Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 23, 1989
Comic books portray women not
ke you'd think
BY ANDREA GACKI
B RIGHTLY colored pictures remain
black and white in comic books.
STATE OF THE
With only pure good and only pure
evil, comic books have invariably
been the antidote to all earthly afflic-
tions, to all inconsistencies and all
unjust acts. Little boys too skinny to
effect any damage on the school
bully lived vicariously through
crime-fighting Superman. Little girls
outgrowing childhood dreamt of
teenaged romance through Archie and
Veronica and Betty.
Hark... is that, perchance, a
stereotype? Girls and romance versus
boys and adventure? You bet. The
medium is rife with such sexual
constraints. In a survey conducted
among its readers last year, First
Comics (the publisher of such male-
oriented comic books as American
Flagg! and Grimjack) reported that
95 percent of its readers are male - a
statistic characteristic of every pub-
lishers' readership. Just walk into
Dave's Comics and count the women
- or lack thereof. A male-dominated
audience supports the comic industry,
and the industry caters to that audi-
ence. Look at the male suffixes of
such superheroes as Iceman, Batman,
Spiderman - you name it.
But there are women in male-
dominated comic books, aren't there?
Well, yes. There hasn't been much
variation in the sex, however. Male
heroes or villains can be enormously
fat, short, or even have only three
toes. The female heroes, however, are
at the very least anatomically correct,
if not downright voluptuous. And the
villains are stunning - wanton se-
ductresses, in fact. Male villains span
a wide range of iniquity, but a female
villain's degree of evil is determined
by how low her neckline is - by
how unlike your mother she is.
Women also have less physical su-
perpowers; they're generally
telepaths, teleporters, or manipula-
tors of the elements. The brutish
guys get to knock each other around.
These stereotypes typically tran-
spire in the books governed by the
Comics Code Authority, the censor-
ing body of comicdom. You recog-
nize these books by the little symbol
next to the price in the upper left
corner of the cover; they're usually
from the major companies, D.C. or
Marvel. But outside of the code,
things really aren't so different. The
have made great strides in the
medium, and comic books are finally
achieving some artistic significance.
But you've got to satisfy your audi-
ence, and that audience is male. So
physical stereotypes persist in all
comic books, and nowhere more
glaringly than in the "nice " "clean"
But the other stereotypes of
women, beyond the stellar physical
attributes, are really not what you'd
expect them to be in comic books.
Female characters are not weak, not
subordinate to men in battle, and not
relegated to the background in deci-
sion-making. Women occupy a
strangely hallowed, almost maternal,
Reach 40,000 readers after class,
-- --i-g-An AnI _
________ _ ___ -~MAGAZINE
place. In "team" books such as Alpha
Flight, a woman is most often the
leader - not because the men grant
it, either, but because she is suppos-
edly the most powerful. Most males
are portrayed with emotional quirks
and scars - Batman is haunted by
his parents' murder by a mugger,
Cyclops from the X-Men feels
unloved because he's an orphan, and
Doctor Zero is a megalomaniac. Fe-
males are often the stable, bland
characters. Women can form strong
relationships between each other, but
men usually fight over women,
What does this mean? Female
heroes really aren't denigrated, but
(gulp) glorified. They're perfect.
What hidden male persecution can be
exposed if they insist upon exalting
women? Sure, back in the '60s when
Marvel Girl first joined the X-Men,
all of her teammates told her how
"cute" she was. But now, women are
stronger and smarter than their male
peers. In a fair fight between a
woman and a man, the man will al-
ways ultimately fall. That is, he'll
lose if both combatants are either
good or evil. And there's the catch:
In all counic books, censored or
otherwise, an epic fight between a
hero and a villain will always result
in a loss for the bad guys, a triumph
Regardless of gender.
In comic books, some things just
have to be universal.
SHORT OR LONG
Men and Women
Liberty off State . . 668-9329
Maple Village . . . . 761-2733
Waiting For The Redbird
Does pop music have a part tow
play in revolutionary praxis? Easter-
house's singer-songwriter Andy Per-
ry would argue that it should, even w
though his revolutionary advocacy'
on vinyl is released by corporate'
Contradictions aside, Waiting For;'
The Redbird is an often powerful '
testament of one man's political en-,
gagement. Perry is involved in left-,
wing politics and Easterhouse is a"
Marxist-Leninist rock group from
Manchester, England. Their name is
taken from one of the worst slums
in Glasgow, and most of the songs
on this, their second album reflecti
on the quality of life in the 51st,*
state of the U.S.A. - Britain.
The lyrics on first impression
appear very straightforward and quite:
artless, but occasionally pierce the
way Woody Guthrie's songs do;.,
sometimes the most direct way is
the most effective. Words are often
framed by lush music reminiscent of
the sound and feel of Simple Minds'
majestic New Gold Dream. Perry'sl
big, rich voice places him as the
prime contender for Scott Walker's
crown as the singer with most,
grandeur. Singing "Come Out
Fighting", "Say Yes" and the title
track, Perry could very well rouse
some listeners from false conscious-.
ness, but the most affecting mo-
ments on the record are the slower
songs; "Stay With Me (Death On
The Dole)" is a poignant meditation
on the suicide of two unemployed.P
boys who had lost all hope. It's as
sharp and crisp as a Mayakovsky
poem - the embodiment of grace.,.
The song sounds a little likeThe
Cars' "Drive", and could be a Num-
ber One hit both sides of the At-
lantic if properly promoted.
The plaintive "This Country" is
an accurate depiction of Britain go-,
ing down the drain under Fahrer
Thatcher - "a nation of shopkeep-
ers/becomes a nation of stockbro
kers." Perry also expresses the wor-rao
ries of many western Europeans in
the depressing "America" in which
he asks, "Who will protect us from
Our Protector?" It's in these songs
thatWaiting For The Redbird most
assuredly assaults capitalism. It's a
shame that the discourse of a song
such as "Stay With Me" will be just
another product, another marketable
commodity, to be sold alongside
Samantha Fox albums.
Continued from Page 7
was really emotional - the type of;
stuff that just hit you in your gut
doesn't seem to be as common these
days. However, that doesn't mean.
that the music is getting worse.
D: Musically, what distinguishes
S: Well, the beat obviously.
There's no other music which flips-
the beat backwards. I'm not sure
what the technical terms are, I'm not
D: Lyrically and consequently
politically, with Michigan's campus
being something of a focal point for
publicizing the attitudinal and insti-
tutional racism that is alive and well
across this country, how do you feel
your Reggae Night and other shows
effect Ann Arbor's social environ-
ment, if at all?
S: I don't know how much effect
it has. I don't consider myself a;
burning crusader, however, I think,
the ideas expressed in many of tho
songs at Reggae Night are sung to.:
pull people together and to den}
stupid attitudes. If anything, it rein-"
forces people's beliefs.
I don't know if it's possible to' -
change a racist with just a song. IC
seems like it takes a lot more tha; k
that. Although some of Marley's"
songs strike home so well that they.
seem to reiterate certain deeper-
truths. I'm proud to be involved in4
the way that I am.
For just $49.50 each way,
you and your friends can
afford to pile on Greyhound.
Whether it's the beach, the
slopes or your hometown,
going Greyhound won't
cramp your style.