The dangerous presumptions of online debate On a recent episode of The Senate Floor, host and all around rapscalion Tristan Riddell voiced his displeasure with people who needed to “educate themselves” as they accused DC of stealing inspiration from Marvel by introducing Deathstroke to the DC film universe. It seems some random scamps commented that the use of “Deathstroke” was inspired by the success of “Deadpool.” Apparently several made it clear that they did so without knowing that the latter was created as a spoofing homage to the former.
Tristan isn't the only one I've heard make this complaint, but I wanted to address it in this forum we've built for you, the listeners. In short, I have an issue with this line of argument.
I don't like it.
Yes, it's entirely possible that a lot of people who made the comment deriding DC/WB/Affleck don't know that “Deathstroke/Slade Wilson” inadvertantly begat “Deadpool/Wade Wilson.” To presume that everyone making a comment on anything possesses the precise same amount of comics character knowledge places an unfair weight on the conversation. You are immediately proceeding from the perspective that everyone is in the same age range, has read comics for as long (or at all), and is familiar with the same level of ephemera.
Just to show I'm not speaking from a lack of understanding, I once used my knowledge as an “elder statesman” of Star Wars lore to browbeat other fans who didn't know certain things (or bought into the Lucasfilm propaganda) and so make erroneous assumptions. I very slowly came to realize that it's your duty as a fan to share your knowledge, not break someone down for gaps in theirs.
Honestly, it exposes a problem that poisons almost all online debate. No one wants to give the benefit of the doubt anymore. It's like in Reservoir Dogs when Joe Cabot reveals why he won't let them pick their own names - they all want to be “Mr. Black” and since nobody knows anybody, nobody wants to back down.
Regarding this debate, if it's obvious someone doesn't know the comic history, I'd suggest politely educating them instead of bemoaning and berating. They're not missing this little history lesson in color panels on purpose, and it's not willful ignorance.
As a parting point, their argument isn't necessarily invalid, either, just because they don't know their comic book history. It's not beyond belief that DC brass saw the response to Deadpool, and want to take an opportunity to reveal their darker version of what is, in essence, the “same” character. That sameness is by your own admission, too - if “Deadpool” came from “Deathstroke,” then DC is aware of that as well.
So let's all take a breath, share our knowledge and stop caring if some stranger on the internet doesn't know something.