Hello interweb, Nate here. So I’m going to try something I’ve never done before: a response post! Now I’ve never done a response to anything before besides comic book news but I am subscribed to several YouTubers who does response videos for a living so I thought I could try it out myself. Now this video here was posted 8 months ago at the time of this writing and it is from BuzzFeedYellow. Now BuzzFeed is very well known on the internet so I’ll only briefly explain who they are. They’re a series of YouTube channels that are very pro-feminist, pro-tolerance, pro-acceptance, etc. While none of those are inherently bad, in my opinion at least, they have a reputation for spitting out a lot of low quality videos focusing more on quantity over quality. Now they are a business so it makes sense on a marketing stand point since the more videos you make the more views you get and the more money you make. However this does mean that quite a few of these videos are commonly responded to and are often criticized for their stances on things. Since I talk mainly about comic books on this channel I thought I could take a crack at responding to one of their videos over comic book women. More specifically how artists chose to pose them. Because as we all know, women are constantly objectified in mainstream comic books and men are never drawn with unrealistic bodies or in extreme poses. Now I do want to point out that I will not be taking every second of this video and analyzing every word uttered here simply because I really don’t need to go over when people say things like “I’m nervous” or “I think I can do it”. I’ll go over the important bits and respond to anything I feel needs a response to. So let’s begin, shall we?
“My knee cap feels like it’s about ti rip off and my butt feels like it’s about to spring off into another dimension!”
You might want to get that checked out. Jokes aside, it’s almost as if fictional characters can do thinks real people can’t! But that can’t be the case now can it.
“You know, they look good. I hope I look that good. We’ll see!”
Now I wanted to highlight this comment to point out that comic book art isn’t drawn to look realistic. Sometimes they are, but often they are not. Comic book characters are drawn to look cool, strong, powerful, attractive, etc. as to represent the characters in that way. Spider-man is shown in skin-tight spandex with the build of a gymnast in order to show his strength and flexibility. Wonder Wonder Woman would not have the build of a gymnast as she does not swing around the city like Spider-man. Instead she is drawn as a strong warrior since she is an Amazon. Two different characters drawn in two different ways to reflex how different said characters are. Are these bodies exaggerated to a degree? Of course! No fabric known to man is going to fold itself into every single muscle Spider-man has on his body to show off his six pack but they do because it looks cool.
“You notice how her right hip is popped out?”
“Yes. Oh my god! I might’ve lied about this being easy!”
Now first off I do ant to point out that the comic book panel they are attempting to create us clearly from a 90’s issue of the X-Men comics. Now which issue specifically I don’t know and the video left no sources to where these images were found or who drew them so a few of these I had trouble finding the original comics. However I do recognize the dated 90’s art and the fact that I used the term “dated” here is very telling now isn’t it. One thing I notice feminists do a lot when talking about forms of entertainment is when they go to previous decades to show the sexism back then and claim that this same sexism is currently happening using the examples from the past. Now I am not saying that forms of sexism that existed back then do not exist now, what I am saying is if they exist in today’s climate than give us modern examples rather than dated ones. The 90’s were a very gimmicky time where they often had terrible artwork with terrible body proportions. In fact here is a male character in the 90’s in a very awkward pose just to show you that this was not a gendered problem. Now this panel comes from Young Blood #1 and features the male character Diehard attacking another character. I assume the connotation is suppose to imply that Diehard punched the guy but with the way he is posed it looks more like he is hitting the guy in the face with his crotch. As I said before, the 90’s has very extreme and overly exaggerated art that had terrible anatomy and posing. There were a few good artists like Todd Mcfarlene but otherwise this was the norm.
Now getting back to the image of Storm here, she is clearly in flight in this panel. Now different characters with the ability to fly often achieve flight in different manners. Static Shock from DC uses his electromagnetic powers on metal disks to launch himself off the ground and simulate a hover board of sorts as to appear like he’s surfing on electricity. Superman achieves flight by defying the Earth’s gravitational pull so it appears as if he is launching himself through the air similarly to that of a rocket. Now if we look at Storm, her ability is to manipulate the weather so she uses her ability to manipulate the wind around her and pushes herself off the ground with the cloth behind her helping as to create more surface area to catch the wind. Now the reason I bring this up is that out model here is attempting to recreate Storm’s flying pose by sitting on a wooden crate which is an entirely different scenario than what is presented to us. Now one YouTube response did suggest maybe putting her on wires to simulate flight but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate as wires would pull her off the ground while wind will push her off the ground. Now because flight in this manner is impossible for us mortal humans to achieve the artists must interpret how this character will appear and thus whose to say that Storm wouldn’t look like this when she is flying? Granted the proportions are off but again this is crappy 90’s art that you’re attempting to recreate so of course the proportions won’t look realistic.
“It just scares me because her back is literally like a “Z” and no matter how hard I stick my butt out it’s never gonna look like that”
Now here we have our model attempting to recreate a panel where Wonder Woman is blocking a sword using her gauntlets. Now similarly to the last panel I do not know which comic this image comes from exactly however I do believe this is from a more modern comic judging by the art so I will give it a pass here. Now comic books are different from movies and cartoons simply because they are pictures telling a story. We can see here that Wonder Woman is currently in the middle of movement and thus if we were to animate this image we would see that Wonder Woman would only be in this specific pose for a few seconds. Our model is attempting to remain in said pose for enough time in order to snap a photo. If they were to recreate an image where she was standing still than this might have meant something but you can’t have you’re legs bent like that for longer than a few seconds. The biggest problem with this image is, again, the proportions. However that happens with all characters not just women.
“I’m fighting so much crime!”
Yet again they are attempting to recreate a pose in motion while standing still. Psylocke is clearly in the air doing some sort of jump kick while talking to a person who is focused to the right of the panel. Now this pose could not last more than a fraction of a second and she is talking to this character while performing this attack. If this was animated I would assume she would be twisting towards her left ending up facing the character. You can’t just take an action image and pose for it and expect it to come out the same. To show this, here’s Miles Morales swinging through the city on his webs. I dare you to recreate this image using a man. If you’re unable to comfortably do it than I claim sexism. These comics clearly don’t draw men in ways that are comfortable for them to be drawn. And if you want to comment in Mile’s enhance flexibility, than see me at the next model!
“Woah! Feels very sexy!”
Now I have to admit, this is the one I was most excited for because there is so many things wrong here it’s not even funny. Let me start with Spider-woman herself. Spider-woman is not a human. She is a human mutate which means her biology is not like that of a normal human. Now give or take a few powers here and there, Spider-woman – aka Jessica Drew – has similar powers to that of Spider-man; hence the “spider”. This means that her connective tissue is twice as flexible as a human and thus she is able to contort her body in ways that not even the most skilled contortionists are capable of doing. Meaning that this pose of her isn’t even close to her full capabilities. While the model may be struggling to get even close to the same pose, Spider-woman is completely comfortable in her current pose and can even contort her body in ways that would probably break our model if she attempted the same feat. As a side note, even human contortionists out there are capable of achieving poses that are less comfortable than that one.
Secondly let’s talk about the art for this, because I actually know where this image comes from! This is the variant cover for Spider-woman (vol 5) #1 and was drawn by Milo Manara. Milo Manara is an erotic artist who draws porn. This means that his style of art is suppose to be sexually appealing and this image of Spider-woman crawling up the wall is likely extremely mild compared to his other works. Now honestly that is the biggest criticism about this piece that I can find since the spandex is literally folding into her butt crack, but technically Jessica Drew does have things she calls “venom blasts” which are actually bio-electricity shot as projectiles. So whose to say that this bio-electricity isn’t causing static cling to make her costume stick to her skin? Yeah it’s a stretch but we’re talking about a woman with spider powers I think static cling clothing is the most realistic thing I’ve described here.
The final thing I wish to mention is that Spider-man was in this exact same pose before this cover was ever drawn. This is a common pose among spider characters when they are crawling around things. Heck, Spider-man’s butt is clearly visible through his spandex and he doesn’t have bio-electric venom blasts as an excuse unlike Spider-woman over here. So why is Spider-woman’s pose sexualized but Spider-man’s isn’t? Maybe it’s because he’s a male character and Spider-woman is a female and thus it isn’t as big of a deal. Right? Honestly, I can see the argument given with most of these poses to an extent, but this one clearly shows how little these people actually know about the comics they’re criticizing. If you’re not going to read the comics than can you at least do some research ahead of time?
“Also, ass out a little! Yeah!”
OK this one I was the most concerned about criticizing since I might come off as a jerk but it is a valid criticism. The body type of the model is clearly far from the body type of the character she’s attempting to pose as. Now I don’t know anything about Red Sanja so I had to run over to ComicVine’s bio on her and apparently she is indeed human with the site saying “She is imbued with the maximum strength, speed, endurance, agility, and reflexes that a human female could possess without being considered superhuman.”. So we know that her limits are within the realm of human possibilities. However even at that, she is still at peak of human athleticism so why would you chose to have a plus-sized model (she does call herself that later so I’m just going to be polite and call her that here) pose for someone whose clearly far more fit than the model is? This would be a far better criticism if the model was an athlete or something of that vein.
“Look at this one more time.”
“I’ll be fine if I go to the chiropractor later.”
Now apparently this image is that of Black Widow who is apparently blond for some reason. Let’s not get into the details of that and just focus on the image at hand. We are left yet again with a model attempting to create an image in motion by laying still. Now credit where credit is due and the physics of this pose does make me question why her butt is sticking out instead of twisting with the rest of her body to aim the gun. However I do want to point out that Black Widow has indeed been affected by a similar super soldier serum as Steve Rodgers aka Captain America. She is also trained in several forms of martial arts and is extremely agile and athletic. So while I do believe the biology of this pose is possible, the physics of it is what’s the most baffling about this pose itself. So yeah well done I guess.
“I thought this was very interesting doing this as a plus-sized woman because I was very conscious of the fact that like my stomach was sticking out in places; and the way these women are drawn it’s like she’s just basically like a life sized Barbie and here I was trying to compete”
And here I show you that this model was aware that her body type was nothing like the character given to her and thus the image is unattainable. This basically further shows my point that the main objective to this video was to get women to pose in ways that they are not capable of mainly because they do not have the same body as these women in these comics. If you do not have the same sort of build than how do you expect to recreate these same images. Now I realize their main point is that these images create these unrealistic beauty standards for women but you can’t expect these superheroes to be drawn like average women when they are doing physically stressful activities.
“You can’t help but feel like really bad about yourself even though like even if I was Psylocke’s size I don’t have the legs that she has and my torso’s not that long.”
So moral of the story is that female comic book characters shouldn’t be drawn in these poses because women look at these unrealistic bodies and feel insecure about their own bodies. The truth of the matter is that these characters are drawn this way because the artist wants to tell you that these characters are strong and can kick butt and you’re not going to be able to kick butt if you’re not physically fit enough to do so. Wonder Woman, for instance, can’s be drawn with a fat belly simply because she is an Amazon warrior and she would not be able do the things she does with that type of body.
Also a big pet peeve of mine is when a non-gendered issue is turned into a gendered issue simply because women are oppressed or something like that; also when non-issues become gendered issues. Men are also exaggeratedly drawn in comics with huge torsos, small waists, and bulging muscles. They are also sometimes posed awkwardly depending on how the artists decides to draw said character. So why is it that when female comic book characters are drawn with these types of bodies people say it’s sexist because it makes women insecure about their bodies and yet I hear nobody complaining about men in comics making men the real world insecure about their bodies. Because I know that men are also insecure about their bodies in the real world and yet women are seen as the victim of this more often. Now me personally as a comic book reader I am fully aware that I will never be as ripped as Spider-man and I’m perfectly fine with that. Granted if you saw me in real life than you’d know that I am very thin with very little muscle on me, but still I’ve never actually found myself staring at a comic book cover desiring their bodies all that much. Maybe a short thought of “I wish I looked like that” but nothing that made me feel insecure and wanting to tell comic book companies to start drawing their characters any differently.
“I would like to see her […] in some kind of strength pose instead of like a sex pose”
What about Spider-woman’s posing was a “sex pose”? She was simply crawling up the side of a building. You are the one turning it into a sexual thing. However you want to see Spider-woman in a “strength pose”? Fine, I have took the 5 seconds out of my time to go on google images and find the most badass pose I could of Spider-woman. This image is the cover of the exact same run of Spider-woman as the issue #1 cover only this is 3 issues down in issue #4! Boom! Your welcome! This shows Spider-woman wearing a battle-torn costume with her fist punching her palm in a way that shows that she’s been beaten up pretty decently and yet she is still more then willing to continue fighting. If that’s not a “strength pose” then I don’t know what is!
“I know that they’re not realistic, but I do think that people who read these all the time probably absorb a lot of how they should perceive women’s bodies and like what women’s bodies should be like; even if they don’t know that they’re doing it!”
Citation needed. Where are you gaining this information that people who read comic books all the time expect women to be able to do the same things with their bodies as these characters do with their own? Because I read comic books quite frequently and I believe this post clearly demonstrate that I am fully aware of the fact that women’s bodies have limits and most comic book characters do not share these limits. Also if this information is true, than why are we confused about what women’s bodies can and can’t do but we aren’t confused by what men’s bodies can and can’t do?
Well thank you for bearing with me on my first response post. This was my first time doing something like this so please if you have any suggestions on how I could improve or if you disagree with anything I have said here than please comment below and let me know. Also if you want me to do more of these types of things than feel free to vote on the poll below. This specific video was one I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time simply because it aggravated me quite a bit, especially the Spider-woman one. However this is not the only video I ever had a problem with involving comic books so I do have more responses I could do.
Should I respond to more videos?