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Humanist Rage

It would be feminist rage, except for how the problem isn't necessarily just about gender, race, or sexual orientation.

It's a simple question: what is a character there to do? With regards to comics, the answer is as much meta-textual as textual. Comics are like magazines in that they are constantly aware, and responding to their audience - for certain values of audience. With regards to comics, there are many ways of getting to the realization that they are responding only to a portion of their actual audience. The rest of us had better keep our traps shut, because it turns out the character is there for the viewing pleasure and comfort of a very specific audience member.

Turns out, the "rest of us", are a fairly large group. I mean, what percentage of the reading population is actually white, heterosexual, and male? On my really bitter days, I'd add Christian to that list, but I can't tell where my bias ends on that one yet.

The thing is, for all of the rest of us, the battle amounts to the same thing: we exist, we think, we feel, we identify, we buy, we read, we're human, so you can damn well portray us that way.

But too often, the narrative of a character who isn't white, heterosexual, and male is usurped by the perceptions of the assumed white, heterosexual male (henceforth whm). Women are drawn a certain way because we wouldn't want to make a guy relate to her. There is an absence of brown faces in a comic book, because we wouldn't want to make him uncomfortable, showing folks who aren't like him. And anyone who wants differently is ruining comics, because heaven forbid someone besides [whm] actually read them.

We want to be seen as human in the genres we love. Why the hell is that so much to ask?



In related news: Betty Wins the Internet (to borrow a phrase).
And on a brighter, more hopeful note: Damien Scott

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
amarenda
Sep. 26th, 2006 08:27 pm (UTC)
i could become [whm]? that would make the lives of the comic dudes easier... though if we were all to be [whm], he couldn't very well be the h part, could he? would make life more complex. so sad...

seriously, yeah, it kinda goes back to Kristeva, among other people, writing on horror flicks and the abjact, i think. and.. i haven't read the article i'm thinking of in years, so, this is a generalised all the stuff they made me read rant. XD. and i'm not so up on the comics, may be off base, but.. . basicly, it's the job of pop culture to deal with the hiden messages in society in ways that re-enforce those messages, and more importantly deal with the tensions within society created by blurring/ refusal to relate to the big structure in a clear, but highly fantasised manner. yeah? so, [whm], no matter how much we fight to change it, is still the dominant member of society, he must be made the hero figure, the women and non-white men will be subordinate or, even better, evil so that the memebers of the two groups understand that they are either less than [whm] or not admirable, in that way the rest of us are taught to 'know our place' in a friendly, graphic novely, and entertaining format. *nods* as for non-heterosexual folks, well, like i say, i'm not real up on comics, but i'm guessing we just.. pretend they don't exist. 'cause in an ideal super-hero world there's not room for that much love and happiness.. erm, right, that is, everyone is hetero! yeah..really, that's it. *really hopes the sarcasm is coming through in writing here...*
oh! and, look at the 'strong women' out there who are like, available to admire. here, i'm gonna talk movie take-offs on comics. Aeon Flux, did you see that, the live action movie, that chick was, well, *coughs and minds her language* having sexual relations with the chap she was supposed to kill 'cause as far as i can tell, he made her melty and stuff, and /that's/ what made her able to be the clever heroine sort. Ultraviolet, though I adored that movie beyond words, was just a nice way of saying, alright, girls, you can be strong and independant, but just make sure you do it 'cause you're motherly. mm-hmm, again there, filling a girl role is what made her the heroine. erm, maybe i better stop with those, 'cause now i'm babbling /your/ LJ, but, i think the chick in V for Vendetta doesn't need my explanation? Ditto Electra? XD
Problem is, though, there's just not enough people visibly taking on the dominant structure through their own work, yeah? i assume that's true in comics since it is in most art and lit type stuff. I mean, we still basicly live with Ward Cleaver and that chap from I Dream of Genie as our models of manhood. and models of womanhood are... heh, Genie? soooo, yeah, I feel your humanist rage, but now i seriously need to go find the nearest [whm] to fawn over adoringly, once i get my tits shoved into a blouse a few sizes too small for 'em, that is. ;p
storyjunkie
Nov. 5th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC)
See? I can too read comments in my journal! ::is proud::

The argument, that art reflects and supports the social hierarchy, is an understandable one. And has certainly been used in comics (Guys are the audience, why don't you girls just learn to live with it?), ad nauseam.

I guess the fight is to get the medium to catch up with the people. Since we're not going to be put in our places, the dominant culture is just going to have to be the one to change. Seeing as it's out-numbered and all.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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