From ThinkProgress

Seriously, just what is wrong with DC lately?  Have the editors in charge taken leave of their senses?  Has the success of Marvel as of late completely rattled them?

First the horrendous sexualization of women in the New 52 (and everything else idiotic since then).  Then the horrendous death of Lois Lane to spur a video game.  Then the creative team behind the Batwoman title quit because of anti-gay policy.  And now they think that a way to find new talent is to see who is best at drawing sexy suicides: DC Comics Contest: Draw a Naked Woman Committing Suicide. (And on the eve of National Suicide Prevention Week!) UPDATE: Harley Quinn writer Jimmy Palmiotti is trying to pass off this ‘contest’ as satirical and ‘Looney Tunes’-esque in his Twitter.

A friend on Facebook, Lauren Ortega, recently made suggestions for what could be done to fix DC, and perhaps superheroes in general (although Marvel is perhaps less egregious in this matter than their older rival).  And her first point was to return superhero comics to being for all ages — to remember that superheroes are first and foremost a children’s media.

Now, the main thing to remember is that just because you are going to go and label and make content directly aimed at children does not mean it has to be stupid — just the opposite, in fact.  Some of the best children’s media has some of the smartest storytelling, from the Oz series to the Harry Potter series.  If you tell these kinds of stories, then you will get readers of all ages, which means you’re profit margin will widen with new revenue sources.  It just means you cannot be as ultra-violent, ultra-sexy, ultra-gritty as comics have been for several decades (again, perhaps DC moreso right now).

When a children’s media is as good as that, it can be inspiring.  And that is what superheroes are supposed to do.  They are supposed to inspire children in the ways of being good in your society.  To inspire children how to be a hero in their own lives.  How to fight for the little guy, use technology to help people, use your power with great responsibility, and so forth.  Children need to read these stories with these heroes, just like they need to hear from their parents, teachers, religious figures, and so forth about what is the right and wrong way to live in this world and with other people.  Superheroes can be a great source of moral information.

But not if the women are objectified, tortured, non-autonomous entities in their own comics.  Not if the men sexualize women, if they engage in gratuitous violence, or if they are just as likely to kill as they are to not kill (looking at you, Man of Steel.)  

Right now, those elements are put into comics because the comics writers either a) really hate their characters or b) think that is the only way to get older audiences or c) hate themselves and what they have been made to do by those who think that is the only way to get older audiences.  And yet we can look across the media landscape and point to all kind of examples that cross-generational lines — that are children’s media yet have strong adult audiences (ex: My Little Pony, Adventure Time, Doctor Who, etc).

Comics could learn a great deal from these other examples about how to target children and reach other audiences as well, and do so in a way that doesn’t reduce their work to pornography, on the one extreme, or mindless dribble, on the other extreme.   There is a wide latitude in which a happy median could be found — if only they have the balls to do it.

One response to “From Jezebel: DC Comics Contest: Draw a Naked Woman Committing Suicide”

  1. DC Comics Apologizes Suicide Harley Quinn Contest | The Mary Sue | Playing, With Research Avatar

    […] apology seems to be more in response to the depiction of suicide, rather than the exploitative nature of female sexualization.  But, then again, when there is such a tradition of making money off of such sexualization, why […]


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