So remember how DC Comics suggested that budding artists submit their best rendering of Harley Quinn in a naked suicide attempt? Right before Suicide Prevention Week? Which pretty much rankled the entire Internet? Yeah, they’re sorry about that now.
In a statement to HuffPo, a rep from DC said, “The purpose of the talent search was to allow new artists an opportunity to draw a single page of a 20-page story. True to the nature of the character, the entire story is cartoony and over-the-top in tone, as Harley Quinn breaks the 4th Wall and satirizes the very scenes in which she appears in. DC Entertainment sincerely apologizes to anyone who may have found the page synopsis offensive and for not clearly providing the entire context of the scene within the full scope of the story.”
DC writer Jimmy Palmiotti also clarified the original request, absolving DC of their part in the mayhem, saying, “It was supposed to be a dream sequence with Amanda and I talking to Harley and giving her a hard time. I should have also mentioned we were thinking a Mad Magazine /Looney Tunes approach was what we were looking for.”
But as Jill Pantozzi points out on The Mary Sue, the issue isn’t just that DC and its writers launched a contest that was deemed insensitive, sexualized suicide, and objectified a mentally unstable character. It’s that DC et al didn’t consider the consequences of what they were putting out there. As Pantozzi puts it, “[It’s] not the actual script or intended depiction but the continuing lack of awareness by not just DC, but entertainment sources in general, when it comes to spotting potential issues before putting something out to the masses. While those at the company clearly understood what the creators were going for, no one suggested it might be seen any other way, and that’s a problem.”
Maybe it’s time to start thinking beyond the traditional confines of their inkwells and start telling different stories about their female characters. Sexualixing suicide isn’t entertainment; it’s sensationalist and tacky.