Parts of it I actually agree with. I definitely concur that once the internet furore among the feminist blogs got blazing, a lot of the criticism of the cover lacked the anchor of the image's context within the rest of comic art. But I consolidated that with the fact that sometimes an issue just needs a 'straw that breaks the camel's back' like this particular cover to bring it to wider attention. At the time, I certainly wasn't ready to take sides and, as with anything on the internet, tried to enjoy and learn from the intelligent debate around the issue, and ignore the ignorance.
But after reading the Maddox blog, I was left in the odd position of agreeing with him but utterly troubled by his means of making his argument - the shaming, blanket generalisations and attacks against people who object to 'this kind of thing' that I've seen time and again. If anyone vocalising unease with certain aspects of entertainment being too misogynistic, homophobic, racially provocative or whatever is going to be lumped into a group of grey, borderline-fascist do-gooders then I've got a few generalisations of my own about the way that a certain type of men on the internet tend to react to reasonable criticism. I've seen many of these arguments on my own Facebook wall recently when I voiced concern about a misjudged joke on a cartoon or bemoaned the commissioning of a TV show by a comedy actor who uses aggressive, sexualised insults on complete strangers. Frothing-at-the-mouth, PC bastard I am.
|Knock knock. Who's There? Moist.|
Secondly, I think the straw man 'initiative' of drawing every image of Spiderman as Spider-Woman is the typical internet hardcore-gamer mentality; dodge the issue, move the goalposts, jump on the attack and use a technicality to belligerently, but entertainingly, shame the argument of the opposite party. Instead of listening to their opponent's points and creating a coherent retort, they frame a nuanced argument as a 'game' in which they can use their Photoshop prowess to 'win' rather than a debate where you can learn from each other. Changing Spiderman into Spider-Woman uses a lot of smoke and mirrors but ultimately proves nothing - whether I agree that the Spider-Woman cover crosses a line or not, I can clearly see the difference between that and Spiderman in terms of the sexualisation of that image. I can't believe I'm having to explain it, because we all know it's there. There's a kinetic dynamism in the Spiderman images. There's a sexual slither in the Spider-Woman image. It's the work of a great artist that can bring that out. And I'm not saying I ultimately object to a sexy female comic character in context... but spare me the bullshit that it's all the same thing. I've read super hero comics since the age of four. While you might be able to draw Spider-Woman in a pose that looks the same as Spiderman, that doesn't make women any more equal or make you 'right'. Engaging and sharing your views about the issue, standing by your point while conceding ground, compromising and teaching... that's what makes you 'right'.
|The 'image game' can work both ways.|