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29 January 2007 @ 07:48 pm
Mr. Berganza's Letter and the Response to It, or, You Just Don't Get It, Do You?  


Warning: May not be completely coherent.

I know everyone experiences this. Someone has annoyed you for a long time, and the tension has built up. And eventually you pass the point of no return. You are so damn pissed you can't even see, you can't breathe or speak, and yeah, you HOPE that they wise up, and say something about it, because by god, when they do you are going to EAT THEIR HEAD.

And that, I thought, was what the response to the letter was about. It was about the creators of Supergirl finally saying, "oh, sorry, we're now aiming for a female audience and we'd like to -"
and the fan community responding with, "JESUS, if you're going to have her wear something the size of a damn NAPKIN, could you at least write stories where she keeps the napkin ON? ROARRRRRRR!"

And then, on a friend's advice, I read the letter. Oh man. You don't get it, do you? And I don't just mean gauging what the female fan community wants, though the letter does drip condescension in places, I mean the letter directly contradicts itself.

Let's start with the fact that they called in Assistant Editor Jeanne Schaefer to give them a "woman's point of view on the character - like can Supergirl gain some weight please?" Okay, let's start with the physical. I appreciate that the character did gain a little weight, enough to start looking human, but shouldn't this be a regular person's perspective, not just a woman's perspective? Is Robin a studly guy? Is the Blue Beetle? Is Peter Parker? Hey, even Superman, so very handsome in costume, transforms into a shlub for his Clark Kent persona. Odd then, that Supergirl is a supermodel.

And also not so odd, seeing that when Wonder Girl appeared in the comics she has to be dressed in a different outfit because she and Supergirl looked exactly alike. Supergirl and Powergirl looked enough alike to be distinguished only by Peej's hairstyle and breasts. But, of course, they're all superheroes. They could train to have similar body types.

That, however, doesn't explain why in a slumber party scene, Supergirl is surrounded by girls, all in matching lace bras and panties, and they all look exactly alike. Same height, build, facial features. Once again the only thing that distinguished them was skin color and hair style. So we see how far a woman's perspective goes. Not far enough to let people know that girls are different sizes, (even in the selective popular crowd one girl will be tall and whippet thin, another working the curves, a third petite and elfin, another athletic and muscled). Not enough for variety, or plausibility. Just enough so Supergirl looks human again.

In the end, I don't have a problem with Supergirl being stunningly beautiful, although that's already a double standard compared to the teenage male heroes, who appeal (cleverly) to kids who are insecure about their looks. I do have a problem every girl in the comic should be stunningly beautiful in the exact same way. And in her underwear.

What gets me is Supergirl should be toning down her looks, as much as I know that teenage girls don't like to, because the big twist in Joe Kelly's run was that Kara was going to "try to be a real teenager."

In the letter that meant "she wouldn't listen to grown-ups (in her case a guy named Kal)." I guess they mean Clark as a parental figure. Which is odd, since I haven't seen Clark telling Kara anything. He hasn't been in Kelly's run. Kara hasn't really had any parental figures, seeing as, like most teenagers, she lives on her own in an apartment in New York.

Being a normal teenager also means that she "wouldn't appreciate being given chores (killing Kal for her dad, Zor-el)." I don't even know how to respond to that. I've, in the past, been bratty about a lot of chores (And it didn't take, dad, my room is a sty! Ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha - oh.) but I don't think my father ever ordered me to kill a baby, and if he did, I wouldn't refuse on the grounds that I didn't like to do 'chores.'

Throw in her little flirtation with Boomerang, the twenty-something that she doesn't date because SHE decides that he's to old for her (Note - teenagers never think they're too young for someone. Every smart teenage girl in my sophomore class was dating a twenty-six-year-old check-out counter worker and proud of it. Creepy but true.), and the one attempt at high-school that included the above-mentioned Victoria's Secret Catwalk sleepover scene, a Columbine-like flashback that revealed that Kara might have been a killer in her life on Krypton, and ended up with her flying off into the sky and you have the least 'real' teenage girl in history.

And the upcoming change we have been promised to break the monotony of 'real' life? Is Powerboy, "the 'hero' that Ian designed, keeping in mind the great attributes that are usually associated with female characters . . . and the reason that most women don't like the superhero genre." But. But. But. YOU JUST DON'T GET IT, DO YOU? Those attributes are BAD. They are LAZY. They are the reason that people either DON'T LIKE a character or just stare at a character's ASS. We are not advocating male characters be as boring, interchangeable and exploited as the female characters - we want all the characters to be good. You are moving in the opposite direction of what we are advocating and calling it progress. All this is is the removal of the incidental part of sexism. THIS character is designed to suck. And he's who Kara falls for.

This letter convinced me that the upcoming issues of Supergirl are not for me. I got on board during the Kandor storyline. I liked the weirdness, the way that really didn't resemble any other book because it wasn't meant to be about a real teenager, it was sci-fi. I liked that Kara was a hero, a resistance fighter. I didn't want her to be "America's sweetheart." I liked it that she was messed up and in a love-hate relationship with her cousin's alternate dimension evil twin. For that I tolerated the extended shower scenes. That was Supergirl's shot. I'm not interested in turning out to see the apathetic, post-traumatic-stress-syndrome having, non-practicing hero, faux-twenty-something-in-matching-underwear with split-personalities that I'm being told is a 'real teenager.'

I don't know if this is my own snap-back because of the bad will that Supergirl and her crotch cape have built up in the past few issues. Undoubtedly part of it is. But it's my honest reaction.

 
 
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Bettybrown_betty on January 30th, 2007 06:41 am (UTC)
//
And the change we have been promised? Is Powerboy, "the 'hero' that Ian designed, keeping in mind the great attributes that are usually associated with female characters . . . and the reason that most women don't like the superhero genre." But. But. But. YOU JUST DON'T GET IT, DO YOU? Those attributes are BAD. They are LAZY. They are the reason that people either DON'T LIKE a character or just stare at a character's ASS. We are not advocating male characters be as boring, interchangeable and exploited as the female characters — we want all the characters to be good. You are moving in the opposite direction of what we are advocating and calling it progress. All this is is the removal of the incidental part of sexism. THIS character is designed to suck. And he's who Kara falls for.//

Sorry to quote so much back to you but that is the part that really resounded for me. Yes. Exactly.
mildredmilton: superpotatomildredmilton on January 30th, 2007 09:01 am (UTC)
To completely dork out at you, ever seen the movie Labyrinth? It was one of my favorites when I was a kid. In it there's a little knight-puppet who's always picking fights and who rides a dog because he's too small for a horse. It's a cowardly dog. So in the climactic battle the dog turns and bolts in the other direction with the puppet on his back, shrieking, "No! Not that way! You're going the wrong WAAAAAAYYYYYYY! The battle's BEHIND us!"

That voice was what was running through my head reading this. "No! No! Wrong way! Turn AROUND!"
Treybluestocking on January 30th, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC)
Brilliant. Yes, that's exactly how I was feeling.
mildredmilton: superpotatomildredmilton on January 30th, 2007 04:41 pm (UTC)
Heh. Neat icon.
Treybluestocking on January 30th, 2007 04:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks!

Feel free to steal, as long as you attribute the artist. Mr. Kovalic has made several based off his characters, all free for use.
Bettybrown_betty on January 30th, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC)
hah! Yes, I have seen Labyrinth, although it mostly remains vivid in my memory from the effect of shooting dozens of waist-high puppets next to David Bowie in tights.
Queen of the Ocean: Comics - Beast Boyvioletfishy on January 30th, 2007 10:19 am (UTC)
I wish I could add more to this but I really think you have said it all. *applaudes*
mildredmilton: ultimate fightmildredmilton on January 30th, 2007 04:49 pm (UTC)
Ah, getting applauded for ranting. This is why I love LJ.
Drooling Fan Girldroolfangrrl on January 30th, 2007 03:07 pm (UTC)
I thought Powerboy looked kind of yummy.

But y'know yummy isn't what takes me to buy a comic.

And I used to have The Boys on my pull list. But they cancelled it.

Rule one) don't talk down to me

Rule two) don't make up stupid words like mimbo
mildredmilton: ultimate fightmildredmilton on January 30th, 2007 05:00 pm (UTC)
Actually, the letter was recommended to me by chibi_squirt , who also liked the idea of Powerboy, and may be more fair since she isn't, to my knowledge, curdled by bitterness.
Who knows? Maybe in a couple of months I could be raving about Supergirl.

1)Good plan.
2)At least don't expect me to be happy about 'mimbo.'
chibi_squirt: dc_feministchibi_squirt on January 30th, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
Well... at least they know now they *need* to try. Maybe it's that I'm looking at this and saying, "At least it's a small step" and you're saying "Why the fuck are they tip-toeing" ? It should also be noted that I don't actually *read* Supergirl, so all I have to go on are your reviews--which paint it as the comic feminist's version of the devil incarnate--and the letter, which I interpret as saying, "Huh, we seem to be the comic feminist's version of the devil incarnate. We have no clue how to fix that, but at least we can try."

The idea of Powerboy: A) Hot. B) Ridiculous enough that maybe someone will clue in to the fact that it's stupid on women, too.

Their idea of teenagers: even more ridiculous than the idea of Powerboy. But that's not a *feminist* issue, so I was ignoring it.

No, I'm not curdled by bitterness... But reading posts about comic's and feminism has me a lot more upset than I used to be, and I'm not ready to leave yet, so I'm guessing I'm going to get a lot more bitter, yet.

mildredmilton: ultimate fightmildredmilton on January 30th, 2007 07:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, chibi, I suppose that is a good step - at least they're getting that, so far, Kara has not really been 'for girls.'

so all I have to go on are your reviews--which paint it as the comic feminist's version of the devil incarnate
Bwahahahahah!

The idea of Powerboy: A) Hot. B) Ridiculous enough that maybe someone will clue in to the fact that it's stupid on women, too.
Possibly. I don't know how he's going to be portrayed.

But reading posts about comic's and feminism has me a lot more upset than I used to be, and I'm not ready to leave yet, so I'm guessing I'm going to get a lot more bitter, yet.
Mehehehehehe. *rubs hands together evilly* Join us. Join us.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )