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Gabriel Roth On My Comments That Comics With Icky Portrayals Of Women Are Just Bad Comics
posted October 14, 2011

I really enjoy your site and generally find your commentary thoughtful and well-reasoned, so please take the following as a respectful request that you reconsider a position.

I'm responding to this, which restates a point you've made before regarding the portrayals of women in the new DC line: "just creating good stories might be the overriding issue and that it's odd to kind of separate out aspects like this as if they were stand-alone points. It doesn't seem to me like anything's off the table if compelling art is the result, and that the first and foremost result of the criticized portrayals is that they fail to contribute to that end."

I agree that it looks like these are artistic failures, and it's certainly legitimate to criticize them on those grounds. But we live in the real world. There have always been dozens or hundreds of lousy comics published every month. As a kid, I read many of them avidly, and I'm guessing so did you. I would love it if the comics industry could raise the standard of its offerings. But turning a character from a kids' cartoon into a brainless slut is unpleasant and harmful in ways that go beyond the fact that it's lousy art. When my one-year-old daughter is a bit older I hope she reads and enjoys lots of comics, including bad ones. I hope she goes through fits of juvenile enthusiasm over comics that are, by adult standards, failures of craft on every level. That's how taste is formed. But I hope she never, ever reads a comic like that one with Starfire propositioning Speedy or whoever the hell it was.

That's my two cents. Thanks for listening.