Sunday, May 27, 2007

Giving up on women

There is a lot of furore about this object, a nice and pleasent objectification of Mary Jane for the purpose of, well money. And, indeed, it has earned a lot of money has been made from it- there will always be people willing to buy this kind of thing, sadly enough.

But this is hardly the point. Other than noticing the wrongness, it doesn't really make financial sense. Websnark, a blog I enjoy, talks about devaluing the brand, which is pretty good, but I think that Marvel are doing something bigger than misunderstanding their own brand. They are giving up on women. After all, comics have traditionally always been a largely male enterprise, and so they take it to the extreme. You will have cover after cover of lurid, revealing poses of women- the term cheescake is usually used- which will sell. But it limits your market. I admit, when I was a teenager this sort of thing would have attracted me- of course it would. But ultimately it embarrases me. I don't want anyone to know that I'm reading something with a picture of this half naked woman on the front. Sometimes it can happen when the content inside is much tamer, because hey, breasts sell! This is horribly shortsighted.

Ultimately, if theres one thing that super hero films can show, is that women CAN enjoy them. I'm thinking spiderman here, which for all it's faults tells an interesting stories. It's not just about a guy fighting evil with super powers, it's also about a woman, Mary Jane, and their romance. For the most part (she does get kidnapped THREE times), she is a very strong character- I spoil the plot somewhat here- in spiderman 2 it is her that tells Peter to let her decide whether she wants to risk having a relationship with him, and in the third film she is rarely subordinate to Peter- she calls him on his behaviour in a way that actually felt quite real.

So imagine said female wants to buy some spidermen comics, and wonders into a comic store... and gets confronted with that, or any other of the hundreds of objectifications Marvel have done to make a cheap buck. Result? Instant repulsion. It's sad. Stories should sell themselves, they shouldn't need that visceral attraction thing. It's not particularly hard for anyone to obtain pictures of naked people if they are desperate for cheap thrills, and even if it wasn't comic books simply shouldn't be about that kind of thrill. They should be about telling stories, that and that alone. It's pathetic pandering, and it needs to stop.


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