May 20, 2007

The Nigel Tufnel Dilemma

Ian Faith: They're not gonna release the album... because they have decided that the cover is sexist.
Nigel Tufnel: Well, so what? What's wrong with bein' sexy? I mean there's no...
Ian Faith: Sex-IST!
David St. Hubbins: IST!

For those of you who are still confused on the point (namely, fanboys who go out of their way to attack certain bloggers, Jimmy Palmiotti, and those who say "it's just a statue"), I would like to help explain the difference between sexy and sexist, as defined in This Is Spinal Tap (Special Edition)

This panel from Amazing Spider Man # 42, in my opinion, is sexy. Just look at MJ - smiling, vibrant, looking like "the girl next door". She's casual, smiling at Parker, and let's face it - there's a charm there. Now, I defy you to not look at that panel and instantly wish MJ were real, but she's the next best thing - someone whom we all can recognize. Her posture is confident, her demeanor is friendly, and she looks accessible. Even though this panel was taken from a 60s comic, it could easily be transplated, and it makes the character seem all the more real. Everyone knows a Mary Jane Watson - someone who has humor, who sparkles, and who can relate to others. This, my friends, is sexy.

This statue of MJ - the object of much debate on the blogosphere, is definitely sexist. Her body is twisted in a slightly unusual angle, and her mode of dress - jeans two sizes too small, pink thong, and skimpy top seem torn right out of Victoria's Secret. She looks rather skanky, and her demeanor seems to say, "Hey, fella, I'm your favorite sex toy!". Rather than appear casual, it's almost a set up, as if her next line should be, "Face it, tiger, I'm going to help you write a Penthouse Forum letter". She's less a human being than a caricature, and something about this statue...makes me feel like I should take a nice, hot shower and scrub down with brillo pads. This isn't a human being - it's an object. This, my friends, is sexist. If you still doubt that, ask yourself how you would feel if this were your mother/sister/female friend/female relative/girlfriend being portrayed.

Granted, I'm not a prude by any means, nor am I going to claim that I don't check out the occasional cheesecake shot. However, with cheesecake, there's a playful quality - something which the statue lacks. Coming from a company that's given us Wanda "Psycho B!+ch" Maximoff, whose editor-in-chief stated that a married Spider-Man isn't "interesting", and...well, do I need to go on?

Of course, the fingers will be pointing and voices will still be raised. However, given the way Marvel's going - and I hate to be crass, so please forgive me - don't be surprised if you see the Sue Storm Inflate-A-Date in the near future.


RAB said...

The Sue Storm inflatable doll will presumably be patterned after Jessica Alba, or the Ultimate version, because Marvel doesn't get the whole MILF thing yet.

(Don't worry about clouting me on the head for that. I've taken care of it myself.)

The MJ statue could have had that "playful" quality you're talking about -- and I've got to assume that's what they thought they were doing. I can imagine a funny and affectionate scene about MJ discovering Peter tossed his costume into the laundry basket, and she's teasing him about it: the look on her face just about gets across the idea that there's some playful banter being tossed around between husband and wife. But the execution of the idea, with the butt thrust out in a "take me from behind" pose and the arched back and the thong and the boobies, pushes it all too far and destroys what could have been the potential sweetness of the moment.

And too, one of the things those defenders of the statue miss is that this statue doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's not as if comics merchandising has heretofore been above reproach and gender-inclusive and a bunch of soreheads are determined to misunderstand a bit of cheesecake. What this is, is just one more damn thing in a long line of statues that depict female characters as hypersexualized and comics that depict them as sluts or psycho bitches or murder victims. A lot of the negative reaction isn't just at this one item, but the expression of a too-long pent-up desire to say "Enough already!"

This whole time, I've been thinking how much everyone would have loved a sculpture of the "you just hit the jackpot" panel -- it could have been sexy AND sweet and sentimental at the same time.

Roger Green said...

Well stated, Piscean.