arguments, the “groupthink” and the “you’re not sophisticated/smart enough to get it” both appeared in the thread but the latter one seemed to be noticed a lot less.

T, you are considered PART of the groupthink in the other instances!

That’s what I’m saying – it comes up in other discussions not having to do with Morrison at all.

“you don’t get it because you don’t understand it” seems a bit elitist though…
I’d rather someone asked “what didn’t you get? Can I help you understand the comic better?”

I will admit to missing a lot of symbolism in movies, but I’m also aware that other people can read TOO much into things…

A prime example – my mother trying to spot symbolism in the The Phantom Menace than being surprised that it wasn’t continued in Attack of the Clones or Revenge of the Sith… “I was sure that bangle was going to pop up again!”

Mum, I was sure it wasn’t… But that’s because I also heartily belive that George Lucas should merely have plotted the prequels and had other people write and direct them…

If I don’t get a comic, I will try to ask “what did I miss?”

though sometimes it is a good thing to remember that occasionally there IS no subtext… just someone having fun… (even if it’s not your cup of tea!)

T.

If you don’t like something, why are you so defensive about it? You don’t have to read a bunch of silly “insinuations” into everything. There’s an insecurity there that should be dealt with somewhere other than the internet.

Don’t be so determined to paint people disagreeing with you as assholes. It’s unbecoming.

“you don’t get it because you don’t understand it” seems a bit elitist though…
I’d rather someone asked “what didn’t you get? Can I help you understand the comic better?”

It’s not how I would do it, sure, but I don’t think it’s pejorative.

T.

If you don’t like something, why are you so defensive about it? You don’t have to read a bunch of silly “insinuations” into everything. There’s an insecurity there that should be dealt with somewhere other than the internet.

Don’t be so determined to paint people disagreeing with you as assholes. It’s unbecoming.

I can’t even begin to address the massive amounts of irony in this comment.

No sorry you’re right… (I seem to be apologising a lot today…)

It just struck me in the same way as some art snobs will blather about a painting that they really don’t understand themselves, but are on the bandwagon to be cool… It reminded me of an episode of Drop the Dead Donkey (an old UK topical news sit-com) where an art critic is trying to explain a piece of art to Joy (the actual artist)

“oh, you poor little thing… you don’t like it because you don’t understand what the artist is trying to say… ”

“I AM the artist!!”

I like debate… I enjoy subtext when explained by the artist/writer… I don’t like faux-intellectualism…

Though there are times when someone really DOESN’T get it, and WON’T get it no matter how much it is explained…

Particularly ironic ones, like corporations jumping on the “anti-corporation” bandwagon…

Or “The Nightly News” being praised by the media… And then being considered for a movie adaptation… (Fox anyone?)

CaptainAardvark

August 7, 2008 at 10:12 am

The first post quoted seems clearly pejorative to me;

“there are plenty of us who had zero problems figuring these things out, so there’s no way this is anyone’s failing other than yours.”

The key word to me is ‘failing’ – that it’s nothing in the writing or art or anything along those lines, it’s the failing of the reader in question. They failed to grasp what “plenty” of people did, so there is something wrong with them (either they’d not smart enough or they suffer from poor reading comprehension, what have you). To be fair, in some cases (your blue/glue example) this may be an accurate statement, but I don’t feel that comprehension of FC’s or RIP’s storyline is necessarily that clearcut.

DanLarkin, the concept of “Getting” something is actually a bit murkier than that, I think.

One side is arguing that comprehension should be the default state. The other that it is not.

This can’t really be pegged as a completely objective circumstance, because this argument is more about how WELL something communicates than what it is communicating.

What the writer is communicating can be pegged as objective, because he’s around to confirm or deny what something means. How well he communicates it is inherently a subjective judgment though.

Someone not “Getting” something speaks more to the communication skills of the writer than the ultimate message he’s delivering.

Add to this another notion: that sometimes people who don’t GET something don’t bother to log into online sites and write about it. They are, I think, FAR less likely to than people who do. Why? First… there’s the embarrassment factor. Few people want to come off as stupid by speaking out about not getting something in a room full of people who seem to be assuming its obvious. Second, there’s the very real fact that someone who is enthusiastic over something is far more likely to make an effort to write and comment about something than someone who isn’t. Its considered a tribute to the creator.

For me that opens the possibility, that I hope people would at least consider, that something may not be as “obvious” as it seems. That one group may be “getting” something for a reason, and that another more silent group may be at a disadvantage. The big leap here is the ability to at least CONSIDER the possibility that something might be lacking in the product if you have to have those advantages to understand it. The trap here, of course, is that people make noise that something is/has to be “dumbed down” to accomplish that. Where’s the objectivity in that assumption? Things can still be clever even when they are universal. Whatever it is that makes Morrison’s work clear as glass to one group, and murky to another, isn’t an objective test of intelligence. It shouldn’t be treated as such.

I don’t think that I’ve ever seen “you don’t like it because you don’t understand it” deployed in a non-pejorative way. I guess that it could be, but when I’ve seen it, it’s always been one poster calling another stupid, and I’m not sure how that would not be pejorative.

The key word to me is ‘failing’ – that it’s nothing in the writing or art or anything along those lines, it’s the failing of the reader in question. They failed to grasp what “plenty” of people did, so there is something wrong with them (either they’d not smart enough or they suffer from poor reading comprehension, what have you). To be fair, in some cases (your blue/glue example) this may be an accurate statement, but I don’t feel that comprehension of FC’s or RIP’s storyline is necessarily that clearcut.

I’ll admit, I’m looking at it differently because I read the quote in context and the thing he was referring to WAS akin to blue/glue (The other fellow thought it was unclear who the mummified mobster was, so that fellow pointed out that it was pretty clear, and in reality, it was really, really clear who the mummified mobster was – he was wearing the same clothes and holding the same cane as Boss Dark Side, and the previous issues pointed out that the bodies were used up quickly).

So in that instance, the other guy really did “fail” to read it properly, like the blue/glue thing.

Again, not how I would have phrased it, but I don’t think it’s pejorative.

I don’t think that I’ve ever seen “you don’t like it because you don’t understand it” deployed in a non-pejorative way. I guess that it could be, but when I’ve seen it, it’s always been one poster calling another stupid, and I’m not sure how that would not be pejorative.

If someone really failed to understand something, it’s not uncivil to point that out to them.

But yes, I do agree that very often, the phrase is used pejoratively, and I am certainly not for that usage.

CaptainAardvark

August 7, 2008 at 10:23 am

Ah, I haven’t read the thread in question. That sounds fairly clearcut, although I’d still agree that it’s not really the best way to phrase it. I’ve seen the same argument made about both FC and RIP in other circumstances where I don’t think it’s anything other than an attempt to put down the person who didn’t “get it”, though.

Not that I mind – I tend to avoid posting in forums – but I do think the bandwagon rolls both ways, or however it was phrased above.

I realized a while ago that even the average-to-poor Morrison comics would be judged apples of gold by most of the posters here. Bringing up one felt that way doesn’t result in “you just don’t understand it” or “you’re just too stupid” so much as it brings up “But even the worst Morrison comic is better than the best non-Morrison comic!” :)

One either tolerates that, agrees with it, or seeks a different blog.

The “You don’t get it” argument really annoys me. Its incredible how many people think its acceptable to hurl an insult like this at complete strangers who admit to not liking something.
I’ve faced this a number of times, usually in regard to something by Morrison or Gaiman that I didn’t like, and the number of responses along the lines of “the only reason you didn’t like it is because you didn’t understand it” beggars belief.

Just try criticising a Will Eisner comic…

I realized a while ago that even the average-to-poor Morrison comics would be judged apples of gold by most of the posters here. Bringing up one felt that way doesn’t result in “you just don’t understand it” or “you’re just too stupid” so much as it brings up “But even the worst Morrison comic is better than the best non-Morrison comic!” :)

One either tolerates that, agrees with it, or seeks a different blog.

In other words, you’re making the groupthink argument.

T.

If you don’t like something, why are you so defensive about it? You don’t have to read a bunch of silly “insinuations” into everything. There’s an insecurity there that should be dealt with somewhere other than the internet.

Don’t be so determined to paint people disagreeing with you as assholes. It’s unbecoming.

Actually I take it back, i will address it. First off, never called anyone an asshole. And i don’t think what I did was that different than what anyone else in this comment is trying to do, so I really have no idea why you singled me out in particular for lowering the tone of the discussion. One could techinically apply your post to just about every comment here, including the original post by Brian. For example:

Brian

If you like something, why are you so defensive about it? You don’t have to read a bunch of silly “insinuations” into everything. There’s an insecurity there that should be dealt with somewhere other than the internet.

Don’t be so determined to paint people disagreeing with you as assholes. It’s unbecoming.

See?

I think another category of bad criticism should be brought in, when people suddenly single you out for the “you’re better than that, take the moral high road” response when you’ve just been engaging in the same behavior and subject matter topic as everyone else.

I do not engage in the behavior I’m complaining about. That’s my point. I said it up there:

If I think someone is wrong about a comic, I’ll say they’re wrong. If they say I’M wrong about a comic, I’ll explain why I think I’m right.

What I won’t do is say “you’re just saying that because ____.”

I’m not going to infer what motivates people’s opinions regarding comics.

And I would appreciate the same courtesy from our readers.

Brian? Slightly off topic, but what is the record number of comments on one topic in one day??

Dunno, probably somewhere in the mid 100s.

The retcons one had 80-something just yesterday.

I do not engage in the behavior I’m complaining about. That’s my point. I said it up there

I don’t know if you are talking to me with that response, but I don’t actually believe you do engage in that behavior and that wasn’t my point. My point is that if someone wanted, they could characterize any post like that unfairly, including yours.

Oh, okay, gotcha.

I thought you were including me in

when people suddenly single you out for the “you’re better than that, take the moral high road” response when you’ve just been engaging in the same behavior and subject matter topic as everyone else.

The other fellow thought it was unclear who the mummified mobster was, so that fellow pointed out that it was pretty clear, and in reality, it was really, really clear who the mummified mobster was – he was wearing the same clothes and holding the same cane as Boss Dark Side, and the previous issues pointed out that the bodies were used up quickly

My own reaction to that particular scenario was that while the clues were present as to who was who, what was what, and why, that’s a bit different than saying it was “clear”.

I didn’t get to do multiple readings of that section of that issue before I logged in and read other comments about it, so I didn’t really get to test this… but I felt after the fact that while with multiple readings I certainly would have gotten everything locked in my mind, that it might have taken more than one. At least to be SURE. And I considered myself not totally uninformed. I THOUGHT right off that it was probably Darkseid, from the context, but I certainly didn’t know for sure until I logged in and saw other people discussing him as if it was a sure thing.

And I had an advantage that not all FC readers had–I knew who Darkseid was, how he operated, and how to identify him–from more than just props jumping from one body to another. Does it seem obvious to me that this would be “clear” to someone who was a casual DC reader, picking up a mega-event because it was a mega-event, who didn’t have much previous contact with the New Gods stories? No. It doesn’t.

I suppose this brings up other issues of how much (or little) of an obligation a writer like Morrison has to be clear to all segments of his readership, but again, I can’t help but feel that the burden is slightly different in a company wide mega-event than it would be in a side project, or even a particular sub-set of the DC franchise, like it would be with RIP and “Batman fans”.

But surely we don’t want signposts to everything? that’ll just ruin a comic… I hope (for those that don’t know about Darkseid) that it will all become clearer towards the end of the series… Good writing doesn’t have to explain everything straight away… Heck it doesn’t have to explain EVERYTHING ever… some amibiguity HELPS stories…

Sometimes all we need to know is “this guy is bad… This guy is good…”

True. But this was more about an argument between several posters about whether or not it was clear that this was Darkseid, in particular. I actually agree that in a larger sense it didn’t matter. But neither the attacker nor the attacked in that debate thought of that. So it became an issue of respect for different interpretations and readings of a story.

Should Morrison have to adjust his writing for a “big event” book though? That’s probably fodder for a LOT of discussion.

Does it seem obvious to me that this would be “clear” to someone who was a casual DC reader, picking up a mega-event because it was a mega-event, who didn’t have much previous contact with the New Gods stories? No. It doesn’t.

I’m beginning to think that the casual reader may actually have an advantage, simply because they’re not expecting to recognize everyone. In fact, I’ve used that as the basis for my Final Crisis Theory of Impenetrability.

“In other words, you’re making the groupthink argument.”

Observing that many of the posters here really like everything Grant Morrison writes a lot more than I do is the same thing as accusing them of “groupthink”?

If I had meant that, I would have said: “They only like the Final Crisis because it’s Morrison, so he gets a free pass.” Doesn’t an accusation of groupthink include such unwarranted speculation of motives and feelings? I’m just noting I have yet to see a case here where someone expressed they found a new Morrison comic ho-hum without seeing several variations of “But you have to admit, it was still done in such a wonderful way compared to a non-Morrison comic!” It tickles me. :)

I don’t think I’ve ever heard such a reply after saying how I don’t like Morrison’s Batman or how conflicted I was about Final Crisis #1. Just me, thought.

And as much as I respect Mr. Cronin, I will always attribute Ricky Martin’s brief popularity on groupthink. ;)

Kelson@Speed Force:

As a casual reader (Final Crisis and All Star Superman are the only comics I’m reading monthly), I think that’s absolutely right. I know enough about the New Gods and Seven Soldiers to catch what’s going on in terms of those, but as far as more general DC continuity goes I know nearly nothing. And don’t really want to–or more importantly, need to to understand the story.

Dan, the fact that you already know about The New Gods and Seven Soldiers is what GIVES you that leg up.

Typically, I think people would know more about the rest of the DCU than you say you do, and less about The New Gods and Seven Soldiers. I think your balance of knowledge is atypical. If you don’t need to know more, how can we be sure that’s applicable to people in the reverse situation from you?

I don’t comment here all that much anyway, but I’ve pretty much decided to never comment on Morrison’s work here. I’m not a fan of his, and the few times in the distant past when I said that just lead to a bunch of people questioning my intelligence and/or reading comprehension. I wouldn’t mind having a thoughtful discussion about why I don’t/they do like his work, but just insulting each other, whether it’s accusing someone of ‘groupthink’, or saying they’re not smart enough to like him – just a waste of time.

I don’t think this is because of ‘groupthink’, however you care to define it, but I do think that pro-Morrison personal attacks are pretty common here. Even in this thread, on a post asking for a higher level of discussion, the author of the post has said he has no problem with comments questioning the understanding of those who dislike Morrison.

Which is all fine – overall CSBG is a great blog, and, since I’m not particularly a Morrison fan, I don’t have any real need to engage in discussions about him here. There’s plenty else here that I can enjoy without that hassle. One unfortunate side effect of this, however, is that discussions on CSBG about Morrison are not at the same level as discussions about pretty much anything else here, or so it seems to me.

Calling people intellectually inferior for not getting Morrison or liking Morrison is childish. Dismissing Morrison as too obtuse is understandable. He’s not everyone’s thing, and the idea that one must like Morrisn to have good taste in comics is insulting. I say this as a fan of Morrison who doesn’t always get or like his work (especially The Mystery Play, but reading why others liked it was interesting).

Liking is a matter of personal taste, but can we recognize that not getting a Grant Morrison comic is a legitimate complaint? Being confused by some of his storytelling choices and references can be frustrating.
I don’t need everything in a story spoonfed to me, but reading a comic that confuses me does not make me want to pick up the next issue. As I said, I like Morrison’s writing, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but I can understand why others do not.

The only thing I don’t understand is why people seem to spend so much energy reading and watching and thinking and talking about stuff they hate. Well, except if you’re a professional critic that is paid for it, it strikes me as simply trying to look “smart” and “hip”, since it’s accepted in our cynical age that it’s cooler to complain than to praise, it’s cooler to destroy than create.

It’s like those people that spend their day complaining about how stupid the latest reality show is, yet they never stop watching it.

I’d rather concentrate on all the stuff that I like. My life is happier that way.

Shut up and drink your Kool-Aid, Brian.

What a strange turn this discussion has taken. Brian says, “Here is a form of argument that I think is bad.” And instead of responding to that, the tone of the comments mostly seems to be, “Mmmmmnah, we don’t wanna talk about that. Now HERE’S an argument that’d bad!”

I’m not sure how else to take that other than tacit agreement with Brian’s point. So I’m glad we obviously won’t be seeing that stupid groupthink argument around here anymore.

I agree for the most part that using groupthink as an arguement is bad, and is usually done in place of providing your own counter arguement. But that being said, groupthink does happen in all walks of life and I’m sure it occassionally happens here too.

For example, let’s say Person A has read all kinds of great things about Writer X on the internet. The people that have made these comments like numerous other things that Person A likes. So Person A goes out and buys several different comics written by Writer X and finds them to be largely incomprehensible, and in Person A’s opinion, not very good. Since everyone else praised Writer X as good, and Person A has agreed with their opinion on many other things, Person A decides it must just be him/her that didn’t get it, and that the comics written by Writer X actually are good, despite Person A not getting them.

Now I’m not accusing anybody of being Person A, and I do think that just saying “Groupthink!” is usually a weak arguement. But I also think there might be times it is a relevant arguement. As others have mentioned, how else can you account for Rob Liefield and Ricky Martin’s popularity?

What a strange turn this discussion has taken. Brian says, “Here is a form of argument that I think is bad.” And instead of responding to that, the tone of the comments mostly seems to be, “Mmmmmnah, we don’t wanna talk about that. Now HERE’S an argument that’d bad!”

I’m not sure how else to take that other than tacit agreement with Brian’s point. So I’m glad we obviously won’t be seeing that stupid groupthink argument around here anymore.

It IS odd, but yeah, if it means we won’t see any more of the lame groupthink argument, people can talk about the other stuff all they want. :)

Spiffy:

I don’t know that my experience is all that far from the norm. I tend to follow creators rather than comics, something we seem to be seeing more and more of. So, since I’m a Morrison fan I’ve read his previous projects. Same with Kirby. But then again, it’s my experience, so sure it’s going to feel normal to me.

Even given that, though, there’s no reason that someone less familiar with Morrison and Kirby can’t parse what’s going on. The themes being presented are relatively universal: good versus evil, a subtle takeover, possession by supernatural forces, and on and on. For the outsider the characters and their back-stories are irrelevant. It’s what they’re doing now, and the characterization that they’re being given in the series that matters.

Of course, this is entirely off topic, and an argument that is likely to see no satisfactory resolution. Will be interesting, though, to see if it comes up every time a new issue of Final Crisis comes out.

Rene said:

“The only thing I don’t understand is why people seem to spend so much energy reading and watching and thinking and talking about stuff they hate.”

Well, its easy to ignore Morrison when he’s off in some unique corner, like with Seven Soldiers. But things are a little different when he’s in a playground that’s been sold to the public as a definitive, important, central event in DCU history. Why should there be this insistence that we ignore what he’s written, that we should be quiet or play nice? If you care about DC comics as a whole, and this is a definitive event, doesn’t everyone who reads and appreciates DC comics as a whole have a say?

Besides, lets be honest. This is the internet. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone gives it. Its part sport, but its also part honest intellectual exercise.

Sean Whitmore said:

“What a strange turn this discussion has taken. Brian says, “Here is a form of argument that I think is bad.” And instead of responding to that, the tone of the comments mostly seems to be, “Mmmmmnah, we don’t wanna talk about that. Now HERE’S an argument that’d bad!”

Sean, given how vocal I’ve been, I have to think I’m the target of that point (am I being paranoid? Jeez I hope not!)

I do have to refer you back to my first few posts here, which were very specifically on the topic of how groupthink takes other forms besides the one pointed out by Brian. In my mind I WAS responding to the exact argument Brian highlighted rather than arbitrarily changing the subject, the way you’ve characterized things. I was still talking about Brian’s concept of groupthinking. In other words, I’m not going to debate your other assertion that I was tacitly agreeing him. Wait. Actually it wasn’t a tacit agreement, I think I was outright agreeing and just providing other examples. I simply wasn’t using it to boost Morrison–I was showing how it could apply to either side of the debate. And to his credit, that’s how Brian himself has responded, so at least on that I don’t see any conflict.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

August 7, 2008 at 4:30 pm

An accusation that I’m engaged in groupthink doesn’t bother me a bit. I like what I like.

OTOH there is no combination of words I hate more than the phrase, “you just don’t get it.”

Okay, maybe there’s a few combinations I hate worse. Liike Guest-Starring Wolverine, for example.

In my opinion, that phrase – you just don’t get it – is usually used as a pejorative. The idea is, “if you understood something like I understand it, you’d agree with me.”

No, I understand it completely. I just don’t like it.

Random Stranger

August 7, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Geez that was a lot of responses. Okay, getting to my points:

While accusing people of groupthink isn’t an argument the fact is that there is a lot of groupthink in fandom. Any insular group tends to get a positive feedback loop in some attitudes. To pick on something we all agree about One More Day can be used an example of this phenomena. It stunk for obvious reasons and as people repeated that it grew from being a bad story to being the greatest atrocity ever committed by man (or at least Joe Quesada [rimshot]).

I see that behavior all the time in any kind of fandom: certain things get repeated until they’re holy writ and anyone who doesn’t agree gets shouted down by the crowd. I didn’t really see that in the Final Crisis thread (perhaps because it is so decisive) but there are places online where someone saying that Emperor Morrison has no clothes would get them run out on a rail.

My point in all of this is that while shouting “You’re all a bunch of zombies!” when you disagree with the popular opinion isn’t good you have to careful that you really don’t become just another zombie. The more insular the group the more likely that a popular consensus on certain things will form.

Sean Whitmore & Brian Cronin –

Well, if Brian’s post was taken in complete isolation, some of the subsequent discussion would be odd. But, in a very Grant Morrison-like fashion, many of us are reading it in a bigger context. :-D The post was triggered by a comment on another post. It quite correctly points out a particular argument (one that is often used against those who like Morrison) is really a personal attack, not a valid argument. Fair enough.

What many others are trying to point out is that there is also another argument (one often used against those who dislike Morriso), and it is also a personal attack, not a valid argument.

The root problem is NOT accusing people of groupthink, the root problem is attacking people when you don’t agree with them.

While Brian’s post only bothers to address one type of this problem, isn’t the real problem with so many of these discussions that we turn them into personal attacks on both sides? You may not agree with me about a comic – good! It gives us something to discuss, and we can each learn from the other. But, if I just assume that your reasons for disagreeing with me are based on some problem with you, there’s not much opportunity for mutually beneficial discussion.

Rene –

I don’t know if you intended it, but your post was just another attack on people who don’t like Morrison. How is accusing people who don’t like Morrison of trying to be cynically “hip” and “cool” even slightly different than accusing the people who do like Morrison of groupthink?

If I spend money buying a comic, and don’t like it, it’s completely appropriate for me to say “I didn’t like it”. The last Morrison comic I was willing to comment about on this blog was Seaguy. I had read nothing but positive comments about it. So, I posted a dissenting opinion, not to try to dissuade those who had already read it and liked it, and not to sound “hip” and “cool”, but to present another opinion to those who hadn’t read it.

And that was when I stopped commenting on Morrison posts around here – normally, CSBG is a great place to discuss comics, but when Morrison comes up, it’s not much fun anymore. Sounds like that’s true for both sides, which is unfortunate. Even though I don’t care for his writing, I still read posts about him, and I still learn from them. It’d be nice if the comments on those posts were at the same standard as comments on other types of posts around here.

Hey, in the forums I just got told that because I made criticisms of a writer, I had “an axe to grind”, and that I was “complain(ing) that the work isn’t crass enough”.

Unless you want to track it down (in the “You’ll All Be Sorry” forum), you’ll have to take my word for it that my previous posts avoided any personal comments about other posters. I was talking about Morrison, and someone took it personally. The closest I got was to say that I thought that Final Crisis was an “exercise for his fans rather than for everyone reading”. Which to me, didn’t imply anything negative about his fans. I tmight have about Mr. Morrison, but that’s another thing entirely.

I think this illustrates Tyson’s point. You can be there making an argument about a work that someone disagrees with and the discourse can go right down the toilet that quickly.

>>there are places online where someone saying that Emperor Morrison has no clothes would get them run out on a rail.<<

Like, oh, this place. (In more than a decade of pretty prodigious posting in various venues, the only time I’ve ever been accused of trolling was here a few months ago when I suggested that not only was Morrison’s SEAGUY appalling, but those who believed it was wonderful were … well, I didn’t use the dreaded term “groupthink,” but that’s pretty much what I asserted. Now, certainly, I shouldn’t have said that, but the resulting shrieks of outrage were … interesting.)

Hmmm. I only just now saw Tyson’s comment about the reactions to his own lack of adulation for SEAGUY.

Sean, given how vocal I’ve been, I have to think I’m the target of that point (am I being paranoid? Jeez I hope not!)

Sorry, Spiffy, didn’t mean to make it sound that way. A couple people going off on a related tangent is normal, I just thought it was funny that the entire room sort of turned like the tide.

Well, if Brian’s post was taken in complete isolation, some of the subsequent discussion would be odd. But, in a very Grant Morrison-like fashion, many of us are reading it in a bigger context.

Okay, that was good.

Are you referring to people who have admitted to indulging in groupthink? Because if you aren’t referring to someone who’s admitted to it, you are literally attributing a motive based on only your inference, which is the very standard of your complaint you are holding others to.

What I won’t do is say “you’re just saying that because ____.”

Unless what you do is say “you’re just saying that because of groupthink.”

You know why I think we’ve had so many semi-heated discussions on this blog recently? Because we haven’t had Snark Free Corner in weeks! We need to be snark free!!

A good debate never hurt anyone, as long as it was an honest one.

I agree. I was just using it as a lame excuse to ask for Snark Free Corner back. It’s one of my favorite columns.

Mike, unless I’m misreading you, you’ve gotten the argument backwards.

I see that. Brian’s essay quotes “groupthink” like it isn’t a word, and it isn’t a word I can ever recall seeing before. If you review his essay like it’s trying to coin a new word, it looks like Brian was defining “groupthink” as something like a strawman. All I did was give him some slack for coining the word in a manner that made sense to him.

I infer that something like this is more faithful to how he meant what he said to be taken:

Cronin Theory of Comics – [Don’t Play The Groupthink Card, Because There’s No Such Thing]

One of the things that I’ve tried my best to instill in this blog (and I’m quite pleased that I have VERY rarely seen it used by any of the contributors on the blog) is the idea that we will not infer motivation behind someone enjoying or not enjoying a comic book.

If I think someone is wrong about a comic, I’ll say they’re wrong. If they say I’M wrong about a comic, I’ll explain why I think I’m right.

What I won’t do is [arbitrarily attribute a motive to them for disagreeing with me.] I’m not going to infer what motivates people’s opinions regarding comics. And I would appreciate the same courtesy from our readers.

If you find yourself falling back on [attributing groupthink to others], you really don’t have much of an argument. Just explain why you think someone is wrong to like/dislike the comic in question. [Dismissing your own strawman] is one of the laziest and flimsiest arguments out there, and it is specifically ANTI-discussion, as what is the point of discussing something if you’re [not permitting] the other party [their own account of their own experiences]?

Everyone mostly likes Watchmen, right? Everyone mostly likes Batman Year One and Born Again, right? [Is everyone then allowing hype to establish their opinions of these works?] You won’t see it argued, because most [people’s account of their own experience is perfectly plausible, which is that they simply like] those comics.

[No one is resolved to allow hype to form their opinions of creative works. The only apparent virtue of attributing such a motive to others is to blame them for your intolerance of dissent.] And that’s bogus.

Mike –

Straw man is the logical fallacy of refuting something your opponent did not say, then acting like that refuted what he did say.

Groupthink is a situation where members of a group all support the same views, without critical thought, because it allows them to be part of the group. Accusing someone of this would generally be considered an insult.

Straw men arguments do show up around here, too, but that’s a different type of fallacy. Accusing someone of groupthink is actually an “ad hominem” (‘argument against the man’) fallacy, not a straw man. You’re not creating a false argument for them, you’re attacking them personally.

If I read Brian’s post correctly, he is objecting to statements that accuse someone of groupthink: “You only like [something I don’t like] because of groupthink”. I believe that his point is: stop making those kinds of arguments – you have no idea why the person likes the [author, book, character, etc.] in question.

By the way, I happen to 100% agree with what he says, I’m just disappointed that it’s so narrow – I’d like to see all ad hominem attacks stop here, not just the accusations of groupthink.

I know, I know, it’s the Internet. A guy can dream, can’t he?

Good point about the Strawman tactics. I hate to say it, but I see it all too often on CBR. Sometimes its deliberate (the person knows they are re-interpreting something you said, and knows the advantage it can give them), and sometimes its not (the person just can’t help reinterpreting–their point of view might be so passionately narrow that they genuinely misinterpreted what you wrote and are responding based on that).

But that’s a lesson for another day, I guess. Its a cousin of groupthink accusations, I suppose, but hardly the same thing.

Like, oh, this place. (In more than a decade of pretty prodigious posting in various venues, the only time I’ve ever been accused of trolling was here a few months ago when I suggested that not only was Morrison’s SEAGUY appalling, but those who believed it was wonderful were … well, I didn’t use the dreaded term “groupthink,” but that’s pretty much what I asserted. Now, certainly, I shouldn’t have said that, but the resulting shrieks of outrage were … interesting.)

Come on, Dan, you were only accused of “trolling” (and not by me! I only said it was a really weird response) because you began ripping of Seaguy in the comments section of a blog entry that had nothing to do with Seaguy.

Had the blog entry been ABOUT Seaguy, no one would have batted an eye.

Hey, in the forums I just got told that because I made criticisms of a writer, I had “an axe to grind”, and that I was “complain(ing) that the work isn’t crass enough”.

Unless you want to track it down (in the “You’ll All Be Sorry” forum), you’ll have to take my word for it that my previous posts avoided any personal comments about other posters. I was talking about Morrison, and someone took it personally. The closest I got was to say that I thought that Final Crisis was an “exercise for his fans rather than for everyone reading”. Which to me, didn’t imply anything negative about his fans. I tmight have about Mr. Morrison, but that’s another thing entirely.

I think this illustrates Tyson’s point. You can be there making an argument about a work that someone disagrees with and the discourse can go right down the toilet that quickly.

You keep making references to the forums, Spiffy.

Unless you’re talking about the Comics Should Be Good forum (and, admittedly, the X-Men and the Community forums), I and particularly this blog have nothing to do with what is said there.

I am saying that we here (at least me, specifically) are going to be fair with our readers, so we/I expect the same from our readers.

Beyond that is a bit beyond my reach. :)

I see that. Brian’s essay quotes “groupthink” like it isn’t a word, and it isn’t a word I can ever recall seeing before.

It’s a word we’ve specifically been accused of in the past (granted, not as often as “you’re just saying that because ____”), hence the entry.

And Tyson, that is why the entry is specifically on this topic, as this topic is what I and the blog keep getting accused of, and it’s quite annoying, hence the entry. ;)

Come on, Dan, you were only accused of “trolling” (and not by me! I only said it was a really weird response) because you began ripping of Seaguy in the comments section of a blog entry that had nothing to do with Seaguy.

So you’re saying that in more than a decade of posting, he was only called a troll after doing something trollish?

Sounds like the system works.

Nah, I believe Dan when he said that he just took it to be a general “just talk about Morrison” topic, which is why he began to talk about Seaguy.

So he wasn’t trolling.

Although it is a bit disappointing to see him now frame it as though he was being picked on for disliking Seaguy.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

August 8, 2008 at 12:25 am

Although it is a bit disappointing to see him now frame it as though he was being picked on for disliking Seaguy.

That’s rough.

The sort of person who doesn’t like Sea Guy is obviously living a joyless existence as it is, and deserves pity, not more pain.

What?

Just felt like throwing out an argument for groupthink…
I believe that it is valid to point out that someone not appreciating some aspect of the comic boot art might be well advised to consider that, if other people see value in it, it might be worth investigating further, with the possibility of enjoying something that previously left him cold.
In the 60s, I really did not like Ditko’s art, finding it less appropriate and enjoyable than, say, Curt Swan or Carmine Infantino. Only because of the consensus among people whose opinions I respect and in other cases agree with, led me to try and see what they saw in it, and be able to enjoy it.

“Calling people intellectually inferior for not getting Morrison or liking Morrison is childish. Dismissing Morrison as too obtuse is understandable. He’s not everyone’s thing, and the idea that one must like Morrisn to have good taste in comics is insulting. I say this as a fan of Morrison who doesn’t always get or like his work (especially The Mystery Play, but reading why others liked it was interesting).

Liking is a matter of personal taste, but can we recognize that not getting a Grant Morrison comic is a legitimate complaint? Being confused by some of his storytelling choices and references can be frustrating.
I don’t need everything in a story spoonfed to me, but reading a comic that confuses me does not make me want to pick up the next issue. As I said, I like Morrison’s writing, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but I can understand why others do not.”

I agree. Let’s respect people’s opinions, whether they like/dislike his (or any other creator’s) work. Groupthink does go both ways…

“Everyone mostly likes Watchmen, right? Everyone mostly likes Batman Year One and Born Again, right?”

Well….:D

I love how your “Theory of Comics” are basically bully pulpit editorials on blog threads where you felt criticized Brian.

Which is your perogative Brian, but it’s not a “Theory of Comics”. It’s “Cronin’s Editorial on Something Else Said I Didn’t Much Like On Comics Should Be Good”

Oh well. You’ll have a Theory of Comics about this in a couple of weeks I suspect.

Well,

A. It’s “Cronin Theory of Comics,” presumably there is a hint there that this is my personal take on things, no?

and

B.

It Is a Lot Harder To Move From Another Media To Comics Than Is Given Credit

Last Page Turns Should Be Used Fairly

Don’t Be Self Conscious About Writing Superhero Comics AKA “Why Puny Humans No Write Hulk Dialogue?”

A Reaction Is Not Enough

Avoid the Big Event

Don’t Make Guarantees You Can’t Guarantee

Creators and Their Work Are Two Separate Entities

Theories on Comic Book Death

Treat Comic Creators Respectfully

“Why Should I Change, He’s the One Who Sucks”

The Erasure Point of Comic Book Grief

Chuck Austen: Harbinger

Fan-fiction is a Limited Critique

Serialized Fiction Is Judged Individually

Detailed Plot Synopses Are Lame

It Doesn’t Matter If Bronze Tiger Can Beat You Up

Don’t Compete With Your Readers

Nostalgia/Importance Quotient

Dr. Strange Isn’t a Walking Plot Device

Comic Reviews

Good Characters Should Be Written in Comics

Keith Giffen As Plotting God – Scripting Devil.

So….huh?

Hi Brian,

Nice column… though, at times there does feel like there’s a bit of a hive mind here (especially on the Morrison front).

I’ve myself refrained from posting in the Morrison columns for fear of being belittled or condescended to for being “not smart enough” to glean enjoyment from a story here or there. The Filth and We3 (read it, didn’t like it… bought a dog, read it again, still didn’t like it)… and, yeah… I *got* them… just didn’t like them. Still glad I read them, though.

Personally, I’m a huge Morrison fan, loved most enerything the man’s written (that I’ve had the opportunity to read… very happy that “Kill Your Boyfriend” has been resolicited!), but I can totally feel for folks that pipe up with a discenting opinion in this neck’o the woods.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a reply to an “I didn’t like like such and such GM story” that didn’t descend into an exercise in pretention by “comic book intellectuals” that didn’t ultimately devolve into a “You are stupid”, “No, You are stupid” argument.

Makes for a somewhat entertaining read, to be sure… but at the end of the day, nothing’s been resolved… and there are hurt feelings.

Again, nice column, and I definitely agree with it’s goal… but, I fear it’ll be a tough row to hoe.

Like I told someone early on (Jer, right?). I really don’t mind if you have whatever personal biases you might have, because who doesn’t have biases? – it’s when you try to use them as the basis of an argument that it falls flat.

The way you say you’ve handled it is fine by me.

You just don’t get involved in those discussions. That’s fine.

Yes, I’d prefer to see folks come in and argue their points (as someone else mentioned, discussions ARE fun), and I’d be glad to see opposing viewpoints, but if you’re unable to do so without falling back on the groupthink stuff, then yeah, better to avoid them!

So good on you, Chris, and I hope you end up eventually hoeing that row! :)

Oh well. You’ll have a Theory of Comics about this in a couple of weeks I suspect.

I have one right now: Posts that begin with “I love how (insert something I dislike)” almost never have anything of value to add to a discussion.

Seriously, though, Graeme, while yeah, you’re the only one who specifically says “groupthink,” if it was just you, I wouldn’t bring it up, so please don’t feel as though I’m doing this to pick on you or anything.

It comes up a lot, not counting you at all – there really is no one person that I’m “blaming” here.

Just the entire argument as a whole.

So let us be pals once more! I will buy you an ice cream cone!

Straw man is the logical fallacy of refuting something your opponent did not say, then acting like that refuted what he did say. ¶ Groupthink is a situation where members of a group all support the same views, without critical thought, because it allows them to be part of the group.

Yes, and when you attribute groupthink to someone who hasn’t demonstrated groupthink, that accusation of groupthink qualifies as a strawman. Groupthink and strawman are not mutually exclusive terms, and the post you are responding to doesn’t depend on them being interchangeable terms to be true.

I can’t agree with the original post. It assumes that one’s partner is a rational disputant, which IMO is true for less than two-thirds of internet debates. In other words, no, there are idiots out there, they will frequently find their way into “your” debate and very often all they’ve got going for themselves argument-wise is the group’s opinion (sometimes their offline-group’s opinion).

For instance, in real life there are some ting you just can’t argue with certain 13 year olds. They’ll know what their friends tell them to think and that’s it. Reason(ing) doesn’t enter into it. Same for e.g. rabid political partisans for whom anyting is evaluated through “us vs them” first and foremost.
In either case calling “groupthink” is no only a valid argument, it’s the only (non-)argument worth having with such an opponent.

>>Nah, I believe Dan when he said that he just took it to be a general “just talk about Morrison” topic, which is why he began to talk about Seaguy.

So he wasn’t trolling.

Although it is a bit disappointing to see him now frame it as though he was being picked on for disliking Seaguy.<<

Actually, I *meant* to frame it as suggesting I’d been picked on (as you put it) because I expressed dislike for Morrison & questioned some of his fans’ motivation for viewing it as excellent. Not a big deal, one way or the other. But yeah, I mentioned SEAGUY simply because (a) the topic was its author, Morrison & (b) it just so happened that I’d read SEAGUY only a few days before. Pure coincidence, at least from my standpoint.

Tyson –

Sorry, I didn’t want to appear like I was trying to shut people up. And really, I wasn’t even thinking about Morrison particularly. I like Morrison, but I’m not a uber-fan of his, and I surely don’t take offense if people don’t like him.

What bugs me is this general attitude of people dwelling on the stuff they hate. It appears a little unhealthy. And it’s not just restricted to comics. It’s movies, books, TV shows, celebs.

See, J. R. R. Tolkien is a sacred writer to many. I hate Tolkien and always thought his books were utterly boring and also socially conservative. And I used to complain about Tolkien to any fantasy fan that was willing to listen to my rants. Then I realized how silly I was acting and that my rants and negative attitude had a lot more to do with frustration over other aspects of my personal life than anything to do with books…

Spiffy –

Fair enough. I’m not really into this sort of thing. I mean, being a fan of a fictional universe, or a specific character. I usually follow creators. Even so, there is always lots of fiction out there. If your usual fictional universe of choice is bad right now, that is a wonderful opportunity to look for other stuff that you may enjoy. I know I’m sounding a bit Pollyana, but I really think it’s healthier than spending time in a board only complaining about stuff you hate.

Markus-

While I agree with you on the point that there are idiots out there, I don’t think Brian was arguing that groupthink doesn’t exist. His point seems to be (and I hope he’ll correct me if I’m wrong) that making such a case is pointless because

A.) you don’t ever REALLY know what someone is thinking,

and

(this part is me; Brian may or may not agree) B.) accusing someone of groupthink is wildly unlikely to change their opinion, or indeed, have any effect other than helping to lower the level of discourse. How often on the internet have you ever seen the phrase “By God, you’re right! My opinions are thoughtlessly absorbed from whoever is standing nearby! I hardly ever use my brain at all! Thanks, kind sir, for turning my life around!”
If someone’s really being an idiot, I find that ignoring them and responding to the smart people is much more satisfying for all involved. If many people really do seem to agree with whatever the person’s saying, well, maybe it’s time to start asking the more articulate ones why they feel the way they do.

If “but everyone feels that way” is REALLY their only argument, it’s pretty easy to demonstrate logically why that’s flawed without making vaguely insulting accusations (Britney Spears had the #1 album in America; Poe died broke, etc).

Rene, I agree completely. Bravo.

“Yes, and when you attribute groupthink to someone who hasn’t demonstrated groupthink, that accusation of groupthink qualifies as a strawman.”

No, straw man is falsely attacking their argument. “Groupthink” is falsely attacking their motivation. Not the same thing at all.

Both are bad, but they are very different errors.

How about everyone just assumes that when they’re missing something, they’re probably just MISSING SOMETHING, and not be insulted by that suggestion.

We’re all kinda dumb sometimes. Start by figuring it might be your turn this time.

Also, I don’t really understand this repeated assertion that the blog is filled with Morrison fans.

Brian and Bill – avowed Whorrisons, sure.
Brad, MarkAndrew, and the Gregs – like certain works, don’t like others, and give him fair criticism.

And that’s the lay of the land. 4 to 2, and the majority are not the huge fans.

I really don’t understand this feeling of persecution or being ostracized.

I really don’t understand this feeling of persecution or being ostracized.

It’s more fun that way.

Yes, and when you attribute groupthink to someone who hasn’t demonstrated groupthink, that accusation of groupthink qualifies as a strawman.

No, straw man is falsely attacking their argument. “Groupthink” is falsely attacking their motivation. Not the same thing at all. ¶ Both are bad, but they are very different errors.

Actually, a strawman is attacking an argument no one stands by. And a strawman is also attacking a motivation no one stands by. And even your definitions of strawman and groupthink aren’t mutually exclusive of each other. Strawman and groupthought don’t have to be the same thing for Brian’s example to qualify as both.

I think ruling out groupthink is pretty hasty. It’s pretty well-established that pop-culture groupthink is a reality. Britney Spears and NSYNC and All-American Rejects and Fall Out Boy and The Monkees got big because the media told people to make them big.

“Groupthink” dates from the 1950s and is modelled on the format of Orwell’s “doublethink”, from 1984.

(Not a time-travel paradox! :D)

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