Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dude Writers Pissy About Newfangled Non-Male, Non-Straight Characters

Where many feminists rightly critique the media for producing content that excludes female characters or that excludes female audiences, some men of privilege critique the media for producing content that features female characters or that was created to appeal to audiences members who are people other than straight white men.

The latter instance, judging by some men's reactions to being de-centered,  is interpreted as an appalling attack on straight white men, morally equal to (and probably worse than) women being systemically excluded from representation. Because they are used to being the default protagonists of life, TV shows, movies, comic books, and video games, they snark, mock, and ridicule representations that do not center them, their life experiences, and their desires.

Lacking the desire or ability to understand what it's like to not be centered, they do not or cannot concede that people might have good motives for creating characters other than straight white men, or trying to appeal to audiences other than people like themselves. Such is their entitlement. What they have no need or desire for, they think everyone else in the world has no need or desire for.

As one of two recent examples, conservative author John C. Wright has a tantrum over Marvel making comic book character Thor a woman. In a post titled, grossly, "Thor Cropped of his Male Member," he bemoans, what else, but political correctness gone awry™:
"I have recovered my powers of speech and can comment further. Is Marvel Comics out of its collective ever-lovin’ mind? 
Do they not care if they lose 80% of their few remaining readers? 
Does Marvel actually think fangirls want to read about girls acting macho and kicking ass? 
And if you wanted to do a Norse Goddess ass-kicker superheroine, what in the name of Nastrond is wrong with Sif, or Valkyrie, or any other established Marvel Norse heroine? 
Is there anything wrong with either of these Nordic she-soldiers. 
Ah, but the point of Political Correctness is not to tell a story and make it good, but to take a good story and ruin it.

Fanboys, I know, like looking at woman warriors that are leggy and busty and dress in skintight black leather."
Note the condescension, the cocksure certainty that he, a man, just knows what "fangirls" want from "girl" superheroes and "she-soldiers." Observe the lazy, self-centered use of the phrase political correctness to assume that Marvel made this decision solely to hurt people like him by destroying something he thought was cool!  Note the way he places himself as objective arbiter of what is and isn't a good story.

As a second recent example, conservative blogger Rod Dreher clutches his pearls about comic book character Archie (*spoiler alert if people even read Archie still*) dying in an anti-gay hate crime incident. Dreher mocks:
"Seriously, this happens today in the comic universe.... [quotes description of Archie's demise]
Nope, nothing overtly political here. Hey, since I was last in Riverdale, they’ve got teen lesbians, one of whom is a 'fierce Latina.'
Seems like everybody is gay in pop culture today."
I guess it's quaint-funny that Dreher thinks an incident like a hate crime, a character who's a fierce Latina lesbian, or a story being political are Totally Out There in comic book world.  Like, has he read a comic book, ever?  Or, does he only object to representations that don't jive with his seemingly ideal world of straight white guys staying at the center of all things and political content he disagrees with being marginalized? And, for that matter, does he live in the real world, you know, the one that actually consists of Latina lesbians?

And yes, the Archie plot might be heavy-handed which, it seems, is part of what Dreher is objecting to, but his commentary also shows some huffy pouting about gay people and allies being represented at all, in the media.

Dudes can accept a character being bitten by a radioactive spider and hence developing exaggerated super powers of spiders, characters from fairy tales somehow living under the radar in New York City, and thousands of comic book characters seemingly never aging throughout the years, but they draw the line at representations of a hate crime or a female Thor?

It's hard for me to think that something other than shitloads of unexamined privilege, entitlement, and self-centeredness can explain that.

Atlantic Writer: Women's Prison Show Should be More About Men

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