Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ick Factor

No, I'm not participating in Chris' "Let's All Stop Writing Our Blogs For A While" month. To be honest, I just haven't been to the comics shop in a while and/or haven't found a whole lot to write about lately.

Until I ran across this endorsement of Heroes on Aint it Cool News. [WARNING] Before you read it for yourself, I would like to paraphrase Futurama "Once you read it, you can't unread it". To summarize, Harry endorses the show, then goes on to speculate on the nature of Claire's (the cheerleader) powers, and how they would affect her sexual life.

Aint it Cool has always had an ick factor, mostly due to the juvenile nature of respondents in their forums. I usually skip those, but have always found the reviews and sneak peaks somewhat useful (if poorly written). To have this kind of pointless speculation come from the site's founder has kind of pushed me over the edge... I don't think I'll be stopping by there much anymore.

It's creepy and says more about the author than I care to know. It also, in a way, peels back the layers of geekdom and reveals some pretty fundamental problems, not just with geeks, but our culture as well. We just can't stop sexualizing women, can we?

I'm no prude. I accept that we are sexual creatures. My only problem is that we, as a society, seem only to acknowledge this fact when it comes to women, to the exclusion that they are anything but objects of our sexual desires. Maybe it's my age, but over the last few decades, I've seen this trend grow worse. I might speculate that it's some form of reaction to the 70's wave of feminism, or a sign of our increasingly consumer culture... I'm not sure.

Evidence of the former: My girlfriend teaches college. Her reviews on Rate My Professor.com are by no means an accurate sampling, but what does it say about the next generation when the few negative reviews of her work are explained by the comment "she's a feminist" (or some variation). What does that have to do with one's ability to teach college composition?

For the former: Look around. For the last twenty years, corporate America has been turning us into consumers at younger and younger ages. Not in the "Hey kids, tell you parents you want _______ !" because now kids have their own money, and it's entirely disposable (kids have no bills to pay). Companies are free to aggressively market directly to kids. Considering that the teen market is hitting a point of extreme sexual awareness and their maximum earning potential before accumulating debt at the same time, it doesn't take a genius to see that companies need to push that sex to maximize their profits and establish enduring buying habits and brand identity.

All this results in sex seeping in to even the most inappropriate places. Geeks are all about speculation, but this kind of specualtion is off-topic. It would be one thing if the show was dealing with issues of sexuality, but it's not. Its main theme is, strangely enough, heroes and the idea of becomming a hero. To fantatsize about Claire's abilities and how they impact her having sex ranks up there with those guys who turn up at conventions and ask an artist to draw Wonder Woman naked. There is a subversion on the part of the fan/viewer to wrest the object away from its intended use and drag it into a creepy little sexual cul-de-sac.



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