Following links surrounding the "BUT YOU CAN'T PUBLISH MY RACIST REJECTION LETTER!", I came across a beautiful gem from Betty Candy on The Hathor Legacy.
The essay is entitled; Why film schools teach screenwriters not to pass the Bechdel test. Wikipedia 'Bechdel Test' with 'Dykes to Watch Out For' if you need a definition. This essay is simply beautiful, simply brilliant but not for the obvious reason. You see this essay exemplifies to me the mentality of dominant comic book industry powers. And it's summed up beautifully in this part of the final paragraph.
There was no way Hollywood really believed what it was saying about boys who’d grown up with Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor as action heroes, and so there was no way to change the system from within. I concluded Hollywood was was dominated by perpetual pre-adolescent boys making the movies they wanted to see, and using the “target audience” - a construct based on partial truths and twisted math - to perpetuate their own desires. Having never grown up, they still saw women the way Peter Pan saw Wendy: a fascinating Other to be captured, treasured and stuffed into a gilded cage. Where we didn’t talk. To each other. About anything other than men.
Why does Dust's niqāb and modest dress, incorrectly referred to in panels as a burqa, have to tug at her body to show the round fullness of her breasts against the black cloth, or pull against the curve of her ass or drape tightly near her waist?
Because Dust is an exotic female other.
Why do female superheroines wear bathing suits without even a modest skirt flap, or not wear pants, or like Misty Knight are portrayed as bra-less with ample bosoms drawn bouncing (despite her level of physical activity, her having been a former cop, or the pull against the flesh her bionic arm would have on her pectoral muscles)?
Because they might be heroes but they're secondary and they should be a bit of decoration and titillation while the real heroes, the white male heroes are getting things done.
Inconvenient and useless peepholes to the navel or chest? Fighting THONGS despite the factual reality of gravity and ride ups? Apparently male heroes think ahead enough to wear a cup to protect themselves in battle. But Wonder Woman, among others, has to stop mid-fight to pick her thong out of her genital cracks or misplace a kicking blow because something just pulled very uncomfortably around her nether lips.
More distasteful and painful for me, within this beautifully rounded theory is the realization that when these men were growing up, there WERE NO minority characters in prominence. So their continued fantasies don't include PoC, or homosexuals, transexuals or the disabled and certainly not anyone over a certain age. These are the fantasies of youth!
Batman Beyond was more ground breaking than I realized when I was watching it on Saturday mornings. Bruce was old but still extremely vital. As was Barbara Gordon! Max was black and female and a genius! Even if she was underused. Dana was Japanese. And even if I couldn't stand her - interracial relationship right there! And Epilogue shows she stayed with Terry to the end (quite possibly life became easier once he told/or she learned of the truth).
So it's not all of this old guard filled with perpetual Peter Pans. But it is enough. Enough that Vixen can't be dark skinned because dark skinned women were never in the youthful sexual fantasies of those now in power. And there's no need for them to pay attention to the message they're sending of "All black men look alike", when they make all the black male heroes bald and only discernible via their costume/colours. Because only politics is forcing them to include black male characters into their power fantasies as other than comic relief and lackeys. So black heroes get stuck in the background as scenery so they don't intrude into the fantasy any more than is absolutely necessary.
Gays? Nonexistent. They never fantasied about queers.
The disabled? Matt Murdock can see via other senses and Barbara Gordon used to be a librarian so she's used to sitting on her ass all day. Do note too that Barbara in a wheel chair didn't come alive as a three dimensional character until Gail Simone 1 because her childhood fantasies sure as hell included a whip-smart woman and a whip smart woman wouldn't let her still functioning brain go to waste.
Transexuals? Please. They're only good for odd bodyswitching arcs for a good laugh. Cause 'eeewh'.
Polynesians? uhmmm What?
East Asians? Hey, we have kungfu masters! Ok, kung fu master who teach white guys! But they're there doing their job, giving the Western world a mystical edge!
South Asians? ...? What's a South Asian?
Middle Easterners? Aren't they always the enemy? We've got plenty of bad sheiks.
North Africans? Say what? Huh, Egypt's in Africa?? Well I guess we have a couple mystical Egyptian powers somewhere, granted to white folk. But that's all mummy's and crap. Oh, Morocco is in North Africa? They have all those women in the mysterious sexy clothing. Total scene background.
South Africans? This isn't a political comic.
Over at K-Box in the Box, Kirk's been keeping track of the sales of Brand New Day. They're not good. And there's talk pooled in corners of the blogsphere about the division growing in Spidey fans because one man got the chance to re-create from scratch his adolescent fantasy about his hero.
In a follow up essay, Betty Candy goes on in another brilliant piece of layered out thinking to discuss the perpetuation of biases and promotion of pro Anglo Westernism and how laziness and stubbornness prevents industry from mining profit from disenfranchised groups.
Laziness and stubbornness .... put them in a pot, stir them around what do you get? Fear of change.
I had someone anonymously comment to one of my recent posts that 'being PC is thought control and changes language by cutting out and forgetting words and phrases'. I'm summarizing, mind you because they sure as hell aren't getting a direct c/p for such tripe. Tripe, because languages change! English wouldn't exist if German and Latin hadn't changed, if Greek hadn't changed. Dutch wouldn't exist if German hadn't changed. The languages that don't change, DIE. Languages also die, because the people who speak it were ignored or killed. A living language often means a living people, non-stagnant, a growing, evolving civilization.
The language of film is stagnant at the core, around the edges, in independents and minority supported festivals it's changed and so lives and grows.
The language of comics is also stagnant at the core. Around its edges are small supported projects, trickles, where there's growth and diverging pathways, where new words are discovered and shared and with it new ways of seeing the world.
I can't help thinking about the fact that Rome fell. It didn't fall in a day. But fall it did and now we have what's left after the ravages of the Dark Ages took their due. There are monuments and clues and hints as to this great civilization and the amazing thought they had at the time. But then they stagnated; they dismissed and tried to ignore others, the need to change, the fact that some words, some concepts would need to be put aside in order for new growth,like a plant that needs pruning, Change was smothered; and while it struggled for breath, it was maybe even laughed at.
The world is changing. The audiences are changing and becoming more global. Film should change. Publishing should change. Comics, should change. They should expand and incorporate. They should be more than the old glory dreams of a priviledged few, who fiddle while it all burns around them.
1. I am corrected by LurkerWithout, who's been corrected by Elayne Re: Simone & Ostrander / ie Kim Yale (Ostrander).
I <3 my readership! I<3 that I have readership.