Anyone who's been following my incessant rambling here and on various message boards will have noticed something very odd about me.
Well, odd, as far as female comic book fans go.
I'm often screaming for the death of a female character.
This is unusual for a woman, I admit.
In fact, there are members of my gender so horrified by the Women in Refrigerators list that they are sensitive to any violence against any female character. Cries of misogyny ring out across the internet whenever a female dies graphically (See Phantom Lady, Sue Dibny, Maura Rayner). And sometimes, yes, my voice goes out with them. But to be perfectly honest, when Gail Simone was compiling that list in the late nineties, I was on the the very same message boards screaming for Cassandra Sandsmark's head, detached from her body, and nicely mounted on the wall of Cheetah's library -- while I was panning Ron Marz for his portrayal of women in Green Lantern. That's just the kind of person I am.
You see, although I always advocate creating more female characters, there just sometimes seem to be just too many.
But, there can never be too many women, you say...
Ooooh yes there can.
You see, while there are precious few prominent females, there are even fewer worth reading. Picture the whole of comic book feminity as a nice juicy steak -- but not a lean cut with the choicest meat. Envision about 15% edible beef, with 85% sensuous-looking fat.
It's true, there is a wide variety of worthwhile females to read about -- Iconic goddesses (Wonder Woman), wicked world conquerors (Gloriana Tenebrae), admirable overachievers (Oracle/Barbara Gordon), utter bitches (Emma Frost), spunky teenagers (Courtney Crumrin), talented ingenues (Batgirl/Cassandra Cain), ideal role-models despite their poor taste in men (Black Canary), cross-dressing knights (Shining Knight), violent hard-asses (Huntress), cheeky feminists (Power Girl), respectable family women (Invisible Woman) all regularly grace your comic book shelves. These women are the choice cut. They are the healthy, varied meal in your comic book diet. Basically, these are women who's shoes a female would like to place herself in. Whether it's because they exemplify the best character traits possible or they just plain do stuff you wish you could when you are in a certain mood ("What was that about looking good on my knees, Max?" *KRK*), these are the kinds of woman a fangirl would picture herself as. They are fun people, and you can hate or relate to your heart's content, because it is enjoyable to do so.
Next to the healthy choice, however, is the sensuous fat. Women of no substance, who add nothing to the comic book landscape, women who hurt your head just to read. They tend to be used as romantic fodder. Most of them have super-powers or martial prowess, yet more than end up playing damsel-in-distress in the story. Oh yes, they may look good to fanboys, but beware! They are bad for you. In addition to causing headaches, neck pain, and vomiting, they increase heart problems and risk of personal injury.
These are the female characters I most commonly direct my venom towards. Most of them have an inexplicable, but rabid fanbase. Many of them have been around too long, but time after time, have been shown to be utterly useless and uninteresting. Many are downright loathsome. I hate them, but I don't love to hate them, and I can't relate to them except for the parts of myself that I truly wish weren't parts of myself -- I mean, anyone can end up not qutie measuring up but who wants to be there? Or who wants to be in the victim's or sex-toy's place? Most girls don't. And even Lancelot used to get his butt saved by girls sometimes -- because Chretien deTroyes was writing for a female audience and he knew that even if was socially unacceptable to be the Knight, they did want a more heroic role to put themselves in.
Anyway, most often I avoid the senuous fat. I never bought Chaos Comics, Witchblade, and I tend to stay away from anythign draw in the Nineties sexualized style. I don't even bother to learn their names half the time.
Unfortunately, sometimes a little piece of sensuous fat hasn't been trimmed from my usual meal. And it'll be there irritating me for one issue (like Supergirl!), or, much worse, it becomes a regular part of the series until your disgust with her incompetence leads you to drop the book, and when you pick it up again she's cheating on her ideal lover while he's off in space freezing his ass of and savign teh universe (I'm sure by now we all know who I'm talking about here). This waste cannot simply be left alone or avoided.
And because they are good eye-candy, they are kept around indefinitely, and even, yes, used more often than more worthwhile characters. Some of them are placeholders for legacies that could go to a more interesting person, but don't. And when there's an open chopping block for a huge event, who's neck gets put on it? The sweet-natured supportive female or the worthless slut? The unusual, energetic quirky woman or the personality-less cipher? I man, Sue Dibny dies but that bitch Loring gets to become a return villainess?! She's not even fun to hate!! Ice bites it in a crappy storyline in Justice League and is gone forever, but Donna Troy and Jean Grey each have a lamenated "Get Out of Hell Free" pass! Where's the Justice in that?!
Alexandra DeWitt was created to die, I understand that. But she was an interesting, likeable, intelligent woman (which actually came across nicely in the very few pages in which she existed) who helped Kyle out and ended up stuffed in a fridge, while Jade spends several years utterly worthless despite her powers, then goes Queen Guinevere and yet continues to live.
That's Just. Not. Right. (And neither was Guinevere's continued survival. Lancelot, just let her burn -- for the good of the Kingdom!)
And why? Is it be because writers have somehing worthwhile to do with her? Not possible, even Roy Thomas barely did anything worthwhile with her! Is it because DC is afraid of being called misogynist? Maybe, but that didn't stop them from offing Hawkwoman. Is it because she has a large fanbase that consists of guys with a Green skin fetish, nostalgic Infinitor fans, and women who don't realize what a crappy character she is? Bingo!
Now, I understand not everyone likes the same females. Check out Comics Fairplay's archives from August-October 2005 when she does her Harsh! Hated Female Characters feature, there will be choices you disagree with.
So, of course, don't advocate the death of every female character I despise. Donna Troy can happily exist as long as people are willing to read her (just keep her appearances to a minimum). Supergirl is going to be written by Greg Rucka, and hasn't been around long enough to be completely ruined yet, so I recant my previous protests. She still ahs potential.
But come on -- Jade? Jade's beyond help.
And it just burns me so much that this was the only female Green Lantern for a decade. I actually dropped Green Lantern, because of her. I thought it was the writer not being able to write women, but I discovered that everyone else handled her like that too. She had nothing impressive under her belt at all, and really no experience with regular Green Lantern villains, so it actually did make sense that Fatality,an experienced Green Lantern hunter, could kick her butt, and not Kyle's because Kyle was shown to be especially talented. *Rolls eyes*
Katma Tui Stewart could have wiped the floor with all three of them combined at that point in Kyle's career, though. Arisia and Brik would have made a better showing than Jade. Even without her hand and her ring, Boodika would have torn Fatality apart.
But not Jade, born with powers, but not the inclination, drive, or imagination to do anything worthwhile with them.
Can't you see, it's actually better to kill a character like this off. I'd rather there be no female members of a franchise than have females who are constantly shown to be less competent than the males. I believe it hurt feminity to have Jade be the only female Lantern for so long. I only hope Brik and Soranik Natu, and whoever else they come up with to fill the Corps can make a better showing.
Anyway, my point is that the sensuous fat needs to be trimmed. If there are only so many females, but most of them can't measure up to the standards set by the male characters and really only exist as romantic interests, it is even worse than having no females at all because it sends the general message that women are incompetent sex objects.
So I say, kill all the stupid, worthless, and incompetent female characters.
Kill the mediocre and uninteresting.
Replace them with fun women who can play with the boys, and even show them up sometimes.
And stop killing the good ones, already.
Oh, and bring back Ice.
And Katma Tui.
I think people who insist on seeing individuals, fictional or real, as being representative of large groups, racial or gender-al or sexual or whatever, have an essential and very troubling flaw in their worldviews. If I write a story in which a female character dies, I don't feel I'm being misogynist. I just killed a fictional person who happened to be female... and in fact, I didn't do it, one of my other characters did it.ReplyDelete
Now, I suppose, if someone has written dozens or hundreds of pieces of fiction and certain specific types of fictional people keep dying over and over again, especially if they die in specific ways at the hands of specific other types of characters, yeah, maybe you can make your case. But calling whoever it was who miscreated IDENTITY CRISIS misogynistic over the death of Sue Dibny is silly... unless whoever that was keeps killing off women in all their stories.
But, you know, I'm a white straight male, and therefore have the luxury of not having to identify to closely to any ethnic, gender-based, or sexual sub-group. I understand that others who feel more marginalized may respond elsewise. Still... Ultimately, I just read comics for fun. Which isn't to say I don't have my own bugaboos (don't get me started on continuity) but I will argue vociferously for the life or death of a character based on how much I like that individual character, not on one of their traits.
Wow. Awesome post.ReplyDelete
"So I say, kill all the stupid, worthless, and incompetent female characters.
Kill the mediocre and uninteresting."
Couldn't agree more -- and while we're at it, do it for the male characters as well.
I think I'm in love. Seriously, everything I've read of your blog thusfar has resonated almost perfectly with my way of thinking. And you hate Donna Troy!ReplyDelete
I was beginning to think that I was the only person on Earth who doesn't like her. I guess that's when I get for hanging around the Teen Titans forum over at Geoff Johns's site. There's always someone that someone wants to bring back for some reason or another "OMG!!1!! bring back KOLE!!!11" and so forth.
Let us together dream of a blissful DCU where Donna and Jade are pushing up daisies and Kyle has finally found a woman who deserves him.
highlander -- I'm glad I ran across you. you may be one of the most sensible people on the internet.ReplyDelete
Chris -- Sure, I'm for Equal-Opportunity Refrigeration!
diamondrock -- Aww... You made me blush.
For the record, I found your weblog on account my name is Jade and I was checking to see if my own weblog had showed on a popular search engine. That said, I wholehearted agree that Jade (the comic book character) is useless, and quite frankly gives 'me as superhero' a bad rap. I certainly propose to kill off anyone who would dare take my name and then be a wuss about it.ReplyDelete
Unfortunately, it's not just the comic book world that is overrrun by painfully prissy girls, the kind who really would run and scream if they saw a mouse. Perhaps the comic books, as they mirror reality, are simply showing forth a painful reality we don't want to look into.
Ragnell, would you like mind weighing in on this over at FanFatale at bigmonkeycomics.com?ReplyDelete
I, for one, would appreciate it!
Jade -- Cool, glad you stopped by to read! It's true that art is supposed to hold a mirror to reality, but comics and literature are supposed to be escapist. I'd much rather the prissy girls show up in all-female books where they can be balanced off, or as villainesses, instead of as the prominent female character for a male-dominated franchise.ReplyDelete
Here's hoping, since DC can't let a name last, that this Jade either shapes up or ships out, and that Jade II is a much better character!
Scipio -- I'd be honored :)
Ok, chica, but notice this - if they take out all of the characters that aren't really good at life, then they take out characters that are reflective of real people. Real stupid people, people you don't want to know, true... but real people. Not everyone, male or female, is worth reading about. Show it with your money, the only language the editors will understand.ReplyDelete
Kim -- It's fiction. They can make more stupid people.ReplyDelete
And kill them off again.
And I did vote with my money, remember? They brought Hal back instead of killing Jade.
Granted, that's not bad, but Kyle's no in the main book right now for it. And she's still alive.
I agree with the portions of the top post of "Is more there room in the fridge ,Hon?"about Katma Tui.Ive read a large amunt of internet speculation about a Green Lantern movie.Many propsals have been made.I've said to some of these that if a movie is proposed and doesn't include Korugar's Finest Emerald Gladiator,it is not worth making.Who would you readers and bloggers choose for this role?ReplyDelete
I for one have always read the character as having a medium deep pitched-voice with an East Indian-like accent,so a would choose whatever actress or aspiring actress could produce such a voice