The significance of Agent Carter.

Posted: January 9, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Where do I start?

I’m a woman in comics.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Let me start by saying it is wonderful that girls have something to relate to.  I love male characters as much as the next guy (or girl).  But really, the fact is, its so different when the lead is a female – at least for me.  It’s different when it’s set in a time when sexism is glaring – Because you and I both know comics and traditionally male topics went through that stage.  I refuse to air my opinion on if it still has a hint of sexist, but man, Peggy took some major steps in the right direction.

How is this different for Black Widow for me?
If you read my blog you know I love Black Widow.  Black Widow was different because Captain America and Falcon were involved (mostly cap).  And there were a good few moments she didn’t feel like an equal or she didn’t quite come off as the same caliber as Captain.  And that’s okay to some extent – I mean, the name of the film is Captain America.  She shouldn’t be the main star of the show.

So why do I love Agent Carter?

Simply put, sexism is glaring and she’s the only one who is being put down.  Also, truthfully, originally I had the notion in my head that there was a significant chance that Agent Carter would just be touting a constant “girl power” schtick.  But then, I realized a few things – significant things (I’m just laying some groundwork for a larger point):

(Spoilers)

– Peggy Carter is, quite literally, a woman in a man’s land.  It’s easy to say her constantly punching people and throwing people out of windows is really just making the girl power schtick go too far.  But the fact is, back in the ’40s, a woman probably couldn’t punch a man without getting the crap beat out of her herself.  I totally understand the notion that it’s too much or too far, but she couldn’t casually walk into the room asking for a meeting when she wanted to find the bomb (the glowing orange thing – the name evades me).  He would’ve told her go home sweetheart, this work is for a man.

–  At first, I understood it when people said, “All the males are sexist”.  Google 1940s advertisements.  Have you seen that shit?  Also, like I said before, it might also be done to highlight Steve Rogers and his qualities, putting emphasis on their relationship – he is decidedly not sexist.  If a Good Not Sexist Guy shows up, we might be rooting for Peggy to date him, who knows.

– I’ve seen the argument be used that she makes men out to be stupid (not true), and I’ve seen the argument be used that it takes away from the overall message for the makers to use her as a sexy blonde and using lipstick to get someone to pass out.  Herein lies the problem: While today we don’t need to do that and we *can* ask for a meeting or just kick ass to begin with like Black Widow does, odds are the men consider her to be too stupid to pull off that kind of thing.  They blatantly call her stupid more than once.  They don’t expect her to use her brain and con them out of things via their own sexist desires – it’s not that they’re stupid.  It’s their blatant underestimation and own expectations that lead to that result.  You wouldn’t at all be puzzled over a blonde woman in a low cut dress suddenly appearing in your office?  Well, you would be – turns out they’re not puzzled by it.  They’re that good.  That desirable (Yuck).

– People are saying if it’s a powerful tv show for women – there should be more women.  Except, it’s the 1940s, and they call her a secretary.  It’s hard enough for her to be there and it’d take away from her character.  Also, maybe how this is received will pave the way for other non-ridiculous public relations pitches.  Maybe we can get a Black Widow movie out of this. Maybe we can get Poison Ivy her own comics.  Peggy Carter is, in a way, paving a way, even if she’s in such a sexist 1940s land.

So I still haven’t answered the question:  How has Agent Carter changed things for me?

Focusing on her gender might have a good result in the end.  It might eventually result in us having more female-led comics.  More female-led movies.  More female led anything (sidenote:  exactly 1 grown woman in Ant Man’s trailer if I remember correctly). Things like that are a problem.  I thoroughly enjoy the male leads.  I thoroughly enjoy their acting ability.  But I can only relate to them so much – it reaches a point where I can’t relate to them because they’re guys aside from being superheroes.  It’s hard enough to relate to super soldiers and giant green people, but now you’re changing the gender on me. Agent Carter nips that in the butt for me.  I can relate to her.  I can say I want to be like Peggy Carter.  I can say I want to be Peggy Carter for Halloween (and if I were 12, I would be).  It also appears the next episode is going to let her personality blossom, and yes, she does have flaws (she forgot leaving her tracks behind?).

Not only is she not a superhero, but she’s also one of the characters who used to be put in refrigerators – the killed love interests to rile up the superheroes, or to get revenge.  She is a love interest, but I don’t suggest you try to fridge her – she shot at him, and she’ll shoot at you, too.

Overall,  Agent Carter took one big step in the right direction – in a big, red, high heel.

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Comments
  1. swanpride says:

    I have noticed a shift in the last two years or so, and not just in the Comic book world. I always look for shows which offer some compelling female characters and don’t go the “will they or won’t they route” – and boy are those hard to find. But I currently have a long list of shows with great female characters, and no, I am not talking about Game of Thrones. There is Orphan Black, which is practically female characters central. There is Vikings which should be a male dominated show, but between Lagherta and Siggy they have the female persepctive really well covered and Laghertha is easily one of the main draws of the show. There is Outlander which, yes, is a romance, but nevertheless portrays a strong female lead in a fish out of water story. There is Agent of Shield which has half-female cast and actually features missions in which they take the lead. And now we have Agent Carter. I might be too optimistic but I have the feeling that the networks have started to realize that there is a huge demographic to tap in.

    Like

    • jaypt says:

      Oh, I agree. I think Agent Carter is starting to pave the way a bit in the comic world – in my opinion they’ve lagged a bit (though I don’t say that in the post). I was just reading her Wikipedia article earlier, and she comes off much more tame than in this show. The networks are definitely catching on, and I think the comic companies are as well. When I was younger you had one choice – more or less – in mainstream for women, and that was Wonder Woman. I’m not a huge Superman fan, nor S-type character fan, so to see Agent Carter take off like this is fantastic. I find your point about romance interesting, since I never considered romance a solely female cliche or topic. How many superhero movies have romance in them? A lot of them – and it doesn’t necessarily need to be Male Superhero saving Unnamed Girlfriend. Even just things like the Black Widow and Hawkeye speculation, or Jean Grey and Cyclops. What tends to bother me, instead, is that many female superheroes seems to get tied down with some male superhero being into them.

      Really, those are some of the arguments I saw against Agent Carter and why it doesn’t pave the way as much as we think it does. It’s easy to comprehend girl power being annoying now, but in the ’40s, you probably couldn’t even begin to say that phrase. Even until now, as you said, true good female characters have been hard to find.

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      • swanpride says:

        lol, that is exactly what I wrote in my introduction for my current article series about female characters in Superhero movies…that while the media in general is still not where it should be, comic book movies are even further behind. people who claim that Agent Carter doesn’t pave the way should take a really, really good look on the female characters which came before the MCU (and even some in the MCU). X-men is a good example. The comics have a number of interesting female characters. So had the animated series. The Movie series on the other hand focus so much on the male characters that Jean Grey is relegated to a price in a love triangle, Rogue to a whiny teenager, Storm to the pilot and everyone else is pretty much absent. And don’t get me started on their idea of Emma Frost. The only female who gets a little bit of proper character development is Mystique, and she is a villain!
        We need Agent Carter. We need her so much. And I really love the fact that a character which started out as “the love interest” is now stepping out of the shadows. There is something poetic about it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jaypt says:

        Agreed. Even the comics… I recently read a Catwoman comic, and if her butt or chest was any more out in front of her she would have tipped over…
        Jean Grey in the movies I can’t stand. She’s just that hot girl everyone pines after, and I only remember a few times she actually used her powers. I agree with Rogue and Storm as well.

        Totally agree that it’s poetic. With the history of love interests being refrigerated, Peggy is the perfect person to get the ball rolling. They set that stage in The First Avenger, and I wanted to see more Peggy after TFA.

        Also, I looked at your blog – The Hawkeye Initiative has me cracking up. It’s hilarious, but also true.

        (I need to write a post about the Hawkeye Initiative…)

        Like

      • swanpride says:

        Well, can’t take credit for this one aside from spreading the word, but it’s a really good way to make the point.

        Like

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