ترول ایرانی

گالری عکس

Dr. Fredric Wertham Remains Comics Greatest Villian

…and now there’s proof he likely fal­si­fied his data, lied about his find­ings and appar­ently even manip­u­lated his interviews.

“Seduc­tion of the Inno­cent?”  try “Seduc­tion of the Weak-minded” who bought into it.

While the find­ings of Wertham (who died in 1981) have long been ques­tioned by the comics indus­try and its advo­cates, a recent study of the mate­ri­als he used to write “Seduc­tion of the Inno­cent” sug­gests that Wertham mis­rep­re­sented his research and fal­si­fied his results.

Carol L. Tilley, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­sity of Illinois’s Grad­u­ate School of Library and Infor­ma­tion Sci­ence, reviewed Wertham’s papers, housed in the Library of Con­gress, start­ing at the end of 2010, shortly after they were made avail­able to the public.

In a new arti­cle in Infor­ma­tion & Cul­ture: A Jour­nal of His­tory, Dr. Tilley offers numer­ous exam­ples in which she says Wertham “manip­u­lated, over­stated, com­pro­mised and fab­ri­cated evi­dence,” par­tic­u­larly in the inter­views he con­ducted with his young subjects.

Draw­ing from his own clin­i­cal research and pointed inter­pre­ta­tions of comic-book story lines, Wertham argued in the book that comics were harm­ing Amer­i­can chil­dren, lead­ing them to juve­nile delin­quency and to lives of vio­lence, drugs and crime.

Seduc­tion of the Inno­cent” was released to a pub­lic already teem­ing with anti-comics sen­ti­ment, and Wertham was embraced by mil­lions of cit­i­zens who feared for America’s moral sanc­tity; he even tes­ti­fied in tele­vised hear­ings.

Yet accord­ing to Dr. Tilley, he may have exag­ger­ated the num­ber of youths he worked with at the low-cost mental-health clinic he estab­lished in Harlem, who might have totaled in the hun­dreds instead of the “many thou­sands” he claimed. Dr. Tilley said he mis­stated their ages, com­bined quo­ta­tions taken from many chil­dren to appear as if they came from one speaker and attrib­uted remarks said by a sin­gle speaker to larger groups.

Other exam­ples show how Wertham omit­ted exten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances in the lives of his patients, who often came from fam­i­lies marred by vio­lence and sub­stance abuse, or invented details outright.

Wertham is pretty much seen as the man who did two things:  1) He gave the world the cul­tural “joke” that Bat­man and Robin were gay long before Burt Ward and Adam West did it back in the late 60s with the phrase “old chum” on national tele­vi­sion.  2)  He pretty much killed the indus­try for about eight years.

Seduc­tion” came out in 1954 and by 1957, Mar­vel Comics fore­run­ner, Timely Comics had a series of mass lay­offs which nearly killed the com­pany.  For two years, the only employ­ees doing comics were Stan Lee and two or three free­lance artists doing West­ern and romance comics.  (Jack Kirby didn’t come on-board until 1958 and only after he had no where else to go.  Bad blood already existed between him and Lee from an inci­dent which led to Kirby’s ter­mi­na­tion from Timely in the 1940s.)  Books like Jus­tice League, Fan­tas­tic Four, Spider-Man and the Avengers were years away and only after DC Comics led the way first with rebooted ver­sions of their clas­sic heroes like “The Flash” and “Green Lantern” led the revival.

In the mean­time, all pub­lish­ers policed them­selves through “The Code,” short for the self-censoring “Comics Code Author­ity.”  The Code pretty much banned any hor­ror, crime, and ter­ror comics until the mid-to-late 70s.  For years, you couldn’t do a story at any of the pub­lish­ers which included the clas­sic hor­ror mon­sters of were­wolves, vam­pires and zombies.

Wertham would have hated “The Walk­ing Dead” one can only guess.

But the real irony to the “Seduc­tion of the Inno­cent” saga is that for what would sound like a Wertham was a few cen­turies ahead of Brent Bozell and the Fam­ily Tele­vi­sion Coun­cil, he was actu­ally a prac­tic­ing lib­eral.  His early stud­ies of seg­re­ga­tion were writ­ten about in the briefs used for Brown vs. Board of Education.

The Times says as much:

Michael Chabon, who researched the early his­tory of comics for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Amaz­ing Adven­tures of Kava­lier & Clay,” said that while Wertham had been viewed as “this almost McCarthyite witch hunter,” he was actu­ally “an extremely well-intentioned lib­eral, pro­gres­sive man in many ways,” pro­vid­ing men­tal health ser­vices to minori­ties and the poor.

But of “Seduc­tion of the Inno­cent,” Mr. Chabon said: “You read the book, it just smells wrong. It’s clear he got com­pletely car­ried away with his obses­sion, in an almost Ahab-like way.”

Word was that Wertham then wanted to spend most of the 1960s going after tele­vi­sion, but appar­ently couldn’t get a publisher.

Guess it was one of those “good inten­tions” things the Left keeps lec­tur­ing us about.

Any­way, fast-forward nearly 70 years and what do we have?  A comic book indus­try that is now more-or-less a loss-leader for major media con­glom­er­ates so they can make movies out of the prop­er­ties.  It’s watch­dog is no more — the Code offi­cially went under in 2011 — and its iconic logo is now owned by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a group ded­i­cated to end cen­sor­ship of the comic book industry.

Wertham will prob­a­bly go down in his­tory as a crank on the same level as Tip­per Gore when she went after the music indus­try in the 1980s.  Frankly, peo­ple are going to snap the same ways they always have — lousy child­hoods filled with vio­lence, uncar­ing par­ents who ever never there and of course — they just might be wired that way.  No media (or weapon) has been known to change that.

Of course, it is a lot eas­ier to blame a medium or a weapon than it is to blame the parents.

Be Socia­ble, Share!