Wednesday, January 09, 2008
"Holy Hot Flash, Batman!"
If the point of this recent article in Newsweek on "Wonder Woman" & women in comics was to reassure me about the current place of females both in terms of readership & within the mainstream comics industry, it didn't do a particularly great job. Consider me underwhelmed.
If most of DC's readers are indeed "college-aged men who are looking for high adventure," part of that is a lack of out-of-the-box thinking & laziness. Women and girls enjoy tales of adventure as well. You can't make a comic book that appeals to a girl who likes "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Harry Potter," "Firefly," and your own "Smallville?" Then you've failed. There are hundreds of thousands of females out there that are rabid fans of this adventure/fantasy stuff in other media or in manga. I refuse to believe that the superhero genre by itself only attracts male fans. It's the presentation, the characters, and the story.
And the title of the article: "Holy Hot Flash, Batman!" Wow. Just wow.
And thank God the article writer insists that that we do't have to "worry" about there being a "feminist agenda" in the latest Gail Simone-penned "Wonder Woman," or having WW's sexiness "taken away." I mean, that's the most important issue in all of this:
"In other words, that bustier is here to stay," the article's author writes as her last sentence, summing it all up for us.
Well thank God for that. That was exactly what I was worrying about.
I don't fault Gail Simone for this at all; I just don't like the way the article was shaped by Newsweek's writer. It's an article supposedly written about women's growing empowerment in comics and ends up completely undermining it. The article begins and ends about WW's underwear.
Posted by Verge at 10:02 AM
Labels: women in comics, wonder woman
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Go Hillz in New Hampshire! We won!ReplyDelete
Ha, sorry, but yay!
And the first comment I read below the article was a recommendation for people to read the oh-so-tasteful Anita Blake comics.ReplyDelete
Truly, you've come a long way, baby.
Everytime I hear people talk about feminism like it is going to ruin things...it makes my hackles rise. I overhear a fair ammount of it, equally from men & women. The idea that, you know, the feminist agenda is out to ruin your fun. Hey guys! NEWS FLASH. It goes vice versa. It is the anti-feminist agenda that wants to put women in burqas; it is the anti-feminist agenda who wants to ruin sex. Okay?ReplyDelete
Newsweek, dumbing it down as usual. I can't wait for their next article on "Gangsta rap".ReplyDelete
Did you even read the article? I feel that the way you selectively picked out quotes severely misconstrued the point that the writer was trying to make.ReplyDelete
The author was saying that women creators and strong female characters are gaining greater visibility in comics, slowly changing the traditional paradigm of comics as a boy's club. I know a lot of people would like to think that there is complete gender parity in terms of sales figures, but the reality of the situation is that there isn't. The article opens and closes with a humorous anecdote about what is generally recognized as “the most common superpower", but the rest of it is a solid look at the growing presence of women in the comics industry. Emphasis on growing.
However, you, for whatever reason, chose to misconstrue it as an attack on women in comics and how the mainstream media doesn’t “get it”.
Take this quote for instance:
"Simone believes that despite being written by a man for most of her life, Wonder Woman has always been a strong female character, and the writer doesn't plan to insert a feminist agenda to the strip or tone down the superhero's overt sexiness."
Sounds like a paraphrase of Simone, right?
Here's how you presented it to your readers:
And thank God the article writer insists that that we don't have to "worry" about there being a "feminist agenda" in the latest Gail Simone-penned "Wonder Woman," or having WW's sexiness "taken away." I mean, that's the most important issue in all of this"
I’m not trying to be a troll, but I seriously think you did your readership a disservice with your selective use of quotes and misconstrual of authorial intent.
Also, what's up with the media going nutbars about Gail Simone being the first female writer on Wonder Woman?ReplyDelete
Did Jodi Picoult not count?
""Simone believes that despite being written by a man for most of her life, Wonder Woman has always been a strong female character, and the writer doesn't plan to insert a feminist agenda to the strip or tone down the superhero's overt sexiness."ReplyDelete
Adam, I tried not to quote that line in my blog exactly because I *didn't* want to "go there" and get into more controversy.
I'm tired of hearing how there are no plans to "insert a feminist agenda" in Wonder Woman or to "sex her down." Why is that even an issue other than to "reassure" the stated "college guy looking for adventure" demographic?
This article starts with Jodi Picoult depicted as the woman trying to "sex" WW down by interfering with her outfit. The article ends with Gail Simone depicted as the woman assuring that WW will *not* be sexed down. Why are these things important? Why are these things mentioned at all? Why is the last line in this article about WW's damned bustier?
I agree with Mordicai that the assumption that college-age men *need* to be reassured that a book starring female characters isn't "anti-men" is ridiculous. Simone's writing can stand on its own, it isn't about an agenda, it's just about a talented writer writing a damn comic book.
It's like when Batwoman first hit the mainstream media and she kept being described in the PR as a "lipstick" lesbian. Just why was that little distinction important? What demographic was that distinction for?
Similarly, why should I care that WW is going to keep her "eye-popping" sexiness and her revealing outfit? Simple answer -- I don't, and that article may have been about women in comics but it actually wasn't written with female readers in mind.
That's not to mention the god-awful title that has *no* defense but is like some horrible love-child spawned between bad women puns and a variation of the same "Camp Batman" references that journalists have been using since 1966.
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
J., I think they mean that Simone is the first female, regular, non-fill-in writer for Wonder Woman.ReplyDelete
The sad thing is of course that rather similar articles about the "shifting paradigm" could have been (and maybe were) written in the 1980s. Back then there was a time when you had at least three very good female writers (Ann Nocenti, Louise Simonson and Jo Duffy) simultaneously and very competently writing mainstream titles for Marvel. Looking at the January 2008 Marvel Previews I don't seem to be able to find a single one (not counting the Anita Blake etc. stuff).ReplyDelete
But what the hey, it's just comics, relax everybody! (Having heard that line so often re. One More Day, I think it's time it should be used as the answer to everything).
"I'm tired of hearing how there are no plans to "insert a feminist agenda" in Wonder Woman or to "sex her down." Why is that even an issue other than to "reassure" the stated "college guy looking for adventure" demographic?"ReplyDelete
I think that the need for reassurance is legitimate. Foisting an ideology on the reader--specifically one that raises as many uncomfortable feelings as feminism does (because let's be real, the disadvantaged position of women in current society is an uncomfortable truth that many people would rather not face)--makes a consumer looking for an escapist adventure enjoy the story less, and, as a result, buy less books. I've played D&D games where one of the players' political views was ruining the fun of our escapist fantasy.
"This article starts with Jodi Picoult depicted as the woman trying to "sex" WW down by interfering with her outfit. The article ends with Gail Simone depicted as the woman assuring that WW will *not* be sexed down. Why are these things important? Why are these things mentioned at all? Why is the last line in this article about WW's damned bustier?"
Because when non-comic book readers think "women in comic books" they think "gratuitous cleavage." Wonder woman's bustier is a way of giving context. The article opens with an example of "the traditional paradigm" where women creators having to subvert the will of DC editors to get their point across. Look at the first line of the second paragraph:
"But now women are finally breaking into the boys' comics club."
i.e. The paradigm for women in comics is changing.
The last line, beyond being an effective way of "wrapping up" the article in typical magazine fashion, points out that there's still a ways to go, which is perfectly true.
Though yes, the title sucks.
If we're honest, Wonder Woman is more noted for her visibility in popular culture than her book's stories. She's more obviously camp than her male counterparts (whether by accident or design) and her comic has never really sold that well - would actually giving her a clear feminist agenda harm the series in any long-term way?ReplyDelete
My niece loves Marvel's Mary Jane trades. Can barely read them just now, but she adores them nonetheless. I'm not sure how this snippet helps the debate any, but I thought I'd throw it in there before going back to sleep.
I buy Wonder Woman specificaly for her giant rack. I buy Thor for the exact same reason, go figure.ReplyDelete
"I buy Wonder Woman specificaly for her giant rack."ReplyDelete
And back in the 80s, I used to buy Wonder Woman from a giant rack. Hey, kids! Comics! *sigh* Memories...
...or in keeping, should it be Mammaries?
Adam-- I'm totally the guy who points out that the treatment of orcs & goblins in dnd is pretty much a blind for racism & genocide. Then again, I think that it makes for a more complex expression of the game, if after killing the "orcs" (not-white people) you come across the children & non-combatants huddling in their village. which you just invaded. to loot tombs.ReplyDelete
i guess my dnd game is weird?
This is what happens.ReplyDelete
It's just agenda journalism, I've been through it a couple times.
The reporter, a very nice woman seemingly, called and we spoke for over a half an hour, talking in-depth about why I love Wonder Woman, and what makes her so inspiring.
She asks about the costume (a very different thing from asking about the bustier) and I said something to the effect of, the whole IDEA of Wonder Woman is that when she walks in the room, things are going to happen, she's going to start things, and I think a costume with stars and golden eagles is just appropriate for that. She should make your eyes pop out of your head.
Not an exact quote, but that's the point I was making, that she's got that Elvis and Princess Diana (the real one that died, I mean) rolled together, that kind of, BANG, the moment she enters the room. It had nothing to do with her rack or the lack of covering thereof.
As for the 'no feminist agenda,' bleah, this just grates on me. You can't WRITE Wonder Woman without this element. I don't remember exactly what we were talking about or if she actually got that quote from me in some other context, but it's irritating (if not surprising) that this is the message she chose to take from a half hour of raving about Wonder Woman and her message of inspiration.
I've gone on some at length that I think some bad superhero writing has taken place for good reasons, because the writer wanted the characters to BE the message, rather than CARRY the message. I believe that's why many of the attempts to make 'minority' heroes or gay heroes or whatever suck so badly, despite good intentions.
Wonder Woman is about MORE than feminism, but to say that that's not a part of what makes her fantastic is just silly.
I did an interview about Women In Refrigerators once, where I spoke the WHOLE TIME about the good things in comics, not what the reporter wanted at all, so he just made up an article and called the readership 'pigs.'
Now I always try to do these things by Email, IM, or on video or podcast so I can have a record of what I actually said in case this happens.
I'm sure the writer here meant well, but what an unfortunate result this became.
I've done a TON of pr for Wonder Woman lately (with the idea of also promoting comics, and women in comics), dozens of interviews for the net, tv, radio, and newspapers, and this was probably my least favorite. Most of the articles have been pretty good to really good. The reporters keep telling me that they KNOW something big is happening with comics all of a sudden.
This one was unfortunate, and it sorta makes me EXTRA sad that it was written by a woman, somehow.