What does a Supreme Court decision about video games have to do with comic book censorship? As Jeff Trexler explains in the latest of his spectacular series of posts on the Comics Code Authority at the Comics Journal, everything:
Look carefully at the comics community and you’ll see that the work traditionally done by such industry groups as trade associations or unions–legal guidance and advocacy, collective business promotion, provision for the needs of employees–is now performed by a network of charities and commercial companies that aren’t themselves publishers. The San Diego Comic-Con is a charity, but it functions in many ways like a trade show. The Hero Initiative cares for creators in need, while comic and cartoon museums highlight the value of characters, creators and companies. Reed, a for-profit venture, brings together nonprofits and comics-themed businesses in a commercial con. Each of these–and any number of other groups–promotes the comics industry, but the industry itself lacks the sort of collective voice that we continue to see in film, television and music.The main reason for the withering away of the trade association is that the traditional comics industry no longer exists. The mainstays of the CMAA have become platform-agnostic. Instead of maintaining a commitment to comics as a medium, the post-comics industry has evolved into a network of IP farms that have internalized content regulation as an integral part of brand management. An industry code has become corporate social responsibility–not paternalistic rules imposed by external industry police but an organic extension of each brand’s defining values.
Censorship, Trexler argues, may have been seen to have lost the battle, but it’s won the war by becoming so ingrained in the culture that publishers may not even be aware that they’re doing it. It’s a good read. Go check it out.