British Journalism – Best In The World?

I don’t pick up The Metro, the free newspaper found littered on tube seats in London (oh, and in dispensers outside stations, I suppose). Not only is it shit, chock-full of filler fluff (exemplified by the completely vacuous ‘Green Room’, by the odious Neil Sean) and pathetic articles masquerading as news, but it is a sister paper to the Evening Standard, a completely fucking awful London paper that you have to pay for the privilege if you want to feel insulted by semi-literate nonsense.

The reason for picking it up yesterday was because I had unexpectedly finished my book early (The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce – well written but the mix of humour and hard-boiled deaths didn’t gel for me, especially at the end), it was late and I needed something to keep me awake on the tube home, the fear of the heat sending me into a coma that would see me wake up in Cockfosters enough to cause me to turn to The Metro.

I flicked through, struggling to stay awake even with the help of the useless paper. Until I came to the item about Spider-Girl. Then I woke up, as my tolerance for stupidity (and particularly stupidity when it comes to reporting about comic books) was breached.

The item was picked up by the chaps at the Newsarama blog [EDIT: link no longer exists], who erroneously identify it as coming from the Evening Standard (see this news item), correctly pointing out that the retarded journalist identifies an eight-year-old character as new. I kept a copy of the page and scanned it in badly here (click to enlarge):
Paper Scan
The wonderfully nonsensical title has changed between print and web – are all girls afraid of spiders? Jayne Atherton is a woman, but is she a spokesperson for all womankind? – but it is the whole thing that is so embarrassingly terrible that it makes me one wonder how it saw print.

Spider-Man is not getting a female ally, what with him being retired in this FUTURE, ALTERNATE MARVEL UNIVERSE.

Fans who pick up the next Spidey comic book will be confused by the fact that he has just outed his secret identity to the public, a rather big piece of news that goes unmentioned (even though they did talk about the his costume change as if it was the second coming or something) and Spider-Girl is nowhere to be seen AT ALL, what with not actually appearing in any of them.

May Parker is NOT the secret daughter of Peter Parker – her parents are fully aware of her existence, thank you very much.

Spider-Girl does not have an hour-glass figure – look! There’s the slim, athletic, thin-hipped teenager in a PICTURE RIGHT NEXT TO THE ARTICLE – to appeal to male fans.

Does Lara Croft lead the way in the female hero stakes because she has two films and some computer games? Not, say, Wonder Woman, who has been around since the 1940s, had her own TV series and is to be made into a big screen version? Or are they just obsessed with the hour-glass theme?

Where the hell does ‘shock makeover’ idea come from? Spider-Girl has nothing to do with Spider-Man, and has been in her own comic book for 100 issues. How is it a shock makeover exactly? Please, somebody, tell me.

Can you call a movie that isn’t out for another year ‘latest’? You might get away with calling it ‘the latest Spider-Man movie’, but they don’t.

Who the hell is this comic book expert Elliot James? And what has his comment to do anything? And how has Spider-Girl been designed to be both sexy and appealing to new, younger audiences, but also keep people interested in comics and superheroes? That’s bloody impressive. It would seem that Spider-Girl is the second coming, we just didn’t know until Elliot James told us.

‘A full-colour story’ – wow, the things they do with technology these days. They make comics with COLOUR! Amazing. At least they mention that it is coming out in October, despite it contradicting the second paragraph about picking up the next Spider-Man comic.

You’ve almost got to admire the cheek of the last paragraph, suggesting that it was only the Metro that revealed to you, the lucky reader, the news about Batwoman – ignoring the fact that every paper in the world knew about it after DC gave them a press release, and the inaccuracy of Batwoman not being the first ever lesbian comic superhero (does that mean she’s Ellen Degeneres? Or that Batwoman is particularly funny?)

I’m stunned by the manner in which somebody was able to twist a press release from Marvel [EDIT: link no longer exists] into this news article. Do the words ‘second life’, ‘milestone 100th issue’, ‘relaunched’, ‘re-debut’, ‘previous 100 issues’ and ‘triumphant return’ indicate nothing to the reporter (even if Marvel can’t spell ‘helm’, something CBR didn’t change in their news item)?

I would write and complain, but what would be the point? Shoddy journalism is shoddy journalism, and what do you expect with a free paper? It just makes me angry that the world of comic books is treated so badly in the mainstream media, especially after Comic Con, so why can’t a professional journalist do some simple fact-checking and intelligent reporting? Or is that too much to ask …?

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