Superheroes postsThursday August 15, 2013
Where Alyssa Rosenberg Goes Wrong on Superhero Sexism
The female Avengers via FanArtExhibit. Missing: Black Widow as a man.
This article by Alyssa Rosenberg, “Legendary Comics Creators Dismiss Sexism Critiques,” in which she confronted comic book creators Michael Kantor, Todd McFarlane, Len Wein and Gerry Conway about sexism in the industry, made the rounds among geeks last week.
Here's McFarlane's response to the charge of sexism within comic books:
As much as we stereotype the women, we do it with the guys. The guys are all good looking, not too many ugly superheroes. They’ve all got their hair gelled back. They have got perfect pecs on them. They have no hair on their chest. I mean, they are Ryan Gosling on steroids. Right? They are all beautiful. So we actually stereotype and do it to both sexes. We just happen to show a little more skin when we get to the ladies.
Here's Rosenberg's written response to that response:
It’s an ancient canard that male heroes are as idealized as women, an idea that ignores their costumes, the difference between a fantasy of power you want to inhabit and sexual ability you want to take advantage of, and the contrast between admiring what someone can do with their body, and what you can do to theirs.
It's a smart-enough response if a bit dismissive of the effect comic books and superheroes have on boys. Plus it's neither a canard nor ancient.
It also ignores the way power tends to be conveyed in our culture. For men, it's still about what you do; for women it's still about how you look. This has been changing during my lifetime, and unfortunately toward greater shallowness for both genders. The 1970s feminist critique of the objectification of women hasn't led to women being less objectified, but it has created more objectification of men in terms of their looks. (The idea that men were never objectified is incorrect. They were objectified by what they did, and how much they earned. That hasn't gone away.)
What's the endgame in the argument? That's what I'm curious about. Is Rosenberg suggesting that better female superheroes will create greater female readership? Or will empower that female readership? As it's done all these years with boys? Except, right, it hasn't empowered shit, has it? There's no correlation between reading fantasies of superhuman powers and being empowered in the real world. Judging from a typical comic convention, you might say it's the opposite. You might even say girls are better off without this particular superpowered fantasy to contend with.
You want empowerment? Here. Figuring out what's missing in a particular medium is, yes, a sign that there's something wrong with that medium. But if the medium is thriving, and has the attention of the marketplace, it's also a glorious opportunity.
Further reading on the subject: a review of the documentary “Women Women! The Untold Story of American Heroines.”
Woody Allen's 'Wolverine'
My friend Claudine alerted me to this: “Wolverine” as envisioned by Woody Allen. It gets better after the first 50 seconds. My favorite is the stuff with Cyclops in the Tony Roberts role:
My opening monologue for this movie:
There's an old joke. Two mutants are at a Catskills mountain resort, and one of 'em says: “Boy, the food at this place is terrible.” And the other one says, “We are the future, Charles, not them. They no longer matter,” and incinerates the place.
Well, that's essentially how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and, you know, incineration. Plus bad food.
The other important joke for me is one that's, uh, usually attributed to Groucho Marx, but I think it appears originally in Freud's “Wit and Its Relation to the Unconscious.” And it goes like this. I'm paraphrasing: “I would never join a club that would have someone like me for a member.”
That's the key joke of my adult life in terms of my relationships with women. Not to mention the X-Men.
You know, lately the strangest things have been going through my mind, because I just turned 170, and I guess I'm going through a “I’m never gonna die” crisis or something. I, uh ... and I'm not worried about aging. I'm not one of those characters, you know. I mean, I know I’m not going to be one of those balding virile types in the wheelchair, or the distinguished grey who can bend metal with his mind, or even one of those guys who wanders into a cafeteria with a tongue like a toad raving about socialism.
Jean Grey and I broke up. OK, I killed her, but only because she was becoming so powerful she was destroying the fabric of the universe. But I keep sifting the pieces of the relationship through my mind and examining my life and trying to figure out where did the screw-up come. I mean, a year ago we were ... in love.
Why It Took Forever to Make Good Superhero Movies
But once again, [Stan Lee] would learn, Marvel's fate lay in the hands of people who knew nothing about comic books. Out in Los Angeles, as soon as the sale was made, [New World Pictures' Robert] Rehme had summoned his vice president of marketing and proudly told him, “We just bought Superman!”
The vice president was perplexed. Warner Bros. was selling DC Comics?
“No, no, no—we bought Marvel!” said Rehme.
“No, Bob,” the vice president corrected him. “We bought Spider-Man.”
Rehme raced out of his office. “Holy shit,” he said. “We gotta stop this. Cannon has the Spider-Man movie!”
-- from Sean Howe's book, “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story,” pg. 295.
I suppose we should be grateful that Cannon Films, which produced “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” and the 1992 “Captain America” movie, as well as “Death Wish II,” “III” and “IV” and “Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo,” never did make that Spider-Man movie. Although, per below, they were obviously doing more than thinking about it.
On the other hand, just imagine what a disaster it could have been. Such a gloriously awful disaster.
Disaster averted. Photo courtesy of Original Vid Junkie blogspot.
Don't forget to rank your favorite (and least-favorite) superhero movies.
Zack Snyder Announces 'Man of Steel 2' Will Include Batman
At the San Diego Comic-Con today, Zack Snyder, director of “Man of Steel,” “Sucker Punch,” “Watchmen,” and “300,” announced that the sequel to “Man of Steel,” which I thought might be up in the air (no pun intended), given that, after its opening weekend, it hasn't exactly set the world on fire, will include the Batman. (Actor playing Batman to be determined.)
Initial thought: Cool! Lead-up to a Justice League of America movie, right?
Second thought: Smart! It'll get more people to see a Superman movie.
Third thought: Wait, how are they going to do this? Won't it be like ... this?
And Then Came ... Electro!
I'm a bit superheroed out these days (it feels like “The Amazing Spider-Man,” starring Andrew Garfield, was released last week rather than last year) but admit that this photo from the sequel to the reboot, with Spidey getting a less gossamer-like suit, and Jamie Foxx elecrtified as the villain Electro, looks pretty good.
Although what's with the dog collar? Is Electro a fetishist?
Scheduled release date: May 2, 2014. I believe it's a Friday.