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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

HOW TO SHAME A BIG GREEN SLUT PT. 2

Upon re-examining Part 1, I don't think that I made my concluding points clear enough.

Having established Craig Mazin's implied criteria for his act of "slut-shaming"-- or maybe "slut-concept shaming"-- I gave this example of a species of comic-book heroines who did not display the "exaggerated images" he found so objectionable: heroines who were conventionally pretty but not "exaggerated:"




So, by Mazin's logic, none of these characters could be "slut-concepts" because none of them display the exaggerated aspects he finds to be characteristic of evil sexist marketing.

Yet what's the appeal of a scene like this, in which three cute-although-not-exaggerated girls vie for the affections of one male character? Is there no possible element of titillation here?

For that matter, its interesting that the Legion of Super-Heroes was one of the few hero-teams in comic books to sport more than one female. I will admit that the reasons for this can only be a source of speculation, since comics-fandom has no reliable testimony from writers, artists or editors of the Legion's early period as to motivations for this unusual state of affairs.  Did the creators simply want to feature more female characters in order to draw in female readers?  That's not impossible, but based on the way most superhero comics of the period were written, the professionals behind the comics would have regarded the reactions of male readers as their primary measure of financial success.

So it's feasible that Mort Weisinger-- the editor who liked to have Superman play pranks on Lois Lane to "teach her a lesson"-- might have decided to allow more females in the Legion not because he was a great defender of burgeoning feminism, but because an increase of even limited pulchritude might make the series more appealing to that male readership.

IF that is the case-- and I admit there is no defiinitive proof one way or another-- then Mort Weisinger would be using female sexuality as a marketing-tool. So if one pursued the logic of Craig Mazin's accusations without heeding his shallow justifications, the Legion females would be sluts too. In fact, any female character could be a slut if she was used in any way to market anything-- and yes, that includes Vladimir Nabokov's underdeveloped LOLITA, a book which became a best-seller not because of literary merit but because it popularized a covert paraphilia.

Plainly it will not do to simply point fingers as Mazin does. It should be admitted that the evocation of sexual attractiveness is a key appeal in all forms of literature, just as it plays a comparable-- but not at all identical-- role in real life.  Only from such a position can one speak intelligently about the question of good or bad representations of sexuality.

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