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The Harley Quinn Suicide Contest Debates

Journal Entry: Mon Sep 16, 2013, 7:35 AM

((The following is a repost by request of a group admin. Note this does not reflect all of the people's opinions on this matter that work on the Teen Titans Project. But do tell us what you think!; ))

Yeah, everyone DC-savvy is aware by now that there was a contest (that is still going and ends on October 1st 2013), but for those of you who don't know, here's the rundown;


--DC is making their Villains Tributes by releasing a lot of "#0"s that revolve around the villains themselves. They've already released Trigon's and Deathstroke's is supposedly coming up. (cantwaitcantwait)

--Harley Quinn is up soon (will be released on November 6th they say) and her new writers (Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti) decided to host a contest that is a "talent seach" as DC seeks a new artist for the comic that extends from Harley Quinn #0.

--Contest specs are released to the public by the new writers: draw Harley in 4 comic panels, in each one attempting to kill herself in different, predesigned, ways that look sexual and cartoony-like whimsical.
The contest is mentioned initially and begins being advertised on September 5th 2013...........
............. 3 days before "National Suicide Prevention Week."

--People freak out;
"they're overly sexualzing suicide along with over sexualizing Harley! Insult to women!"
"they're glorifying suicide by showing it as being lighthearted!"
"they're mocking National Suicide Prevention Week altogether!"
"this only makes the Batwoman thing worse!"
[insert A.D.H.D. lynch mob here]

--DC does nothing for a while, letting people go on their outrages. This is normal for DC's responses, they usually say nothing and care not about a single thing that hurts the public or anyone save themselves.

--The DC staff independently do things as they respond personally on the internet;
:bulletred: Jim Lee trolls on people via his own twitter account, telling them that they're wrong to have feelings/ to be offended (basically that they're not allowed to be offended)
:bulletblue: Jimmy Palmiotti releases a public statement saying the public outrage was his fault for failing to properly word the contest specifcations (specs) so as to make everyone understand that no insult was ever intended to suicide victims or to anyone else and that they're not mocking suicide prevention at all--that people shouldnt blame DC, they should blame HIM.

--Three large anti-suicide groups speak out very publicly against the contest;
:bulletyellow: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
:bulletyellow: American Psychiatric Assiciation
:bulletyellow: National Alliance on Mental Illness
they made their statement in the Huntington Post.

--After the Huntington Post article, DC comics realizes they cant shrug it off and so they make a move.
They make a "sorry not-sorry" public apology, which most who use their brains figures out isn't a real apology. DC had their backs up to the wall and had no choice.
Corner someone with a blowtorch that threatens to scorch their face off and they'll say anything they think you wanna hear.
But they didn't cancel the contest.


My feelings on the matter are... not what I think some of my friends would like me to feel/say, but they are what they are.

A suicide image/comic, I'm fine with.
A suicide image/comic that sexualizes females, I'm fine with. (though a bit offended... a bit)
A suicide image/comic during or near Suicide Awareness Week, I'm fine with.
I'm even OK with a suicide contest (though it's tacky as hell and on the stupid side)....
A suicide contest that is designed to be an audition for artists in a REAL JOB... that irks me quite a bit.

But what really (heh-->) "grinds my gears" about this whole thing is how badly DC handled the whole thing from the beginning.

The arrangements, the timing, the advertisements....
None of this was done right.

If they had handled it correctly, this would have been 100% morally acceptable and even though it would have gotten haters (where are they NOT really?) DC would have been completely able to pull this off with far FAR less backlash if they had only made preparations beforehand.
Been thorough.

The fact that the writer of the new Quinn book had to come out and try to tell poeple to crucify HIM instead of the company just because it was the way he worded the contest... :no: oh, man, that's wrong... and did the company come out and say "oh, no, no... dont blame the writer! He's only a writer, not a contest planner or in any way meant to deal proffessionally in advertisement tactics--he couldnt have known that this would happen.... blame us, the company, instead. We're the ones who should have planned how to manage the contest, we're the ones who gave the go-ahead for this all..."
They left that poor guy to dangle as bait to attract the sharks...... or, to be more fitting to the contest specs... to tie raw chicken to himself and throw himself to the alligators just to save DC comics suffering that fate.

They had to know about it beforehand. They knew it was morally unacceptable (even if, from my perspective, it was morally fine). They knew how the public can be and has been for a while now. They failed to properly organize the details of the contest.
They are at fault, not Jimmy Palmiotti or Amanda Connor, or anyone else.


In researching articles on this matter before I made my opinion, I found a number fo articles, all covering the various perspectives, even finding the first site to advertise the contest, Daily Dot, and hearing DC call the contest "breaking into the comics was never this fun". (direct quote from dccomics . com)

In may of the articles I found, I see people addressing the same things I was thinking when I read the contest details;
-humiliating to women;
-degrading to suicide theories;
-why does she have to be naked when she kills herself in the bathtub with the appliances?
-bad timing next to Suicide Week
-poor way to hold artist auditions (very... very poor)
-DC handled the whole outrage situation poorly as well
-why the suicide scene? why not some other part of the comic to be the contest part?
-the DC aoplogy is obviously fake
(and a few other grievances)

I am appalled by a number of things in the contest, but most of it has nothing to do with what everyone else is complaining about.

:star: SEX :star:

I hate the over sexalization of widdle Harley (she's mah immoto :love: ) and every other female character (such as "Quiet" from the upcoming video games--a sniper with freakiskly revealing clothes) I hate that.
Every ranter is right.
It's demoralizing to women, takes away any individualism they have, makes them objects and not people---all that annoying junk.

And, yes, this contest does that to Harley.



This is what I expect of comics, DC and others. Even archie comics had a way of  making Sally Acorn a sex symbol here and there, along with other female anthros.
This is not news, people. Complain about it, but dont act so shocked over this contest.

:star: SUICIDE THEME :star:

I watch and love Family Guy and South Park, which make fun of manycontrovercial things all the time, it's practically a requirement for the shows. Despite having more "family values", Simpsons is the same way, more or less. I'm fine with the suicide theme of the contest, although the methods she's trying arent very inventive, I dont think...

:star: NUDE :star:

I do hate this part but only because it makes no sense except to unrealistically sexualize Harley. It just doesnt make sense that someone going to kill themselves in a bathtub with appliances would take off their clothes..
a.) why WANT to be naked? You'll die either way. Being naked wont help it happen.
b.) most dont want to be found naked when they die. Harley, knowing her, would want to be found in her either "best" apparel, or her "fave" outfit, to "show the rest of those suckers how dying should go down" to phrase it kinda like how she might think of it.

:star: TIMING :star:

This was sheer incompetence. I mean, there are all kinds of "awareness" months and "support" weeks and "in memory of" days all year long and I certainly dont know them all. I was unhappy that I couldnt make a picture in time for Spirit Day because I didnt know it was the day until I logged onto dA that day.

Even though I can understand that DC didnt know it was REALLY poor timing (but man, what IRONY, right??) but they still should have arranged the contest more efficiently altogether, then this wouldnt hae been so bad.

:star:  JOB AUDITIONS :star:

This is really poor form... to have such a contest, OK, fine, but with THIS kind of content RIGHT OFF THE BAT??? Ah... NO. You only give something this racy to the callbacks, not the fresh batch of applicants.

For the comic industry, you should give an action scene, something that shows the artist can handle movement and flowing cloth/hair with perhaps some liquid (saliva from someone getting hit really hard or plain blood/spatter) fltting about in good form along with some conflicting facial features. Like the villain with an evil grin and the hero wincing in pain and/or frustration with maybe a bystander/civi cowering in fear someplace.

:star: THE OUTRAGE :star:

I think many people are overreacting to it all. That's not to say they're wrong to be offended (Jim Lee was wrong to say that and he's somewhat depraved for it, perhaps) no, just that they're failing to see every angle and see that there's nothing really wrong with the contest, it's the planning and arrangements that are really wrong.  

I mentioned Family Guy and South Park for good reasons, not just to say "hey, they'd do this, and in some ways they have already", yes they have, but my reasons were something else.

By now, people expect antics like this from Seth McFarlain, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. It's part of their reputation, and one that they've worked very hard for years and ears to establish. By now, we all know that they mean no real insult to suicide victims if they make a suicide joke in their shows. They're all very intelligent, very moral people who express their humanity via blunt controversial humor. It's who they are. Seth personally strikes me as someone who may well have some insecurity issues, by his speech patterns and his demeanor. So, he's a more soft-spoken and somewhat shy person than you'd think. It doesnt stop him, he's very outgoing, and I think he's more than enough conquered his demons, but you can hear the soft tones in his voice that state his battle scars.

Basically, we know that they dont mean to humiliate or mock suicide when their shows make suicide jokes. They've proven themselves to be competent, intellecual people with a handle on humor. They have the established reputation for making controvercial jokes while not mocking the real topics hat they CAN get away with starting a "draw suicide in humorous ways" contest. They'd have haters, but not so many as DC does right now.
DC does not have the reputation to do this so suddenly and with so little proper/careful phrasing beforehand.


Yes, yes, why the suicide scene in the comic?

The contest is to draw one certain scene in the comic where the entries will be featured, but there are many scenes that make up any one comic, so.... why couldnt the contest be about one of the OTHER scenes in "Harley Quinn #0"?
Why did the guy think it would be OK to pick THAT scene rather than one that's obviously more socially acceptable? Save the controvercial themes for those who get a callback to the job interview.

:star: FAKE APOLOGY :star:

DC states it's apology only AFTER three large anti-suicide groups (2 of them having more to do with mental illness) come calling to say "DC was wrong."
The company didnt care until a big-weight-pulling crew was calling them "wrong."
And in their apology and in Jimmy Palmiotti's apology, the phrasing was always trying to put the blame on others rather than just say "sorry, guys, we were just insensitive jerks, but we're gonna fix that, 'K?"


Resources and Reading Material

DC's contest -->

Outcry statement in the Huntington Post-->…

A good article on this all along with a sample entry for the contest -->…

DC's apology-->…
((I couldnt find the actual apology, but it's mentioned in articles... if anyone has a link to the actual apology, please let me know!))

Jim Palmiotti's apology-->…

This is apparently some of Jim Lees' sayings -->…

Dont be ashamed if you wanna enter the contest. Nothing wrong with it.
Personally, I think anyone's crazy if they wanna work for DC, but it would be fine work expereince. You can always quit after a while and have the job reference under your belt.

Same with buying the comic, Harley 0, when it comes out. If you want it, go get it, and dont be ashamed of it. You're allowed to have your own opinion even if the Jim Lees of the world say/imply you're not.


They say that Harley's facial expression for the contest has to be one of, and I quote: "'oh well, guess that's it for me'" which accurately describes the very fate of DC comic's heart.

Or... former heart.

DC comic's heart was sacrificed on an altar in the reboot. While on the altar, the heart said just what Harley's meant to be thinking while trying to kill herself in the contest... "oh, well, guess that's it for me."

And many DC fans find themselves saying the same thing as they retire from being DC comic fans with this "last straw" scandal. "Oh, well, DC is acting just so terrible, guess that's it for me. I'm not buying any more books."

Not everyone says this, I've heard many say "man I hate what they're doing, but I guess I'll still buy the book..." however more often than not I've heard people declaring their leave of DC from now on.

Stay or not, everyone has less respect for DC with each passing month, either because the company pulls stunts like these or because the quality of the comics they release are just that bad.

Personally, I'm wondering just how much longer DC comics can afford to be making these "mistakes" before it ruins them irrepairably.
Many things could happen as a result, from bankruptcy to selling out to another company or maybe actually grabbing for a Pixar of their own (as I mention DC comics being like Disney in this blog -->… ) just as, if I recall correctly, Nippon Ichi had started out at Atlus game studios no different than Pixar with Disney.

Regardless, DC comics cant afford to continue on as they have.
Since the end is almost inevitable, we have to wonder, when and how?
Will they go silently into the night or will it erupt worse than the Batwoman and Harley controvercies combined?


Having stated my opinion on the matters at hand, I'll only say this last thing about Quinn's recent situation...

.............. does anyone else think the New 52 Harley Quinn is... ugly? I mean... REALLY REALLY ugly? She was waaaaaaaaaay hotter in her "Batman the Animated Series" costume and makeup.


~written by Scintillant-H, all opinions stated are owned by the respective persons as mentioned by name, any opinions mentioned in first person context or were implied to have first person context (by having no name or identifying label attached to them) were sole property of Scintillant-H and not of the "Teen Titans Project" group as a whole nor anyone in the DC comics industry or other persons.

~should you have grievance with this blog, please direct that grievance to either Scintillant-H via note, or comment on her profile or the original journal/ blog that this was group blog reposted from -->…

Thank you, and Scintillant-H, Hal Shumaker, wishes you and the group a sparkly day ;p


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Supersonicus Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2013
I don't discriminate but I can honestly say, I'm glad the marriage didn't happen only because that would have been a huge point of contention between fans if it had gone through.  Superhero comics are not about extremely controversial subjects, and I just feel it wouldn't have been unneccesary and cause a huge rift between people for/against it.  As for the Harley contest…not sure what to say about that.  I see the funny side but also see the IDIOTS side.
Angel-Dust-Ryuuki Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2013  Student General Artist
I completely get what you are saying on that. I see both as well.
SuperCgirl Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Student General Artist
Really, all I'm excited for from DC is the next Season of Arrow!
Angel-Dust-Ryuuki Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013  Student General Artist
Cool. =)
Scintillant-H Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013   General Artist
is that show STILL running?? O.o
SuperCgirl Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013  Student General Artist
Yeah! The Flash is in the next season! It's gonna be EPIC!!!
AndronicusVII Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013
Yeah, it's all very disappointing.  Especially when, I think, a real, genuine apology would have gone a long way in fixing things.  Fans can be forgiving if contrition is sincere.
Angel-Dust-Ryuuki Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Student General Artist
Indeed they can, the heads of DC don't know what they are doing anymore. *sigh*
AndronicusVII Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013
*sighs*  Makes me miss the class of Dini-verse.
Angel-Dust-Ryuuki Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2013  Student General Artist
AndronicusVII Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2013
You know, the series of DC-related cartoons that happened in one more-or-less consistent universe.  First Batman, then Superman, then Batman Beyond, then Justice League and then Justice League Unlimited.  Generally called Dini-verse, because one of the creative minds behind it was Paul Dini. 

Part of the reason I miss it, is that it was very classy.
Angel-Dust-Ryuuki Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2013  Student General Artist
Oh lol, I see what you mean now. Great you brought up Batman Beyond, that is one my favorites. =) I miss the good stuff they used to have.
AndronicusVII Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013
Batman Beyond was pretty good, but it's villains were generally weak.  Most of the best episodes are when they bring back villains from the original series.
Angel-Dust-Ryuuki Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013  Student General Artist
I liked the dark element about it. But I can see what you mean. Have you read the comics of this?
(1 Reply)
KaijuDuke Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013
I gotta marvel over DC's stupidity and carelessness in recent years, its bad enough that they completely rebooted their main comic continuity and did irreparable damage to the origin stories and personalities of many beloved characters, especially the Teen Titans, but they went on to create an easily avoidable scandal like this?! What were they thinking?! I really wonder what goes on in their heads sometimes >_<

P.S. I too think the original Harley is hotter than the current version :3, and that it was REALLY dumb to just turn her into a female version of the Joker in her new origin story. I'm not kidding, instead of Joker manipulating her into madness & obsession, he LITERALLY lures her to, I assume, the same chemical vat he fell into years ago and dumps her inside...Which somehow dyes her hair two different colors instead of just green & gives her super pale skin as opposed to the facepaint she used to wear, AND instead of being pissed off at him she falls madly in love with him (as opposed to Joker's cunning being what turns her mind inside out & begins her unhealthy love for him)...Oh Harley, what has DC done to you? >_<
Angel-Dust-Ryuuki Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013  Student General Artist
Holy they did what! I have yet to read the New 52 Harley. Nooooo I don't like that at all! I want the original. =(
KaijuDuke Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013
Yep, its true, its one of the reasons why I stopped reading the Suicide Squad comics. I thought the idea of Harley being a member of the Squad would be interesting, give her something new to do in between working for Joker or teaming up with Poison Ivy, until I learned what they'd done to her origin story & that her pale skin and dyed hair were REAL >_<.

Her original back story was WAY more tragic and original, an intelligent, well adjusted woman who's slowly but surely seduced by a mad man, tricked into believing his lies & twisted world view, and develops a deranged, unhealthy relationship with him. Instead, she's pretty much a Joker clone now (only wearing far less clothes & looking far less clownish without her trademark Harlequin costume). To be fair, at first things SEEM to be playing out like they were before, but when he lures her to the factory its obvious she's returned to her senses and is having second thoughts...Right before she gets dumped into the vat of "instant Joker juice" and "magically" falls in love with him...And loses all her clothes except her underwear >_<

They took away everything that made her unique and just made her a copy of Joker rather than the ideal henchwoman to aid him in his schemes against Batman and Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, etc. I grew up with Harley on all those Bruce Timm cartoons, she was sexy, funny, crazy, evil, AND tragic/sympathetic...Now she's barely recognizable as the same character anymore.
Angel-Dust-Ryuuki Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2013  Student General Artist
I agree with you fully on this issue and so sorry it took so long to get replied to. School work and other things have been getting in my way.
Madness-Made-Fresh Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Wow. DC sucks sometimes. This is why I lean more in the Marvel fandom.
Angel-Dust-Ryuuki Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Student General Artist
I cannot blame anyone for that. Honestly though, sometimes I wish I could take over DC and right there wrongs. lol XD Never going to happen.
Madness-Made-Fresh Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Yeah. All we the fans can do is boycott.
Angel-Dust-Ryuuki Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Student General Artist
But for how long before they pull us back in.
Madness-Made-Fresh Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2013  Professional Filmographer
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