Not everything in popular culture is meant for you.
By CHRISTY BLANCH
There’s been a lot of pushback over the last few years about misogyny and the objectification of women in comics — and rightly so.
Hell, I’ve been part of that push myself. I’ve taught courses about gender roles in comics and how they reflect society. And just last week, I wrote about the shameful treatment of Mockingbird writer Chelsea Cain, who was forced off Twitter because of ugly attacks.
But there is another perspective that warrants discussion — even a defense: Just because something is cheesecake doesn’t automatically make it wrong.
Take the recent controversy over J. Scott Campbell’s Midtown Comics since-pulled variant cover of Riri Williams for Invincible Iron Man #1, which is due out this week (11/9). Do I understand why people were upset? Kind of. Riri is a young lady, but as a mother of a young lady who has dressed similar to how Campbell drew her, I wasn’t offended. And I know people will disagree with me over this point, and that’s OK. However, that’s my opinion.
A lot of critics saw this as a sexualized 15-year-old girl with her hip cocked. Me? I saw her as cocky, like Tony Stark. In fact, if I were a cute, genius girl that age? I would probably be that way, too. And besides, the focus shouldn’t be on what she is wearing or how she is standing. Girls shouldn’t be shamed because of what they wear or how they stand — it’s expression.
Here’s the thing. If you think an artist draws “too sexy,” then don’t get their books — but please don’t make it a huge issue thinking no one should draw that way or that no one should enjoy it. Creativity and expression don’t need to be stifled — they need to be celebrated. How boring would life be if everything was the same?! There are bigger travesties happening in the world that could use our attention.
A good friend of mine has been getting a lot of heat for drawing sexy women. And they do draw sexy women, not cheesecake, but they are sexy. In fact, they draw very sexy characters (not just women) and I think they are amazing. They are sexy — not sexualized. I look at them and see beauty — something we need more of in the world right now. If someone else looks at them and sees something else, that’s simply another opinion.
Two people can look at a cloud. I could see a horse and the other person could see a penis. That’s not on me — it’s on them. I’m not saying they are wrong, I’m just saying that there is always another side. And there is enough of popular culture for everyone to have something they love.
I’m actually not a big fan of “cheesecake” art, but I don’t complain when I see it because it’s not there for me — it’s there for someone else who loves it. This may seem like a strange analogy, but not everyone loves The Man from U.N.C.L.E., but I do. I don’t expect everyone to love it like I do but I don’t shame them for not liking it. I won’t send threatening tweets. I simply keep loving what I love.
As I said last week, specifically about comics, popular culture is for everyone. Not everyone will like everything, but that’s what makes it so great and so able to attract such a diverse audience. Not every comic is for me and that is fine! I couldn’t read everything out there anyway. There are books that I have zero interest in that people worship. I think that’s great. There is something for everyone.
So please, instead of ruining things for others and hurting people, enjoy what you enjoy. Let there be beauty in the world. We could all use it right now.
Christy Blanch is an educator, writer and comics-shop retailer, operating Aw Yeah Comics in Muncie, Ind. She’s a regular columnist at 13th Dimension. You can find her LAST WEEK’S COMICS TODAY columns here.