Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wonder Woman's "Bold New Look" is Both Old and Boring -- Why Do Modern Comics Readers and Creators Insist on De-Sexualizing Her?

Yahoo via Newsarama is reporting on Wonder Woman's new costume, which was apparently just announced yesterday.
Wonder Woman has a bold new look, one of the most dramatic changes of her 70-year history.
Here is the "bold new look":

Not sure what's supposed to be so "bold" about a mini jacket over a tight bustier, and long, tight, leather (?) pants. But then, what do I know?

Here is what I think is a bold look:

Anyway, contra the Christian Science Monitor, this is not the first time that Wonder Woman has been given "pants" by listless comic book creators. For awhile in the late 1960s-early 1970s, she had her powers taken away and was given normal clothes to wear:

The intention of this "new" Wonder Woman was to, um, empower women, or something.
"At the time, I thought I was serving a feminist agenda. I'm from a blue collar, St. Louis background." Comparing a human Diana Prince to Bruce Wayne, who perfected himself to become the Batman, O'Neil says, "I thought if she did something to earn her power, it would make her more admirable."

Scaling down Wonder Woman's powers was something [Editor and Writer Dennis] O'Neil thought would serve the story better. "The essence of melodrama is conflict. If you have a god-like being — and that includes Superman, the Flash, Green Lantern — it's very hard to put him in an interesting situation, even if the audience isn't conscious of [the power differential]. I like characters that are humanized. They give better storytelling tools, so I'm sure that when they asked me to do Wonder Woman, that's what was in my mind."
So Wonder Woman lost her powers and her amazing suit because the editor thought that would somehow be empowering.

It didn't take. Gloria Steinem, in the first issue of Ms. Magazine, but the "old" version of Wonder Woman on the cover of that magazine's first issue, which included an essay about the feminist qualities of the character.

Pretty soon Wonder Woman was back in that hot little suit that she's just had taken away again. And why? Well, the reasons seem awfully similar to those Dennis O'Neil had for depowering her in the 1970s. Back to the newsarama article:
"It's a look designed to be taken seriously as a warrior, in partial answer to the many female fans over the years who've asked, 'how does she fight in that thing without all her parts falling out?'" said incoming series writer J. Michael Straczynski.
Well, I can answer the question about how she fights "without all her parts coming out." She is a goddess. Her clothes don't act in the same manner as a standard human being. Human rules don't apply to her.

For crying out loud, her bracelets deflect bullets. When she ties you up in her lasso, you are compelled to tell the truth.

The editors at DC apparently aren't taking away Wonder Woman's powers, but they are totally demystifying her. That outfit they're dressing her in is the 2010 equivalent of the "mod" clothes she wore in the 1970s. They are the same types of clothes worn by women at certain Hollywood dinner parties. That is fine if your character is just some woman who attends certain Hollywood dinner parties.

But this is Wonder Woman. An Amazon princess. Why would she worry about what some repressed comic book fans think about her outfit? She plays by her own rules.

And, as I've already stated, those rules are awfully fetishistic in nature. When she was created in the 1940s, she was a bondage figure who often tied up and was tied up by her opponents. And, if they were female, she'd give them a kiss now and then.

It's unfortunate that modern comic book fans and creators are so much more repressed than the great creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston. The man who said this,
"Give them an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to, and they'll be proud to become her willing slaves!"
Would no doubt be ashamed to see the way his creation has been turned into a sexless, dry, pedestrian nothing character, completely demystified -- all for the sake of pandering to a few comic book fans who just can't take the idea of a strong female character who likes what she likes and doesn't give a shit what other people think of her.

Of course, this is all an attempt to get a new costume out there for a potential movie franchise. Warner Bros has announced that the DC comics characters are to be their new "Harry Potters," with a new, expensive tentpole movie every year.

Megan Fox has already gone on record as saying that she thinks Wonder Woman is lame. So they're trying to hip the character up. By making her look as dull as possible -- downright matronly by comparison with that eagle-and-pentagram suit she was created with. She already kind of looks like one of the X-Men:

They gave her the same dark tights and jacket, added a red bustier. Seriously, how is that bustier supposed to be any better than her last bustier?

They've taken away the bondage and the kissing -- have comics fans now also become afraid of womens' legs?

Return Wonder Woman to her bondage roots! She was meant to tie up men and kiss her female antagonists!

Diana Prince as Wonder Woman cover pic source.
X-Men pic source.
Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman pic source.
DC Trinity cover pics source.
Ms magazine pic source.


shampoo said...

it's easier to draw. that's the only advantage i see. but, i'm only reading not drawing so that is not an advantage for me.

although, i think it'd be cool if wonder woman had several outfits. her regular (traditional) one and maybe a few variations.

the one with lynda carter looks nice. i think she had one for each season... is that first season?

Ricky Sprague said...

Lots of different outfits is a great idea -- something for intense fights, and then something for dinners with the Justice League, etc.

I would think that it would be easier to draw WW's original outfit, since it's basically just a woman's form in a skintight suit. That's the reason why superheroes have those tights. Artist's didn't really want to draw clothes, so they basically just drew nude figures and put symbols on their chests, and capes on their backs (to indicate motion).

I suspect the reason for the change has more to do with repressed artists and fans, and DC's utter incompetence at dealing with the character, than anything else.

shampoo said...

those are good outfit ideas... that could be so cool. it would make for some interesting cover art as well.

i hadn't thought about that aspect of drawing it. i was just thinking there's so much black that lines to have to be so precise. but, i don't know that much about drawing. haha

Ricky Sprague said...

According to this article, I was sort of right about the movie costume angle:

"A comic book artist who has worked with DC Comics, which publishes the Wonder Woman comic books and owns her image, says the removal of the flag symbolism probably has a lot to do with international commercial intentions.

“This new sleek and fashionable Wonder Woman will translate well to a film franchise centered on a female action hero. That wouldn’t have worked as well with the bright and flashy red, white and blue costume, and it definitely wouldn’t have played in the very lucrative international markets," said the artist, who wished not to be named because of ties to DC. "The new Wonder Woman costume looks like something you could put on Angelina Jolie, or on one of the bad guys from the 'Twilight' saga.”"

I'm not sure if that bit about the new costume looking like something you could put on a Twilight character is supposed to be a compliment or not.

shampoo said...

lots of other countries use red white and blue? they could have just taken out the stars and changed the design on her bodice.