Saturday, August 2, 2008

Spoiler Warnings (these warnings came way too late!)

Hey, you know what I didn't know? I didn't know that Blogger saves copies of stuff you were writing and that if the power goes out and your computer dies, stuff you wrote may be retained in the guts of your account, so you can dig it out later! Okay now I know, and I'm finding a few things that got interrupted during the whole writing process which I gave up on and decided not to re-write. Hidden treasures of joy or something.

Following is a fragment: I'm not entirely sure if I was going somewhere more profound with this, but reading it fresh after a couple months, I think I had some interesting points...

And like that, DC probably hopes to be finished with the whole ordeal—and maybe they are. Maybe all the people under the feminist banner of Spoiler concerns weren't really feminists at all, and now that they've gotten their character back, they'll sink into the immersive swamp of comic fandom and get back to talking about whether or not Storm's powers over electricity could translate to some form of time travel, and who would win in a fight between igneous rock and the Mole Man.
But if they are the real thing—if that ragtag group of comics readers really do have a problem with the way super-hero comics regularly present female characters as little more than objects of fetishistic eroticism or utilitarian mechanics to minimize the importance of female heroes and exaggerate the emotional component of their male counterpart, then DC's done something even more offensive. They've ignored every feminist criticism of the Spoiler situation and treated a bunch of people with valid complaints as if they're the same kind of rabid loudmouth who threatened to incinerate their parent's basement back when Ben Reilly replaced Peter Parker for all of twenty seconds. They've negated what was so offensive about the whole thing initially—that a female was tortured to death and then ignored like so much cannon fodder. Of course, if DC's right to assume that those who were raising feminist-based criticism were just whiny fans, then resurrecting a third-rate character in a low-selling Batman spin-off was the right move. After all, they brought her back, right?

No, really? DC offend by not seeming to give much of a damn about feminist outcry? What a shocker! Who could have seen that one coming?

There's an assumption in the above statement: that the manner in which Spoiler was killed was the primary problem for the protesters. No, on further consideration, the assumption is a bit more binary: that it's either feminism or fandom driving the protests.

I'm not sure what he's ultimately getting at. My initial impression is that it's a caution of sorts to the feminists, to not take Spoiler's resurrection as a great feminist victory, which is fair enough.

The criticism of DC's actions, though, doesn't make much sense to me. I mean, I understand what he's trying to say (I think), that DC resurrecting Spoiler is a sop to fangirls and not any real move towards alleviating feminist concerns... but since when has DC shown any inclination to reform in line with feminist concerns, anyway? I wouldn't think a DC who's looking to make feminist gains is the kind that would casually let colorists bleach Vixen on multiple occasions, or continue with any number of other causes of feminist complaints, from major to minor.

Of course, that thought is based on the assumption that DC is a monolithic entity and each of its employees is in line with one overarching policy; this is likely not the case. The editor that lets Grant Morrisson give Batman a Stephanie-case hallucination may not be working closely with the editor that signs off on cover colors (or they may be the same guy, who knows). Even if you think Dan DiDio is sitting around cackling as he tweaks feminists in some way or another, he's one guy in a larger machine.

It is, I think, a mistake to attribute one action to the body of a many-headed beast. What's more, it seems like a jump to conclusions that ANY action taken by DC in recent times is a move to appease feminists, or offend them, for that matter. You'd first have to assume that DC as a corporate entity was aware (and cared) about feminist concerns in order to say convincingly that they were out to placate or anger them, and I don't think that's really the case. I'm sure they have people who monitor blog-storms and the like; I'm skeptical that such monitoring plays much of a role at editorial meetings.

But back to the issue of feminists and fangirls and Spoiler: rather than thinking that each protester of Spoiler's demise and subsequent non-memorial status is either fan or feminist, one or the other, it seems logical to me that a great many protesters are/were a bit of both to some extent; if nothing else, in the way the protests have been presented.

I've already put forth the idea that a crusader for a cause may appropriate many parallel arguments for/against a certain position in order to strengthen their own argument (and then be willing to turn around and discard anything that suddenly is not helpful to the cause); I'm certain many who were simply ardent fans of Spoiler would use feminist arguments even if they weren't particularly committed to feminism, and I'm betting that many feminists didn't give much thought to Spoiler as a character when she was alive (the first time) but were willing to use her death to bring up their particular agendas. Put those on either end of a scale, salt most of the rest of the protesters in the middle, I think that'd be a decent picture of people's allegiances.

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