By GraveSp 11 Comments
Sitting down to actually write this I find that the title I picked is not entirely appropriate. I am not actually really defending Starfire I am defending an interpretation of her in a book which I throughly enjoyed. Looking back I find that there is 2 major complaints about her character in Red Hood and the Outlaws. One is that she is overtly sexual, Two is the fact that she is written to be unable to tell the difference between people and she easily forgets them when they are not around. The first claim that she is overly sexual in this book compared to others I find ridiculous, especially since you can look at her comicvine page and midway down you will see a picture of her naked which appeared in a pre-Relaunch DC book. The second complaint I find a little more interesting because it actually relates to one of the focus areas in the Psychology Degree I earned and the area I will be pursuing in a Post-Graduate Ph.D. program. In my opinion the fact that she is unable to tell the difference between people makes her a better character, this comes from my interest in Social Psychology specifically Stereotyping which I draw my opinions from.
I'm sure everyone has heard at one time or another someone say that members of an outgroup look alike. It seems like a vaguely racist idea that does hold some truth. We see members of outgroups as being more homogeneous, they not only look alike but act and think alike. Let me stop here to explain this idea. ONE this is a result of natural processes where the human brain groups similar stimuli together for efficiency and in order for it to stay efficient it needs to be somewhat simplistic. TWO just because it is natural does not mean it is right, as one of my professors was very found of saying cancer is natural doesn't mean that people have to like it or accept it. THREE this diminishes with enough exposure that you begin to reclassify the group breaking it up into smaller and smaller groups needless to say it takes a long time. FOUR this isn't just about race, people tend to see most groups that aren't them as one dimensional groups that all think the same be it a different race, political party, social cliche, or any other group.
There are a couple reasons people tend to think outgroups looks similar, especially if they did not grow up around members of the outgroup. For one as children the connections in our brain are forming based on those around. There is a very interesting study that showed that at very young ages children can tell the difference between 2 different monkeys but as they grow older they are unable too. Also as I mentioned before our brain naturally begins to group everything together, its how we are able to process an infinite dynamic world when we have limited cognitive processing abilities.
All of this brings us to Starfire. In Red Hood and the Outlaws some people were very upset that she wasn't able to tell people apart and she didn't really remember people she knew before. As I hopefully explained above, people are unable to do that with other people, do you really think that a member of an alien race can do that with humans. Its kinda like the children and the monkeys. At this point in our lives its probably pretty hard for a person to tell the difference between two different monkeys that look similar, to Starfire we are all monkeys. Some people may say that it should be different because they were together so long and they saved each others lives but the opposite is going to emerge. Imagine if a monkey saved your life you would probably never forget that monkey. Now imagine at various points in your life 100 monkeys saved your life. Do you really think you would be able to pick one of those out of a line up?
Now I mentioned a lot of studies, hopefully you can take me at my word and not make me pull them out but trust me they exist and if you want I can go through the articles that I read about outgroup homogeneity and figure out some way to post them