Tag Archives: sexuality

We Saw Your Boobs-And I Want Feedback

28 Feb

 

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http://youtu.be/saHG2MLDfPI?t=12s

So, this is getting a lot of attention. Above is a link to Seth McFarlane’s opening Oscar number. This thing has raised a few eyebrows, and cause some people to pull out the old soap box. My reaction: what did you expect from the creator of such potty-humor juggernauts as *Family Guy* and *Ted*? McFarlane opened the show with a song and dance routine that named various actresses and the films in which they appear nude, aptly titled: “We Saw Your Boobs.”

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Some critics are complaining that the actresses singled out in the bit bared all for art. They are bothered because the actresses efforts have been subverted for the sake of a joke.

But that’s sort of the thing about art, isn’t it? Once you put words, or images, or body parts out there; people will interpret them as they wish. I doubt Van Gogh ever foresaw *Starry Night* iPhone skins and area rugs, but those things exist. So do people who think boobs are worth giggling about, McFarlane capitalized on a point of view that already existed, he didn’t invent it.

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I am not sure that the Oscar Award Ceremony was really the time and place for such humor, but I am not sure it was really the place for McFarlane either. The Academy did, in some capacity, know what they were signing up for (the segment was not performed live after all). Its not like Hugh Jackman went rogue with a number about testicles, or James Franco suddenly burst into spoken word poetry about orgies, or Billy Crystal had a wardrobe malfunction… this was planned. McFarlane is the guy who makes us laugh whether we want to or not, despite the fact that we sometimes know we shouldn’t.

So, with all that said, this got me thinking about comic books (yes most things do) and I decided to write about it. I was thinking that, while actresses and actors get the final say on their nude scenes; comic book characters are in the hands of their creative teams. They don’t get to choose whether or not the public sees them unclothed. Yet, once it has happened, its out there. For better or worse, to be appreciated, or mocked. I can’t imagine Barbara Gordon (as Oracle or New 52 Batgirl) signing up to do Batman Confidential #18, but there she is, wearing nothing but a cowl and a grimace. That book is still attached to her name, and if you google “Batgirl nude” it will pop right up. The legacy of nudity for comic characters is very similar to that of actors.

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So in preparation for a much longer post on this subject… I am putting out an all call.

Tell me what you think about nudity in comics. Is there a scene or character that comes to mind when you consider the topic? A time when it added to a story, or detracted from one, that left an impression on you? Does it affect the books you buy, or tell people you buy? Who gets it right? Who misses the mark? Surprise me with your own insights. Tell me what you think. E-mail me at comicsonice@gmail.com

I’ll post the best response here on my blog, and make sure everyone (or no one if you prefer) knows who is responsible.

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The Encomium of Josephine: The Exoneration of a Disastrous Woman

14 Feb

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In the series Fatale, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips published by Image Comics; the main character Josephine, or “Jo,” is a moral gray area. Is she a hero, or a villain?

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To begin, there should be no ambiguity regarding the meaning of the term, “femme fatale,” which translated from French literally reads, “disastrous woman.” The dictionary goes on to define the term  as, “a seductive woman who lures men into dangerous or compromising situations,” or “a woman who attracts men by an aura of charm and mystery.” Using this definition as a rubric, how does Brubaker’s leading lady, Jo, stack up?

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Jo is certainly mysterious; she is certainly beautiful. She has power and influence over the stronger sex, which she seems capable of wielding to various degrees of accuracy and deadliness. She does seem to enact Murphy’s Law on the men who cross her path. Once she is a part of their lives; anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. However, to this point in the series, Brubaker has lead us to see Jo as a reluctant vessel for this power. While manipulating the men who surround her, she often develops strong feelings of affection, if not love, for them. When calamity consumes her lovers, she seems to feel genuine remorse and sorrow. So, that leads naturally to the next question I will ask: is there such a thing as a reluctant femme fatale; or does the term by definition imply intent?

Case Study: Helen of Troy

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“…she had godlike beauty, which having received she not inconspicuously retained. She produced the greatest erotic desires in most men. For one body many bodies of men came together…”
-Gorgias “The Encomium of Helen”

According to ancient Greek legend, Helen was the most beautiful woman ever to have lived. She belonged to Sparta; she was their queen. Her lover, Paris, was a Trojan prince. He took her away with him, to live happily ever after. As is so often the case when a young man takes a bride, an epic war broke out; taking the lives of countless men, destroying families and permanently altering history. Helen has been given the monicker, “The face that launched a thousand ships.” She has been vilified and berated for centuries.

Was she to blame for the effect she had on the men of her day?

Between 480-380 B.C.E. a Greek Sophist, called Gorgias, set out to accomplish the great feat of exonerating Helen in his speech, “The Encomium of Helen.” He posited that Helen’s actions (leaving Sparta and starting the Trojan War) were the result of one of four things: fate, force, persuasion, or love; and the if any of these were the culprit, she was blameless. Could the same be said for Josephine, the heroine in Fatale?

FATE:

“For the will of a god cannot be hindered by human forethought.” – Gorgias

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It is clear that Jo is a piece of a much larger puzzle. Brubaker takes care to establish that she is cursed, and this curse touches every facet of her existence.

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There are worldly forces controlling her fate…

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And that the rules of this mortal existence do not apply to her.

FORCE:

“But if she was abducted by force, unlawfully constrained and unjustly victimized, it is clear on the one hand that the abductor, as victimizer, committed injustice…” – Gorgias

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It is clear time and again, that Jo is motivated by her fear of violence and victimization. The consequences she would face if she fell into the hands of her adversaries are great enough that she will do anything to avoid facing them. Her fear suppresses her conscience. The threat of violence is tantamount to force in this case.

PERSUASION:

“Persuasion belonging to discourse shapes the soul at will,” – Gorgias

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The truth is, we still do not know how Jo came by the power she possesses. Did she willingly acquiesce, was she tricked into it, or did she come into existence already endowed with this fatal beauty? The panel above seems to indicate that she was somehow initiated into this life.

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However, we learn later that she was not fully educated on her power, or the potential harm she could generate. This might suggest that there was an element of trickery or deception in her initial encounter which led to her acquiring this power. If she was deceived in the beginning and not made fully aware of the devastation she could cause; can she be held responsible?

LOVE:

“If Love, being a god, has the divine power of gods, how could the weaker being have the power to reject this and to ward it off?” – Gorgias

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Time and again, Jo thinks of her affectionate feelings for the men who come in and out of her life. She never takes for granted those who come to her assistance, and seems genuinely invested in her partners.

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She never discounts the sincerity and earnestness of her lovers feelings for her. In fact, she seems as incapable of stopping herself from reciprocating those feelings as she is of inspiring them.

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Jo even puts herself in harms way to protect those who love her, braving bullets and a fiery crash to save Nicholas Lash.

How then is it necessary to regard as just the blame of Helen, who either passionately in love or persuaded by discourse or abducted by force or constrained by divine constraints did the things she did, escaping responsibility every way? By this discourse I have removed infamy from a woman… – Gorgias

Jo is a force of nature, not a malicious temptress praying on the innocent. Find it in your heart to pardon her, and pick up this beautiful series from Image comics here: http://www.comixology.com/Fatale-1/digital-comic/NOV110354

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And find more of my writing at http://imageaddiction.net/ 

What’s Love Got to Do With It? Attitudes Toward Sexuality in Revival

5 Feb

My, oh my, these girls have interesting ideas about the function and nature of sexuality. This post examines the role that sexuality plays in the series Revival by Tim Sheeley and Mike Norton, published by Image comics. You should know that if you are not caught up on issues 1-6, you should be… no really, go pick them up now, and this contains *SPOILERS* so be warned.

All images below are from Mike Norton’s interior artwork.

Let’s start with Dana. She had a child, as a teenager; this apparently left her with a litany of torments that manifest in attitudes toward her body and her sexuality.

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Above, we see Em referring to the strain that Dana’s pregnancy placed on her relationship with her father. Em believes that Dana is driven by a need for her father’s approval, this makes her so interesting. Its possible that she has passed down her own hang ups about her father, to her son, Cooper.

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When addressing a childlike entity he has seen in the woods, Cooper lays out the aim of the game he has created starring his action figures. Admiral Peppercorn wants to make his dad proud. These are Dana’s words in Cooper’s mouth.

Dana’s words tell us more than she means for them to as she complains about her body.

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She is continually self-deprecating in the face of compliments. An unplanned pregnancy can leave you feeling a bit violated. The damage or scars you wear as a result of the pregnancy feel like they are blazing neon, and screaming louder than anything else about you. I am not sure if the creators realized how on target they were in putting this detail in, but I applaud them. Then we get to the really interesting stuff. Image

After a rough day, Dana seeks comfort in anonymous sex. Her personality is remarkably different in this episode. She is confident, playful, and authoritative. The encounter ends when she receives a phone call and Ibraham realizes that they will be working together. Her coquettish demeanor is terminated along with the prospect of consummating in the back seat. The next time she sees her would-be-lover, this happens. Image

 

Though Dana was fully invested in the initiation of the tryst the pair share, she now resents the unspoken implications that the event will have on Ibraham’s opinion of her. She believes that he sees her as weak, oversexed, and under-qualified. There is no reason for her to draw these conclusions; as readers we have to assume that she is referring to a past episode that actually did play out the way she is presuming this will. Again, I will bring up the sense of violation she might have internalized as a result of her unplanned pregnancy. Dana does not like being vulnerable, she becomes combative when she feels that someone might have insight to her personal struggles. For her, anonymity in sexual encounters preserves her power and agency.

 

Em’s feelings about her affair with Professor Aaron Weimar inform her choices throughout the series.

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The affair has ended, and I assume that the experience of being cast aside has left Em feeling devalued. In response she continually seeks out dangerous scenarios to either relive, or distract herself from, the lasting pain this relationship has caused her. Her high-risk behaviors become beautiful symbol; harkening to that old adage, sticks and stones may break my bones… She can survive anything, but this is killing her.

Lastly I’d like to take a look as Jamie Hettinga. She is involved in an extramarital affair with her step-brother, Justin Hine. Jamie’s life is a hectic onslaught of threats and public scrutiny. The affair seems to resent an escape from the pressures she faces, an indulgence taking place away from the public eye.

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Jamie seems empowered by the source affection and attention she has found in her step-brother Justin. However, she finds Justin disemboweled, not sleeping, and the reality that she is involved in something insidious begins to set in. It seems that the aim of the murderer may have been to make her feel ashamed, and point out the element of betrayal that underlies her actions.

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Jamie throws her bloody lingerie in the trash after finding Justin’s body. Is this action the result of shame, or just Jamie trying to escape the consequences of her choices?

It seems that in the case of Dana and Jamie, sex provides an escape from the consequences of stress and violence. For Em, however; violence may represent the escape for the consequences of sex. The varying degrees of shame and secrecy that surround all of the relationships in the series only add to its mystery. Now seriously, if you haven’t already, go read it. I could not write this much about something that was not truly stellar, thought provoking, and original.

http://www.comixology.com/Revival-1/digital-comic/MAY120495

 

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