Tuesday, August 10, 2010

San Diego ComicCon 2010--2

Girls! Guns! G-Strings!
As I mentioned in my last post, one's skull would have to be numb indeed to miss the central theme informing a majority of ComicCon's displays: sexualized violence.

Years ago, in the days when panting fanboys were creating the concept of "good girl art," their quest was for scantier clothing and poky nipples. As the Market's inexorable drive for profit eroded the media's creaky self-regulatory machinery, we got what we wanted and then some: acres of flesh, scandalous action poses, and button-popping bosoms big enough to float the Titanic. Even then the groundwork was being laid for the next evolutionary phase. The mainstreaming of bondage fetishism and the rise of slasher movies helped cement the new role of newly-naked comic book women as sexy torture victims.

Of course the image of the beautiful, terrorized victim is as old as our patriarchal society. What's different today is its intensity and pervasiveness. At first one might imagine that the more recent wave of images of sexy women as perpetrators of violence emerged to balance out the powerlessness of the earlier sexy victims. Really it's just a variation on the same theme. They may pack guns the size of Volkswagens, but these busty amazons wear the same wire micro-bikinis, strike the same sweaty wide-legged poses, and twist their mouths in the same screams of pain. They still get raped, beaten, shot and flayed in page after lovingly-rendered page. The main difference is that after the abuse they carve their abuser's entrails out.

I can't buy the idea that this is all okay. The official line, supported both by leftist free speech advocates and rightist believers in unregulated markets, is that this fetishized misogyny is harmless. The mayhem is imaginary. People can tell fantasy from reality. Those who indulge in these fantasies achieve catharsis as well as orgasms. They would never carry their fantasies over into the real world.

My problem is this. Teachers have known for years that repetition and immersion change attitudes as well as increase knowledge. Propogandists have known for generations that endlessly repeating the same lie alters a target group's beliefs. With repetition and immersion cults brainwash members into doing everything from panhandling to killing themselves. Most significantly, advertisers have over a century of proof that repetition and immersion can make consumers lay out vast amounts of money on the stupidest products for the most irrational reasons.

Yet somehow this rule doesn't apply when it comes to the linking of sex with violence against women. Men don't become more physically and emotionally aggressive toward women. They don't become more tolerant of violence in general, or more inclined to abuse in their personal relationships. It's all harmless fantasy!

If someone can explain to me how that works I'd be much obliged.


Anonymous said...

Well said!

Many think freedom means anything goes. Unfortunately, they conveniently overlook the fact that the maintenance of freedom also requires personal responsibility - a vital element of our freedom is to exercise personal responsibility. I find it both amusing and troubling that what you presented can be denounced as a threat to creative and artistic freedom of speech by some (probably a rationalization to protect their other interests), yet it seems to me that it contributes to a self-indulgent mindset that devalues people in general and women specifically. Combined with other social trends, like streams feeding a river, this can lead to serious loss of freedom though abuse and violence.

One does not have to look far to find it, I am dismayed by how many accounts I hear locally. Another example, the Department of Defense requires its members to take an annual trafficking in persons class and its amazing how wide spread it is, even in the U.S. While sex and violence in comic books may not be a major contributor to such problems, I think this is a case where every little bit hurts.

Thanks for your article.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more, as this is one topic that been making me thinking for many, many years.

Never could buy the "it's harmless" stuff.

if in the end it doesn't really matter, if lines on paper don't really affect an ion on the reader, what is the the use of the creator?

and i'm really concerned about the direction tv is taling, what with shows like CSI, Bones, Dexter and others that in my opinion are just promoting gorish voyerism.

Smurfswacker said...

Interesting that you'd mention Dexter. It was a picture of everyone's favorite serial killer on a bus that started me thinking about this, last year. It was the one of Dexter holding his baby...baby is drinking blood-colored juice from a bottle and smiling Dexter is splattered with the juice just like he's splattered with blood in his other publicity photos. This is called "edgy,"

The curse of edgy, like other addictions, is that one must continually top the last edgy entertainment to keep the viewers' interest.

This year each edgy Fox series had its own bus supergraphic designed especially for the Comic con. Head shots of the stars of Dexter, Californication, Weeds, and Nurse Jackie were paired with comic-style sound effects suggesting the show's theme: "Splat!" "Bang!" "Puff!" "Pop!" Clever, yeah. But the guy with me said it best: "Look--The Legion of Dysfunctional Heroes."

Anonymous said...

Its ironic that the most vocal proponents of extreme sexual violence in Hollywood and the comics industry see themselves as non-violent liberals. Oliver Stone and the makers of Dexter romanticize the deviant serial killer while denying that it has any effect whatever on their audiences. The reason totalitarian regimes make ample use of popular arts for propaganda is because it works. In a sense all art is propaganda as Orwell claimed.

Anonymous said...

A modest proposal: There is only one workable solution to the wall-to-wall violence and pornography that every person is victimized by on a daily basis and that is a judiciously applied CENSORSHIP of pop culture, particularly in the home invading areas of television, the internet and the public space. Drive the crap underground where it belongs and we may eventually return to a peaceful society.

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