In my last post about sexuality and the Hawkeye Initiative, I mentioned female character’s sexuality in-context and out-of-context. This out-of-context sexuality is no longer between the character and another character, or even the character and herself. It is between the character and you, the viewer. It lacks relevancy to the plot, and, at worst, distracts from the plot advancement.
Take a look at this image
This is exactly what I mean when I talk about breaking the fourth wall with fanservice.
Yes, her body is overly large, with disproportionate legs and a torso that could never swivel that way. But it doesn’t end there. Why is she posed the way she is? And what does this say about the reader-character relationship?
The two men are clearly oggling her. There’s no doubt about that. But let’s put this in perspective- literally. What are they looking at? Well, from where they’re sitting, not much.
Her butt is pointed away from both of them. Her skirt is pointed downward. Neither of the are seeing an upskirt shot. Her breasts are also pointed directly away from them, facing us. And they certainly can’t see her face. So unless both of those guys are immensely turned on by a giant rack of side-rib, they’re actually not looking at much more than a backpack.
All of those things, face, boobs, butt, legs, they’re facing us. The viewer.
People who are not heterosexual males turned on by this sort of thing often state that these pictures make them uncomfortable. They certainly make me uncomfortable. When her assets are so firmly pointed directly towards me, we have broken the third-person perspective of the comic. We have gone from third-person to second-person.
The reader is now involuntarily involved in the story, because the character is now flirting with them. For some readers, this surely feels empowering. the sexy female character recognises your presence and now has a relationship with you. (and a sexual one at that! Deadpool may turn to the “camera” and snark sarcastically, but this is reader-character interaction of a whole other sort)
For other readers, though, this is uncomfortable. Like that creep who hits on you at the bus stop, this sudden relationship is unwanted. As a reader, I would much rather see a character I am attached to have a sexual relationship with another character in the world, in context, than to pose pin-up style for me.
Now we can finally go back to the whole “WHY GOD WHY?” of the spine-snapping poses designed to always show us both boobs and butt at the same time. It’s not just Escher-style girls for the sake of drawing messed up anatomy. It has a purpose. The purpose is to bring the viewer into a more second-person style readership, and in doing so, we break down the fourth wall.
As a reader and fan of comic books, I reject this idea of second-person style fanservice. I believe that it is a poor form of storytelling and does more harm to the plot and to the characters than good. I am in no way against characters expressing their sexuality in comics, but I do not want a creepy, voyeuristic perspective where I am an active participant being forced to have “the male gaze”. I want characters to interact with each other, not with me.
This is good commentary about one of the reasons WHY Escher Girl art exists, and how while it’s meant to draw some people in (i.e. the character is flirting with YOU, presenting for YOU), it can push a lot of people out too because we get taken out when we see something that’s obviously not meant for us that’s ruining the presentation of the panel or the story.
As has been pointed out before about this picture, (putting aside the hilarious perspective that makes her a giant) both guys are staring at her like they’re lusting after her, but both her breasts and panty-exposed butt are facing US, the viewed, so they should be seeing a twisted side of her with neither of those things. This doesn’t make any sense in terms of internal storytelling, it’s just to show US the viewer her boobs and butt.
Like the OP, I’m all for characters having sexuality, having relationships, etc, but there’s a difference between characters being sexy within the story and context or for another character, and a character being sexy just for us, with everything turned towards us even if it makes no sense.blog comments powered by Disqus
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