Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The final word on the Batgirl cover controversy

Yes, it is sexist. But it is not sexist in and of itself and is definitely not meant as an insult to women, feminists or the cause of equality in media portrayals of women.

DC made the choice for the cover art one that accurately reflected the male-dominated attitudes and content of the 60s and 70s comic book stories. Imagine the blog storm if they instead went with something more empowering that was closer in style to the intelligent, capable Barbara (Oracle) Gordon of today? Readers expecting tales featuring a strong woman character that could hold her own with the Batman that were ahead of their time socially culturally would be disappointed, disgusted or shocked to discover THE COVER AND DC LIED and the actual content of the book was all about Bronze Age pandering to male expectations while pretending to feature a liberated woman, Babs getting rescued more often than not by Batman and Robin, cheesecake, utility-purses and stiletto heels.

DC chose well and went the correct route in telling consumers the truth in their cover choice instead of risking a backlash from angry fans upset that they were mislead about the thematic contents of the Batgirl collection. DC would undoubtedly be accused of misogynistic practices, treating fans with contempt and misrepresentation in this at least this one instance. The cover is plain old TRUTH IN ADVERTISING.

Now shut up.

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8 comments:

  1. I agree with everything you said regarding the imaging EXCEPT...I wish they had gone with the original cover from that issue instead of this hopped-up Gil Kane panel revison.

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  2. You don't think "shut up" is at all a problematic statement?

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  3. No, actually I'm 2/3rds into reading this volume and from what I've read, I do not feel that this cover accurately represents the Batgirl of most of the stories. There are only two stories so far that represent a ditzy, prissy Batgirl who is more concerned with her appearance and romance than fighting crime, and one is from an awful "Brave and Bold" which features characterizations of Batman & Wonder Woman so off the map that I hardly consider the book in continuity. The other story is from which the cover was taken.

    While I think the decision to go with that particular cover was motivated more out of not having the budget to get a nice original one commissioned (that splash page was an easy out), to keep saying that it reflects the Batgirl of the 1960s is highly inaccurate.

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  4. Lea: No. I'm harsh on the fans.

    OSH: I never saw 60s Babs as anything other than being defined by Batman and Robin as 'a mere girl'. In that era of DC they just gave lip service to the idea of the empowered woman. No matter how successful they were, a female character was ultimately dependent on the good graces of a male counterpart. Even the alternate cover has her being compared to and supported by Batman and Robin. The first era in which she was portrayed as something other than a bat-groupie is also when she got shot through the spine.

    Again, I feel if she was shown on the cover kicking ass then any reader would have been surprised by the content.

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  5. The problem I have with the cover is that they took an existing cover where Robin and Batman are beaten up by the guys while she's doing her make-up, and then CHANGED IT to where Robin and Batman are kicking ass...while she is doing her make-up. They deliberately changed the cover to make it even worse by comparing her incompetence to their competence--silly old-age sexism wasn't ENOUGH for DC.

    That's why the cover sucks ass. You can't claim you're being true to the "nostalgia" when you make it even worse when you don't have to.

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  6. I find it hard to get bent out of shape for either of the arguments presented. Batgirl is just putting on makeup because she wants to look nice for the super-villians.

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  7. I read the whole Showcase and I didn't find the attitude of the cover represented in the content. Huntress from Earth 2 is "ditzier" than Babs here. Batgirl is a resourceful, intelligent detective and even Batman agrees in some stories.

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