My “letter” to DC about Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and Apocalypse (that I finally sent electronically)

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Hello, my name is Daniel Ballow and today I’d like to talk to you about sexism. Especially regarding the release of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. (Or as it should have been called, “Superman/Batman: Supergirl.”)
Before I continue I’d like to give some background information:

I do not readily identify myself as a “feminist,” but I am a gender egalitarian and opposed to sexism. I believe holding onto our fixed gendered perspective and focusing on what separates us, and what has been separating us is a barrier to true gender equality. I believe modern feminism often sabotages itself in this regard.

I believe that something is only a gender issue when the person performing the action or the observer contextualizes it as such. There is almost always an explanation for things that don’t necessarily have anything to do with these things.

I’m not one to cry “objectification” whenever artists tend to fall into the tendency to “idealize” female heroes. Most living creatures sexual objects alongside whatever else we are, and it would be dehumanizing to mask that fact (though this does not excuse nonsensical renderings, and poses that serve no storytelling purpose. I’d chalk that up to “bad storytelling, not sexism).

I give this context to set up that I firmly believe that something is only a gender issue when it is contextualized as such, and I am decidedly hesitant to label something as “sexist” for the aforementioned reason. But in spite of all of this, the more I thought about the title of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, the more I realized how undeniably sexist this name-change was, and how it would be hypocritical of me not to object to it.

Superman/Batman: Supergirl (I read the story in paperback form) is one of my favorite Superman stories of all time. As far as I am currently aware, the original storyline aptly titled “The Supergirl from Krypton” sold very well, as well as the trade paperback. (Be sure to respond with any contrary data so my disappointment will subside, please.)

It was exciting news that the Superman/Batman: Public Enemies movie would be followed up by an adaptation of the “The Supergirl from Krypton.” But it was a peculiar move to name the movie “Apocalypse.” The movie itself was stellar, featured one of the best-animated fight sequences of all time with (ironically) Wonder Woman. The adaption from the source material was true to the spirit of the source material, so why the name change?

According to a newsarma interview:

“I think the main reason why they didn’t call this piece Supergirl is because for some reason the Wonder Woman home video that we made, which was very, very good and filled with (fe)male* characters, didn’t sell well,” she told us. “And so marketing people said, female titled pieces don’t sell well. So this is a female piece, it’s got a very strong feminine character in it but they called it Superman/Batman: Apocalypse just to get people to come into the video stores and buy them.”

http://www.newsarama.com/film/superman-batman-apocalypse-interviews-100929.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+Newsaramasite+%28Newsarama.com%29

I spoke with my father about this some time ago before writing this. He asserted that chauvinism wasn’t the motive behind the name change, and that the decision was of pure monetary motivation. I would not argue that the decision was sexist, but the thought process behind the decision was sexist. Because according to the marketing people’s assertion, “female titles don’t sell.”

It became sexist when gender was contextualized as the reason behind Wonder Woman’s less-than-ideal sales. They made this a gender issue, and I will call them out for doing so.

According to www.the-numbers.com, the “consumer spending for Wonder Woman was listed as $6,974,613. Batman: Gotham Knight was listed as $8,059,255. Superman: Doomsday was listed as $9,442,880.

At face value, this data would back up their claim, but there are other reasons for this.
First, the Batman animated movies were riding off the success of the ’89 film all the way to the Joel Shoemaker movie, the award winning animated series (airing around the time I was first cognizant, contributing to me becoming the DC fan I am today), The Batman, and Batman Beyond.
When you generate movies and television shows in such a way, it generates nostalgia for young viewers. You create “comfortable memories” associated with the character.

Superman has the success of the Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve film series, The Lois and Clark tv show, Superman the Animated Series, Superman Returns, and Smallville.

If you look closely, there is a direct correlation between the success of the animated movies and the legion of fans generated by different media.

Wonder Woman has not had a solo television series since 1979. To expect her animated movie to perform as well as Gotham Knight or Doomsday is like asking Batman to rely only on the success of the Adam West tv show. There are not many young fans left that have grown up with Wonder Woman outside of her “Superfriends” and “Justice League” appearances.

Wonder Woman has not had an award-winning animated series, another animated series, a romantic comedy, a primetime drama, a beloved classic that’s generated more comic book writers than any other, or a highly successful reboot.
She’s only had her solo comic book series for decades, and Lynda Carter. On that alone, however, the sales of her animated movie outsold Green Lantern: First Flight ($6,070,921), Justice League: The New Frontier ($5,232,076), Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths ($5,220,061), Batman: Under The Red Hood ($6,656,692), and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse ($5,847,410).

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies had the advantage of featuring both Superman and Batman, making it to ($7,996,266). Yet, that by itself apparently was not enough to guarantee the success of the sequel. “Supergirl” was consciously removed from the title because “girls don’t sell.”
(That’s right… the Catwoman film featuring Halle Berry movie did poorly because she’s a woman…*)
*Sarcastic.

The title of the project was affectively changed on a dubious, gender biased decision.
How could you let this happen?
The title was not “just changed.” A poor business decision was made. Not everyone knows Supergirl even exists. The potential, interest in the origin of this prospective character may have been lost because the title
As it is, a passive observer might interpret:
a) a vague reference to the Fourth World by Jack Kirby, something that even less people know about, or…
b) indicating the name of another disaster movie.
I was fishing through back issues one day, as a couple walking into a comic book store for the first time, apparently. The girl was presently surprised by the amount of female heroes there were (as she should be). Then remarked at astonishment, that a “Super-woman” existed (referring to the Supergirl statue she was eyeing.)

The thing that upsets me more than sexism is hypocrisy. I would prefer to think that DC comics to take the principles their beloved icons fight for very seriously.

I’m not asking anyone’s resignation.
I would like this letter, or the summarized contents thereof, to be drilled into the skulls of whoever is responsible for this.
I would like some kind of public indicator that this ought not to have happened at all.
I want nothing like this to EVER happen again.

Sincerely,
-Daniel

Character Relationships Ticking

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We all know that romantic love is an emotional reaction. Emotional reactions can be determined by experience, outlook, thought patterns, associations, and aspirations.

Now, how/if romantic relationships work out is a different matter altogether.

Here I’d like each poster to post a character (romantic/really close platonic) relationship and give your take on what they see in each other, how it is/isn’t working out, what attracted them initially, why the attraction faded/persists. etc.

Nice mind exercise for psych, philosophy, sociology, majors and the like.

EXAMPLE:

Lois and Clark- Lois Lane is Superman’s hero. Despite the implication of the otherwise, Lois Lane’s personality seems to come up as a cross between Hal Jordan and the new Batwoman. Her endangerment is usually as a result her risky journalism. Superman has been shown to have regard for the one’s who are more vulnerable than he, yet do the things he does. The persistence of this type of behavior, in light of all the horrible people are ALSO capable of, reinforce his “faith” in humanity.

Lois displays this on a regular basis in her pursuit of the truth, which is another reason she is invaluable to him, to his generally positive outlook on mankind, despite his enhanced vision and hearing of various counter-examples. So her constant need of being “rescued” only perpetuates this. Also, he can work on satellites and moon bases thousands of miles away from home with stripperiffic co-workers and not even THINK of any woman except Lois.  You see, back in Action Comics #1, it wasn’t because Clark was a nerd that she disliked him by the end of the story, it was because “Clark” was a coward. Lois liking Clark is a tad more simple: Her contentions relationship with her dad, as well as his OWN mistrust of suitors has passed onto her, leaving a very cynical outlook on men, resulting in an EXTREMELY high standard. But… Superman is to Lois as Edward Cullen to Bella. The only guy capable of living up. Also, they can’t have babies, so that puts a wrench in the traditional conflict of “giving up may career to care for the kids.” (This has been subjected to potential change in the aftermath of caring for Chris Kent in LAST SON.)

As of “Secret Origin” Sam Lane (Lois’s militaristic father) tried to give her over to Corben, (that I’ll assume had a past of significant delinquency in order to blend with pre-infinite crisis accounts of him being a “petty thief” before his transformation into Metallo) as a way to ensure what he wanted is carried out. Apparently a genuinely nice, reclusive guy like “Clark” is too good to be true. Suspicion and hostility ensues.

“Clark” around his workplace is an act. But Lois could see through it. (In light of “Secret Origin” any post-CRISIS hostility she initially had toward him can now be interpreted as her dislike of being perpetually lied to, that eventually cooled over when they got to know each other better.)

(Most people are unaware of the subconscious mechanisms resulting in attraction.)

Edit: I just thought of something else: Lois and Clark almost HAVE to have pretty stable relationship. It would be over if he ever lost his temper with her.

Yet, she isn’t afraid or intimidated by him in the slightest, and doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind as if she’s talking to any other guy, while she’s certainly not in denial of his abilities.

Maybe THIS is why he chose her over Lana.

Lana’s known about his powers for awhile, and can be described as being in awe of what makes Supe’s feel different, while Lois appeals to what makes him just like the rest of us.

art by Jim Lee
words by Brian Azzarello

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Batman & Robin

I think Batman vicariously lives through his orphaned pupils. If Bruce was able to fight like as they can when he was THEIR age, then his parents wouldn’t be dead. It’s is kinda awkward to imagine children that young protecting their parents from harm, as well as imagining them being so concerned with doing so. It’s a touching statement on how the unconditional parent/child love can go BOTH ways.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,331548,00.html

(Alexis Goggins was a Real Life seven-year-old who took six bullets for her own mother. She also managed to survive.)

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Batman & Catwoman

I’ve GOT IT!

I’ve finally figured out an angle for what makes the Bruce/Selina relationship tick!

I USED to think it was perverse sexual lust. Catwoman outputs the persona of a dominatrix. Batman has been presented as a pretty guilty guy when he believed something was his fault. (For example: His parent’s death, Jason Todd’s death, Harey Dent’s scarification, the Joker’s crap.) He often uses any guilt as fuel to keep going/ push himself further.

I theorized his attraction to Selina was a response to his guilt.

Here’s another angle…

Catwoman was the first similarly-themed woman he met, so their continued, ongoing presence builds a shared history. Her initial elusiveness would no doubt make her the preoccupation of a mind set on solving crimes. She’s not totally evil, and has repeatedly shown Robin Hood esque criminal behavior. (Though she keeps more than enough for herself.) And often stealing from organized criminals.

She’s not a hopeless cause, their relationship can represent the dichotomy between Batman’s efforts to actually change Gotham, or “save” her. He loves the city, but can’t give himself over to it completely lest he cease to be Batman. Maybe his attraction is a sexual manifestation of his deep immersion into Gotham’s criminal element. (He hasn’t developed very strong romantic relationships with OTHER super heroes, for some reason.) Catwoman has changed for the better due to her relationship with Batman, but won’t necessarily stay that way in his absence. (For example, after Wayne’s death, she’s currently allied with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.)

Batman was Selina’s, distant inspiration for her Catwoman career. (Does his initial distance trigger childhood desire to be closer w/ father?) And Bruce is genuinely touched by her desire to get to know him.

In fact, her whole “master thief” shtick: figuring her way into locked, closed, spaces she’s been locked out of.. can be read as a response to that.

While satiating any current need for affection with her many…MANY… cats.

Another angle! Bruce’s mom wore pearls the night she was murdered. Bruce could be recognizing Martha Wayne’s love of jewelry in Selina.

The game changing storyline in their romance is HEART OF HUSH, where he admitted how hard he’s fallen for her. Of course, this took place shortly before his “death.” So we’re left hanging on how this will play out until he makes THE RETURN.

It could be/could’ve been many of these, only a few, one, or the other. I can’t be sure if any new writer to pick up on this relationship will use ANY of these…

This, my friends, is what happens when SO many writers and artists try to fully grasp the dynamics of an on-again/off-again romance over the course of decades… It inevitably becomes TANGLED!

Art by Jim Lee
Words by Jeph Loeb

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Wonder Woman/Steve Trevor

…But a reason I think the Trevor/Diana relationship was also so paramount to the classic Wonder Woman is that it embodied the ideal peace between the two genders and two cultures. “Man’s world and Woman’s world.” The uniting and William Marston’s ideal method of harmonizing these two aspects of humanity. If male/Ares embodied war, then female/Aphrodite embodied love. Trevor’s loving submission to Wonder Woman was like “war surrendering to love,” especially when you consider Steve is a soldier at heart.

BUUUT… Where I check out of this whole philosophy/myth/idealization is where it becomes a GENDER ISSUE. HAHaha!

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Richard “Dick” Grayson (Robin, Nightwing, Batman)/ Koriand’r (Starfire)

From birth, Starfire was taught to trust her emotions first and foremost as an indicator of how to make decisions. Taught to hate enemies thoroughly, and love allies without restraint. As a result, behavior patterns tend to be very feral and instinctual. In a group setting, she naturally gravitated toward Robin as the “dominant male” of the Teen Titans. Despite his initial, standoffish behavior, she persisted in her advances.

Think of this as a gender-reversed “defrosting the ice queen.”

Dick Grayson was trained by Batman to be logical, reasonable, evidential, not impulsive, and deductive.

Bruce generally handled this by redirecting his emotions, but Dick would tend to repress them.

When Robin was with Batman, there was a need to lighten the mood, break the depressing tension and somber spirit about him. (Either Batman had no issue with it due to his experience, or he kept the humor to himself) There was a need for Grayson to wisecrack, make one-liners, and whatnot.

When he was with the Titans, however, then need diminishes when you’re surrounded by the likes of Speedy.

The things he learned from Batman are conducive to his leadership status.

Strategy and whatnot are need when you’re brightly clad AND without powers.

To Robin, Starfire embodies this liberation from repression that he finds very, enticing, but mysterious, and/but perhaps counter-intuitive.

Obviously, after chasing psychos on a nightly basis, and having the friggin’ DARK KNIGHT as a partner, her appearance and power level don’t bother him in the slightest.

His choice between the Barbara and Kory MAY, to him, represent the (un)necessary choice that must be made in the MIND/BODY dichotomy.

(I wonder how well Barbara and Starfire know each other.)
batgirlstarfirea.jpg

More/less to come….