Wednesday, 07 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.

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