Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Episode 1700 Talkback - Comic Talk

Another centennial-episode milestone, and we're playing it totally low-key, just doing what we love most to do: talk comics! We swap stories of Free Comic Book Day 2018, offer reading recommendations, and, biggest and ballsiest of all, we review Deadpool 2! (1:16:36)

Listen here.
«1

Comments

  • David_DDavid_D Posts: 3,781
    Seventeen hundred episodes. (And, actually quite a big more, I think, as not all episodes got numbered the same way).

    Hell of a thing, guys.
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,983
    No, José lives in New York City. But, yes, that was a great get for The Encounter.

    Re: Heroes Con, can’t wait to see you guys again! (Two of you anyway.) Last year was the first time Jerry Ordway had been to the show in about 18 years, if I remember correctly. And this will be Kevin Nowlan’s first appearance since 2003 or 2004—can’t remember which it was. His kids are out of the house now, so he’s starting to do more shows.
  • CalibanCaliban Posts: 1,355
    Excellent musciality by @Adam_Murdough in a fun episode of Muddle the Murd.
    Sweep!
  • mphilmphil Posts: 369
    Great episode as always guys. I was wondering if @Pants could expound on why it is he's not been reading comics recently? Is it the material that's out there these days, busy with other things, or something else? I've noticed you mention this in a couple of recent episodes.
  • PantsPants Posts: 556
    edited May 29
    mphil said:

    Great episode as always guys. I was wondering if @Pants could expound on why it is he's not been reading comics recently? Is it the material that's out there these days, busy with other things, or something else? I've noticed you mention this in a couple of recent episodes.

    I’m just super lazy. It’s much easier to sit and watch TV than it is to grab a comic and read it.

    That and there’s very little out there that has me excited to read it.
  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 177
    Congratulations on reaching 1700 (plus) episodes. Very impressive. I'm glad I fairly recently discovered this podcast as it allows me to feel like I've uncovered a mountain of treasure that'll take me a long time to get through. Another great episode too, really enjoy hearing you guys just talk.

    Re: Deadpool 2: like Matt, I never ever liked the comic book but have loved both films. One of the reasons for this (other than both of them being very funny) is that, unlike the comics they both give Deadpool a personal arc. Which brings us to the topic of alleged "fridging". I take issue with this term because it's yet another example of hostile attribution bias/confirmation bias coming from certain individuals on the left (I'm liberal by the way). While it is absolutely a cliché (and arguably bad writing) to kill off an action hero's loved one, the suggestion that the writer is doing this out of some hidden misogynist/sexist intent that's implicit in the term "fridging" is misguided in the extreme in my opinion.

    Murd, I absolutely loooooove your time bubble and hearing you speak, but I don't think that there's any evidence that Ryan Reynolds and company had any misogynist/sexist intent in killing Vanessa off at the beginning and to call it "fridging" is attributing hostile motivations to them simply because this has happened many times in stories before. Again, it's true it happens a lot and may be lazy writing but that does not indicate misogyny/sexism. The truth is it's been done a lot - esp in genre fiction (which, let's face it, has overwhelmingly been written by males b/c of legitimate sexism in hiring practices/workplace environments) - but the writer needn't necessarily be sexist. It's because it's a nice shortcut (one could certainly argue that it's lazy) to adding pathos (as Mr. Eberle noted) and giving the protagonist an emotional well to climb out of, which is the very reason I became invested in the character a second time in a way I would not have if he were simply fighting against villains to rescue a kidnapped/endangered Vanessa (a scenario which would also draw complaints from certain people on the left as well).

    Ryan Reynolds has outright said in Entertainment Weekly magazine that he isn't sure how he would do a third film b/c as he sees it, Deadpool needs to be an underdog. I certainly agree, otherwise we just get a James Bond film with a literally indestructible and unkillable character saving the day. When a solid character is brought low in some way, I care more.

    It's one of the reasons why even more fictional heroes are orphans. By taking away the people they prize the most and leaving them alone in the world, we can't help but root for them and become invested in their journeys as they dig themselves out of an emotional well by connecting with others. The other reason (and possibly even more important reason) they do it is because they don't have to build a whole series of family and friends they are connected to and create obstacles to allowing the characters to go on adventures and form exciting new relationships. But the writers are definitely not doing it because they hate parents.

    I hope my diatribe wasn't too long/too serious for everyone. I know there are examples of heroes - notably James Bond - whose writers simply get rid of the female partner solely because they want to repeat the formula rather than give the character any emotional challenges or personal arc.

    By the way, another Marvel character whose power was "luck" was Shamrock. Not sure if she's still around but she made an impression on me in Contest of Champions way back when.
  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 177
    BTW, I meant to write (I think) "like Shane, I did not like the Deadpool comics, but have loved the films". Pardon me, I'm still getting used to identifying everyone's name and voice.
  • BrackBrack Posts: 682


    Re: Deadpool 2: like Matt, I never ever liked the comic book but have loved both films. One of the reasons for this (other than both of them being very funny) is that, unlike the comics they both give Deadpool a personal arc.

    Deadpool comics have given him a personal arc more often than not. Especially the last 5 years under Gerry Duggan, which are some of the greatest tragi-comic stories Marvel have published.

    Deadpool the lead character in a comic is a quite different animal from Deadpool the annoying guest star.

    Which leads to a disconnect when people (both pro and con) characterise him as just a wacky one liner killing machine, rather than a sad clown whose life is dragged through the ringer on a regular basis, usually as a result of his own actions.
  • alienalalienal Posts: 489
    Wow, a landmark 1700 episodes! Congratulations, CGSers! And like many of the previous episodes, chock-full of things to comment on, if I only I could remember them all. 1) Pants: nice score on the original art! I wouldn't mind getting any original art from my favorite "first" comic (Avengers #41, 1967?) because my first copy I read until it became tattered, my second copy got lost somehow (borrowed and not returned?)and I still have yet a third copy, but it's at my mother's house right now. Now this wasn't my actual first comic, but it's the one I "love." 2) Barrier: Thanks for the recommendation Chris, I'm gonna have to jump on the back issues. I'm enjoying both Paper Girls and Saga now. 3) Deadpool: I've read him both as a guest star and a little bit in his own comic and have enjoyed them both to a certain extent. However, I think the 4th-wall breaking and the comedy kind of takes me out of it (sort of a "this isn't the real Marvel Universe" kind of thing) so I've never gotten hooked on any title of his. I guess I stayed with Spider-Man/Deadpool the longest because of the McGuinness art. Anyhoo...I enjoyed both movies except for the constant f-bombs, but what can you do? I've actually met some people who talk like that. Oh, and there are a LOT of Deadpool fans here in Japan (people who actually buy the comics), but at the theater I noticed that many of the Japanese mostly react to the visual humor (as they did with Austin Powers) and don't get like 90% of the verbal jokes. 4) Wow, nice un-muddle Murd! Sure they were softballs from Mr. Clark but enjoyable ones. Especially that "yoinks" third question...I got the first two, but that one? No way.
  • MattMatt Posts: 4,205



    Re: Deadpool 2: like Matt, I never ever liked the comic book but have loved both films. One of the reasons for this (other than both of them being very funny) is that, unlike the comics they both give Deadpool a personal arc. Which brings us to the topic of alleged "fridging". I take issue with this term because it's yet another example of hostile attribution bias/confirmation bias coming from certain individuals on the left (I'm liberal by the way). While it is absolutely a cliché (and arguably bad writing) to kill off an action hero's loved one, the suggestion that the writer is doing this out of some hidden misogynist/sexist intent that's implicit in the term "fridging" is misguided in the extreme in my opinion.

    Murd, I absolutely loooooove your time bubble and hearing you speak, but I don't think that there's any evidence that Ryan Reynolds and company had any misogynist/sexist intent in killing Vanessa off at the beginning and to call it "fridging" is attributing hostile motivations to them simply because this has happened many times in stories before. Again, it's true it happens a lot and may be lazy writing but that does not indicate misogyny/sexism. The truth is it's been done a lot - esp in genre fiction (which, let's face it, has overwhelmingly been written by males b/c of legitimate sexism in hiring practices/workplace environments) - but the writer needn't necessarily be sexist. It's because it's a nice shortcut (one could certainly argue that it's lazy) to adding pathos (as Mr. Eberle noted) and giving the protagonist an emotional well to climb out of, which is the very reason I became invested in the character a second time in a way I would not have if he were simply fighting against villains to rescue a kidnapped/endangered Vanessa (a scenario which would also draw complaints from certain people on the left as well).

    Ryan Reynolds has outright said in Entertainment Weekly magazine that he isn't sure how he would do a third film b/c as he sees it, Deadpool needs to be an underdog. I certainly agree, otherwise we just get a James Bond film with a literally indestructible and unkillable character saving the day. When a solid character is brought low in some way, I care more.

    It's one of the reasons why even more fictional heroes are orphans. By taking away the people they prize the most and leaving them alone in the world, we can't help but root for them and become invested in their journeys as they dig themselves out of an emotional well by connecting with others. The other reason (and possibly even more important reason) they do it is because they don't have to build a whole series of family and friends they are connected to and create obstacles to allowing the characters to go on adventures and form exciting new relationships. But the writers are definitely not doing it because they hate parents.

    I hope my diatribe wasn't too long/too serious for everyone. I know there are examples of heroes - notably James Bond - whose writers simply get rid of the female partner solely because they want to repeat the formula rather than give the character any emotional challenges or personal arc.

    By the way, another Marvel character whose power was "luck" was Shamrock. Not sure if she's still around but she made an impression on me in Contest of Champions way back when.

    I couldn’t recall making that statement on a recording, but it’s still accurate; though I haven’t seen DP2 yet.

    The stuff I’ve read about the movie mentioned the writers & director didn’t even know about “fridging.” I always wondered if that’s just restricted to female love interests. Would the Waynes be “fridging”? What about Ben Parker? What about when Apollo Creed died?

    What about if the “fridged” character was a sister or a close friend? If Northstar retires & his partner gets killed by an enemy, is that fridging?

    I can see how it’s a cliche/lazy writing. I understand it can be annoying & unjust to women (if they’re the only ones who are considered “fridgable”). I hate blanket statements; be it about law enforcement, Muslims, minorities, etc. I hate the notion that if it’s done, it’s a reflection of the misogynist/sexism of the writer. I believe I don’t have the right to tell someone(s) what should be offensive, but I also believe someone(s) doesn’t have the right to tell me what my intent was.
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,983
    Matt said:

    I always wondered if that’s just restricted to female love interests. Would the Waynes be “fridging”? What about Ben Parker? What about when Apollo Creed died?

    Yes, all of those are cases of fridging.
    Matt said:

    What about if the “fridged” character was a sister or a close friend? If Northstar retires & his partner gets killed by an enemy, is that fridging?

    If those characters who were killed (or depowered or otherwise removed from the story) were only done so to advance the character development of the lead character, then yes, those would also be fridging. Fridging isn’t gender-specific. The whole point of the original “women in refrigerators” discussion was simply to point out that fridging happens to female characters far more than male characters (and that’s just simple math, since the vast majority of superhero leads are male characters) in response to the question of “why don’t more women read comics?”
  • MattMatt Posts: 4,205

    Matt said:

    I always wondered if that’s just restricted to female love interests. Would the Waynes be “fridging”? What about Ben Parker? What about when Apollo Creed died?

    Yes, all of those are cases of fridging.
    Matt said:

    What about if the “fridged” character was a sister or a close friend? If Northstar retires & his partner gets killed by an enemy, is that fridging?

    If those characters who were killed (or depowered or otherwise removed from the story) were only done so to advance the character development of the lead character, then yes, those would also be fridging. Fridging isn’t gender-specific. The whole point of the original “women in refrigerators” discussion was simply to point out that fridging happens to female characters far more than male characters (and that’s just simple math, since the vast majority of superhero leads are male characters) in response to the question of “why don’t more women read comics?”

    Good to know (and knowing is half...)

    I understand the complaint that it’s typically females who get fridged, but I thought the reason why fewer females read superhero comic books was more because of the fewer percentage of quality female superhero characters starring in her own title. I’m not convinced the number of female readers of male leading titles would increase if fewer females were fridged.
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,983
    Matt said:

    Matt said:

    I always wondered if that’s just restricted to female love interests. Would the Waynes be “fridging”? What about Ben Parker? What about when Apollo Creed died?

    Yes, all of those are cases of fridging.
    Matt said:

    What about if the “fridged” character was a sister or a close friend? If Northstar retires & his partner gets killed by an enemy, is that fridging?

    If those characters who were killed (or depowered or otherwise removed from the story) were only done so to advance the character development of the lead character, then yes, those would also be fridging. Fridging isn’t gender-specific. The whole point of the original “women in refrigerators” discussion was simply to point out that fridging happens to female characters far more than male characters (and that’s just simple math, since the vast majority of superhero leads are male characters) in response to the question of “why don’t more women read comics?”

    Good to know (and knowing is half...)

    I understand the complaint that it’s typically females who get fridged, but I thought the reason why fewer females read superhero comic books was more because of the fewer percentage of quality female superhero characters starring in her own title. I’m not convinced the number of female readers of male leading titles would increase if fewer females were fridged.
    The original discussion wasn’t arguing that fridging was the reason, just one of the contributing factors. Something along the lines of seeing female characters get killed off, or written out, or depowered, etc., over and over would turn women off from reading superhero books in general.
  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 177
    Matt, I couldn't agree with your first statement more. Sorry for misattributing the quote to you. I mean to say Shane.

    Mr. Nweathington, I'm afraid we agree to disagree. You say that Creed, the Waynes and Ben Parker are all examples of fridging and that it's not gender specific, but fridging as a term did not even exist until Gail Simone coined the term specifically as it related to gender. Previously it would've simply been considered lazy writing or a trope leaving out any implications of misoygny out of it. While you may use the term as applicable to both genders and others - even Ms. Simone - may claim that it applies to both genders, that's not the way it's normally used. Feel free to do a google search to find the number of times it comes up solely because a male was killed and contrast it with the number of times it comes up when a female is killed - the discrepancy is enormous.

    IMO the entire concept of fridging is an example of confirmation bias, where one selectively picks and chooses examples that fit the argument and ignore all the other examples that don't. For example, if Jason Todd had been a female and the readers had called in and voted to kill HER off, Jason Todd would've been cited as example one of alleged latent misogyny in the readership. The entire call-in scenario would've been cited by social science academics as evidence of misogyny in fact.

    I do completely agree that there is a disproportionality and that female readers have gotten the short end of the stick for decades, but that's a result of the overwhelming majority of lead characters being hetero males and writers wanting to bring them as low as possible (by taking out or hurting what matters most to them, which is often the female love interest) for maximum emotional impact. Fridging happens mostly to female characters not because the writer dislikes women (although he may in certain instances, only the Shadow - and apparently legions of social science academics - know what evil lurks in the hearts of men) but because a woman, historically, is frequently the most important person to the male hero.

    Just my take on it.


  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 177
    By the way, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that if one wished to make a "fridging" type argument that comic book writers had some kind of latent dislike of children and cite the numerous abuses/tortures/deaths/discarding that young sidekicks have been subjected to throughout the decades, one could do so. It would also be a perfect example of confirmation bias at work.
  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 177
    And of course, there's an extremely strong confirmation bias argument to be made that writers of all heroic narratives have a latent problem with parents considering how many heroes are orphaned.

    There is nothing necessarily wrong with disproportionality - the problem arises when motivations are attributed to something like misogyny, as in the overwhelming majority of uses of "fridging".
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,983
    edited June 13
    @Vertighost, Simone coined the term “women in refrigerators”, not “fridging”—but maybe that’s being nitpicky. The colloquilization of “fridging”, as with most terms, has evolved over time and broader usage. Maybe it is still used more in terms of being gender-specific, but I’ve seen it used more broadly in recent times. To be honest though, I hardly ever see it used these days.

    Previously it would've simply been considered lazy writing or a trope leaving out any implications of misoygny out of it.

    I never disagreed with that statement, as it is a true statement.

    ...but that's a result of the overwhelming majority of lead characters being hetero males and writers wanting to bring them as low as possible (by taking out or hurting what matters most to them, which is often the female love interest) for maximum emotional impact.

    I said the same thing already, just in a lot fewer words. :)

    It seems to me that the only thing we’re really disagreeing on is whether fridging can be used generically or must be specific to women.

    Here’s the thing though, why fridging happens is beside the point. The whole point of why it was brought up in the first place is still a valid one. The medium/genre was already dominated by male characters, and regularly killing/depowering/turning evil their female supporting characters wasn’t helping to bring in female readership. Confirmation bias doesn’t change that simple fact. The point was that not only did the industry not have enough strong female leads, it didn’t even have enough strong, regularly appearing, positive female supporting characters. I think taking that point beyond those parameters—in either direction—is just adding noise to the message.
  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 177
    I agree with everything you wrote except "why fridging happens" being "beside the point". The term may evolve in the long term to refer to both genders, but, as of yet, I've never seen it used that way. It only comes up in reference to females and because of the word's origins the association with latent misogyny remains strong. I want the readership of comics to become as diverse as possible, as I'm sure you do, but these kinds of terms that unfairly ascribe malicious motivations to certain groups (in this case male writers) are mind-reading posing as fact and becoming more and more commonplace. Not to get too political or alienate anyone on here, but Fox News and extremists on the left regularly engage in this kind of attribution bias (i.e. "the real reason Dems/Repubs are doing this is because....make up a reason that makes Dems/Repubs look secretly malicious") which is one reason I think the country grows ever more polarized.

    The lack of female characters IS a problem, and I'd be fine with ignoring the "why"s of it as long as the "why" implied by "fridging" wasn't that something is rotten in the state of Denmark (i.e. the comics industry is full of latently misogynist jerks). I also readily admit that there very well may be a ton of latently misogynist jerks in the comics industry, but I don't see fridging as a valid example.
  • MattMatt Posts: 4,205
    I think back to my Research Methods class in college. We learned that raw data can support both sides of an argument. It all depends on how it’s interpreted.

    I’m not going to argue the clear fact that more female characters then male characters get fridged. I’m not going to argue the fact that if I was a female, I’d be bothered by the inequality of occurrences.

    I will question the validity that it’s a factor in fewer females reading comic books. I’m betting the number of males reading female lead titles greatly outweighs the number of females reading male lead titles. I’m betting we’d find nearly all fridging occurring in those male lead titles. I’m betting if 1000 females who don’t read comic books were polled nearly zero would reference fridging as a factor.

    If I’m to believe that with Ms Marvel being a Muslim will bring in Muslim readers & Alan Scott will bring more gay readers, then I’d have to conclude that more (well written) female lead titles will bring in more female readers.

    Circling back to the beginning of this post; I have no doubt the gender inequality of fridging is an issue. I have no doubt it angers Gail Simone and many other females involved in this genre. I just find it a convenient fact to attach to why there are fewer female readers.
  • MattMatt Posts: 4,205

    I agree with everything you wrote except "why fridging happens" being "beside the point". The term may evolve in the long term to refer to both genders, but, as of yet, I've never seen it used that way. It only comes up in reference to females and because of the word's origins the association with latent misogyny remains strong. I want the readership of comics to become as diverse as possible, as I'm sure you do, but these kinds of terms that unfairly ascribe malicious motivations to certain groups (in this case male writers) are mind-reading posing as fact and becoming more and more commonplace. Not to get too political or alienate anyone on here, but Fox News and extremists on the left regularly engage in this kind of attribution bias (i.e. "the real reason Dems/Repubs are doing this is because....make up a reason that makes Dems/Repubs look secretly malicious") which is one reason I think the country grows ever more polarized.

    The lack of female characters IS a problem, and I'd be fine with ignoring the "why"s of it as long as the "why" implied by "fridging" wasn't that something is rotten in the state of Denmark (i.e. the comics industry is full of latently misogynist jerks). I also readily admit that there very well may be a ton of latently misogynist jerks in the comics industry, but I don't see fridging as a valid example.

    I agree. I think people are quick to put people into one of two boxes without actually discussing opinions. It’s an issue on both sides and why we’re so divided in the US.

    I think it’s always easier to dismiss a potentially dissenting opinion because it might invalidate your opinion. If you paint someone in a negative manner (racist, snowflake, Trumpkin, etc), then it devalues his/her opinion. It’s a classic technique in espionage; when you devalue the message, you devalue the messenger.
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,983
    Matt said:

    I will question the validity that it’s a factor in fewer females reading comic books. I’m betting the number of males reading female lead titles greatly outweighs the number of females reading male lead titles. I’m betting we’d find nearly all fridging occurring in those male lead titles. I’m betting if 1000 females who don’t read comic books were polled nearly zero would reference fridging as a factor.

    First off, I think the whole fridging debate has already had a big effect on the comic book industry. I don’t really see it as a critical issue within comics currently, which is why I've mostly been talking about the past. Writers are acutely aware of it now, and go out of their way to avoid it for the most part. Simone more or less accomplished (along with others) what she set out to do way back in 1999. Yeah, it’s been 18 years.

    So, yeah, I agree that very few women today would specifically mention fridging as a reason they don't read superhero comics. And I don't think they would have mentioned it as a specific reason back in the mid-2000s when this kind of came to a head. But I do think a larger number of women back then would have said that they couldn't relate to the characters, or something along those lines. And one of the reasons for that would have been because there weren’t enough positive, strong, regularly appearing female supporting characters. And one of the reasons for that was because female supporting characters were, for the most part, disposable (as were, to be fair, most supporting characters in general).

    Really, I think fridging is/was more of a side-effect than a disease. But the debate did, I think, positively effect the industry on the whole.
    Matt said:

    If you paint someone in a negative manner (racist, snowflake, Trumpkin, etc), then it devalues his/her opinion.

    As far as I'm concerned, it devalues the opinion of the person who is blithely using the term—be it “racist”, “snowflake”, “cuck”, etc.—rather than the person the term in question is being used against. But unfortunately a lot of, if not most, people don’t think that way.
  • MattMatt Posts: 4,205

    Matt said:

    I will question the validity that it’s a factor in fewer females reading comic books. I’m betting the number of males reading female lead titles greatly outweighs the number of females reading male lead titles. I’m betting we’d find nearly all fridging occurring in those male lead titles. I’m betting if 1000 females who don’t read comic books were polled nearly zero would reference fridging as a factor.

    First off, I think the whole fridging debate has already had a big effect on the comic book industry. I don’t really see it as a critical issue within comics currently, which is why I've mostly been talking about the past. Writers are acutely aware of it now, and go out of their way to avoid it for the most part. Simone more or less accomplished (along with others) what she set out to do way back in 1999. Yeah, it’s been 18 years.

    So, yeah, I agree that very few women today would specifically mention fridging as a reason they don't read superhero comics. And I don't think they would have mentioned it as a specific reason back in the mid-2000s when this kind of came to a head. But I do think a larger number of women back then would have said that they couldn't relate to the characters, or something along those lines. And one of the reasons for that would have been because there weren’t enough positive, strong, regularly appearing female supporting characters. And one of the reasons for that was because female supporting characters were, for the most part, disposable (as were, to be fair, most supporting characters in general).

    Really, I think fridging is/was more of a side-effect than a disease. But the debate did, I think, positively effect the industry on the whole.
    Matt said:

    If you paint someone in a negative manner (racist, snowflake, Trumpkin, etc), then it devalues his/her opinion.

    As far as I'm concerned, it devalues the opinion of the person who is blithely using the term—be it “racist”, “snowflake”, “cuck”, etc.—rather than the person the term in question is being used against. But unfortunately a lot of, if not most, people don’t think that way.
    I’m not sure if my tone was misread or I missed read your reply, but I wasn’t questioning the validity of the fridging effect to you specifically. I read your initial comment about the correlation not so much as your opinion, but rather passing along a notion you’ve been advised of.

    And I completely agree with your last paragraph. I’ve adopted the philosophy that in a discussion/argument, once one person starts making personal attacks, it’s a sign he/she is backed into a corner. Either he/she has no more “good points” to add or had his/her points blown apart by the other person.
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,983
    Matt said:

    I’ve adopted the philosophy that in a discussion/argument, once one person starts making personal attacks, it’s a sign he/she is backed into a corner. Either he/she has no more “good points” to add or had his/her points blown apart by the other person.

    Well, a lot of times they just come out swinging with that type of language, either because they’re having an emotion-based discussion rather than a rational discussion, or because they’re just trying to get a reaction and make people angry.
  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 177
    Matt, thank you so much for mentioning taking a Research Methods class. I think the world would be a much better place if everyone took a course in this. A large chunk of social science studies involving human beings suffers from poor experimental design. Unfortunately these are generally also the kinds of studies that make for easy click-bait and human interest stories in the medial.

    I also think you raise a great (generally unasked these days) question regarding the idea that creating more (good) female characters will inevitably bring in more female readers.

    I assume it will bring in some, but don't expect it to be much. I have 2 reasons for thinking this:


    1. As you and Nweathington both implied (correct me if I'm wrong): I think the overwhelming majority of readers - male and female - didn't really notice things like "fridging" (it happened disproportionately more to females but examples of it were still always relatively rare) or viewed it as enough of a problem to put them off reading comics. The women (and men) I know who enjoy genre movies - or books - don't view them with their socio-political lenses on.

    While many non-STEM courses in colleges continue to increase the number of people who are hyper aware of disproportionality of any kind, I don't know how many people are sensitive enough to be offended or put off - if they even notice in the first place. Like any popular art form, it's primarily consumed for enjoyment, not analysis. It's like popular music. How many people even care about the lyrics?

    It's worth noting with no small irony that a complete lack of strong female characters never put Gail Simone (and other women) off reading them. Fridging didn't drive her off either even though she claimed that was the reason why women don't read comics (and a large number of people accepted it).

    2. It's hard enough to get males to read comics these days, never mind females.

    One last thing: the overwhelming success Game of Thrones enjoys with adult females makes me wonder if there's something about simply creating lots of strong female superheroes that won't be enough for the average woman. Until Game of Thrones the strong female characters in sword and sorcery epics were of the warrior women/goddess types. That brought some female readers in but not alot. On Game of Thrones, however, most of the strong female characters are NOT female versions of the traditional male heroes (force wins the day), but distinctly feminine and often succeeding on their wits. There's also a stronger focus on romantic relationships and more "realistic" political intrigue. I would never in a million years have recommended a sword and sorcery epic to my mother but there was something about Game of Thrones that I knew was different and she loves it as much as I do now. In a certain way it's simply Downton Abbey with a lot more stabbing.
  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 177
    Nweathington, I would agree that Ms. Simone accomplished what she set out to do in comics. I'm assuming most writers are now quite wary of being the focus of a torch carrying group of villagers on social media, or their editors are there to remind them. The irony is that the male writers will wind up treating their female characters differently (nicer) than their male ones. (Presumably a female writer can get away with more "abuse" against a female character since it's much harder to make the misogyny label stick.)

    I just hope it never reaches the point where you have something like Rose McGowan condemning a poster showing Apocalypse choking Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, the biggest star in the film) for allegedly promoting domestic violence, and the comics company apologizing and withdrawing it. If you want female superheroes, they're going to get hurt. There were some scenes in Avengers Infinity War where they had females only fighting females which I found odd and I was wondering if that was done because the company figured it's best to just completely avoid any chance of those kinds of accusations (that the films somehow promote violence against women) being made. Ironically, of course, I heard one female podcaster complain about this and wish that they would have let the women fight the men as well.
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,983
    edited June 17
    =

    It's hard enough to get males to read comics these days, never mind females.

    Hard enough to get them to read, period. Though they both seem to like the manga well enough. Maybe because manga offers something for seemingly everybody, no matter what their particular interests might be. Which is something the US comics market is creeping towards thanks to publishers like Image and to web comics (not to mention English translations of manga books).

    Until Game of Thrones the strong female characters in sword and sorcery epics were of the warrior women/goddess types. That brought some female readers in but not alot. On Game of Thrones, however, most of the strong female characters are NOT female versions of the traditional male heroes (force wins the day), but distinctly feminine and often succeeding on their wits. There's also a stronger focus on romantic relationships and more "realistic" political intrigue. I would never in a million years have recommended a sword and sorcery epic to my mother but there was something about Game of Thrones that I knew was different and she loves it as much as I do now. In a certain way it's simply Downton Abbey with a lot more stabbing.

    When I and people like the aforementioned Gail Simone use the phrase “strong female characters”, this is exactly what we’re talking about. Not necessarily strong in the tough, I-can-do-anything-you-can-do way, but (as Pearl of Steven Universe would say) strong in the real way. Those warrior women and goddess types were mostly written by male writers for an overwhelmingly male audience. On the other hand, women responded to the Wonder Woman movie not just because she kicked butt, but because she was also distinctly feminine and approached things from a feminine perspective.
  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 177
    Nweathington, I'm not trying to be contrarian, but I don't think women responded to the WW Movie "not just because she kicked butt, but because she was also distinctly feminine" and approached things from a "feminine perspective" (I'd hate to have to untangle exactly what those things mean without being accused of sexism, but I get what you're saying: Wonder Woman has always given alot of lip service to the importance of sisterhood and peace before reluctantly pummeling someone.)

    I think women - who are into genre/superhero fiction already (the Gail Simones, let's call them) - are fine with all kinds of warrior women. Harley Quinn, Princess Leia, Ellen Ripley (even in just the first Alien) and Imperator Furiosa are far less stereotypically feminine and women love them too. IMO the movie was a hit because it was mostly well made (I preferred the animated film which was co-written by Gail Simone coincidentally) and the character has tons of fans who were starving for a legit Hollywood WW movie. (Myself included. I even felt a little choked up at one point thinking "How wonderful that girls finally can get to see an all time fave in a proper blockbuster.)

    My point about GoT was that George Martin - who was initially writing GoT for an overwhelmingly male audience - is that his females pull in the non-Gail Simones of the world. My mother. Many of my female co-workers who may love what WW represents, but would not consider a tv show about her appointment viewing. The Gail Simones of the world were never turned off enough by fridging or lack of strong female characters to stop reading in the first place.

    Martin's women are far more realistically "feminine" than Wonder Woman or any superhero. The majority of his female creations don't use their fists or force at all because they're "real". They outwit, seduce or manipulate. At the same time they are generally driven by the same goals as the men: power for good/protection of the family or power for selfish reasons.

    I guess what I was trying to say in my long winded way is I think if comics wish to draw in more female readers who are not the Gail Simones of the world, they need to worry less about fridging than they do about crafting characters who are more George Martin and less William Moulton Marston. I don't think the non-Gail Simones of the world are that interested in a genre where the heroine primarily resolves things by punching them (like WW).

    Manga is a great example of what I mean as well. There's something about superheroes punching things that I don't think appeals to the majority of women.
  • nweathingtonnweathington Posts: 5,983
    edited June 19
    I think, and I may be wrong, that a large part of the appeal of GoT to women is not so much that the majority of his female characters don't use their fists, etc., but more that there is such a diversity of female characters in the books/show. With all the different female characters and all of their distinct personalities and strengths and weaknesses, the female readership/viewership can very easily find someone they can relate to or recognize in some way. That is the most “real” aspect about those characters. They aren’t cookie-cutter or two-dimensional. They can be brave at times, and cowardly or selfish at others. They can be honest or treacherous or both. They can be loving and hateful. That’s what makes them “real”.
  • VertighostVertighost Posts: 177
    Nweathington, agreed. Martin creates a lot of different female characters, but they're all decidedly not Wonder Woman-like. Although I suppose one could make an argument that Daenyrys is. I think WW's popular despite herself (like Superman or Captain America). Her "feminine perspective" is really just idealized/stereotypical femininity which sounds particularly hollow given what she regularly does.

    By the way, I was trying to think of stories I found "feminine", not in the WW "feminine" way, but concerned with feminine problems and motivations and resolving things in ways females can more readily identify with. The one I came up with was The Craft with Fairuza Balk. Not sure if you've ever seen it, but that, to me, seemed like a power fantasy geared specifically towards females. (Although I enjoyed it a great deal as well.) I think a remake of that would have large opening weekend composed of women. It led to the creation of the tv show Charmed as well, which I assume was mostly watched by women.


    Here's a question that I've often wondered about: why did Harley Quinn become so popular with women? Does she represent the idea of making the mistake of loving a jerk (presumably making her instantly relatable) while simultaneously representing total freedom?
Sign In or Register to comment.