BleedingCool.com runs controversial blog post
***Update 12/24/2012*** Bleeding Cool has taken the post down and replaced it with an apology from Rich Johnston. I’m glad to see that. However, the fact that in his apology, Rich calls out that he decided to take the post down after conducting a Twitter poll makes this whole thing feel even more like a shock-jock publicity stunt.
I’ll be the first to admit, I sometimes post stupid, baseless shit. Guilty as charged. That being said, I think Rich Johnston crossed a line tonight when he ran a post that seemingly made light of a 9 year old boy’s battle with Leukemia and his love of Spider-Man. After it went up, Twitter exploded in an outrage, with comic writer Ron Marz leading the charge and taking Johnston to task. For his part, Rich Johnston defended it as, “Just looking in hindsight at what seems to be a very unfortunate juxtaposition.”
On Sunday night, Bleeding Cool ran a post that was simply titled, “Um…” which was basically just a copy/paste of a nine year old kid’s letter that originally appeared in Captain America #10, which ran eight months ago. The letter reads as follows (I didn’t include the kid’s last name because, well, he’s a nine year old kid)…
Hi. My name is KJ. I am 9 years old and I love Marvel comics! I am in the hospital right now because I have leukemia. Marvel comics have helped pass the time on some very long days. My favorite character is Captain America and my favorite comic is the Defenders. Just as sure as Spidey beats Doc Ock, I am going to beat leukemia! Thank you very much.
Hasbro Childrens Hospital
Rich Johnston, the guy who runs Bleeding Cool and who authored the post, added that it was an “unfortunate juxtaposition.” At first glance, many of you, or maybe even most of you, don’t see what the big deal is. Okay, so allow me to translate what is meant to be a very geeky, inside joke/reference. In his letter, KJ mentions that he’ll beat Leukemia, “just as sure as Spidey beats Dock Ock.” Well, it’s no secret that Amazing Spider-Man #700 comes out on Wednesday and in that issue, without giving away too much, Spidey doesn’t exactly beat Doc Ock. So the gist of this post is basically, “Hahaha. Bad comparison, kid!”
I will say that, despite what Rich Johnston says, I do think this feels pretty dirty. Johnston says it’s an “unfortunate juxtaposition”. Is it? KJ’s letter ran eight months – thirty-two weeks – ago. It wasn’t as if Marvel was running this the same week that they were shipping Amazing Spider-Man 700. No, Bleeding Cool is the one that did that. They created this juxtaposition. Additionally, the post leaves me with the mental picture of a bunch of comic geeks standing around snickering as this kid – who’s fighting cancer – is talking about his favorite comic book characters.
After the online shit storm kicked off, Johnston went back and added the following piece of commentary…
Nevertheless in all the various online bitching about this plot or that character, it’s heartening, especially at this time of the year, to see how people read comics to be inspired. And it’s that kind of reaction that should inspire us, to be the best that we can be.
I don’t believe for a second that Bleeding Cool or Rich Johnston meant this to be an inspiring post. Otherwise, he wouldn’t title the post, “Um…” Bottom line, this was a bad joke that very few people got, with the punchline coming at the expense of a nine year old cancer patient. So, to answer the question that I posed in the title of this post – Did Bleeding Cool go too far? – I would say that, yes, Bleeding Cool went way too far with this. Nothing about this post was clever, funny, or interesting. It was, pure and simple, mean.
Hopefully, Rich Johnston – who’s been reporting on comics for many years – comes to his senses and 1.) Takes the post down and 2.) Issues an apology. I’m far from Mr. Manners or even Mr. Good Ideas, but even I know that you don’t use a kid with cancer as the butt of a joke. Or in an “unfortunate juxtaposition.” You just don’t do that.
Filed Under: Geek Culture