It can be fascinating to see how the current Internet model involving legions easily amassing and being heard across various social media platforms has changed how the “big two” comic book publishers respond to criticism or public relations errors. Less than 24 hours ago, two of DC Comics’ newest licensed t-shirts made the rounds online and were derided for being offering stereotypical (at best) or sexist (at worst) t-shirts to children and girls featuring Superman, Wonder Woman andBatman. It wasn’t long ago that DC Comics’ brass’ first reaction would have been to ignore it or get defensive. Instead, a DC Comics spokesperson reached out to the Huffington Post earlier today with this statement on the matter (which this column will dub “Shirtgate”):
“DC Comics is home to many of the greatest male and female Super Heroes in the world. All our fans are incredibly important to us, and we understand that the messages on certain t-shirts are offensive. We agree. Our company is committed to empowering boys and girls, men and women, through our characters and stories. Accordingly, we are taking a look at our licensing and product design process to ensure that all our consumer products reflect our core values and philosophy.”
This marks a drastic change in strategy from how DC Comics usually handles a public relations fiasco. Rather than ignore it or get defensive, they chose to admit fault and promise to do better next time. Admitting that a mistake was made is so rare on a corporate level that it is always a marvel to see. Speaking of the competition, earlier this month Marvel Comics had their own PR gaffe when a variant cover for “Spider-Woman #1” was received poorly; their response was to get defensive before canceling further covers by the artist in question without addressing the issue at all. In terms of the “big two” rivalry in response to fiascoes in September, DC Comics has the edge here.