Friday, December 15, 2006

More on Buffy and comics

I think my actual point in this post was hidden a little deep, so I thought I'd explain it a bit.

I objected to the image of Buffy in the comic, of course I did. I object to 95% of the images of women that are presented in our society. But I objected, particularly, to that being an image of Buffy, and I don't think I was particularly clear why.

As a medium television is aimed at women, more than men. A television show is trying to sell an audience, not sell itself. In particular it is trying to sell consumers, which means women.

Super-hero comics are only trying to sell themselves, and like beer, they seem to have decided they get the biggest audience by creating (it is clear that most beer advertisers believe that men evaluate their beer buying choices on which beer is the least likely to give them girl germs). The biggest way these comic books create the homosocial world, is by creating their female characters as male fantasies.

My objection to the comic book image of Buffy, isn't that it is any more or less real than the image of Buffy on TV. It's that the shape of her body is created for men. The shape of Buffy on television was created for women - in the most negative way possible. There's no way you'd see women like that on television - television's job is to convice us that it's not OK to have thighs that big.

I don't think it's any worse to create images to make women feel bad, than it is to creates images to fulfill men's fantasies.* But images of women as skinny as Sarah Michelle Gellar, are aimed at me. Images of women who look like they've had several ribs removed, worn a corset, and still managed to develop rock hard abs are not.

I'd rather have a Buffy who was supposed to make me feel bad about myself, than a Buffy who was supposed to be nothing to do with me.

* Is that what they're supposed to do? I don't really know. I find it hard to believe that anyone would find breasts of steel arousing. I suspect the actual role of women drawn like that is much more complicated, some combination of power and helplessness, as well as creating a particular image of what a sexually attractive women looks like.


  1. AFAIK, the grotesquely misshapen super-heroines in comics are there because that's what sells.

    It's not what the customers consciously want though, it's just that the artists have happened onto a trigger for the part of the human brain function that recognises females capable of breeding.

    That function kicks in, just for an instant, just enough to catch the eye and let the recognition brain assess and reject it.
    The extra numbers that take the time to really look at that comic generate more sales than are lost to those who have a more rational reaction to the display.

    Ditto for the grotesquely misshapen super-heroes, only that's more a threat assessment thing. Again, very quickly rejected by actually looking.

    Either that or there are untold millions of seriously deluded people out there buying comic books, and I don't like to think of the world in that way. 8]

  2. but these women actually often wouldn't be capable of breeding if they were real - they wouldn't have the sufficient body-fat to have periods, or their bodies themselves would be impossible, eg if Barbie were real she would not have strong enough ankles and legs to hold her body up.

  3. That's quite right span, and kittens don't really look anything like baby humans either. It's not about a rational reaction, but the instinctual one that makes you open your eyes and take an interest, just for a moment.

    Most people are completely unaware of why things initially draw their attention, be it to supermarket displays or magazine covers, and often assume that if they're looking at something it must be worthy of that attention. In reality, most things we look at these days have been carefully designed to make people look at them using instinctual reactions.