By billyspears 0 Comments
Part 4: Second Seduction of the Innocent
In the last part I discussed Marve's Twitter chracter popularity poll that shows Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan at top and Deadpool at number five while Deadpool’s comic books were selling way more. This is a result of what I’m calling the Sarkeesian effect on popular culture. I don’t want to delve too much into the politics of video games so I’ll just say that anyone who doesn’t know about Anita Sarkeesian can just get on YouTube and find out about how she lied her way into having a voice in the video game industry. I think the term ‘The Sarkeesian Effect’ is being used to describe anytime people with little or no knowledge of a product hijack that product to replace it with their politically correct agenda. If it's not, it should be. But the Sarkeesian effect was actually set in comic books long before Anita Sarkeesian lied about knowing where the ‘X’ button is. It goes all the way back to 1999 when the term “women in refrigerators” was first used. The quick origins of women in refrigerators can be found on Wikipedia:
The term "Women in Refrigerators" was coined by writer Gail Simone as a name for the website in early 1999 during online discussions about comic books with friends. It refers to an incident in Green Lantern #54 (1994), written by Ron Marz, in which Kyle Rayner, the title hero, comes home to his apartment to find that his girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, had been killed by the villain Major Force and stuffed into a refrigerator. Simone and her colleagues then developed a list of fictional female characters who had been "killed, maimed or depowered", in particular in ways that treated the female character as merely a device to move a male character's story arc forward, rather than as a fully developed character in her own right. The list was then circulated via the Internet over Usenet, Bulletin Board System, e-mail and electronic mailing lists. Simone also e-mailed many comic book creators directly for their responses to the list.
The list is considered "infamous" in certain comic book fan circles. Respondents often found different meanings to the list itself, though Simone maintained that her simple point had always been: "If you demolish most of the characters girls like, then girls won't read comics. That's it!"
Before I go on I’d like to point out here that Gail Simone is a comic book writer. I actually like her work, Simone’s work on Deadpool is really good. However, she is also a feminist, and by commenting on comic books with this socio-political ideology she has opened a floodgate that is becoming harder and harder to close. I am really saddened that Simone’s name is attached to this so heavily, that I cannot write this blog without writing about her. I truly hope that Gail Simone ends up reading this and begins separating her ideologies from her art when seeing how a fan feels. And I would also like to ask her, if this was going on in comic books for so many years and the trope had been used to such an extent, why did you continue reading comics considering that most of the characters you liked were being demolished?
Keeping on topic, though. What about Men? Ben Parker was the biggest loss in Peter Parker’s life and Uncle Ben’s death is what inspired Peter Parker to become a super-hero. Ben Parker was treated “…merely a device to move a male character's story arc forward”. Then we have Mar-Vell. Mar-Vell died of cancer and his death is still something that is felt though out the Marvel Universe. Maybe Jack Murdock, this was Matt Murdock’s father, who like Ben Parker was the hero’s biggest motivation. And, while Matt Murdock’s father died to drive The Daredevil storyline, his mother remained an enigmatic person who lent and unseen hand to help him in many ways. That actually seems exactly opposite of the ‘women in refrigerators’ trope. I don’t want to drag this blog out any further than necessary so one more: The Comedian. The Comedian was killed in the first few pages of The Watchmen in order to motivate the entire story.
The story goes on that a critic at one time said that this has also happened with male character to which a new term “dead men defrosting” was made to describe how when a male character is killed/maimed/depowered they usually come back more powerful and much cooler than they were when they died. The example they like to use is that after Batgirl’s back injury she was left paralyzed but after Batman’s back injury he recovered. And that’s very true, but they’re leaving a lot out of that. Barbara Gordon came back as Oracle and the back injury made her a stronger character, taking her out of being simply “a Batman for girls.” I really never cared for Jubilee until she was depowered then came back in The New Warriors, and then the vampire thing was really rocking. Jubilee was a character who was basically described as Wolverines sidekick until she got de-powered, that was when she actually became her own character and really became a good character. Maybe Jubilee is a little too recent taking it her big character change happened after the Women in Refrigerators/Dead Men Defrosting terms had been created. Well, there’s always Storm. Not only did storm become so much of a great character from being depowered but she actually beat Scott Summers in a fight.
The big problem with the “women in refrigerators” and “dead men defrosting” labels is the problem with giving anything a label, you gave it a label and now everybody is trying to correct it. Morgan Freeman once said about racism: “If you talk about it, it exists. It’s not like it exists and we refuse to talk about it, making it a bigger issue than it needs to be is the problem here.” And Morgan Freeman’s wisdom can be put into this situation. Let’s look at the recent ‘defrosting’ of Gwen Stacey, though well written it does have it’s problems. When Bucky Barnes was brought back as The Winter Soldier, he was all but forgotten, it had been at least a decade since Steve Rogers pined at the loss of his sidekick. The memory of Gwen Stacey however, was something that was still being returned to dfrequently. Not long before Spider-Gwen showed up, Gwen Stacey’s death was actually the center piece of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In the end, though Spider-Gwen was well written, the character feels forced. I think it would have made a very good character in years to come if they would have let comic readers all but forget Gwen Stacey first, but as it stands her sales are slipping every month and she’s destined to go the way of Power Pack and Sleepwalker. This is exactly what Morgan Freeman was saying about racism, by calling something racism that’s not racism, you will have well-meaning people trying to correct the situation but only leaving it forced.
Then you have the issue with the covers. In the early part of last year, social justice warriors got on a mission to get rid of some variant covers. The first was the variant cover of Spider-Woman # 1. This cover showed Jessica Drew climbing onto a building. Third wave feminist were upset, this was a completely unnatural pose for a woman who’s father had injected her with a serum that gave her superpowers. They also stated that Spider-Man would never be drawn in such a pose. Irony is always there when you need it, because not only would artist draw Spider-Man in that pose, but they already had back in 2001 on the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #30. The same exact pose. Not getting everyone to burn their Spider-Woman comics the social justice warriors immediately turned their sites towards the upcoming cover of Batgirl # 41. Where they failed with the Spider-woman cover was they were protesting a cover that had already been released so throwing a fit about it only drove the demand up. Batgirl # 41 hadn’t been released though, so instead of trying to talk collectors out of buying a comic book (Trust me talking a collector out of buying a comic book is hard, I have to do it to myself all the time.) they just had to put pressure on the publisher. For anyone who doesn’t know the Batgirl # 41 cover was supposed to be a Joker homage cover in celebration of 75 years of joker. Rafael Albuquerque did the cover in reference to Alan Moore’s Killing Joke. Social justice warriors began protesting it immediately with #ChangeTheCover saying that it promoted rape culture, ironically the cover actually looked like a tame version of the Rose and Thorn #4 cover which was an issue written by Gail Simone. On March 16, 2015 Albuquerque announced: “My intention was never to hurt or upset anyone through my art. For that reason, I have recommended to DC that the variant cover be pulled.”
The next little bit is just a theory, but hell, if I didn’t write a theory every now and then I’d be a journalist instead of a blogger. It’s really impossible for me to tell the order of how things went in because on March 16, 2015 Albuquerque made his announcement and on March 17,2015 sites were reporting that Valerie D'Orazio was accusing Chris Sims of cyberbullying. The date that I can’t seem to find is the day Valerie D'Orazio wrote where she accused him of this since she didn’t put the date on the blog. The blog that accused Sims of the cyberbullying was the same blog that she said that the Batgirl # 41 cover was triggering the PTSD she had been diagnosed with due to Chris Sim’s cyberbullying. Wait…. PTSD? Cyberbullying? Is she 13? That’s the crazy part she is actually in her 40’s and has worked on Punisher Max books. Punisher Max where in one issue a guy wakes up to find that he had been disemboweled and his intestines are strung along the trees around him. I know Garth Ennis wrote that issue not Valerie D'Orazio, but she should have at least seen it. You see, I have a problem with her PTSD. I literally work at a place where I wear a Taser on my hip because I could get attacked at any minute. I literally get into at least one fist fight with convicted felons a week, and she has been diagnosed with PTSD from cyberbullying. Valerie D'Orazio please give me the name of that doctor because I bet I could get disability for the rest of my life. Back to my theory though, Valerie D'Orazio has actually worked for DC comics and probably had the right numbers to call when her "PTSD" was triggered to claim how she was victimized. Becoming a victim to get your way is what the social justice warriors are best at. Now Batgirl is the only book in the bat family that didn’t get to have Joker variant cover. That’s a hell of a way to boost equality for women, make sure the female character gets less.
Before I end this I want to get back to Gail Simone’s quote about women in refrigerators from earlier: "If you demolish most of the characters girls like, then girls won't read comics. That's it!" That’s presuming that all girls like only female characters just like it would be presuming that all boys like only male characters. Like I’ve pointed out in these blogs before, John Byrnes’ Sensational She-Hulk is one my favorite all time runs. Scarlet Witch is one of my favorite all time characters. I used to date a girl who was really into Elf Quest, for Cutter not Leetah. I was introduced to comics 25 years ago by my fifth grade teacher, a female, who's favorite character was Wolverine. She also owned a small bookstore where she sold her old comics for a couple of dollars a piece, this is where she introduced me to so many great characters, both male and female.
Edit 3-20-2016: I just watched the second season of Daredevil and couldn't help but think of Valerie D'Orazio when the character of Frank Castle said that claiming to have PTSD is disrespectful to people who really have it. I hope that Valerie D'Orazio (as a Punisher fan and writer) takes that to heart.