Thursday, July 19, 2007

Here's the thing about the Batgirl Showcase cover...

Much as it pains me to admit it, Beau Smith has a point when he says that the "Joker's Bomb Must Wait Because My Lipstick's Smudged" cover is more or less indicative of the content; female characters in comics may not be where I'd like them to be today, but they're certainly doing marginally better now than in the '60s, when a woman had no other purpose besides trying to trap men in marriage (Lois Lane) or acting as weaker foils ("Sue! Now's no time to behave like a woman!").

HOWEVER, for the purpose of justification, historical accuracy isn't enough. Times have changed. You can't toss things out into the market just because they were totally appropriate before most of us were born: the reality is that in the here and now, that cover is offensive for the same reason African-American readers might find Ebony White offensive. It's playing to a stereotype that is not acceptable, certainly not in the 21st century when we're all supposed to know better. The notion that DC has no sensitivity to this, no ability to discern what images and tropes have passed their expiration date, is an unsettling one.