Friday, January 19, 2007

Hiyah! Kunf Fu Movies & Chuck Dixon is an Ass

I started this blog entry during the holiday season thinking I was writing a quick update that I'm alive and the holiday season isn't a time where I do much non-personal blogging. I thought a quick mention of a movie I'd watched and parallels I saw between Kung Fu movies and Super Hero comics would be really be fast and only take a paragraph or two. But it became something else. And now I've finally gone over it enough to be satisfied and have updated it and now post it as I'd mentioned I'd do in my 'I'm back' entry.


The most comic-book thing I did over the Holiday season was watch Kung Fu Hustle.

I adored it. I bought it. I loved it. I pet it and name it George. And really if it wasn't for the fact that my bed is already over crowded with books, I might sleep with it.

A Kung Fu Superhero Dramedy Musical!

Nothing in the world could ever be cooler. (Unless perhaps it was created by Stephen Chow). I found myself craving comics when I finished watching it. I also found myself realizing anacute difference I've only half-noticed among other female comics bloggers.

I grew up with comics and kung fu movies. I always had a role model of a chick kicking ass, or going on the quest, or saving the hero - even while being pretty. Girls with swords. Girls asassassins. Girls as villians. I saw it all. Ruling Queens, stoic concubines; the Kung Fu world was as '4 color' to me as comics. Only I never realized it. It was just something that seeped into my subconscious.

A lot of the female comics bloggers I read have mentioned time and again about the hunt for role models or how the female superhero ends up being a catalyst/impetus for the male to do something. I grew up watching the sister rescue her brother, or the family business or go on a quest of revenge because of the death of her father/family as much as I watched the boys go out on adventures. I just never realized how important what I was watching was or knew how it was affecting me.


There are several themes in Kung Fu Hustle that resound as much for Kung Fu movies as for comic book sagas.

Retired heroes; The young hero who's lost himself; The Superhero couple filled with regrets that almost immobilizes them; Watching it I had visions of Stephen Chow and Kurt Busiek making something magical together. Seeing certain tropes played with and timed so perfectly in Kung Fu Hustle, at this time in my life when I'm paying more attention to Super Hero drama, brought an upswelling of squee. Yes, fangirl squee, I don't deny it.

Squee. Squee. Squee. Squee. Squeeeeeeee [insert soprana chorus here]

But I also realized that I wasn't surprised at all to find that it was the wife in the married couple who had the most impressive power. She was the stronger personality - it just made sense. As did so many other things. But there's an interview on the DVD where the interviewer kept talking about things that American audiences aren't familar with. And as I perused my blog flist and feeds, I realized that perhaps an American audience wouldn't have expected the wife to be the more powerful of the two. Or wouldn't have understood that the fracas between the couple said nothing about their love for each other or their sense of honor or thedynamic of both their abilities and their personalities.

My second favourite modern Kung Fu movie is 'The Heroic Trio; about a group of amazingly talented women who end up fighting an ultimate evil for thesafety of the city's children and all its citizens. Women kicking ass, taking names, saving lives; again. Women with inside knowledge of the situation. Women with regrets. Women with personal impetus to get the job done.

In comics the only woman I ever see who tends to know more about what's going on than everyone else is Wonder Woman. And then it's usually because Gods are involved and everyone else is busy going 'Gods? The Greek Gods are real? WTF? What?'. I'm reminded of Wonder Woman's portrayal as a murderer and the halbaloo about character assassination in regards the OMAC plot during Crisis etc. And how I kept wondering how audiences could buy a known hero doing something unheroic and taking it as gospel truth. [Please note I'm not talking about this in context to the masses as sheep that swallow what any authority tell them aka real life. I'd always thought the comic book realitypopulous to be much more savvy. And then I heard about Civil War. But that's a whole other post - and I think I did it already anyway]

I think I go into comic book stories with a completely different set of expectations and over the years and they've steadily not been met. But it hasn't been until recently I could verbalize what was wrong. Star Sapphire's costume, for example, is something that I would have just bought as part of the comic book universe. I didn't like it, but I thought that comic book fashion had to be this particular way. But when I recently read the new Supergirl, I couldn't take it as just part of the universe. It cheapened things. It made me wonder about Martha Kent and Lois Lane and who Supergirl was supposed to be. Just as looking at Star Sapphire's costume makes me wonder who Star Sapphire is supposed to be. Are comic books really just for kids or is the audience also (or primarily) adults? In which case why is Hal Jordon being disciplined by a pink dominatrix? What perspective am I supposed to be in to just accept this? What is the trope being played?

I don't have a problem believing the magical and physically impossible. I can accept powers and strange beings. I accept people flowing like leaves in Kung Fu movies. I accept that Superman doesn't need to breathe or really eat. I accept that Rogue must spend her life untouched or elseencased in painted on latex or surrounded in a very thin force field somehow. But how does accepting that lead to me accepting that in pictures and stories where women wear costumes twomillimeters thick, and arch and pose and shimmy as a form of empowerment or being one of the guys?

And to turn this into two completely different posts in one:SIDEBAR

And speaking of those shameless images - Chuck Dixon are you frigging mad? Comics are for children? Trix are for kids? Leave the kids their funny pages? Seriously Chuck Dixon? Seriously? We shouldn't expose them to sexuality aka homosexuality, bisexuality,transsexual differences? Violence is alright but not sexuality? Politics is alright but not sexuality? Civil rights is A OK, but not sexuality? Seriously? Working mothers. Latchkey kids. Neglected kids. Scientific and Medical Ethics? Religion? All alright? But Oh Noes! Not sexuality? Global warming. The environment. Does government serve the people or do the people serve the government, isn't a comic book writer teaching someone's kids about the bigger world around them and asking them to question things? The question of whether or not we're alone as sentient life in theuniverse . The question of whether or not we'd actually count as sentient life in the universe - These you'd let the four colors teach your children. But it's not the place of a comic book writer or the comic book industry to introduce or mention sexuality that isn't lips -> lips -> penis -> vagina -> baby bouncing on the knee?

Hypocrite much? Can you spell Homophobe? I knew you could.


Kung Fu movies showed me women dressed top to bottom. It showed me women dressed so normally I never considered how they were dressed and what they were wearing unless it wasrelevant to the plot; was it a disguise ? Would it show wealth and status? Did carrying that sword show her power? Did the cut of her clothes prove she could kick ass and take names?

I'm glad I had the upbringing that I did. I'm glad that the damsel in distress was optional for me. Because I think it'd be even more disappointing to fall in love with superhero comics and themes and have never had that innocent expectation met immediately and consistently that heroism is gender blind.

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