Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Huh, huh huh....Boooooobies!

You know what I love about the internet? I can always find something idiotic on it to laugh about.

For the past few weeks, my websearches have all been along the lines of “Drawing tutorial”, “Figure drawing”, “Comic art drawing”…well, you get the picture.

Well, every so often that combination will throw up something interesting. I wish I’d saved the link, but one match led me to a 5000 word rant by a very irate woman on the way women are portrayed in comic books.

Now, at first, I thought this would be the usual feminist argument. However, comic books, cartoons and even movies today feature just as many strong female characters as they do men. Certainly for every superhero, there’s a superheroine. Batgirl, Supergirl, Wonder-Woman, Electra, Rogue, Storm, Black Cat…I could go on, but I won’t.

Also, it’s no longer the case where a female superhero is simply the male superhero’s sidekick. If Catwoman isn’t the epitome of the strong, independent female character, I don’t know who is.

However, that’s not what this rant was about. It was about the way these women where drawn and the costumes they wear.

Now, this is a point I’m not really going to try to disprove. If today’s comic books were real life events, your average super heroine’s biggest enemy isn’t the bad-guy. It would be chronic back problems from the gigantic boobs they have and catching pneumonia from the three postage-stamp sized costume they’re wearing.

However, I don’t see how anyone can complain about a comic book not accurately or realistically representing real life. I mean, a story about a woman who can block bullets with her wrists and has a magical lariat that forces anyone tied up in it to tell the truth…when you’re faced with that, how can you say “No self respecting woman would go outside dressed like that!” with a straight face?

Of course, I could fire back with the way men a represented. Batman and Superman both have more abdominal muscles than three men, never mind just one. They have bodies that can only be attained with major over-training and a long, intensive course of anabolic steroids. In fact, many comic book men have muscle size and definition that’s simply impossible to attain in real life. As for the costumes, Plenty of male superheroes walk (or fly) around in a skin-tight spandex costumes.

The truth is that comics are meant to be over the top and border on caricature. It’s the whole point…and unfortunately for the feminists out there, whereas this means men who are eight feet tall with 56 inch biceps, this means women with triple F, gravity defying boobs...who fight crime in a thong.

The other big thing to take into account is that the comic book industry is primarily composed of men. When a guy is designing a new female character, of course she’s going to be as sexy as possible. When a comic book designer is creating a female character, he basically has the opportunity to design his own ‘perfect’ woman…and it just so happens that the laws of gravity don’t need to apply!

You’ve also got to think of the actual creative process here. If you sit a group of guys together and say “Ok, guys…we need to create a new super heroine.” What do you expect them to say?

“I know fellas! Let’s put her in a parka, give her a bit of a mustache, a hare-lip and she can have a nice gut that hangs over her slacks!”

“It’s missing something.”

“A lazy eye?”


No, not going to happen.

Not wanting to get too psychological here, but superheroes are born from our culture. They’re a way of holding a mirror up to ourselves, getting rid of everything we don’t like and amplifying everything we do.

Look at Superman. He’s got every attribute associated with manliness there is. He’s tall, strong, good looking and fights for “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” He’s also completely selfless and always puts others’ wellbeing before his own. The kind of man who would jump in the way of a bullet, even without super-powers, to save a complete stranger. The ultimate protector.

You can look at comics and dismiss them as stupid fanciful stories, but they’re very strongly based on our culture’s mythological and archetypical stories. The ultimate pure hero fighting against pure evil.

Now answer me this. Would Superman be half as popular if he was bald, had a beer gut sticking out ahead of him, was missing a few teeth and had a face like bulldog licking piss off a nettle?

No, he wouldn’t.

Let’s make him even more realistic. While under the guise of Clark Kent, someone really pisses him off…then the guy who pissed him off falls off a building, and Superman just watches him splat. Someone fires a nuke at another country, and Superman doesn’t stop it, because why should he? He’s never even been there. He doesn’t owe those people anything!

What if he walked around and used his ‘celebrity’ to get free stuff, and when someone doesn’t give him a table at that exclusive restaurant, he throws a strop and throws the entire restaurant into the sun?

That’s how your average person would act if they had superman’s powers. When you’ve got ultimate power, and no one can stop you doing anything you want, rules and laws no longer apply to you.

So what’s all this got to do with comic book females?

As a society, we equate beauty with good and ugliness with evil. That’s why you never see a female superhero with a less than perfect body or without a costume that shows it off.

At the end of the day, the whole point of comic books and cartoons is that they’re pure fantasy. Someone has created a world where the good guys always win in the end, and if you ever find yourself in real trouble a man in a red cape with a big ‘S’ on his chest will swoop out of the sky to save you at the last moment. Is there any wonder that in a male-created fantasy world all the women have amazing, not-possible-in-real-life bodies and don’t wear very much?

However, the thing I find the funniest about this is the women who complain about this stuff try to stop it by trying to get existing comic books taken from the shelves. My point is that there are plenty of very talented female artists out there, so create your own comic book or cartoon. It’s the beauty of art that anyone can create a world and populate it as they see fit.

So create a comic book with an over-weight heroine who wears sensible shoes and costume that’s actually practical and not just there to highlight certain ‘features’.

…just don’t expect it to sell.

1 comment:

rayray said...

I like boobies