Divas LiveApr 20
Trying to parse my feelings on the recently-announced Marvel Divas is about as simple as, say, untangling and comprehensively analyzing Alias’ infamous Rambaldi mythology. And then, for good measure, trying to explain it to a newbie who has never watched the show. Or, you know, television.
I mean, look: there’s crabbiness provoked by the expected source. The pitch is worded about as insultingly as possible (“hot fun!” Also, “sudsy!”). The characters, as rendered in the promo art, look weirdly similar (deflating balloon boobs gooooo!). And, you know, if we’re doing a series about “what it…truly means…to be a woman in an industry dominated by testosterone and guns,” it might be nice to see it written by a lady.
But here’s what throws a big, fat wrench in the seemingly clear trajectory of my fanrage — I find myself provoked to further crabbiness by a completely unexpected source: my fellow fans. These two strains of crabby meet and mate and produce a gigantic, tentacled beast of MEGAFANRAGE that wants to direct itself not just at Marvel, but EVERYWHERE, all at once, until I flounce away from fandom in a mighty huff, disconnect from the internet forever, and move into a cave in the most remote of wilderness locales, all “Han shot first! BlerggityblagblahFUCK!”
To be sure, there’s been much stellar commentary on the problematic way Marvel Divas is being presented — Jennifer de Guzman, for instance, is really kicking ass in that thread linked above. And yet, in a lot of the anti-Divas arguments and comments I’ve been reading, a common disdainful note keeps popping up. To paraphrase: why on Earth would Marvel want to produce a superhero version of (blech) Sex and the City?! No woman in existence reads superhero comics AND watches Sex and the City! And we don’t want that shit polluting our comics anyway! It’s all about shoes and shopping and, you know, women talking about…stupid stuff. At least, that’s what I read in Entertainment Weekly! Oh, God, this whole thing is just making me want to fucking throw up, because…because…SEX AND THE CITY!!!
No one bitches louder than geeks about being unfairly judged. Yet we are the first to judge — definitively and LOUDLY — the second we become aware of some sort of popular entertainment that we deem unworthy. We usually don’t even bother to watch/read/consume it, because we know we won’t like it. Try telling a room of nerds that you love Gossip Girl and watch the stink-eyes and the “Well, I’ve never seen it, BUT…” pronouncements pile up. The glossy trappings of that series and, I don’t know, the name immediately brand it as Something Geeks Don’t Like (Harumph!). And that means it — and its fans — are worthy of our neverending disdain. We, the geekly arbiters of good taste who will only deign to watch shows that get canned after two seasons, have spoken! Not watched, mind you! But spoken!
(By the way: I love Gossip Girl for many of the same reasons I love geekcentric entertainment — strong, iconic characters, nuance and subtext up the wazoo, and grand-scale storylines that usually boil down to the simplest of human emotions.)
So let me attempt, in my own meandering way, to bring this back to Sex and the City — another Something Geeks Don’t Like — and the Divas. I’m sure plenty of you tried to watch the show and hated it. Just like anything, it is surely not for everyone, and I enjoy reading analysis from folks who can’t stand it as much as folks who love it, cause the perspectives are generally interesting. But a lot of the comments I’m seeing are of the aforementioned “Well, I’ve never seen it, BUT…” variety and I gotta tell ya — that makes me Hulk out like nothing else. A couple comments I saw went so far as to suggest that not only do women who watch SATC not read comics, but that they don’t, you know, read (probably too busy shopping for shoes, right?! LOLzers!). As someone who loves both superhero comics and Sex and the City — and yes, other people like this do exist — I would just like to say: if Marvel Divas resembles the show at all…it might actually be good.
Yes, Sex and the City had a lot of glorious fashion porn and ladies talking about orgasms and whatever. It also had an emotional core that expressed — in sometimes painfully honest fashion — how friends relate to each other. There are scenes that still get me when I describe them, because — and again, this is also why I love a lot of the geekcentric entertainment I love — they cut so precisely to the heart of things. Like Carrie realizing, on a pure, from-the-gut level, that Miranda isn’t gonna make it through her mom’s funeral procession, and stumbling out into the aisle to take her arm. Or unhappily pregnant Miranda trying — and failing and trying again — to come up with the right words to talk to un-pregnant-and-devastated-about-it Charlotte. If Marvel Divas could somehow give me female relationship moments that resonate like this, interwoven with bits about living the superwoman life in “an industry dominated by testosterone and guns,” I’d be all over that shit. I was, in fact, all over that shit when they did it in Ultra, which reminded me quite a bit of SATC in the best of ways.
So let’s be real — Marvel Divas probably won’t accomplish that same feat (it is, after all, “sudsy!”). In the meantime, I’d like to attempt to address my other, non-Marvel-related source of fanrage. Can we maybe stop with the sweeping “Well, I’ve never seen it, BUT…” statements? Can we give the general fan snobbery a rest since we hate it — HATE IT! — when the Mundanes do the same thing to us and turn their collective nose up at Farscape or Battlestar Galactica?
Because, despite loving SATC, I can read. And I’d love to read further discussion on this topic that doesn’t make my head explode.