Posts Tagged ‘history’

I have a friend who is an extreme movie-goer.  Loves movies.  Loves reviewing them.  Does not have a blog.  One of his common complaints is that there’s just too many superhero movies, and too many of them are flops for the “genre” to still be considered legitimate and not beaten to a pulp.  He says, what gives?  Suicide Squad was maybe decent at best.  Batman VS Superman is something we don’t talk about (literally never going to review that movie), the X-Men movies are slowly deteriorating, etc.  Now, this is his argument – it is not mine.  The last few Spider-Man movies had split personalities, with some people adoring them and some others wanting to puncture their eardrums, although I don’t remember them getting particularly high reviews.  I fall into the latter category to the extent where I also wanted to gouge my eyes out.

So, why do we need so many of them? If you don’t like even a slight mention of politics, look away now.  Move your mouse, have it hover the X button, press it, and get up and walk away.  Don’t have No Chill.  Although I hate to tell you – superhero movies very often get political.  X-Men can be (mutant registry, hello?).  Captain America can be.  America as in *AMERICA* (THE COUNTRY, AMERICA).  Batman can be.  The comics can be even more so.

Image result for captain america punching hitler

Real subtle.

Superheroes show us that (^), even when it’s not deliberate.  Superheroes show us Captain America punching Hitler.  Superheroes show us the X-Men fighting to not be put on a “list of mutants” type deal.  Superheroes show us alien Superman isn’t all that different except he’s really buff.  In the current divisive political climate, regardless  of what you think, superheroes show us that their situations aren’t actually all that different from ours.  And you know what?  We need to see that.  We need to be reminded to be everyday heroes.  We need to be reminded how the struggles truly are similar in some respects, and what we can do about it.  Sure, we aren’t rich and have a personal butler, and we don’t have superhuman serum, but we have something.  We have the power to organize, to fight back, and to argue with those in power.  We have the power to resist, even if it ends without a success.

With American politics being so shitty, my advice is to take solace in the fictional who undoubtedly harbor more power than we do.  Each movie, each comic, each character – has a statement to bring to the table.  Comic books are also a medium that do not shy from political commentary.  That’s why we still need superhero movies.  They can say things to a mass group of people, masked in a playful cloth.  They can comment – hell, their actors can also comment – unapologetically and brutally, but just subtle enough to not alienate.  We need them because, despite all this, they still bring people together.  But, they make them talk, too.

But why superheroes?  Can’t we just make a CIA movie?

No.  Superheroes give people hope.  Superheroes are people we look up to.  Superheroes are something bigger than all of us and everything we know if they were real.  You can fire a CIA agent.  A cop.  An FBI agent.  A masked vigilante can’t be fired.  They’re controlled by their morals and their power.  Since when did you look at a CIA agent and feel a sense of hope?

My advice is to harness that power for what you believe in.

But, just like divisive superhero movies – another takeaway – don’t forget who your friends are, even if you disagree with them.  Speak softly and carry a big stick.

But now, more than ever, we should be looking to them.

You heard me right.  Let’s talk about Christine.

Seriously, we are going to talk about Christine.  Christine needs to be talked about, here.  It is crucial.  Christine is a typical girl.  She does makeup, dyes her hair, and enjoys shopping. Travel and photography are a thing for her here.  Always doing that “posting pictures of her food” thing.  Obsessed with the arts and love stories.  Maybe she enjoys pets, too, always calling everything with two eyes cute.  Hangs out with guys.  This is Christine.  Maybe long, blonde hair if you want.

I know what you’re thinking: How could you do this to Christine?

Now, let me flesh out Christine a little bit more.

Christine does makeup and hair dye because she likes to cosplay comics and horror movies (her favorite kind of movies, mind), and her natural hair color isn’t blonde.  When she goes shopping, it’s for games, comic books, and sports supplies, because she rallied for her highschool to get a girl’s lacrosse team and ended up being the captain.  Her writing and arts interests lie in fantasy, like Lord of The Rings type fantasy, with a slight romantic and dramatic twist throughout.  Her favorite pet isn’t a cat – it’s a lizard, and she tends to think Skinks – yes, in all of their bug-eating glory – make the best beginner lizards, but her interests lie with the larger monitors.  She hangs out with guys, but hasn’t wanted to date.  And never has.  She’s not much of a cook either and is a blackbelt instead, so she didn’t cook that food she posted a photo of.

Right.. so that’s Christine.  What’s that?  Were you expecting Gucci bags? (Not that there is a problem with Gucci bags, but there is a larger point to this point.  She may buy Gucci every once in a while).

It was recently International Women’s Day, and while I am not usually a huge fan of Anything Day (reasons), I thought it would be an appropriate time to write this sort of post I have been planning quite a while.  Mind you, there is no real Christine, she does not exist.  If a Christine out there fits the description, you kick ass, except this is not intended to be you, or anyone you know, even if they are not named Christine.  Christine also has a birthday – she was born today at 8:00 PM, so unless you go through infancy to highschool in less than 20 minutes and happened to have physically come out of my head like something out of the Alien franchise are you the Christine I am referring to.  Sidenote:  I nor Christine hate men.  If I hated men, I certainly should not be involved in several male dominated fields (I am not referring to comics).

Regardless, I thought I’d take a look at the history of women in comics.  By the way, if you haven’t figured it out already, Christine becomes Christine the Comic Writer, much like Rosie the Riveter.  Rosie the Riveter has a better ring to it, though, I admit…

Christine is inspired by Nellie the Nurse, Millie the Model (good god, really?), and Tessie the Typist (aka a fancy secretary, not sexist at all).  Apparently, starting in the Golden Age Archie Comics geared comics toward women and women primarily read comics but I am not at all convinced the storylines were anything deeper than learning how to use the vacuum (of course, being taught by a man) or fighting over a guy.  .. Or both.  Considering Archie Comics made the comic known as, well, Archie, which features two ditzy women fighting over who gets to date one (gasp) tall blonde dude, I am probably not far off.

Another sidenote is that this isn’t some PR appeal or some awful attempt at being politically correct: this is not my motive, and considering I curse on my blog, that would be a very misguided assumption on your part because cursing isn’t politically correct.  I actually do have a post in the works (mentally) about something regarding men/boys/males.  Originally, I was going to merge those two together, but I’d like to go to bed sometime before tomorrow morning for once.  I’m giving up playing Civ V for you.  Appreciate the post (or else).

But after that Golden Age, Nellie, Millie, and Tessie were all born.  And I am making Christine be born.

Women were either “career oriented” (wtf does that even mean?), perky teenagers, or romance heroines.  The romance involved women could either be good or bad, and if they’re good, they were probably stuffed in the refrigerator.  I don’t really get the whole “bad” vs “good” distinction, just because we could have a gay superhero (I’m being 100% serious) being tempted by another gay man, or a strong superhero woman being tempted by a guy.. but.. ok. This is still around – I recently saw some kind of book regarding comics and it specifically mentioned “tempting women”.  Like as an entire section.  Are we career oriented in that our career is stalking a male superhero now in some sort of odd desperation to date or have sex with him?  I don’t understand…

Among the first female superheroes were Scarlet O’Neil and Black Fury.  Scarlet O’Neil aka the Invisible Woman was plain clothes and walked around doing things like saving little kids and getting kidnapped.  In general, it was not action packed (source: Wikipedia).  Then you had Miss Fury who was.. eventually turned into a dude, obviously?  Black Fury (aka Miss Fury) became John Perry and Rex King.  She then wasn’t revived until 1991 in which case I am not including it.  I’m strictly ’40s to late 50s right now.

Who knew one of them would maintain a blog in 75 years.

And I know I may get the crowd who is like “get over it” but I’m not like actively blaming society for doing this 75 years ago.  It’s really just retrospective out of my own curiosity.  And Christine’s.

Regardless, after the slight abomination that appears to be The Invisible Woman, we actually see Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.  Of course, she happens to be blonde, and tall, and wearing heels, and white, but probably the best of the bunch at the time.  From Wikipedia:

As Trina Robbins, in The Great Women Superheroes wrote:[5]

[M]ost of [Fiction House’s] pulp-style action stories either starred or featured strong, beautiful, competent heroines. They were war nurses, aviatrixes, girl detectives, counterspies, and animal skin-clad jungle queens, and they were in command. Guns blazing, daggers unsheathed, sword in hand, they leaped across the pages, ready to take on any villain. And they did not need rescuing.

Sheena seemed to be pretty successful, and seemed to have a fair amount of abilities.  She was able to turn into whatever animal she made contact with and ability to communicate with wild animals.  The first superhero though, who was a woman, was apparently Fantomah, a woman who never aged and turned into a skull-like creature to fight crime (nice, I like the morbidity; it’s not “lady like”).  In a time where saving children without any action was the norm, at least it’s a step in the right direction in a time when Peggy Carter was still Captain America’s damsel in distress (I fucking hate that term).  She had always been needing to be saved, and I admit as a Cap fan it was nice to see Peggy take the stage for another reason than needing Cap to come save her.. really.

Yes, we’re hopping over to the big guys. Particularly, the history of Wonder Woman.

Funny story.. Wonder Woman was the suggestion from a wife of a guy.  William Moulton Marston, a psychologist, thought comics had uncracked potential,and his wife insisted he create a superheroine.. so.. he explained it as Sigmund Freud would, while also believing women should rule the world?:

“Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t want to be tender, submissive, peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”

If you’re unaware, Sigmund Freud had an R-Rated (is there something higher than R?) theory about women, that they didn’t want to actually be women, and they envied men because they were men, and they distanced themselves from their mothers for this reason and subsequently hung out with dad.  Frankly, I don’t want to be goddamn tender and submissive whether I am a woman or not.  But regardless, that was the mindset, I guess, of the time.  At least he listened to his wife and created the first widely recognized female superhero.  Really, I’m not delving too deep into this just because it’s blowing my mind a little bit.  That statement is clearly sexist but he also wanted women to rule the world, and was slightly sexist against men, believing women were more honest?  I’m supposing that is stereotype, therefore wanting us to the rule the world is also sort of sexist?  By the sounds of it, it’s meant in a stereotypical/sexist manner for both parties, with men elevated in importance, slightly?…

How I feel.

By now, though, we’re starting to realize women are people (now the Silver Age).  Lois Lane is created, Batwoman, Jean Loring, and Carol Ferris, all “career women”.  Iris West, Kathy Kane, and Vicki Vale have been thrown into the mix.  Still, though, sexism weaved some of their cores, as we all know Lois needed to be saved a few times, and Batwoman apparently used perfume and a hair net as weapons (god, at least make her use mace instead of perfume if you’re going to be sexist).  Unfortunately, I will not detail all of these, it’s 10 PM now, Christine is probably graduating high school, I feel like I am growing old writing this post, I’m eating peanut butter and jelly in mass quantities in an attempt to keep myself from starving.  Sort of like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.  But with a laptop, instead of a soccer ball.

Regardless of PBJ here, Marvel is playing catch up, and creates their first female superhero in the form of Invisible Woman…. several decades after Wonder Woman.. and Mr. Fantastic has had instances of.. abuse…

Come on.. you can do better than that…

Regardless, it is very interesting, considering Marvel’s movies/tv shows.  You know.. Black Widow.  Peggy.  Rogue.  Jean Grey.  All the superheroine Avengers. Wasp.  Regardless, originally, Marvel’s heroines (yes, we don’t need to say “female superheroes”) were treated as less than equal. It is almost as though they are quietly hiding away from their past mistakes.. and Not-So-Mr. Fantastic’s mistakes.. while creating all these strong women.  DC Comics was not a beacon of light, exactly, either, due to this policy:

[the] Editorial Policy Code regarding the portrayal of women, which stated, “The inclusion of females in stories is specifically discouraged. Women, when used in plot structure, should be secondary in importance, and should be drawn realistically, without exaggeration of feminine physical qualities”.

So more or less, women in stories was discouraged, unless they happened to somehow supplement the superhero.  Which.. just about makes sense.  Obviously.  Though, everyone did this it seems – I guess DC just put it in writing?  Did Marvel do it too?

Regardless, I’m moving on, because I bit off more than I can chew.  To the Bronze Age! (sidenote:  If I seem like I’m rushing, I’m waiting for a larger point and I am about to hit one.  This is all pretty generic information).

The part we’ve been waiting for.. assuming I was alive.  The feminist era.  The part where all the women realized, there is something seriously wrong with Mollie the Model or whatever godforsaken terrible name they gave her.

Aside from the comic character “Man-killer” being made, this was overall not that bad of an era.

I just.. I don’t have a witty comment for this.

People start realizing women are just as capable of leadership as men, and Mrs. Fantastic becomes the leader of the Fantastic Four, and Wasp becomes a founding Avenger.  Jean Grey becomes Phoenix, Storm is created, and one man sets out to revamp some of them: Chris Claremont.  He revamps and helps settle Rogue, Psylocke, Storm, Jean Grey, and Kitty Pryde.  Suddenly, the teenagers become serious, and women are now a thing (as in popular).  Notice a lot of those or all of them have been in movies, now, or very famous at the least.  But the elephant in the room is not any of these: It’s Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel isn’t in a movie.  She is getting her own movie.

Ms. Marvel, apparently, seems to embody Marvel’s troubles with representing women during that time due to her controversy.  She worked at a magazine obviously geared toward women, and her headline was “This Woman Fights Back!”.  It’s very possible Marvel picked Ms. Marvel to be their first female-led movie, well, because that is more or less what she was designed for in the first place.  She was a symbol of the push to get more female characters and not portraying women as damsels in distress – let’s only hope she lives up to that despite not being known to the general public.  But still, despite the apparent symbolism here, do you think someone like Black Widow would’ve been a better pick?  Is there any possibility there will eventually be a Black Widow movie?  Is that why they picked her and not some other random superheroine?

In between all of this, we get Barbara Gordon, who is injured by the Joker after the events of The Killing Joke, who takes things a step further – she is disabled, now, but became the leader of Birds of Prey.  She’s another example of the strong women blossoming now, and everyone collectively realizing women are people and not cooking machines.

Now, we hit the Modern Age.  Now.  Probably your childhood.

We start off the era with Tank Girl:

The eponymous character Tank Girl drives a tank, which is also her home. She undertakes a series of missions for a nebulous organization before making a serious mistake and being declared an outlaw for her sexual inclinations and her substance abuse. The comic centers on her misadventures with her boyfriend, Booga, a mutant kangaroo.

I’m sorry.. I’m sorry what? A mutant kangaroo?  What the hell?  I know nothing about this, so I’m not commenting, but, if you happen to know, do tell me, because mutant kangaroos?

Still, women were treated as sex stories.  Because sex sells.  As a result, the wonderful and amazing and my personal comic writer hero, Gail Simone (she retweeted me once!), started the Women in Refrigerators campaign after seeing a Green Lantern comic where GL finds his girlfriend dead because of a villain and stuffed in a refrigerator.  Ever since that, using women for the “sex sells” excuse and depowering or killing women has become less and less.  And that is where we are now, along with more LGBT diversity such as Batwoman.

Yeah.. more work to be done, here.

I understand that both sexes are inaccurately portrayed, but this is also the guy who made “Captain America” become “Captain Americhest” (seriously, that drawing has obliques everywhere).  Above is Ms. Brokeback, considering her back is anatomically broken because of the need to exaggerate her chest and butt.  There is still work to be done, but hopefully, if that trend means anything, we can get it done – without gender tension.

At least X-Men has shown it has strong female characters, and two female-led movies are on the way.  Now, finally, we are reaching some semblance of equalization.  Peggy Carter helped paved the way.  Wonder Woman got it started, and Ms. Marvel helped us out.  Black Widow kicks ass, and X-Men is chock full of X-Women.  Finally, women are having a bit of a foothold in comics because of the characters.  We aren’t all the same, and we don’t have the same interests – including the traditional ones.

When you read comics or create female characters, think of Christine the Comic Writer.

(Happy belated International Women’s Day).