The Starfire Dilemma: Problematic Sexuality in Comics

E

Moderator
Excelsior Club
Re: The New 52 general discussion


That broke my heart...

Same here.

How disappointing. That little girl has a hero and they've ruined it for her. There's no way she's not affected by that, even if she sticks to reading/watching other versions of the character.

DC actually responded to this on Twitter yesterday. They're response? Check the parental ratings on the books.

How sad.
 

Jaggyd

The member formerly known as skotti-chan
Re: The New 52 general discussion

So, to the people saying DC should cater to 7 year olds, why?


Should Kirkman edit Walking Dead till it's kid friendly? Or is it just the big two that's required to dumb down everything?


Smells like hypocrisy at its finest. And I double checked, DC Kids is still churning out books full bore.
 

Dr.Strangefate

He Sees You When You're Sleeping. He Knows When Yo
Re: The New 52 general discussion

It's not that the books should be catered to 7-year-olds, it's more that strong female characters who could be seen as role-models from anyone from a child to someone significantly older don't need to broken down to become brain-damaged sex machines in order to appeal to the lowest-common-denominator... I think you'll notice that nobody is complaining about Voodoo being a stripper, because Voodoo has always been a stripper, and it's a part of her character and backstory. Starfire has always been sultry, and sexy, and mostly naked... But she was strong. She was fearless. She was a hero. Now she's being portrayed as a sex-object first and foremost. It wasn't presented as part of her character, it was presented as the ENTIRETY of her character. That's the issue here. For me, anyways.

And in a way, if you read what the little girl's reaction was, it seems like that's what she found disappointing, too. Even if her parents shouldn't have given her the comic to begin with.
 

J. Agamemnon

Well-Known Member
Re: The New 52 general discussion

Basing this whole comparison of Starfire, essentially pitting 20 years of comic.television against one issue seems a bit drastic. I mean DC's work has been done. The shock value, the heated debates... everyone is talking about it. Now before anyone makes rash decisions of dropping the title, they're gonna get invested to see where the character takes them and Starfire will end up either back to her normal self or some kind of weird mix of Maude Lebowski and Bridgette Nielson.
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
Re: The New 52 general discussion

So, to the people saying DC should cater to 7 year olds, why?


Should Kirkman edit Walking Dead till it's kid friendly? Or is it just the big two that's required to dumb down everything?


Smells like hypocrisy at its finest. And I double checked, DC Kids is still churning out books full bore.

You're missing the point.

I absolutely support the idea that comics shouldn't just cater to kids, and that you should have 'adult' only comics or what-have-you. This is absolutely fine.

The problem here is twofold: the first is that DC is saying, "Check the age ratings" when we're talking about a kid's character. This isn't like someone complaining that THE WALKING DEAD is too violent or there's too much sex in 100 BULLETS for their 7-year old daughter. This is Starfire who was the major character of a kid's tv show that starred Robin, the Boy Wonder. This is why Marvel are careful not to put Spidey or Hulk or any of their really kid-friendly characters in a MAX comic book because they know if Spidey's on the cover, kids will want to buy it, and if they do, suddenly having Spidey swearing and shagging would be asking for trouble. This is the problem with Starfire walking around propositioning people for sex in a tiny bikini and DC saying, "Just check the age rating" is dismissive and irresponsible.

The second problem is that it is awful writing that reduces a character to a sexist status because all she is, as a character, is sexual. Every illustration is about the sexual appeal of her body, every conversation about her having sex. That's all she is. The other characters in the comic are also poorly written, but not necessarily in such an obvious, puerile fashion (not that this makes her portrayal necessarily worse, only that it is still awful).

It's not that DC should cater to 7-year olds exclusively, or that sex is inappropriate to comics. It's that they took a children's character and degraded her into a prostitute, dehumanizing her in every conceivable way.
 
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Ultimate Houde

UC's Resident Genetic Recombinator
Re: The New 52 general discussion

The only thing I can think of is Starfire's attitude is a plot point. Red Hood drugged her with some sort of drug that made her what she is like right now.
 
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E

Moderator
Excelsior Club
Re: The New 52 general discussion

You're missing the point.

I absolutely support the idea that comics shouldn't just cater to kids, and that you should have 'adult' only comics or what-have-you. This is absolutely fine.

The problem here is twofold: the first is that DC is saying, "Check the age ratings" when we're talking about a kid's character. This isn't like someone complaining that THE WALKING DEAD is too violent or there's too much sex in 100 BULLETS for their 7-year old daughter. This is Starfire who was the major character of a kid's tv show that starred Robin, the Boy Wonder. This is why Marvel are careful not to put Spidey or Hulk or any of their really kid-friendly characters in a MAX comic book because they know if Spidey's on the cover, kids will want to buy it, and if they do, suddenly having Spidey swearing and shagging would be asking for trouble. This is the problem with Starfire walking around propositioning people for sex in a tiny bikini and DC saying, "Just check the age rating" is dismissive and irresponsible.

The second problem is that it is awful writing that reduces a character to a sexist status because all she is, as a character, is sexual. Every illustration is about the sexual appeal of her body, every conversation about her having sex. That's all she is. The other characters in the comic are also poorly written, but not necessarily in such an obvious, puerile fashion (not that this makes her portrayal necessarily worse, only that it is still awful).

It's not that DC should cater to 7-year olds exclusively, or that sex is inappropriate to comics. It's that they took a children's character and degraded her into a prostitute, dehumanizing her in every conceivable way.

Well said. I agree completely. The Walking Dead comparison is poor.

My son is one of those kids who "grew up on" the Teen Titans cartoon. I'd hate to think how his opinion on women/girls/females would be shaped with something like this. Again, it's not that sexuality exists and that's bad - even in comics. But I thought the author of that article did a good job explaining what it means when you do this to what is very much a kid's character.
 

The Overlord

Well-Known Member
Perhaps the next issue, Starfire can bake a cake, while the male super heroes go out and fight crime. DC may as well try to fit as many female stereotypes as possible Starfire if this is what they are having her do.
 
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Jaggyd

The member formerly known as skotti-chan
Re: The New 52 general discussion

You're missing the point.

I absolutely support the idea that comics shouldn't just cater to kids, and that you should have 'adult' only comics or what-have-you. This is absolutely fine.

The problem here is twofold: the first is that DC is saying, "Check the age ratings" when we're talking about a kid's character. This isn't like someone complaining that THE WALKING DEAD is too violent or there's too much sex in 100 BULLETS for their 7-year old daughter. This is Starfire who was the major character of a kid's tv show that starred Robin, the Boy Wonder. This is why Marvel are careful not to put Spidey or Hulk or any of their really kid-friendly characters in a MAX comic book because they know if Spidey's on the cover, kids will want to buy it, and if they do, suddenly having Spidey swearing and shagging would be asking for trouble. This is the problem with Starfire walking around propositioning people for sex in a tiny bikini and DC saying, "Just check the age rating" is dismissive and irresponsible.

The second problem is that it is awful writing that reduces a character to a sexist status because all she is, as a character, is sexual. Every illustration is about the sexual appeal of her body, every conversation about her having sex. That's all she is. The other characters in the comic are also poorly written, but not necessarily in such an obvious, puerile fashion (not that this makes her portrayal necessarily worse, only that it is still awful).

It's not that DC should cater to 7-year olds exclusively, or that sex is inappropriate to comics. It's that they took a children's character and degraded her into a prostitute, dehumanizing her in every conceivable way.

She's not a children's character Bass. When she was created, she was from a sexually liberated culture, where they didn't have the puritanical morality with clothing, etc. It wasn't until they turned her into a vegetable in the Teen Titans cartoon did people assume she was a "child's character". It's like the morons that're now saying that Selina "sexually assaulted" (read: Raped) Batman in Catwoman #1. People are flying off the handle because "OMG these womminz aren't sitting there waiting daintily while their respective men (Dick and Bruce) are out ****ING other women.

Repeat after me, George Perez didn't create Starfire as a "child's character", she was sexual and sexualized from the start. Just like how Voodoo is a stripper. It's that idiot fans want the simpering moron Starfire from Teen Titans Go!
tumblr_l4f5xrqKAY1qc7r93o1_400.jpg


Read what she said. It's EXACTLY how she is now.


The only problem I see is they took the joy and wonder out of her, but we don't know what happened to her. Because if you look at Roy and Jason, BOTH damaged goods, who's to say something didn't happen to her while with or after the Titans that's make her cold and heartless.



Also her original costume is JUST as releaving as Rocafort's version. Hell, the new one is about as covering as Quitely's Emma boob stripes and hot pants.

479339530_d82d6a74ce.jpg




The only thing I can think of is Starfire's attitude is a plot point. Red Hood drugged her with some sort of drug that made her what she is like right now.

Like I mentioned, I'm actually hoping that the 180 personality change is due to her being "damaged" like Jason and Roy. Because that's what bothers me about Khory.


Well said. I agree completely. The Walking Dead comparison is poor.

My son is one of those kids who "grew up on" the Teen Titans cartoon. I'd hate to think how his opinion on women/girls/females would be shaped with something like this. Again, it's not that sexuality exists and that's bad - even in comics. But I thought the author of that article did a good job explaining what it means when you do this to what is very much a kid's character.

It's not a poor comparison. Why must Marvel and DC be tied to dealing with "All Ages"?

Secondly, I grew up as a little girl reading the original Titans comic, so what? I get it your son now believes women are mentally handicapped and completely socially retarded, if what you're saying is true. Why can't kids read stuff like Teen Titans Go! or Tiny Titans if you feel uncomfortable letting them read adult oriented stuff, I mean, that's what those titles are for. Sometimes they're even better than the mainstream. Case in point DC Kids' Billy Batson is far superior Shazam to the BS Winick put out in Trials.
 
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SSJmole

Face-Punching As Foreign Policy
Re: The New 52 general discussion

Sure boo hoo poor little girl, Yet mole complains they ruined his venom and is greeted with "Meh its better now" Hypocrites! And yes it is the same thing. Look at stuff i like , power rangers , sponge bob , Supergirl , wwe. Clearly I'm a 7 year old girl trapped in a man's body. So where is my sympathy?
 
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Ice

Teh Sexy Monkey Queen
Re: The New 52 general discussion

Sure boo hoo poor little girl, Yet mole complains they ruined his venom and is greeted with "Meh its better now" Hypocrites! And yes it is the same thing. Look at stuff i like , power rangers , sponge bob , Supergirl , wwe. Clearly I'm a 7 year old girl trapped in a man's body. So where is my sympathy?
I sold it on ebay. Didn't get much, but I expect that.
 

Bass

Nexus of the World
Re: The New 52 general discussion

She's not a children's character Bass. When she was created, she was from a sexually liberated culture, where they didn't have the puritanical morality with clothing, etc. It wasn't until they turned her into a vegetable in the Teen Titans cartoon did people assume she was a "child's character". It's like the morons that're now saying that Selina "sexually assaulted" (read: Raped) Batman in Catwoman #1. People are flying off the handle because "OMG these womminz aren't sitting there waiting daintily while their respective men (Dick and Bruce) are out ****ING other women.

Repeat after me, George Perez didn't create Starfire as a "child's character", she was sexual and sexualized from the start. Just like how Voodoo is a stripper. It's that idiot fans want the simpering moron Starfire from Teen Titans Go!
tumblr_l4f5xrqKAY1qc7r93o1_400.jpg


Read what she said. It's EXACTLY how she is now.

First of all, let me disagree that the TEEN TITANS cartoon Starfire is a 'moron' or 'vegetable' because I absolutely love her to death and will hear no bad things about her, on pain of lightning from the sky.

But to your actual point about Starfire as a children's character: I must confess I was not aware that the promiscuity was something she was originally designed to have, and certainly muddies the issue (i.e. I missed the point). I would suppose there isn't really a binary "children's character/adult's character" switch to determine if it is or isn't suitable, and so does her attitude towards sex make her an 'adult' character? I would agree with you, yes it does. But, by the same token, doesn't her appearance in a book along with Robin make her a 'childrens' character? I would have to say, it does. So... I suppose she's both, and while, if I spent more time considering this situation (and researching Starfire, which I shamefully didn't before having an opinion), I wouldn't have put across an opinion of 'promiscuity = adults only', I suppose I jumped the gun in that regard.

However, the panel you present shows a particularly stark difference between Perez' promiscuous Starfire and this new one. Firstly, she is somewhat modestly dressed, and the focus is clearly on her face and attitude as opposed to her **** and ass. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, Perez's Starfire says that they love freely, and this is sometimes a physical act. The new one clearly is dispassionate and just interested in the lustful sex. What's more, instead of being tender and inviting, as Perez's Starfire is, this new one is aggressive and insulting. The difference creates a situation in which we empathise and enjoy Perez's, but find the newer one distasteful. There is a qualitative difference in their portrayal, and I would argue, what we see as Starfire now, is a venal, and unknowingly puerile and sexist version of a more romantic and endearing trait originally built into the character.

The only problem I see is they took the joy and wonder out of her, but we don't know what happened to her. Because if you look at Roy and Jason, BOTH damaged goods, who's to say something didn't happen to her while with or after the Titans that's make her cold and heartless.

I think the substance of what's going on here is that she is not an empathetic character, we do not like her, and it's not exactly expressed clearly enough for us to understand why she is the way she is. It is absolutely possible to have a woman so damaged that she just shags people and we, as the audience, go, "Poor woman" or "I agree with her sentiment, the world is a ****ty place and our romantic rituals are hypocritical, good for you for being honest". I mean, that is sort of how we feel for Lisbeth in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is it not? She's rather promiscuous, and we on the one hand we feel sorry for her, but on the other she's not the hypocritical sleazey lecherous monsters she encounters (I've not seen the second two films yet, so maybe this changes). David Duchovny in CALIFORNICATION is the male version of this, but his unrelenting and rather depraved sexual adventures are a manifestation of his self-loathing, a form of sexual, romantic punishment for not being with his the woman he loves.

So, again, the problem isn't so much the sexism or even the concept of a woman who just wants to shag men for some reason but the bad writing - we don't understand what she gets out of it (love, meaning, an allevience of morbid dread, security, control and power, it's how she punishes herself) and not only is it poor writing, it's a particularly obvious, egregious, tasteless, and dehumanizing poor writing in regards to Starfire.

Also her original costume is JUST as releaving as Rocafort's version. Hell, the new one is about as covering as Quitely's Emma boob stripes and hot pants.

479339530_d82d6a74ce.jpg


Like I mentioned, I'm actually hoping that the 180 personality change is due to her being "damaged" like Jason and Roy. Because that's what bothers me about Khory.

I don't think it's the design that's the problem (maybe it is), but for me, it was the focus of the art on her chest and ass, rather than just wearing a revealing costume. It's one thing to have her in a costume that shows her chest, it's another thing to compose an image where the chest is the central focus. It's not just the focus, it's also the mood that's generated. For example, my favourite Power Girl piece by Adam Hughes;

Power_Girl_Cover_by_AdamHughes.jpg


This image has a clear, central focus on her costume that shows off her disarmingly apparent cleavage. However, it's done in a comedic styling that Power Girl is kinda being inappropriate and oblivious, and that it's appealing on a base level. It's rather harmless, self-deprecating fun, as opposed to being pornographic or highly sexualized.

It's not a poor comparison. Why must Marvel and DC be tied to dealing with "All Ages"?

Secondly, I grew up as a little girl reading the original Titans comic, so what? I get it your son now believes women are mentally handicapped and completely socially retarded, if what you're saying is true. Why can't kids read stuff like Teen Titans Go! or Tiny Titans if you feel uncomfortable letting them read adult oriented stuff, I mean, that's what those titles are for. Sometimes they're even better than the mainstream. Case in point DC Kids' Billy Batson is far superior Shazam to the BS Winick put out in Trials.

It's not that Marvel and DC must be "All Ages" it's that certain franchises they possess are "All Ages" due to a decades long branding. Starfire, as you pointed out rather well was a grey area, I think before the cartoon, you could separate her from Robin and the other Bat-characters and turn her into a more kid-unfriendly character, but after the TEEN TITANS cartoon, I think she's in the all-ages camp for a while now.

But I think we can agree that "All Ages" doesn't mean you can't involve love and sex (romance is fine, but sex is a kind of blind spot to kids so it can't be dealt with in the same way), and certainly, doesn't mean you couldn't have her be of quality.

But, yeah, good points Jaggyd. I had to read it, leave your comments alone for a while and think on what you said. Good points. I'm always happy when someone schools me on a subject.

Sure boo hoo poor little girl, Yet mole complains they ruined his venom and is greeted with "Meh its better now" Hypocrites! And yes it is the same thing. Look at stuff i like , power rangers , sponge bob , Supergirl , wwe. Clearly I'm a 7 year old girl trapped in a man's body. So where is my sympathy?

veryfavoriteperson.jpg
 

E

Moderator
Excelsior Club
Re: The New 52 general discussion

She's not a children's character Bass. When she was created, she was from a sexually liberated culture, where they didn't have the puritanical morality with clothing, etc. It wasn't until they turned her into a vegetable in the Teen Titans cartoon did people assume she was a "child's character". It's like the morons that're now saying that Selina "sexually assaulted" (read: Raped) Batman in Catwoman #1. People are flying off the handle because "OMG these womminz aren't sitting there waiting daintily while their respective men (Dick and Bruce) are out ****ING other women.

Repeat after me, George Perez didn't create Starfire as a "child's character", she was sexual and sexualized from the start. Just like how Voodoo is a stripper. It's that idiot fans want the simpering moron Starfire from Teen Titans Go!
tumblr_l4f5xrqKAY1qc7r93o1_400.jpg


Read what she said. It's EXACTLY how she is now.


The only problem I see is they took the joy and wonder out of her, but we don't know what happened to her. Because if you look at Roy and Jason, BOTH damaged goods, who's to say something didn't happen to her while with or after the Titans that's make her cold and heartless.



Also her original costume is JUST as releaving as Rocafort's version. Hell, the new one is about as covering as Quitely's Emma boob stripes and hot pants.

479339530_d82d6a74ce.jpg






Like I mentioned, I'm actually hoping that the 180 personality change is due to her being "damaged" like Jason and Roy. Because that's what bothers me about Khory.




It's not a poor comparison. Why must Marvel and DC be tied to dealing with "All Ages"?

Secondly, I grew up as a little girl reading the original Titans comic, so what? I get it your son now believes women are mentally handicapped and completely socially retarded, if what you're saying is true. Why can't kids read stuff like Teen Titans Go! or Tiny Titans if you feel uncomfortable letting them read adult oriented stuff, I mean, that's what those titles are for. Sometimes they're even better than the mainstream. Case in point DC Kids' Billy Batson is far superior Shazam to the BS Winick put out in Trials.

Like Bass, I didn't realize the character was like that before.

But that's kind of the point. Characters evolve, and a lot of times it's because of things that happen in other media. The original article pointed out that the TV show had something like 2 million viewers, and even the best comics only sell 100,000. There are more kids that know that version of Starfire (from the cartoon) than the sexually open/promiscuous/whatever version. And the other point is this - forget morals for a second, ignoring them is just bad marketing.

I'm a little surprised by your stance. I was not expecting the vegetable/mentally handicapped/socially retarded comparison, or claiming that the sexualized version is less stereotypical than the more generically heroic version. I look at it as using her gender as a defining characteristic - generally that's a bad idea. The cartoon version is a great hero who, oh yeah, happens to be a girl. It puts her on more equal footing than male characters and I think it helps girls identify with that. Whether you personally like it or hate it, I think more girls out there who do that appreciate it than people who want the sexualized version.

Either way, kudos for knowing your DC history.
 

Zombipanda

My Boom-Boom's mostly gay
Huh........

And here I just thought the whole thing was badly written...

I think E makes a good point. DC has done a lot of talk about appealing to new audiences but they haven't taken a single step to do so. All their advertising seems to put their superheroes first and it seems to me they're just aiming at the same old audience. It seems to me that presenting a Starfire (and a Titans in general) that appeals to all those kids who grew up on the show is one of the best inroads they have for a new audience. An adult who's sexualized but still retains the values that appealed from the cartoon.





One thing though, Jag. There was an article up on BC that would suggest the lack of compassion on her part isn't trauma induced. Let me see if I can dig it up. here. It's not as good a fit as I thought, as it's focused exclusively on her sexuality.
 
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Void.M

Well-Known Member
Granted, the TT cartoon has been off the air for a few years now though.


Also, i find it odd that two guys are trying to tell a gal what is or isn't sexist. No offence to anyone, i'm just saying.
 
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