Posts Tagged ‘analysis’

Sadly I applied to Marvel Comics for an internship multiple times, and I never was quite let in.  I constantly debated including my Psychology degree on my resume.  Little did I know the person who created Wonder Woman, was, in fact, a psychologist, and psychology plays a huge role in comic books and how we relate to them.  I was never quite let in to Marvel’s writing areas of the internship (or like, five other areas)… which sucked greatly, since I live in New York City and busted my fucking bum to get it in early.  But, now I can safely say I will include it if I ever apply again (sidenote: I don’t know.)

Holy Sigmund Freud, Batman.

A little story for you first, as I always did:  Psychologically analyzing people is fun.  It’s slightly addictive for the psychology nerds of the world, in my humble opinion.  Psychologically analyzing fictional people is probably even more fun. 

But in all seriousness, there is now a legitimate psychologically therapy called comic book therapy.  I am not lying.  Go to Wikipedia, type it in, and read it.  There are mounds of books published on this.  Literally everyone takes these things seriously.

Now, I’m sorry, S type fans (Superman type), I’m focusing on B-type heroes (which, if you don’t know what that is, it’s heroes without a super-power).  S-types are very much defined by their ability, not what they’ve been through.  Yes, what they’ve been through can be shaped by their circumstances, but I mean purely being affected by something that might have happened to them without a power inducing that situation.

Firstly, and this is pretty cool: They make us comfortable with uncomfortable topics.  They talk about all the taboo shit society avoids.  Death, mass killings, murders, sexual assault, disability (as a technically disabled person I can say society hates talking about it).  And it’s cool, because comic books/comic movies shove it in your face and you’re cool with it.  They shove so much uncomfortable shit at you.  Everything from discrimination to death to disability is in a comic book.  But it makes you wonder why we’re cool with, like, seeing Barbara Gordon be disabled by the Joker and not an actual physically disabled person.  I wouldn’t call it empowering, but I’d say once it seeps into a comic book it’s a step in the right direction.  It’s a way of talking about things we don’t want to talk about, and it’s a way of simply opening up dialogue about things we don’t want to talk about.  Hell, this is so true, that it can be used in therapy sessions to portray something that happened to someone.  If someone doesn’t want to talk about a particular traumatic event, according to Wikipedia, “Comic book therapy is a form of art therapy in which those undergoing rehabilitation express their experiences through personal narratives in a graphic novel/sequential art format that enables them to process their memories and emotions.”  It’s still a form of communication, and it’s still a form of talking about things.  According to another article (cited below), a psychologist used superheroes as a means of therapy for kids who had gone through traumatic events.  It got them to talk about things they didn’t want to talk about.  They are literally used to analyze their deepest fears and traumas – and I can’t help but get the feeling every time you watch a movie or pick up a book you are doing the same to yourself for free because that is what these things feature.  We face fears without talking about it.

Only furthering this, I see a lot of people who were relentlessly bullied who take to the haven of comic books. They usually feature a classic underdog story.  It’s like everyone and their mother has been in some situation that they can relate to because of these things.  Like, some guy’s parents did actually die and that’s why Batman is their go-to.  I always find people explaining why a superhero is their favorite is a major league, deeply personal question.  I’m not asking for your social security number, I’m asking why Superman is your man.  It’s almost as if they become woven into the cores of us much like they become woven into the core of pop culture (and as such, that’s why comic con is so fucking crowded).  And maybe our parents didn’t die in an alley because of a guy named Joe Chill, but, maybe they were absent for things.  Maybe they missed your graduation, shit, I don’t know.  We can relate to the psychology of superheroes.  We can relate to their psyche… and maybe that’s why we all have our personal favorites.  We’re emotionally similar to them.  I find The Flash annoying because he’s hyperactive – which I am not.

Now the really morbid part comes.

You know, almost all of them have some kind of thing they want to fix or escape.  And if you tell me you have no regrets in your life, tell me your secrets.

Oh, please.

We all regret something.  And most of the time, a superhero is working off of a regret, an event, or something they wish they could’ve changed.  Isn’t that like, half of the population’s motivation?  Make something better?  Improve something?  Like, people pick certain careers because they want to be better than their experience sometimes.  Sometimes they like what they see and want to make it better.  And we can feel an undying pain of guilt for things we might regret.  They’re super, sure, but they have regrets just like the rest of us.  And we want to run from them, but we’re not a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist.  Maybe we want to fix something that happened to us.  And you know what?  You’re completely fucking powerless to fix it most the time.  The guy who sexually harassed you is somewhere in the world, the dying 6 year old is still dying, you still suck at math (I needed to lighten this mood).  Sometimes you can fix it, but sometimes you can’t.  Things stay with us – and things stay with them.  It’s okay to be a little fucked up (coming from someone who is, decidedly, fucked up a little bit).  It’s taboo to admit these things, but in this world?  It’s all good.

And wouldn’t we all like to live in a world where fixing the wrongs of the world was as simple as putting on a suit and knocking out a few teeth.

Citation:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/17/the-rise-of-superhero-therapy-comic-books-as-psychological-treatment.html

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Sorry I didn’t do this sooner.  I was also supposed to do the Ant-Man trailer, but I’m just not excited for Ant-Man.  I didn’t do the Ultron trailer because I’m going to do a big post just before the movie comes out, so stay tuned.

So Agent Carter’s next episode grounded the series further.  Not only do we get serious but funny situations (The beginning of the show, where the man is looking for his girlfriend), but we see the chemistry between Peggy and Jarvis deepen.  As the story goes on, Jarvis – still very serious about miniscule things – and Peggy begin to clash a bit, until they realize just how much they do need each other when Jarvis is taken in for interrogation, and Peggy picks a crappy hiding spot.  Peggy realizes Jarvis is hiding something, and then the SSR shows up at Jarvis’ (or Howard’s) door.  After this, we see the two clashing personalities finally come together a bit.

Jarvis is finally forced to reveal a part of himself to Peggy.  After the interrogation – which did his character some justice – he and Peggy talk about his past.  The interrogation showed Jarvis is more than a bumbling yet sophisticated butler.  It showed how fiercely loyal he is, and possibly how fiercely loyal he may become to Peggy.  He, too, is also a bit capable of getting snarky.  Finally, though, those men get fleshed out a bit.  We learn Peggy thinks Souza is a just barely decent person.  Dooley and Thompson get angry at Peggy for compromising the earlier interrogation with Jarvis, and we start to see that “small feeling”.  I will elaborate on that – I am a woman, and I almost felt what Peggy felt like as she was getting yelled at.  I swear, I could relate to that moment so much it hurt.

In the beginning, though, it seemed as though he was just doing it for Stark, but now, we do really see them work as a team, and the chemistry finally melds.  As I said before, Jarvis makes himself feel vulnerable to Peggy by telling her about his wife and how they met.  It’s pretty apparent during this scene that it is almost as if they are equals in a time where women were not equals – Peggy is listening to Jarvis speak, and it’s pretty clear she is blatantly in control of the situation.  It is at this moment, for me, Peggy really seems like a 21st century woman stuck in a time when women were not equals.  All that “girl power” assertion people complained about paid off, and it manifested in this moment.  Jarvis is the one making himself vulnerable to Peggy by telling her about he and his wife and their marriages’ genesis.  She is not pining over her love for Captain America – Jarvis, though, is pining over his love for his wife.

But then, my point about them working together really came together at this moment.  They realize Stark’s technology was stolen, and found the ship.

A thug shows up, though, compromising everything just a bit.

SHE’S WEARING PANTS. THIS IS A BIG DEAL.

I have to say, after learning about the Hawkeye Initiative, I realize her attire was not entirely appropriate for fighting big thugs, but the general comic book alternative (aka basically not having clothes on) is not terribly appropriate either.

But Jarvis and Peggy really work as a team now, and Peggy does most of the fighting – Not Jarvis.  After Jarvis taps into his inner spy and calls the SSR (Peggy is rubbing off, I see) they flee as the men are on the way while the thug is on the floor after Peggy uses one of Stark’s gadgets.  Finally, that “small” feeling has left me as Peggy kicks ass once again. The men are becoming suspicious, and you’re on the edge of your seat – you don’t want Peggy to be found out.  You just don’t.  She’s so likeable much like Captain America.  I want to elaborate on that.

All the people currently saying she is flawless: While her flaws may not be glaring at you – she does have them.  Not only that, though, but I thought about that more.  Peggy and Captain America are like the perfect couple.  She’s a badass, and he’s honorable.  Captain America doesn’t exactly have glaring consistent flaws.  They both have their moments (like kissing another girl in TFA… for shame, Cap), but nothing is relatively consistent.  They are both like perfect people – not just Peggy.  Considering Captain America is practically America’s superhero rep, and Peggy seems to be America’s spy and woman rep, it’s hard to hate on them for that.  They’re also both so much in the public spotlight that they must know by now to try to be as flawless as possible.  (imagine seeing the headline:  Captain America, arrested for driving drunk, speeding, on freeway.. yeah, I don’t think so).

The threats finally hit home, though, as one of the SSR workers (Krzeminski) is taken out by Leviathan.  This is a good touch, though.  It finally makes you feel some remorse for the incredibly-sexist-men.  It’s easy to hate them, but we need to remember they’re also products of their time.  They do feel emotions like the rest of us and like Peggy, who shows her soft side after learning of the death.  This is also a good time to put another rumor to rest: Peggy is not a man hater.  She is sad for a man who objectified her.  She cries.  (Sidenote:  I wasn’t terribly surprised he was the one, because of how awful of a character he was).  It reminds us the threat is growing. She speaks about it to Angie, who, for some reason, I inherently don’t trust.  I’m suspicious of her or Dottie – I feel one of them is going to betray Peggy, and I don’t know why.

Overall, Peggy is very well rounded out, and I expect the crotch kicking to go up in the next episode ten fold.  I think next episode we’re going to see the true wrath of Peggy.  I think instead of Captain America protecting her as would be stereotype – we are going to see how deeply they love each other and how pissed off Peggy is capable of becoming, even toward the people she works with.

No longer feeling so small.

But regarding my earlier “small feeling” comment.  Maybe it’s just my terrible experiences kicking in (not all of my experiences are bad, so do not label me a man hater), but when Peggy was getting yelled at, I had that small feeling coming back.  I hope it was present for everyone, and not just me.  How a strong woman was reduced to seeming child like.  How an adult woman was standing there, virtually unable to defend herself, listening to a man run his mouth on how what she did was so awful.  I hope you felt how small Peggy felt during that moment, because that scene really spoke to me.  It brought me down from the high that was Peggy being able to do things a woman in the 40s could not do.  Boys have done that to me, even now, in 2015 (because I’m not fucking calling them men).  I have been Peggy.  I have felt small because of a man speaking to me as they spoke to Peggy. That small feeling I felt during the scene – I hope you felt it, too.  I hope it gave you a window into some of the issues of sexism on both sides (as in MEN and WOMEN stereotype) going on right now.  I hope it gave you a window into how to treat people of any gender.

Like an equal.

Don’t be small.  Be Peggy Carter.

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.