The situation regarding DC Entertainment and a statue of a little boy who tragically lost his life is a difficult one. Much more difficult than I see anyone giving credit to on fansites or in the comics “media.”
A little context: At the time, I was working in Toronto at a news radio station, so I was front and center for the coverage of this horrible story and the subsequent trial of those who perpetrated it.
Jeffrey Baldwin was a 5-year old boy who was abused and starved to death by the people who should have cared for him the most, his Grandparents. At the time of his death, Jeffrey weighed a little more than a baby and had spent most of his life locked in a room strewn with filth and human waste. Social Services failed Jeffrey (and his sister who went through similar conditions) in one of the worst events I had to cover.
That is the story here.
But what I see happening all over the internet is exactly why DC was right to decline to let Superman’s logo be used in a statue in tribute to Jeffrey. The story has become about DC and not about a little boy who’s life was cut short.
If there was a small statue erected of a little boy with a Superman outfit on, most people who saw it would think “look at that statue of Superboy.” That doesn’t pay tribute to Jeffrey. That makes the story about something it’s not and for that reason alone, I can understand the decision that was made by DC Entertainment.
Even the artist and the gentleman who commissioned the statue, Ottawa resident Todd Boyce, seem to understand this, commenting “To be fair to DC, I don’t think they wanted to say no. I think they gave it serious thought.”
But what I see all over the internet, especially in the comics “media,” are stories and click-bait headlines that vilify DC with only a paragraph’s mention of Jeffrey.
I get it. I understand that it seems like an easy thing, to pay tribute to a little boy. And yes, DC could have handled this better at the PR level. But is that what should really be happening here? Taking the story about the tragic death of a 5-year old and turning it into a commentary on a corporation’s PR?
I’m sure there are people shaking their fists at screens and saying that I don’t get it and that’s fine, no one has to agree with me. But, I saw what happened to this kid and the thing that should be remember, the ONLY thing that should be remembered is that he was innocent and those meant to love and care for him failed him miserably.
In my opinion, the Superman-stylized “J” that will adorn the statue is a far better tribute to Jeffery because it’s about Jeffery and not a fictional character, or a corporate handling of said character. I’ll still feel that way when I visit the memorial once it is erected and I’ll still feel that way every time I think about what Jeffery went through.
Because that’s the story.