Monday, March 26, 2007

Grocery Store Artifact: Supergirl of Earth-Retail

In the Giggety Lantern Corps post about The Brave and the Bold #2, I showed what is bothering me about the way the relationships between Supergirl and the male members of the DCU, particularly Hal Jordan, are being portrayed.

Let me explain why it skeeves me out.

As a supervisor at my last job something happened a few times. One of our employees was a young, blond female about 17 years of age who worked as a cashier. She could be described as attractive and was often compared in both looks and brain power as "Maryland's Jessica Simpson" as she was pretty but dumb as a box of particularly retarded hammers. She was incompetent at the job, and that was due to her youth and incredibly short attention span. She was easily distracted, never shut up and lost track of what she was doing whenever something shiny, dull or even lackluster happened to catch her eye. She was also a huge pain in the rear.

Miss X, as I will call her, was a flirt who had many bad habits. She was the type of young lady who acted out in ways both good and bad for the attention that got her. When at the supervisor counter I would periodically look over all the registers to make sure we were taking care of the customers. If I happened to catch the eye of Miss X while doing so she would start acting out, dancing in place and gyrating like a party girl on spring break. This, I gathered was her attempt to be sexy yet coy. When this happened I would roll my eyes if alone and make a note in the shift-log or tell my co-worker, who was female, to walk by Miss X's register and tell her to stop flirting and do her job.

On occasion when a supervisor had to give Miss X some selective counseling about keeping a neat cash drawer and to quit her habit of giving out $100 bills as change when she meant to give a $20, she would move in very close. If the supervisor were near something she could lean on Miss X would "innocently" move in very close, actually pressing one of her breasts against his arm all the while giving him her undivided attention. When spoken to, her directed stare, brow furrowed from intense concentration and the odor of burning insulation should have been the big red flag to the supervisor that something was up. When the supervisor nonchalantly shifted away so there was some space between them, Miss X would a moment later move in closer and re-apply to his arm the illegal mammary gland.

If I was out at a bar goofing on age-appropriate chicks I'd be totally into scenes like that. A woman laying her breasts up on someone else in a public place could be considered an encouraging sign of progress by some guys in the dating scene. But at my age and assumed maturity when a 17 year old girl shows a personal interest I swiftly recognize it is likely she is being disingenuous. I am not so easily manipulated as that and the attempt to do it leaves me disappointed with their character and serves only to annoy. Anyways, who besides enemy soldiers guarding a prison cell in a bad action movie falls for that crap?

Those behaviors from teen-agers are why I don't think the Supergirl/Hal Jordan flirting scene was so harmless. A 17 year old shouldn't be doing it and a mature adult shouldn't be accepting it. I kind of doubt given the history of both characters that the writers were trying to make the point to the old guard heroes that just because a new hero is young and inexperienced they are not careless and foolish with their abilities.

I don't spend my day chewing on pens out of frustration and constantly reminding myself that all the 17 year old girls I observe walking around are not available for sex. Instead of Hal Jordan using two pages trying to hide an erection, I would rather have had him remarking that he couldn't believe Kara was so young because she was confident and competent beyond her years.

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6 comments:

  1. I thought the whole point, was that Supergirl was flirting madly with Hal, and that while he acknowledged she was gorgeous, AND jailbait, he told her to knock it off. And she did.

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  2. I also found the whole thing distasteful. As someone about Hal's age, I would never consider anyone under the age of 25 attractive.... they look like little children to me. I've seen enough of my childhood icons be tarnished without seeing one of them act like the 35 year-old guy who still goes to high school basketball games.

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  3. SallyP: He only told her to quit flirting long after he had time to think about it and then get around to deciding that his feelings were inappropriate for a hero, not a man.

    Otherwise, he would have been all Arisia on her.

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  4. You've nailed what's been bothering me about this business in a way I wasn't able to articulate before: Supergirl's behavior may be inappropriate and she shouldn't be doing it, but it's the way Hal's response is written that makes it feel skeevy. Because a guy who's saying to himself "she's 17...she's 17..." is not someone responding as a responsible adult but someone who is not only getting off on it but is instead by all appearances trying to make himself more aroused. If a hot chick comes on to you, saying to yourself "no, mustn't, forbidden, taboo" is not exactly taking a cold shower, you know? The actual things Hal says to Kara, without the internal monologue, would have been fine -- but his thoughts as presented there were what made it creepy.

    Slight digression: the whole Arisia thing has been misunderstood. Like it or hate it, that storyline made it clear Hal was not interested in jailbait and wasn't attracted to a teenage girl, and certainly didn't think of her as a potential sexual partner...and when she physically ages, he doesn't give in to his attraction for the now-adult woman because he still sees her as too young. And then, you know, stuff happens.

    Here's a missed dramatic opportunity, in fact: if they were now writing GL with any sense of character continuity, this stuff with Supergirl could have played into his past relationship with Arisia. His feeling now ought to have been that he's had a teenage girl throwing herself at him before, didn't like it then and doesn't like it now...and it would only make him all the more sad now because it reminded him of what happened then.

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  5. Ditto to what Rab said. It's not Supergirl who comes off looking like she's been written unrealistically here; rather, it's Hal's reaction that brings up (unpleasant) questions about him.

    The reason this is notable is that I'm pretty sure that the writer didn't intend for the reader to make these unpleasant associations about Hal. Waid's "blindness" to this interpretation is interesting.

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  6. Meh, I'm not as concerned about it, mainly because it's, well, Supergirl. She can basically do whatever she wants, because she's Kryptonian, and probably 100x stronger than anyone in the Lantern Corps. And I find it less disturbing than Arisa...

    Oliver Queen, on the other hand, is another story entirely. Ew.

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