This week, the first images of Eddie Redmayne were revealed from his upcoming film, the Danish Girl. Redmayne will be playing the role of Lili Elbe, a transgender pioneer. The Danish Girl is the latest in a long series of Hollywood misgendering in casting, where instead of finding a transgender actress they find a man and put a wig on him.
This isn’t a jibe towards Redmayne, who is a talented actor, both in his high-camp performance in Jupiter Ascending, as well as his Oscar winning role as Stephen Hawking in the Theory of Everything. The issue with this casting is two-fold: the exclusion of trans actresses from a role that they were literally born to play and the media coverage of the film itself.
Take the Daily Mail coverage which uses phrases describing Elbe’s “transition into a woman” or describes Elbe herself as “a man who became a woman.” “Oh Eddie, you do make a wonderful woman,” the headline reads. But Eddie isn’t a woman. He isn’t a trans woman. He’s a straight man, and this colors coverage of the film. They repeatedly deadname Elbe as Einar Wegener, and they ignore her gender — something that she literally died for, repeatedly referring to her as a man.
Redmayne talks about the role being his most “sensitive,” yet sensitivity is something Redmayne’s casting lacks. Coverage becomes a discussion of Redmayne’s alteration, the same way someone would discuss Charlize Theron’s missing eyebrows for Monster or Christian Bale’s weight loss for Machinist. Gender is an article of clothing that they can take on and put off, a sacrifice for their artistic vision, but ultimately these sacrifices are disconnected from who they are.
Gender though, especially in an age where people are committing suicide or being murdered in relation to it, is a fundamental aspect of personhood. Lili Elbe was a woman, the first known person to get gender reassignment surgery, who wanted so much to be a mother that she underwent surgery to be transplanted with another woman’s ovaries. But we aren’t talking about her struggle. Instead, discussion is about how pretty Redmayne is as a woman and how “brave” he is for undertaking the role.
The other primary issue is inclusion. The argument has been “can you name a trans actress of the caliber of Eddie Redmayne?” But this is a false argument. Four years ago, I couldn’t have told you that Laverne Cox existed, but that doesn’t mean that she wasn’t there. It’s also the same argument used to explain why Native American roles aren’t being given to Native Americans, a conceit proven more ridiculous by the fact that the Twilight sequel, New Moon managed to cast an entire wolf pack of Native lineage actors. That means a teenage romance managed more sensitive casting than a clear Oscar bait title.
Casting like this is erasure. It whispers insidiously in your ear that “there just wasn’t the right trans actress for the role. “C’mon,” it cajoles, “Can you even name a white trans actress?” Instead we replace the roles designed for trans women with straight men, replace their experience with a touch of make-up and a wig. Ultimately it replaces the image of trans women, opting for imitation rather than representation.
On Twitter, Ijeoma Oluo wrote it best:
“Right now there are trans women and men risking their lives every day to simply be who they are. Suffering abuse, discrimination, imprisonment, poverty, invisibility. So if you can’t understand why seeing your “likeness” portrayed by someone with the sexual assignment you risked your life to be free from by people who not once have felt the pain and fear u do. By people who look just like those kicking the shit out of u on the street. And to see that person be lauded as “so brave, so talented” that he would don a wig and impersonate such an exotic creature. And he removes his wig, accepts his Oscar. Tearfully dedicates it to your murdered brothers and sisters who he now fully understands. And returns to his mansion, to his safety, his financial security, his civil rights, his fully represented and accepted life.”
In covering Jared Leto’s turn as transgendered character Rayon in the Dallas Buyers Club, Time writer Steve Freiss writes: “’Dallas Buyers Club’ has garnered praise for the actor’s supposedly brave portrayal of a transgender woman. Don’t expect anyone to find it admirable 20 years from now.” While Leto played a fictionalized woman in what was otherwise a biopic, the same will undoubtedly be true for Redmayne. Whether a measured performance or a caricature of the human experience (as Leto’s Rayon is often criticized to be), Redmayne’s Lili is tarnished by the casting decisions made long before the performance was captured on film. It turns the trans experience into something exotic and foreign, something as alien to the performer as a space-faring prince, and with a story as potentially powerful as Lili Elbe’s this is perhaps the greatest failing.
Amanda Wallace is an amazing associate editor for Gameskinny.com, and runs her own websites Storycade andWasabi Crunk that look at niche aspects of the gaming world (interactive fiction and indie games respectively). The best way to follow her work is via twitter, @barelyconcealed, where you’ll find great articles and witty banter.
By: Amanda Wallace
The strength of Jupiter Ascending is complicated, because it doesn’t rely on the main actors or even the fairy tale plot.The shoehorned romantic sub-plot promises to be little more than eye-rollingly bad (“I love dogs.”), the fight sequences are robotic, and the world is so crazy that it is more suited for an HBO series than a two hour film. Yet despite this (and not because of it) the movie’s strength is its ability to subvert expectations of traditionally gendered action/science fiction movies.
The tropes and characters may have been re-skinned for this space opera, but we immediately recognize their roles. We have our hero, well into the opening stages of her journey, complete with a magical facet that makes her more important than anyone else in the galaxy. She’s joined by a grizzled veteran, encounters an oedipal brother, and she eventually must face down the evil queen.These are all characters and tropes that we are familiar with, aware of, but they are subverted as surely as the laws of physics.
I’ve heard people repeatedly knock Jupiter Ascending because Jupiter is saved by Kaine’s alien werewolf angel multiple times, but that’s a narrow view of the story. In this film Jupiter Jones is our Luke Skywalker, another hero that arose from inauspicious beginnings.
In A New Hope, Luke Skywalker is a whining farmboy who survives, not because of any particular skillset he may possess, but because of the people he is allied with. How many times alone Obi Wan save Luke’s life before they’ve even left Tattooine? Similarly wolf-boy Kaine aides January Jones through the first act of her hero’s journey.
Kaine, despite his muscles and action sequences, does very little to move the plot forward, often dealing with Jupiter’s scraps. For example towards the end, Kaine is relegated to facing off against a second tier villain and moving Jupiter’s family to safety while Jupiter herself faces off against the Big Bad.
So, just because help comes in one super attractive package doesn’t mean that Jupiter is a damsel in distress, a trope that is all too familiar in American popular culture. Instead the movie showcases Jupiter’s heroic arc. By the end of the movie it’s Jupiter, not Kaine, who faces off against the villain, and it is Jupiter’s existence that draws the rest of the characters in orbit.
Kaine Wise as Manic Pixie Dream Girl
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, TV Tropes has a pretty fitting description:
She’s stunningly attractive, high on life, full of wacky quirks and idiosyncrasies (generally including childlike playfulness and a tendency towards petty crime), often with a touch of wild hair dye. She’s inexplicably obsessed with our stuffed-shirt hero, on whom she will focus her kuh-razy antics until he learns to live freely and love madly.
A MPDG lives for the main character and the stunningly attractive Kaine lives to help Jupiter reach her goals at the exclusion of his own reach their goals at the exclusion of his own. Of course, aside from his desire for wings and a disdain for nobles, Kaine doesn’t have much in the way of life goals.
He does have a pair of rockets boots though, which in addition to the wolf DNA in his lineage make Kaine the quirkiest MPDG you’ve never seen before or since. Most importantly though, he’s inexplicably attracted to Jupiter, despite the fact that they have the chemistry of a wet blanket.
The movie delights in eroticizing the male form, and it does this most frequently with Kaine, played by Channing Tatum, an actor known for his roles as eye candy. The camera treats Kaine like he’s a popsicle it wants to lick. His presence is eye candy as surely as Natalie Portman’s casting in Garden State, except instead of asking us to listen to the Shins we watch him skate around on rocket boots.
Balam Abraxas as Evil Queen
In the world of Jupiter Ascending, Balam Abaraxas is Jupiter’s son, yet he comes off like her evil step-mother. It’s clear that he is partially modeled after Charlize Theron’s portrayal of the evil queen in Snow White and the Huntsman. Her shrieking rage and cold power, tied inextricably to her aloof sexuality is a mold for the trope.
Part of the parallel drawn between Redmayne and Theron is due to Redmayne’s performance, a serpentine and slick villain who spend the movie alternatively speaking in harsh whispers and angry yells. Another key ingredient to Balam’s role as evil queen is simply that the role of evil king has already been taken by Titus, Jupiter’s son (and Balam’s brother) that attempts to wed her. Yet an evil queen is defined by her displacement of the traditional, “good”, power structure.
One way this displacement takes place is through the infinite youth that both Redmayne’s Balam and Theron’s Queen enjoy. In Snow White and the Huntsman the audience is given a glimpse of Theron emerging nude from a milk bath, her vitality (and sex appeal) restored through ill-gotten means. In Jupiter Ascending we are treated to a similar scene where Balam Abraxas emerges from a bath (fueled by billions of human deaths) looking youthful and, well, hot.
In Balam’s world, his Empress mother (and her subsequent desire for death) is that “good” and natural order, and it is her will that he is subverting long after her death.
The Bottom Line
Jupiter Ascending is a high camp romp, a journey into a fully realized world that only the Wachowski’s could have built. It’s ridiculous and fantastical and full of life, and for any one of those reasons it would be worth viewing. But what really, truly sets the movie apart from the most recent fare of adapted YA is how it challenges expectations of science fiction. How it challenges the gendered roles that so often dominate popular culture.
Don’t watch Jupiter Ascending because it’s a hot mess. Watch it because it’s a welcome surprise.
Amanda Wallace is an amazing associate editor for Gameskinny.com, and runs her own websites Storycade and Wasabi Crunk that look at niche aspects of the gaming world (interactive fiction and indie games respectively). The best way to follow her work is via twitter, @barelyconcealed, where you’ll find great articles and witty banter.
So today is Tuesday, which means it’s a) time to go get new movies from Redbox, and b) time to share my favorite comics of the week. There isn’t anything at Redbox that I’m really intent on seeing, so all my Tuesday enthusuasm has been directly infused into this list.
If you haven’t been following the Spider Verse event, then i09 can explain it for you. More importantly to us, two female led titles have spun out of the event, which is an occasion for rejoicing. Cindy Moon, a.k.a. Silk, was bitten by the very same radioactive spider that got Peter Parker.
Due to the events of Original Sin and Spider Verse, she’s back in New York trying to examine her past and build her future. Hopefully the writers will give her something more meaningful to do in the first issue.
I won’t lie, the ending to the first story-arc of Lumberjanes really threw me (major props to the entire creative team for cooking up something I didn’t see coming), and I’m ready to devour anything else the Lumberjanes throw at me. In this issue Mal and Molly get their own personal adventure, and the rest of the team has to deal with mundane things like camp and the Bear Woman. Never a dull moment with these brilliant and brave ladies!
Bitch Planet #3
Reading comics written by Kelly Sue is always a treat, and Bitch Planet punches harder than Captain Marvel ever has. This is a universe where there is an entire planet dedicated to the incarceration of women, and in this issue, we get to find out how one of the biggest baddest women on Bitch Planet got jailed in the first place. Something tells me it ain’t going to be pretty. The incarceration of women never is. #Noncompliant
Deadly Class #11
I tried to get my dad into this comic once, but the gore was a bit too much for him. God bless him. This book follows the life of teenager Marcus as he is admitted into an academy for assassins in the late 1980’s. High school drama can quickly become deadly when you attend school with the offspring of the world’s top crime families. Issue 11 may not be the best time jump in (it’s the finale to the second story-arc), but I give this series my highest recommendation. So you should start from the beginning.
Ms. Marvel #12
I’m not going to say anything about this issue. I think the cover (done by the amazing Kris Anka) speaks for itself.
Have you ever wanted to watch two relatively immortal human beings fight to the death? Rather, have you ever wanted to learn how to kill a relatively immortal human like Forever Carlisle? In this issue, also the conclusion to the current story arc, Forever Carlisle must face another Lazarus to the death. I may not be caught up on this series, but that’s definitely enough of a finale to draw me back in.
This is the final issue of She-Hulk, and I can’t wait to see how Charles Soule and Javier Pulido finish things off. Thanks to Kevin Wada, She Hulk has had some of the most gorgeous, non-sexualized covers of any super heroine in existence, and the book will be sorely missed.
Barbarella and The Wrath of the Minute-Eater
This classic Science Fiction cult-favorite has been adapted into English by the inestimable Kelly Sue DeConnick. If you’ve been following me on twitter recently you’ll know of my obsession with science fiction history, and I’m looking forward to such a classic gracing my bookshelf.
Today, DC Comics let loose with their June comic slate, introducing twenty four new titles to appear with twenty five returning titles. While that still doesn’t bring their line-up to a total of 52, DC promises that these new comics will usher us into a new generation of love, acceptance, and inclusivity. Wellllll they didn’t say that exactly, try parsing their announcement for yourself, or read this quote:
This summer, DC Entertainment launches a bold new direction for the DC Universe (DCU) that is even more inclusive and accessible to a wider group of readers as the publisher continues to evolve comic storytelling for its next generation of fans.
This new line-up, which includes three humor-oriented titles (Bat-Mite, Bizarro, Prez) seeks to enrich and expand the standard “dark and grim” tonality of DC, while offering new characters DC hopes will appeal to a broader fan-base, something Marvel comics has been doing gradually through the past two years.
So how well do these new 24 titles reflect “society around us”? Probably not well, given that this is a comics universe, but there are several titles starring women and/or poc, and each day this week we’ll take a moment to examine them in more detail.
Last May, Paul Dini and Joe Quinones published Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell, an original graphic novel for fans who missed seeing this characters regularly in the DC line-up. This was a lightweight and fun book, pitched pre-New 52. From the looks of it, this book from Brenden Fletcher (Batgirl, Gotham Academy) and artists Annie Wu (Hawkeye) and Irene Koh (Secret Origins: Batgirl). This creative team is absolutely bonkers, in the best way possible.
Brenden Fletcher has already been writing two books for DC comics that have a lot to offer in terms of diversity. Along with Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, Fletcher joined the Batgirl book with #25, which includes what io9 has described as “The Best Damn Superheroine Outfit Ever“.
Simultaneously, Fletcher has been co-writing Gotham Academy with Becky Cloonan, which may have the most diverse cast of characters I’ve ever seen on the cover of a DC title. Black Canary will be Fletcher’s first solo-writing gig, which couldn’t be more exciting!
Let’s not forget both of the lady artists who will join Fletcher, Annie Wu and Irene Koh are seriously talented and I couldn’t imagine a better choice for the style of the book. Both women have histories with DC (Wu worked on Batgirl Beyond and Koh the upcoming Secret Origins: Batgirl) and their respective styles will hopefully make Black Canary as striking as she deserves.
So is this a hit in terms of diversity? Irrefutably yes. Every member of the creative team has experience writing or drawing women for successful books featuring women. Also, two members of the creative team are women. A smart team for a fan-favorite character.
2015 is a bright new year, and I’m so excited about new comics this year. So let’s start this list off with a brand new title!
Lady Killer #1 (Dark Horse)
This comic follows the life of stay-at-home mom Josie Schuller, assasin-for-hire. The combination of 60’s chic and murder is a stroke of brilliance from creative team Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones, who previously collaborated together on You Have Killed Me from Oni Press.
I’m personally hoping the issues are packed full of cleaning advice like, how to remove viscera from under the refrigerator. Not that I have viscera under my refrigerator.
ODY-C #2 (Image)
ODY-C can best be described as a gender-bent science-fiction version of Homer’s Odyssey. I’m all about the gender-bending because it means that instead of lame Odysseus, we get Odyssia the Clever Champion. Fraction and Ward manage to take the centuries old tale and make it fresh and psychedelic…which is a good thing I swear.
Deadly Class #10
If you haven’t heard of it yet, Deadly Class follows a bunch of assassins-in-training in high school in the late 80’s. Basically, Remender and Craig are giving us one of the sharpest creative teams out there right now. Issue ten gives us a glimpse of what these angsty kids do on their day off in San Francisco. Honestly, I won’t be surprised if they mange to kill someone anyhow.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 (Marvel)
Whenever I need to explain to anyone just how strange comics can be, I whip out Squirrel Girl. A super hero that dresses up like a squirrel? And yet now that Ryan North and Erica Henderson have teamed up to write Squirrel Girl, a.k.a Doreen Green, well I can’t help but be excited. Marvel is on a roll with all its female-led titles.
With the looming cancellations of She-Hulk and Elektra, loan your support to the not-yet-cancelled Storm! Right now in the comic, Storm’s enemies have made Storm an enemy of the state. She dooooessss look like a radical rebel with the mohawk. Still, she’s off to clear her name.
Angela: Asgard’s Assassin
The only thing I really understand about Angela is a character, is that wherever she goes she leaves havoc in her wake. Knowing that, it’s super excited that Angela makes her way down to earth in this issue! By the by, Angela is also related to Odin and Thor now, if that makes the comic more appealing to you.
Those are all the comics I’m looking forward to this week! What else are you guys looking forward to?
Starting January 1st, myself and thousands of other Netflix users began binge-watching the classic 90’s sit-com Friends. It’s been fun re-living the wacky antics of Joey, Phoebe, Ross, Rachel, Monica, and Chandler. I’ve never seen all the episodes in order before, and I actually get all the sexual innuendos this time around.
Still, I didn’t really know what fandom was or how to really engage in a show back in those Friends days. Since I do now, I immediately wanted to sort the cast into Hogwarts houses; since fandom is obviously about mashing properties together to make them stronger.
Once this decision was made, there were a few choices that stood out immediately. The first of which is obviously Phoebe Buffay in….HUFFLEPUFF!
But more than a house full of patient, hard-working, loyal people – Hufflepuff is a house that will take the leftovers of the other three. Phoebe would never be in Slytherin, where people would make fun of her for being a muggle orphan, nor would she be in Ravenclaw where they seek knowledge. She could be brave in Gryffindor, but Phoebe doesn’t necessarily like to show off and she’s very even tempered.
Yet like all Hufflepuffs we’re introduced to, Phoebe is kind and stands up for what is right and always tries to do good for others. In one episode she ends up giving away over $1000 to a homeless woman because Phoebe earned it in error. Yet she’s also like her favorite song, “Smelly Cat”, a weird rejected thing that’s hard to love. Ergo, Hufflepuff.
Now, another easy pick is this: Ross Geller in….RAVENCLAW!
Ross Gellar basically studies fossils and old stuff. Yet to get to his level of expertise (he has a doctorate from Columbia University) you’ve got to like like learning. Seriously though, I only made my way through a Masters degree and that was a special kind of hell, and a doctorate adds at least four years more of schooling. Ross is an academic BAMF.
In case that argument isn’t convincing enough, he also made a comics called “Scientist Boy” as a child. LIVELONG DEVOTION TO SCIENCE RIGHT THERE. Plus, you know he’s a Ravenclaw since he takes so much pleasure explaining things/correcting people.
While siblings don’t always get sorted into the same house, in the case of Monica Geller…..RAVENCLAW!
We see several times in the Harry Potter series that a person’s desires do influence the sorting. Since Ross was always the apple of his parents’s eyes, Monica would most likely want to be placed in Ravenclaw to demonstrate that she’s living up to her brother’s legacy.
Along with a personal drive to be sorted into Ravenclaw, Monica also demonstrates her thirst for knowledge through her profession as a chef. She basically conducts experiments on food on a daily basis, and tests the results on her innocent friends. She might just be the evilest scientist yet!
Next up, it-girl Rachel Green, the woman who inspired thousands of decadetastic haircuts. She was one of the hardest to place, but ultimately she goes in…..SLYTHERIN.
Now, I’m not calling Rachel Green evil. So get that our of your head. What I am saying, is that Rachel is a smart – cunning – woman from a well-bred family, who hasn’t always been above using people to achieve success.
However, over the series, like Regulus Black, she changes for the better. Rachel uses her innate Slytherin qualities in positive ways working her way up the corporate ladder, becoming a good mommy, and learning to be a her own person apart from her family’s desires. Finally someone gives a good name to the Slytherin house.
Let’s be honest, it’s quite possible that Joey might fail out of Hogwarts. But to fail out, Joey would first have to be admitted so let’s put him in….GRYFFINDOR!
Joey is not the brightest bulb in the box, but that’s okay because Gryffindor’s value bravery and nerve, which often come off as peacocking and recklesses. Joey has both of these qualities in droves. He’s very secure in his looks and powers over women (“How you doin’?”) and he’s not afraid to show off his wealth when he briefly moves into his own apartment.
He’s also insanely devoted to his friends which he shows in adorable ways. Whether it’s breaking up with Ursula to save his friendship with Phoebe, or giving Chandler a ridiculous gold bracelet – he’ll always be there for you, his friends. This lion-hearted devotion alone confirms his admittance to Gryffindor.
It was really hard not putting Joey and Chandler in the same houses, but in the end we had to give him….RAVENCLAW!
At heart, Chandler is a smart, witty, conforming coward. Yet that sarcastic charm which defines his character relies upon a quick-thinking brain. Chandler has a line for everything and is smart enough to pick the right moments for them.
He’s also a numbers whiz, ingesting WENUS (Weekly Estimated Net Usage Statistics) and ANUS (Annual Net Usage Statistics) like a heavy-weight number cruncher. Though Chandler doesn’t desire knowledge per se, there’s no doubt that he’s full of it, making him the third in a series of Ravenclaws.
Now, with everyone sorted, let the arguing commence!
I’ve been meaning to play all of Christine Love’s games (many of which are available for free) for the longest time. There are so many indie games out there that I look at my Steam library, and just decide to play more Dragon Age instead. Tim and Seth from Acagameia finally convinced me to play Analogue: A Hate Story, and what follows is my favorite podcast to date.
Some salient points:
- A mediation on the nature of hate
- The gamer as historian and historical regression
- Why changing character’s outfits is rude
- Cheerful misogyny
- Meta-gaming (or why I can’t get 100% achievements on some of Christine Love’s games)
It wouldn’t be stretching it too far to call this particular podcast an ode to Chrine Love’s mysterious and intriguing games. I definitely downloaded all the rest I could get my hands on after this. Listen, enjoy, and perhaps take a moment to look at Team Acagameia’s Extra Life Page – it’s a gaming charity for kids. DO IT FOR THE KIDS!
Before today, I had already decided on my Halloween costume. I’ve procured the skirt, shirt, hat, and backpack to go as Fiona from Adventure Time, but after I saw these new Ghostbusters Rompers from WeLoveFine….I’ve had a change of heart.
There are technically four separate rompers, each with a different Ghostbuster’s name on them. The only thing stopping me from nabbing a romper this very minute is the knowledge that I would inevitably wear it every day. I would go to work in my Ghostbusters romper, I would go to a dance club in the romper, and I would even wear it at my upcoming family reunion in front of my persnickety older relatives. If I buy the romper, there is no going back.
For those of you perhaps less obsessive than myself, these would make excellent Halloween costumes, and there are some quick and easy DIY proton pack instructions out there on the internet to help you complete your ensemble. Just ready yourself for the plethora of “Who you gonna call?” pick up lines you’ll be receiving as soon as you put it on.
If I was giving a lecture on the development of female characters in video games, the Final Fantasy games from Square Enix would be a key part of that discussion. In an era where many women in games were relegated to damsel roles, many of the Final Fantasy games gave you female members in your party, and gave them important narrative roles to boot.
Since Final Fantasy has such a rich history of including interesting women in the series – the recently completed FFXIII series was helmed by a lady named Lightning – it’s confusing that the upcoming game Final Fantasy XV features a cast of all-men. In an interview with 4gamer, FFXV director Hajime Tabata confirmed that the party is male only – with no playable female characters in sight.
When unpacking this information, Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft notes that there is a history in Japan of all-male driven games being extremely popular with female players. Instead of alienating female players, he suggests that there is a possibility that the all male party was meant to draw Japanese ladies to the game in droves.
Luckily, with a new interview between IGN and Hajime Tabata, many of our questions are answered surrounding the all-male party, and we see that even the director was uncomfortable with the all-male approach. Tabata explains:
“The party members being all men was something that [former director] Tetsuya Nomura had kept as a very important element of this journey. He wanted to depict a story in which a group of men, a group of friends, journey throughout the world. So that’s something that I kept in Final Fantasy XV”
He also went on to mention that he feels that “gender bias is unhealthy” and that there will be prominent female characters who appear in the game. Considering Ubisoft’s response to questions surrounding female characters was “Um….derrr…they’re too hard to animate” Tabata’s explanation of the FFXV cast sounds more believable and understandable.
Square Enix has already released an all female Final Fantasy game in the critically misunderstood Final Fantasy X-2, so it’s only fair that we’re about to receive an all-male party to journey with. Perhaps without women around, these men will actually be able to say more than “………………..”. Maybe Noctis, the only playable character in FFXV, might break the mold for our stereotypical male Final Fantasy protagonists. BRING IT ON!
When I read an article yesterday morning from The Beat that several of Milo Manara’s upcoming variant covers had been canceled, I did a little happy dance in my chair. You’ll remember the Manara Spider-Woman cover that was heavily criticized a few weeks ago.
Many websites were quick to ridiculous this pose, io9 released images of a grotesque 3D model of the position, Kelly Sue DeConnick commented on it in an interview with TheMindHut, and The Mary Sue absolutely went to town on the image, photoshopping strange images onto Spider-Woman’s butt and featuring a video of women attempting – and failing – to reenact Spider-Woman’s position. And those were just the articles I personally read, a quick Google search will show you dozens more.
In a weekly interview with Comic Book Resources, Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso apologized for the image, saying that they realized that the messages sent in the Milo Manara variant cover were not what was intended. At the same time, Alonso firmly mentioned that Marvel would be commissioning covers from Manara in the future, but that they were “aware of the growing sensitivity to covers like this.” It felt like Marvel was attempting to have its cake and eat it too.
Naturally, when news reached the internet that several of Milo Manara’s upcoming variant covers had been canceled, it appeared as if Marvel was changing their tune. No more grossly sexy covers! No more butts lifted grotesquely in the air! No more weird faces!
Not the case.
The reality, according to Comic Book Resources, is that the canceled covers were just part of bad scheduling, not any indication that Marvel is withdrawing support from Manara’s variant covers. Alonso says,
Clearly, unequivocally, I want to state that this is only a scheduling problem. The Manara covers were recast due to his schedule. He will be doing more covers for us, in fact, he’s working on one right now that will be announced sometime soon.
While many people (myself included, obviously) had their hopes up about this development, a seedier part of the web jumped on the chance to turn the canceled covers into a debate over censorship – attempting to create #ComicGate on the back of the recent #GamerGate movement.
Really? The Milo Manara covers got cancelled. Who's about silencing again? #ComicGate
— Every Fanboy Ever (@fanboy_txt) September 24, 2014
While I was initially sad that the Manara covers hadn’t been cancelled, at this point I’m just wearily thankful that the #ComicGate crowd has no legs to stand on. August and September were rough months for women in gaming, and I’d hate to see that vitriol spread to comics.