Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Whatever have they done to you, Ms. Pryde? I'm off to England shortly, and I'm going to use this as an opportunity to clear out the (mostly comics-related) queue. A few weeks back, Kelly Thompson asked: So is Kitty Pryde [an introverted Jewish mutant with the ability to phase through solid objects] the answer to all our problems? A non-objectifying lead girls can get on board with? The character I've often seen referred to as "everybody's girlfriend"? Do we need more characters based on the Kitty Pryde archetype, or would that be just as boring as a glut of badasses? Milo Manara provides an answer, and I'm fairly certain it's not the one Thompson wanted: I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ideologically opposed to objectifying women generally, but this particular objectification irks me more than most. For those unfamiliar with the comics, Kitty Pryde would be the one phasing through the boat. I'm trying to come up with a real world equivalent for what Manara's "accomplished" here, but I keep coming up short. A friend recommended that mock-up of Sarah Palin in a patriotic bikini, but that doesn't work because Palin was marketed as and understood to be a sexual commodity. Part of her appeal is her willingness to be objectified, about which the less said the better. Short of forcing you to imagine a world in which the head of Betty Friedan is affixed to the body of porn star so that it might be better ogled by prurient folks more interested in what's on her chest than in her head, I'm at a loss. That said, turning Kitty Pryde into the monstrosity above comes close. Consider that, in his concept sketch of her, John Byrne listed her measurements as "never you mind! she's too young for you anyway!" In the disaster that tried to pass itself of as an heir to Bryan Singer's X-Men and X2, the actress cast to play Pryde was noted bombshell Ellen Page, which tells you all you need to know about her intended sex appeal. It's not that there's none—but its purview is decidedly not the one Manara thinks it is. He violates the spirit of the character in the service of a little gratuitous titillation; in a sense, he does to Kitty in this issue what Claremont had done to Betsy Braddock, i.e. transformed her into her seemingly just to prove he could.
Kick Ass sorta saved my life the other night. Not literally, mind you, but because I'm me, I had problems getting through the British border. I'd like to blame the boorish American behind me—he loudly informed everyone in earshot of his annoyance with the fact that there was one line for travelers with British or EU passports, another for everyone else, but none specifically for Americans—but the manner in which the border people roped him in and out of aisles until he'd "advanced" to the end of the line suggests that they were too busy harassing him to hold me accountable for his behavior. Still, I should've known that a man of Irish descent wouldn't be able to sneak into Britain so easily. To wit: BORDER GUARD: Whair ya ere? SEK: Academic conference. BORDER GUARD: Whir arr ya stain? SEK: London then Manchester. BORDER GUARD: Wheer in Lunun? SEK: With this guy. BORDER GUARD: Wishes? SEK: I don't know, but I have his number. BORDER GUARD: An in 'anchester? SEK: The conference hotel. BORDER GUARD: Wish wood be? SEK: I don't know, but I can pull it up on my laptop— BORDER GUARD: Pool itup ten. (SEK tries in vain to access his email.) SEK: It's not connecting to any network. BORDER GUARD: Whatis confrence bout? SEK: Graphic novels— BORDER GUARD: Jew mean like Kick Ass? SEK: Just like— (BORDER GUARD spends ten minutes talking about Kick Ass, stopping only long enough to ask an occasional question that proves that I've read it.) BORDER GUARD: Good sir, ya go true now, go true. Which, God damn it, means I owe Mark Millar a favor, damn it.

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