It’s been a rough year or so on the internet for two titans of entertainment, WWE and Marvel comics. In both cases the temperature of a lot of takes has gone up and up while the logic of said takes has plummented. It’s at the point now where people are posting pictures of empty arenas an hour before the show even started as proof of WWE failing, and are pointing at sales numbers of Marvel’s Secret Empire compared to previous events with little no context to justify their ‘Marvel FAIL!!!!!!’ narratives. And the number one culprit behind both, in the minds of these people, is ‘bad booking’ for WWE and ‘bad writing’ for Marvel. But what exactly does that even mean?
Bad booking is a common complaint on the internet about WWE. To hear it from some people bad booking is the cause for everything from declining ratings to lower attendance (even though TV ratings are down for everything even the NFL and attendance at live WWE events has been down for years). Bad booking is why this guy or that woman isn’t getting over, even if the reactions from the crowd and their merchandise sales say otherwise. Bad booking is why that pay per view sucked, even though the overall match quality is better than maybe it ever has been. Bad booking is a nice, vague, catch all that can be uttered and co-signed without having to get very specific. Of course when you drill down with one of the people shouting it, you usually get one of the following specific complaints:
- They don’t like who the current champs and/or main eventers are
- They don’t like where their personal favorites are on the card
- They think wrestler X should win more, while wrestler Y shouldn’t be getting the push that they get
Behold, the original sin of the Bad Booking! crowd
And those things often have very little to do with the match or even storyline quality. It’s wrestling; there are always going to be some dopey storylines, bad characters, bad matches, and bad finishes. But while who gets put in what match does not automatically make a match or storyline bad, a lot of people start there and trash everything else in it’s wake. There’s a huge difference between wanting different people in certain matches and whether or not the matches you are getting are any good. It’s ok to want different people in different spots but to say that not putting them there is bad booking is just garden variety internet hot takery. Especially if your commentary is based off of something you read somewhere or heard on some dopey podcast and not you actually watching it.
Which brings us to Secret Empire. For over a year there has been a never ending stream of people mad on the internet about how Marvel’s writing has been terrible and that’s why sales numbers aren’t what they used to be (even though nobody’s sales are what they used to be in that industry). Bad writing is another vague catch all that ignores the fact that Marvel puts out dozens of books with different creative teams behind them; the likelihood that all of those teams are bad is pretty small if not zero. But like with the WWE, when you force people to get specific, you usually get one of a few beefs:
- ‘Forced diversity’
- ‘SJW crap’
The first two need their own series of pieces; if you read my stuff here you’ve already seen a few (go read them again! And share them! I need clicks!). HydraCap, if you don’t follow this stuff too closely, is the evil incarnation of Captain America that has existed for the last year and a half. Turning Steve Rogers evil and making him the face of Hydra, has been a bridge too far for a lot of people. And by too far I mean that they didn’t bother to even read any of the stories involving him this whole time but haven’t refrained from getting mad on the internet about it. It’s gotten pretty damn easy to tell when someone has read the actual stories or not when you read some of these takes; usually the hotter the take the less likely they read the story or got the point of it if they did.
Now as with wrestling there are bad stories, good stories with bad endings, bad character depictions, you name it. But which character gets to shine in which story isn’t some objective criteria for judging whether or not that story is any good. Steve Rogers being the villain does not make his comic bad, let alone the entire Marvel comic universe. That alone doesn’t make Secret Empire a good or bad story, nor does making the real Captain America of the time (Sam Wilson) the hero instead of Steve. Way too many have crapped on a year and a half of good storytelling just because they didn’t like who was positioned as the hero and the villain in that story. Which makes them a lot of like wrestling fans who go all caps on Twitter about bad booking but in reality still haven’t gotten over Roman Reigns winning the 2015 Royal Rumble instead of Daniel Bryan, and have sworn off two years of good matches with Reigns in the main event out of spite. You didn’t get what you wanted so now you gotta crap on everything.
Look people, you don’t always get what you want. Your favorite superhero isn’t always going to be the white knight and your favorite wrestler isn’t always going to be in the main event. That doesn’t make the stories or matches bad. Sam Wilson’s run as Captain America while Steve Rogers was doing his Hollywood Hogan turn was some damn good storytelling if you actually bothered to read it, just like Roman Reigns matches over the past two and half years have been really good if you actually watched them without blinders on. The people who run Marvel and WWE know what they’re doing a lot more than you and I do. That doesn’t mean you’re going to like everything they do, and trust me I don’t, but that sill gives no credence to whatever fact free hot takery you’re looking to spew or co-sign.