Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's No Wonder, Woman!

It's No Wonder, Woman!

Oh my goddess! It's hard to believe DC thought they could get away with re-imagining Wonder Woman by a man?!? Besides, what's the revolutionary 2010 new look of Wonder Woman? Pants. We'll throw the Third wavers a bone by giving her pants, but them bomb ass titties stay!

The new writer J. Michael Straczynski, explains the addition of pants to the costume as such.
“Considering how superheroes operate, you want freedom to move and move quickly,” Gunn said. “Capes and cloaks can be easily removed if they get caught on something. Gowns and dresses, not so much. The more form-fitting, the better. So tight pants or skinny jeans, sure. I think Wonder Woman could work a pant.”
I trust the man to write women well. I trust him more than I trust Joss Whedon, and I trust Joss Whedon quite a bit. You know, creator of such deep characters as "Hot country engineer chick", "classy romantically complicated prostitute babe", and "Sardonic, bitchy femme fatale who hides secret vulnerability" Which is literally five or six separate characters.

HI EVERYONE, I'M JOSS WHEDON! I want my female characters to be empowering so I literally give them superpowers and occasionally make them robots. Why does nobody watch my showssss?!??! As a man I feel very qualified to decide what is and isn't feminist.

But back tot he costume here. I'm not entirely sure that's really all that's going on here. I mean, what about the iconic costume and all that history now thrown away? Well, Let's see what my favorite feminist website has to say about this situation
It's the end of an era. At 69 years old, Wonder Woman has decided to put on some pants. But actually, the new duds are not an act of self-determination by the woman (formerly) in red, white and blue.

According to the New York Times, the new head writer of the series, J. Michael Straczynski, wanted to "toughen her up and give her a modern sensibility."

This is modernity? Where are her red boots? What about modernization requires her trademark "W" emblem to fade into the background? How is covering her once rippling, now wimpy, muscles a nod to evolved images of womanhood?

I know what you're thinking: Shouldn't feminists be happy that Wonder Woman now looks more like a young woman freshly off a college campus, at once ready to go fight some bad guys in an alley or in a pay discrimination lawsuit? Haven't we been fighting for women role models with more clothing as well as more substance? She couldn't really fight evil in a bustier-is this not a feminist win?

No, not by a long shot. In fact, it feels like the sad loss of America's first truly feminist comic book heroine.

This isn't the first time DC Comics has tried to "modernize" the Wonder Woman character, which debuted in 1930 as the creation of psychologist William Marston. Marston, with the encouragement of his wife Elizabeth, designed her as a "new kind of superhero, one who would triumph not with fists or firepower, but with love." Wonder Woman, her creator said, was "psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world."

Feminist outrage at the devolution of their heroine was quick. A group of activists, led by Gloria Steinem, leaned on DC Comics to scrap the "new" Wonder Woman in favor of the more powerful original-and they won, convincing the company to restore Wonder Woman's powers and history during the next version of the series. They understood that along with equal pay and childcare and the right to hold credit in their own name, young women need to be able to see themselves in strong pop culture role models in order to fashion themselves into the real life versions.

If the folks at DC Comics weren't aware, 2010 America is far from a mythical Amazonian paradise. Take for example new statistics from the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media pertaining to female role models for young girls. In G rated movies, just one in three speaking roles is female and in PG and R rated films, about 73 percent of the characters are male. While there are notable exceptions, like Dora the Explorer and the girl superheroes in The Invincibles, young women are still hard pressed to find pop culture role models that look and sound like themselves. If, as it seems, Wonder Woman is truly losing some of her characteristic fierceness, that's one fewer strong female role model for girls to aspire to be.

Jim Lee, the artist responsible for Wonder Woman's new design, claims he wanted her to look strong "without screaming, ‘I'm a superhero.' " Even today, in this "modern era," it's still hard not to wonder, what's so wrong with screaming that?
So... um.. the article says she doesn't look hot enough in the re-visioning. That's what it says, man. I just don't know. The feminist in me feels very confused at this sudden change. Though really, it's not sudden at all.

JMS has a long history of writing powerful, well rounded female characters. The man helped create She-Ra, rebelling against the toy company's insistence that she be nicer and laughing at a man who told the writers that as a female heroine, She-Ra shouldn't ever hit anybody because little girls wouldn't like that.

To be honest, her new look makes her look pretty much how JMS always remakes characters. Seriously, she now looks like every character in Rising Stars. Take a look at how he made over Thor when he jumped on that. Frankly, if you know JMS is writing your favorite character, expect there to be a costume change. I could almost hear him say the following;
I wanna make her look strong but not superhero strong. So I covered up everything but her tit muscles with skintight clothing and put a dog collar around her neck.

The real problem with Wonder Woman isn't her look. It's her personality. She has never been a warm, appealing character. She comes from an island populated only by immortal Amazons who hate men. And men aren't allowed to set foot on the island. This island of super-women scantily clad women send her to "the man's world" where she brings the baggage of this sexist world view.

See, here's problem number 1. Most comic readers are male. So you start off telling them their gender sucks. Great sales pitch to keep buying her books, right? Let's deal with some reality for a second. I know the PC crowd and leftists in general love the concept of "protected classes" and the idea that, say, woman could do things better than men if they had the chance. But aside from the chauvinistic mentality of this argument it ignores a simple axiom. Women are human beings. Human beings are flawed creatures.

The idea that someone's gender makes them wiser or better is the kind of elitist nonsense that every tyrant has used to justify their atrocities. Ask yourself this question: Has everyone you've come across in life who is a member of your gender, race or religion been wonderful to you? Can you honestly say that every member of your race, religion or gender has an impeccably perfect history of treatment of others?

The idea that a race, gender, sexual orientation, whatever sets a group apart from others is complete nonsense. We're all human. And any story that sells the idea that one gender is bad and another good is nothing more than classist porn.

Secondly, while Diana Prince (Wonder Woman's real name) does change her attitude somewhat when she comes ashore, the "whole men are evil" mentality continues. It's misandry, plain and simple and that's unappealing. She does undergo some growth as a character from her early days, but writers continue to revert to this lame argument, which is going to limit your audience to the self-loathing types. More on that in a second.

Oh look, costume changes...

Third, she lacks personality. That will happen when you're made out of clay. Any protagonist needs to be appealing in some way for the reader to identify with them or care about them. Every writer of that character failed to give us enough reason to invest ourselves in that storyline. Being good looking isn't enough, especially in a world where 99% of the women are babes. Being able to do heroic deeds isn't enough since that's standard operating procedure for super-heroes and most comic writers don't even seem to know what heroism means.

Fourth, her back story isn't very well thought out. It's a hodgepodge of slap dash Greek Mythology badly research and poorly executed by most who've handled her. The man (gasp!) who created her, Dr. William Moulton Marston, was a bit of a perv who was into bondage. This is why she got tied up a lot back in the 40's when he worked on the comic The story was supposed to be about feminism, but this is coming from some bondage loving guy who lived with two women. One of his views was that there is "a male notion of freedom that is inherently anarchic and violent, and an opposing female notion based on 'Love Allure' that leads to an ideal state of submission to loving authority. Yes, that was creepy.

So, the characters origins come from a somewhat warped dude. And then, through the years DC has tried to make her some kind of ersatz feminist icon, spouting the usual cliched bromides, basically saying "you can look but don't touch!" Hostile, icy women may appeal to some, but are generally not going to win people over unless we're given a good understanding of them as people. And writers over the years have failed to do that.

Until Wonder Woman gets handled by someone who understands the problems with this character and knows how to really fix them, this reboot is going to be yet another in a long line of failures. As for the costume, it's shrug inducing. The whole point of a super-hero costume is to make them stand apart from everyone else in some way. Classic super-heroes are suppose to be bright spots in a dark world. Making them more muted and ordinary looking just makes them yet another face in the crowd.

Then again, Wonder Woman and every comic character have changed costumes like a trillion times and the news media always has a weird thing with reporting comic books as if it was always the 1950's and nothing has happened in the 60 years since.

Again, Wonder Woman was created as an outlet for some really weak sauce bondage fetish and spanking fantasies. She's never been a feminist anything. So this entire "debate" over feminist views of her is pretty hilarious. Don't believe me? I wonder what the hidden message of the following images is.

How about actually sticking to the guns here. You know, the Amazons were rumored to cut off their left breasts in order to fire a bow more efficient but nooooo, we gotta give them pants instead.

At least this is far better than the recent costume change that Wonder Woman went through during the DC crossover event of Blackest Night. In it, she attained the power ring of the Star Sapphires, which are equivalent to the Green Lantern Corps in that they are space cops, only Star Sapphires specialize in love. But if you want to talk about trashy looking costumes that do nothing to empower anyone, just take a look at this..

Now what the hell was up with that? That was just a new low. I like Geoff Johns and all, but the costume was awful on all regards and did nothing to disprove that women in comics are treated pretty badly. Don't even get me started on the Women in Refrigerators comic syndrome.

Not to mention they even made a toy of her in that outfit, just so that the little kiddies could always reenact their favorite scenes of female empowering. I have to wonder how cold it gets in space and if this costume is really fit to see space travel.

At least there's some hope. I have to admit that I really did enjoy the new animated movie that went direct to DVD/BluRay. It was pretty badass and avoided the typical misgivings that Wonder Woman writers usually do that turn me off so much. The character design was the classic look, but it worked well and was simplified.

I haven't even touched on the whole Linda Carter stuff. Mainly because I always liked the TV show as it really stayed away from the Amazon princess bullshit and was at least campy as fuck. I mean, if you don't believe me, you could take a look at these two clips right here and see for yourself. Besides that, Linda Carter was amazingly beautiful.

I really just wonder why they don't have actual fashion designers working on this stuff? Aside from not being any less sexist, her boobs have inflated from B's to D's, her boots are high heeled, etc and the costume looks like it's time warped from 1989, and not in a hipster sort of way either. It's an anachronism, and a dumb one, right out of the gate.

So what did Fashion expert Tim Gunn have to say about this costume change?

“I believe in the semiotics of fashion and this new look says, ‘I’m confident, I’m powerful, I’m sexy, and don’t mess with me.’ Furthermore, she looks like a citizen of the real world rather than a creature from another land.”

Tim also pointed out that this is no longer a costume. I think the jacket is more decoration than anything else, it doesn’t look like it can really zip up in front. The shoulder pads aren’t bad, the more I look at them. They give her a military touch. The belt, I rather like, but I wish it didn’t have that star on the back because when I showed this issue to a few girls, several of them asked “is that a tramp stamp?” That’s an easy fix, though. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about the choker

The shirt looks good, but I don’t like the excess lines and I’d prefer if the WW was a bit larger. I realize part of this is that Diana isn’t supposed to stand out as much, but let’s face it, a woman wearing this is going to stand out so at that point why not just embrace it and have a larger symbol or chest guard? Also, Diana is an inspirational figure and this look strongly says “cynicism.”

You know what though, people talk about the outfits that female characters in comic books wear being revealing and demeaning to women. Presenting an ideal that is impossible for girls to live up to. But what often gets ignored is the hyper-masculine portrayal of males. 90% of male heroes in comic books wear outfits so tight you can see every rippling bulging muscle.

How is Superman's thin veneer of spandex any less revealing than Wonder Woman's weird corsety-swimsuit thing? Also, as far as revealing outfits go, Hercules has everyone else trumped. The dude wears a skirt and some thigh-high sandals.

Put on some pants! You're encouraging your boys to wear skirts and drink heavily!

We have to remember that it's the nature of the medium to do this. Superheroes are hyped up, over-sexualized characters in a visual melodrama. You aren't suppose to aspire to be the character. You're suppose to admire the traits that character is meant to represent.

We walk this line of never being able to please anyone, really. Women must constantly be depicted in the most sexually neutral way possible because to ascribe them any sort of existence as a sexual being is sexist somehow to someone somewhere. If that's the case, I guess Islam really is the most feminist after all.

To be perfectly honest, the portrayal of how they treat female superheroes isn't really the biggest issue at all. My biggest problem is just how flippant the comic industry treats death in the big picture. There's nobody that stays dead in the comic book for any amount of time before being magically resurrected because fans demand it or sales are slumping.

There's always some sort of excuse or loophole that allows the person to cheat death. Some scheme pulled out of their asses to validate the reasons that they're now alive again. The most recent Green Lantern mega event was a perfect example of that and it's a huge turn off because comic writers seem to deal out deaths as plot points like it's candy on Halloween.

Instead of actually treating death as a finality, most children might grow up getting the idea that death is pretty fungible and it loses any and all meaning that it originally had. That and the idea that comic books are somehow not comic books. That you need to adult them up by calling them Graphic Novels also pisses me off. But that's a story for another day.

1 comment:

lollie said...

you are off on so many facts my friend