Monday, February 19, 2007

An Open Letter: Dear DC, About Supergirl

Dear DC, even if you think you see Supergirl's 'real teenagerness' every-time you look at the television? You're wrong. Supergirl isn't One Tree Hill, from Krypton.

I haven't been online a lot recently. First computer problems (some of which is still pending) and then something that was either a cold or the flu (that I'm still recovering from). But it left me a lot of time to watch television, since I couldn't focus enough to read. It left me watching daytime television with daytime commercials. And it was there I saw up close andpersonal the root ( imo) of what's wrong with the character of Supergirl in current continuity.

We, the group of readers who complain about what she's become in these modern times, aren't wrong to say she's not a real teenager.

The Supergirl that emerged from Superman/Batman is a Bratz Girl, likely a Bratz Girl with Pupz and Phonez and Carz. She's also a My Scene Barbie Girl. She's big lips, crop shirts and lots of hair. She's the concept of advertising and consumerism.

She's what a group of (most likely male) advertisers want teenage girls between 13-19 to be. Their creation has to look a certain way, dress a certain way, eat certain things and want certain things in order to add to the flow of money.

Their creation has nothing to do with actual teenage girls. It's a reflection of Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and the Olsen Twins and what they wear and think and promote in movies and music videos. It's artificially, pre-meditatively created popular culture. It's what Pink sung about in Stupid Girls

Looking at Supergirl from this marketing point of view, it was easy for me to see her as a true shell. And it was startling for me to realize that she'd actually have more character depth if she was really the wish-fulfilment of a group of men who would be boys; the mistaken conception of the perfect teenage girl from a group of males who still wished they'd bagged the cheerleader in high-school.

And that's pretty damn sad.

As things stand, however, Supergirl is Generic Mass Communication Advertising Teenager with superpowers. She's made to sell. Innocence in need of guidance (via commercials and their products) wrapped up in hootchie skirts and wearing too much lipstick. The Whore/Madonna Complex at its best.

And because this creation, (as Supergirl and as her inspirations) has been selling, it's no wonder those of us who complain about her don't get heard.

But this creation is not Supergirl. Supergirl is independence. Supergirl is old school, original grrl power. Supergirl sets her own trends. Supergirl is self-determination. She chose the shield, she chose her path, she chose her battles.

Supergirl was American's Sweetheart in the past. She managed to be America's (and the World's) Sweetheart in the animated Justice League Unlimited. And it wasn't as if she did everything she was told in that show. She made mistakes and learned from them. She struck out on her own. And she juggled the responsibility of the S shield and the expectations that came with it. She was a girl growing up.

As much as I personally dislike Smallville. That show is still about becoming. There's action and adventure to promote growth along-side the sub-plots of hormonal teenagers mooning over each other. It wouldn't be a bad idea to look to it as some sort of model.

Because where has Supergirl's growth been? Given that you've dressed her up as a 'Stupid Girl', we've had 'Stupid Girl' plots. The barely legal look has gotten us story-lines of her being involved with a much older guy, and getting in over her head in a number of 'battles', starting with Lex Luthor and ending most recently with Cassandra - Once Batgirl - Now Assassin. Her whole set up is one of lush incompetence, occasionally mixed with a high pain and damage threshold.

Dressed as The Dynamic Cheerleader, she's become Zorl-El's daughter and weapon and the possible path of Kal-El's destruction, Boomarang's Young Thing on the Side and Power Boy's girlfriend.

That's Ultimate Hidden Weapon, Ultimate Sex Toy and Ultimate Folly. There's no room for Ultimate Power Fantasy. And we as readers know you know what that looks like, because you keep Gail Simone on Birds of Prey and you let Greg Rucka really explore Wonder Woman's purpose during his run on that title. Not to mention I've heard good things about ManHunter.

So what gives?

Where, oh where, have the smart people gone?
Oh where, oh where could they be?

Why is there a fear to show her as a realteenage girl? Why is there a lack, an absence, yea no impetus to grab the chance to explore Krypton and her memories there and how the traditions and life there compares to earth?

Why have Berganza plea with women to read Supergirl but not give women stories they want to read? That's like asking chefs to buy a magazine that has no recipies in it, or articles on food.

Women who read comic books aren't the women that advertisers can try to mold. They've already come to terms, most of them, with their weight, their skin color, their breast size and their glorious intelligence. They remember and know what a real teenager is like. They remember and know about social awkwardness and crushes and negotiating friendship with other girls and parents and school work and dreams and ambitions. Quite a few of them know about trying to acclimate to one culture when they've grown up in another. Some of them know about rebellion for rebellion's sake vs rebellion as a cry for help. Heck, some of them are mothers.

Is there any possibility of you creators going out to interview real teenage girls? Or of you talking to your own daughters? Of you possibly watching Degrassi sometime?

Because there's only so far anything can go when it's based on an empty shell. And in case you hadn't noticed, commercials don't last very long; 30 seconds and then in about 4 months, they make a new one.

PS: Just in case you have no idea what a real girl might look like while she was fighting the forces of evil.

Suggestion 1

Suggestion 2

Suggestion 3

Suggestion 4

Or y'know, you could always check out Marvel's Runaways.

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