We’ve reached this point in mass culture where media sources are always on the lookout for the next big “scoop.” This trend has been happening for quite awhile now and I’m not quite sure how it all started. Maybe it has to do with the fact that we as a population have been slaves to media in general for so long that we’ve seen just about anything and everything. We’ve become so desensitized that they need to try as hard as possible to shock and awe us. Perhaps that’s what has lead us to pure “speculation” journalism. Who knows. Nonetheless, in doing so these media outlets sometimes publish (print, TV, online) stories that turn out to be strictly rumors or even flat out false. Some places even go so far as to print these stories just to get traffic to their site, channel, source, etc., knowing full well that they are false. This process has started to wear a little thin on me as of late. In doing so, I felt the need to address it for a few minutes this week, specifically with regard to the comic medium. You all may be wondering where I am going with this and if you hold on for a little bit longer it will all become much more clear. So, strap yourself in for another “enlightening“ entry of Comic Culture this week where we talk about “rumors.”
Back when I was strictly reading comics in high school and college and didn’t have my ear on the pulse of the industry (mainly for this column), I was pretty naive to a lot of news items in general. I didn’t seek them out, they came to me naturally. Granted, back then the industry was quite a different place and the movie and TV landscapes weren’t booming like they are now, but at base level, there are still parallels to the past. Fast forward to now, where I check multiple news sites daily, subscribe to publisher and creator pages on Facebook and Twitter, and spend a lot of my time in general just trying to stay on top of what’s happening in the industry, and it’s become clear to me that rumors and speculation have really become more and more apparent in general. Rumors, more often than not, turn out to be just that: rumors. But sometimes they do end up being true. And, if you are a news outlet, wouldn’t you want to be the first to report on a “breaking” casting, creator change, new book, etc.? So then, realistically it would make sense to publicize as many rumors as possible in the hopes of one of them sticking. That’s how you drum up viewers/readers right? Don’t get me wrong, I am not stupid. I get how the game works, but that doesn’t mean that I have to like how bloated the rumor mill has become these days. The hype surrounding “geek” things in general has reached a fever pitch. It has become so rampant that we actively seek out any news bit or picture about every single project as quickly as possible, even at the risk of potentially ruining the experience for us. So, yes, we as fans are partially to blame for supporting the rumor mills, because if we are giving these stories traffic, then we’re bound to get more of them. But, on the other side of the fence, the media outlets are definitely to blame as well. They are the ones printing these stories when they should be focusing on FACT, and not FICTION. It’s a thin line. I know.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against drumming up discussion on an upcoming book, movie, TV show, etc. It is my honest belief that this a good thing for the industry as a whole. However, the amount of information coming out these days that is pure “click bait” has become a little ridiculous. As with any piece of news, you need to look at the source to see where it’s coming from to test its legitimacy. We (as fans) need to learn how to sift out the rumors, and follow the “concrete” stories instead. I am not sure if there is actually a solution to this problem or if I accomplished anything this week (besides venting). I know that rumor stories will continue to be published, and Hell, we (All-Comic) may be guilty from time to time. No one is immune. That’s for sure. In the end it’s just part of the game, I guess.