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They Shoot MJs, Don’t They?

Alright, it's late and I've hemmed and hawed over even saying anything, because sometimes, it's just better to agree to disagree, but after reading a bunch of different articles and commentaries, I think I need some help.  I come to you, dear reader with a question:

Marvel MJ Maquette Sketch - Art by Adam Hughes

Why does this not upset me?  Why do I even think it's kind of cute?  Am I supporting the wrong image of women in comics?  I mean, look at her!  She's overly sexualized, doing Spider-Man's laundry, barefoot to boot... it's like it's screaming at me to be outraged.

I just can't do it, though.  All the tools are there, but none of the vigor.  I know this opinion is wrong because this particular maquette has become the subject of quite some anger on these here tubes.   Don't get me wrong: I hate Star Sapphire's new look as much as anyone and think the Wedding of T'Challa and Ororo did nothing but stick Storm in as sidekick in the Black Panther book.  I like to think I have a firm grasp of what is and isn't right when it comes to depictions of women in comics.

But look at that pic!  It's... cute.  Cheeky.  Even a little sly.  Like an old pin-up Petty girl from the 50's-60's, which Adam Hughes is so good at capturing.  There's no overt nudity, MJ looks well fed and healthy, and her expression looks a little smarter than the guys who'll be drooling over the shot.  I have more of a problem with Paris Hilton rubbing herself against a car in an ugly bathing suit while eating a hamburger than I do this picture.

Don't get me wrong and please, oh comic-fen, don't be angry with me.  I'm honestly asking for help here; tell me what is so offensive here and I will read every single word.  All I ask in return is that you listen to what I say in return.  I want to be convinced and I want to join the cause, my rhythm's just all out of whack.

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  1. Everyone is different. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, one woman’s cheesecake is another woman’s gross, moldy, rotted garbage.

    (she isn’t actually doing his laundry, though. the story summary (???) on the Sideshow website says he snuck his stuff in with hers, hence the grin. once i read that, it made much more sense.)

    I like Adam Hughes. His art, be it a cheesecake piece or a standard piece, tends to have a lot of personality and great design. His covers are top notch. If he put out a sketchbook, I’d be all over it.

    The statue is like a non-entity to me. My only real issue with it is that it really doesn’t look like the Hughes control art in anything but composition.

    Regarding the response to the statue… I don’t know. A lot of it seems like hyperbole, you know? Exaggerating for effect. The “It’s porn!” argument in particular. It isn’t even remotely porn, unless you’re using a 1930s definition of pornography.

    My two cents. It isn’t quite Devil’s Advocate, since I like Hughes and am apathetic toward the statue, but it’s something, I hope?

  2. Well, one reason might be that the image you linked to is the Adam Hughes art and not the maquette based on it that outraged so many people. Closer reading of the source would have told you that almost universally, when Hughes’ art is mentioned, the outraged person will admit that they like it, and wish the statuette was more like it.

    This is a bit like linking to the Sistine Chapel and asking why everyone is offended by the Piss Christ. I’m honestly not certain whether you’re intellectually dishonest, or just missed the critical distinction, but I shall assume the former.

  3. Whoa, whoa whoa. Don’t shift the argument there – people are complaining about the actual STATUE, not the concept art – if you look into the comments of many of the longer debates (on fandom_wank, devildoll’s livejournal post, etcetera), you’ll actually notice that a lot of people are saying that they think the concept art is fine – cute, has personality, looks like a snapshot out of a scene where Peter and MJ are fooling around, whatever. The statue is a whole ‘nother issue, whether because it’s ill-proportioned, deadens the lively/cheeky expression and takes away MJ’s personality, lacks the background elements that make it feel like part of a story, has additional details like the rip in the ass of her jeans, or all of the above.

    Basically, the answer to your question is that I, at least, can’t answer your question because you seem to be talking about something else entirely.

  4. David Brothers: Any Devil’s Advocate I can get on the issue at hand is well welcome, thanks. A lot of Hughes’s art work is very much exaggeration for effect and I can see how some might get ticked off by that. Maybe I just haven’t charged my rage meter.

    Betty: WOW! Intellectually dishonest? That’s… what can I possibly say to that? You win? I come asking for help and because I post the wrong picture or a picture you believe isn’t relevant to what I’m talking about, I’m lying?

    tinderblast: I’m not saying people are complaining about the concept art (though, why aren’t they? the picture still is overly sexualized, shows her barefoot and doing laundry), I do say that the maquette is this issue at hand. Despite Betty’s beliefs, I’m not lying here; I really am confused as to what everyone is so outraged at. I’m sorry the picture I used confused the issue.

  5. I’m honestly not certain whether you’re intellectually dishonest, or just missed the critical distinction, but I shall assume the former.

    I hope Carla doesn’t mind me saying this, but this is part of the problem with the comics blogosphere and trying to discuss something like this– or anything really.

    Why would you immediately assume the worst and respond out of spite? That’s a crap response. If someone wanted dialogue or real change, they’d be open to someone else saying “I don’t get it. What am I missing?”

    If someone says, “Help,” don’t say “You didn’t say please.” Screw that.

    Let the rest of the internet be jerks. If you’re going for change or dialogue or even just intelligent discourse, you’ve got to be different and/or better.

    Sorry, that’s just a tremendous pet peeve of mine. It’s nuts and crap and rude.

  6. Not to speak for Betty, but I would assume that she felt you were being intellectually dishonest because so many of the commenters in so many of the discussions over this have made it very clear that they see the maquette and the control art as very, very distinct from each other, and therefore you would have to be either very, very confused or a bit on the sneaky side to use the control art picture when you should have been/should be using the maquette art for your post.

    As for why the control art isn’t a problem, uh … all the reasons I didn’t cover in my own comment, you covered yourself, so I’m not sure what you’re missing? Seriously, if you really are genuinely confused, I’m not sure how to help you at this point, dude.

    (And yeah, sorry, if you are genuinely confused, you’re not doing a very good job of convincing people that you’re genuinely confused…)

  7. David Brothers: Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, man. I’m just glad you do it so well. =D

    tinderblast: I’m sorry you feel I did this all wrong.

  8. admin: I want you to know that i don’t think you did anything wrong. I certainly don’t see you as a liar, or “intellectually dishonest.”

    I think the fact that the only people with anything negative to say about this issue, didn’t even address your query, opting to instead personally insult you, pretty much speaks to the truth of the “outrage” at the statue.

    As for why you should be angered by it, I can’t really say for sure, since I, also, don’t really see any big deal with it.

    I can say I might understand a sensitivity to the statue, due to the fear some feminists have of any image of a woman that is sexually pronounced or put into a light of being domesticated, which is most probably going to set off their warning sirens, no matter how benign the image itself might be. A matter not helped by fans (of both genders) who have no problem with the statue, taking offense at those who do.

    However, while I understand all that, I certainly feel that both sides of the “debate” have gone way of the line, in their zeal to defend what they believe. I think the anger at the statue, is less about the statue and more about both sides unwillingness to listen to the other’s point of view. It has become just a sad commentary on comic fans everywhere, as even most of the media attention this “outrage” has sparked, of which some feminists are claiming as a triumph, has done little more than to perpetuate the stereotype of the “comic nred, who’s too anally rententive about their own brand of entertainment choice.” I don’t know how ANYONE can see that as a win, for any of us, be they man or woman.

    I guess I really haven’t helped you in understanding why you should be mad about this statue, as you were asking for others to do. But I did want you to know that what you said did get through to those of us who are willing to hear people, even if you used the incorrect image in the post.

  9. Oh, hey, just came back to say: I’m a moron! I meant “assume the latter.” I can’t count past two.

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