Well, this doesn’t endear DMP to me. Christopher Butcher wrote an interesting piece pondering if some of the manga/anime/art working its way from Japan to America might not risk being termed child porn by the more conservative . He specifically mentioned Digital Manga Publishing (DMP) because of the range of their yaoi titles which, combined with a fan demand for non-edited works (aside from translation), might result in trouble down the road. And he used the cover of their book Almost Crying as an illustration, because it’s got a boy on the cover who clearly appears pre-adolescent.
DMP sent him a cease and desist threat (well, actually, a threat that there could be a cease and desist) for him to remove the image. So he did, and then he hot-linked to the Amazon-posted cover, which is also what I’ve done here. (And what’s with the cheery greeting leading into the legal threats?)
Publishers just don’t get it these days — the material is out there, and you can’t stop ideas you don’t like by overreacting. Inserted lines of dialogue claiming that your young school characters are really in college won’t protect you if one of the censors gets a burr up their butt about the images. I don’t know if DMP does that specifically, but their claim that all of their characters are above the age of consent doesn’t match the visuals in some of their yaoi I’ve read. (See the My Only King cover to the right.) They can’t, really, since “boys that look like girls” have to be young and prepubescent.
And now, thanks to what Techdirt calls the Streisand Effect, more people (like me) are talking about their products in precisely the context they wanted to prevent, because they couldn’t be nice about it. (Although, given how companies think, that probably was them trying to be nice, so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt going forward, unless this becomes a pattern.)
If someone says something you don’t like — whether a bad review of a comic you like or something like this — pulling out the big guns isn’t going to do anyone any good. It’s going to make them more stubborn about their opinions, and it’s going to make you look bad. Trying to argue someone out of a negative opinion will often simply reinforce that negative opinion.
Publishers and creators have to be willing to take honest opinions gracefully… or people won’t want to do business with them. The best response, in my opinion, would be something like “We’re concerned that your audience may have gotten the wrong impression from your comments. All of our characters are over the age of consent, and (whatever other factual comments you feel you need to make).” Don’t assume motives, especially if they’re negative assumptions; don’t blame people for disagreeing with you; and don’t make a bad situation worse by acting immaturely. (Oh, and if you don’t want to continue being talked about, don’t threaten a valuable blogger who’s a great resource and a friend to opinion-makers.)
To top this all off, next on my review list was looking at the DMP titles they kindly sent me. Getting a box filled with a company’s whole line is astounding, overwhelming, and guilt-producing. I’ll do my best to forget all this by then.