Thursday, November 30, 2017

Karen Page, Ace Reporter

Forget the aliens, the superheroes, or the magic....the most unrealistic thing in the Marvel TV universe is Karen Page's entire journalism career.  Here's the brief summary of her arc, over the two Daredevil seasons, the Defenders season, and the first season of The Punisher (spoilers ahead).

* is helping Ben Urich, veteran reporter for the New York Bulletin, expose the Kingpin's corruption.  This leads to Urich being murdered by the Kingpin.

* Karen shows up at the Bulletin offices in connection with the Punisher's defense, and the editor (who I'll just refer to as Poor Man's Richard Schiff) lets her check out some archival material, out of sympathy for her friendship with Urich.

* Karen uncovers this entire conspiracy related to Punisher's military background, leading to some patronizing "work the story" scenes between she and Poor Man's Richard Schiff as he decides to just let her write this big expose.  It occurs to me at this point that PMRS never made any promises about actually publishing it, so he could've just walked away entirely had this virtual stranger delivered an explosive and potentially libelous story that would've gotten the Bulletin shut down.  Still, the fact that PMRS allows Karen seemingly free reign to work in the Bulletin's bullpen (even to the point of letting her use Urich's giant and somehow-still-unoccupied old office) still seems far-fetched.  In just about every newspaper office I've ever been in, from top papers to student journalism, the only people with actual private offices are the editors --- certainly not reporters, and certainly not amateurs that literally just walked in off the street.

* Anyway, Karen ends up publishing her big profile of Frank Castle and the conspiracy surrounding his actions, and it earns her a job at the Bulletin.  Again, I can't tell you how many hoops the paper would have to jump through to fact-check and properly confirm a story like this, given the content and the fact that Castle is basically the most wanted man in New York at this point.  The best reporter in the world could've submitted this thing and it would've taken weeks or even months before it ran.  That's just how the business works.  It's not a, "wow, you've got some chops, kid, you're instantly our top reporter!" situation here.

Oh, plus there's also the small situation that Karen was one of Castle's defense attorneys.  You would've thought that would've been a giant red flag in and of itself to PMRS.  Even if Karen comes to the paper with (valid) information about Castle being set up, you assign an actual reporter to work with her, not just let her write it herself.

* Karen also gets to keep Urich's old office.  This may seem like a minor thing I'm harping about, but anyone who has worked in an office environment knows that giving 'the big office' to a total newcomer would raise untold hell.

* And then in the Defenders and Punisher series, Karen is just a straight-up reporter now, cracking big stories on the reg.  Now, it's not like I have a journalism degree myself; in fact, maybe only half the journalists I know have actual degrees in the field.  Even still, for actual newspaper employees, there's a natural learning curve where a new reporter would have to prove themselves capable of delivering bigger assignments.  For a random freelancer, there's even more of a seasoning period as the paper has to essentially research and fact-check the freelancer as much as they research and fact-check their story (again, this is where Karen being's Castle's lawyer should've shut the whole thing down from step one).

It sounds ridiculous when spelled out like this, though there is an actual scene in the Punisher series where Agent Madani meets with Karen and says something like, "you've been through a lot since you came to New York," and then relates all of the crazy stuff that the character has been through in, like, three years' time.  It was almost a fourth-wall breaking moment, really, when you break down just how unrealistic everything is that happens to all of these characters, not just Karen.

To be clear, I like Deborah Ann Woll as an actress quite a bit, and she goes a very good job of elevating her character into an actual person, despite all of the eyebrow-raising details of Karen Page's arc.  But as a journalist, I must raise some objections!  Sure, the blind uber-athlete with radar senses, the ninjas, the super-strong detective, the guy with steel-hard skin, the billionaire ninja with the energy punch.....that I can buy.  But a far-fetched portrayal of a reporter getting a job?  Now you've gone too far, Marvel!  What, are we do believe this is some kind of magic xylophone?!

Also, a newspaper that's actually hiring?  Hmmm....

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