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Mixing it up some more - Nothing New Under The Sun
(the ARX acta diurna)
Mixing it up some more
I'm not the only one out here doing this now - here's kkglinka's redo spoofing a recent Catwoman cover, and I've seen a couple takes on the Tigra Beatdown* and a couple others, which even in rough form have (along with a grisly/implausible real Red Sonja cover which still doesn't come near the usual objectification/eroticization of violence against women in pop culture) made at least a couple of male posters concede that they now begin to "get it," so it's having effect, just like raising holy heck about the use of femaleness as an epithet is beginning to result in change on the political forums (yes, mirabile dictu, I really did see a dozen strangers smack someone down for casually using "pussy" as a synonym for "coward" the other day on dKos!)

Here's something from a different genre, the recent Heavenly Sword video game which of course has its "strong" heroine posed in an impossible/implausible skimpy costume and ass-focusing position on its cover, and of course has fanboys drooling over it and proclaiming it not gratuitous simultaneously.

Out of curiosity to see what the costume alone would look like on a male figure, and if it's something likely to be seen on a hero avatar any time soon, or if it was just the butt-out pose that made it seem gratuitous, I rejiggered the promotional wallpaper for the game that has a frontal view of the main chara in what is a surprisingly non-sexified stance and would not be at all problematic - if she weren't wearing an "Oriental Fantasy" version of the Battle Bikini.

Here's the original: (click pics for full size image)

and the genderswapped version, using the Hiro 3 figure with "realistic" and "muscle definition" morphs applied and the clothing retailored in Photoshop:

Oh yeah, that's obviously a practical costume, isn't it? I'm sure we'll see it on a cover dude any day now, right!

* Shorter Bendis: "Nobody cares about uppity catgirls getting randomly depowered and beaten up." Shorter Bendis fanclub: "Catgirls only exist to be exploited, so why complain about it?" So much for the enlightened 21st-c. treatment of the chara introduced to be the embodiment of "Hear me roar!" back in the '70s...

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shininghalf From: shininghalf Date: October 26th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
::spit, LOL:: In the box-art version, Hiro there would be flashing us! Just look right under the edge of that hip-sash...
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 26th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)


I know! I do want to do that one, but I'm lazy and it's going to be a lot harder to set up and get the angles matching. And the wallpaper was helpful in that it reduced the variables, where you NEVER find a guy posed with a sword like that. (I started a project that got out of hand, trying to set up matching images of all the default Poser 5 set poses for M and F figures, and how completely *bizarre* they look when applied to a male figure - the stock "swordswoman" poses (very like this cover), when applied to the guys, create a surreal Conan Chorus Line effect.
From: nancylebov Date: October 26th, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
For some reason, the facial expressions don't work out the same on the female and male versions. She looks serious and a little angry, he looks like he's ready to cry.

In re the game cover illo: Any theories about what men get out of that sort of dangerous woman picture? She's clearly intended to be aiming that big blade at the viewer. Is it like the scarier sort of romance fiction, or something else? (I started reading Nightfever, and put it down when I realized criminal assault/no information guy was supposed to be the love interest. It's a pity, the basic premise wasn't bad.)

Do you ever read Nora Robb? I just read her _Innocence in Death_, and it could be worse, but it's got some interestingly creepy features.
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 26th, 2007 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

I *suspect* that it has something to do with what's coded as ok

for depicted women vs ok for depicted men - we're now used to seeing women portrayed with that up-from-under pout being held up as "badass" even tho' historically in pinup art/old movies/advertising art the up-from-under pout was coded as "seductive"; but when you put a guy into the head down, looking up from under pose, unless he's grimacing and snarling (masculine coded expressions) then the older "seductive" and therefore "feminine" reading overrides the picture. (I went in and *heavily* butched up the face, btw, to try to counteract that, giving him stubble and rugged bone structure, just because the Impression of the up-from-under pout is *so* overridingly feminine, just like the spraddle-legged hipshot pose of the typical supposedly-badass girl-with-gun.) If both of them had been instead looking down haughtily at the viewer, head high and angled, I suspect that many people would read *her* as more masculine and "bitchy," but it would take some heavy-duty editing of the background to test it, due to all the floating hair.

Any theories about what men get out of that sort of dangerous woman picture?

You know, I've asked Traditional Values Conservative guys who nevertheless while pressing modesty on all their womenfolks, admit to being turned on by, say, Sexy Biker Gang Girl In Leather With A Whip pictures, or the Warrior Chick on the Heavy Metal dragon, and I've never gotten a coherent answer as to why they simultaneously a) believe that Women Should Be Dainty, Feminine, And Elegant to be Beautiful, a la Jackie Kennedy, and b) Strong Agressive Women IRL are majorly Threatening, and b) like to look at Warrior Woman type pinups even over and above the usual simpering, nonthreatening Vargas girl. They don't seem to be able to explain or reconcile it themselves, surprise, surprise.

But based on comments and things gamers have said, all around, and other commentary about stuff like the Final Girl phenomenon in horror movies, there's several contradictory things going on, and on the simplest level it's just Eye Candy - here's a pretty sexy butt and some boobs for you chaps to look at when you're killing monsters, just as with Tomb Raider.

On other, possible subconscious levels, there may be something of the Inner Dweeb recognizing that he's not anything like Conan, and feeling less inferior and more like "hey, I could do that!" if there's a girl on screen - I've heard that theory advanced altho' I'm not sure I buy it, but I did come across yesterday something interesting, talking about why *black warrior women* are such a common trope in SF, and what might be the reasons for it (is the sense that a black character is less threatening if female, or that black people are "natural" warriors, or both?) so I'm willing to allow this might be part of it.

I almost think that the response is supposed to be something like the old 70s iconic images of a cobra (with or without Flames) that you'd see on T-shirts and airbrush vans and album covers and stuff - here's something that's pretty and dangerous and you can have it for your manly-warrior-totem! Like a ship's figurehead.

Do you ever read Nora Robb? I just read her _Innocence in Death_, and it could be worse, but it's got some interestingly creepy features.

Ooh, yeah, we did Nora a while back, because I stumbled across her Celtick Fantasy stuff which was just horrifying, and so I had to check out her "futuristic" sfnal mysteries and yeah, you're right, it could be *worse* but...eesh. I think there's tags for her stuff in the sidebar, and there are excerpts in the posts, but be warned it's eyebleedingly awful. (turning the Morrigan into a Glinda-like angelic-fairy-godmother in a BTVS-knockoff kind of lowered the bar for Paranormal Romance right down to zero...but her understanding of RL and what it's like to work outside the home is nonexistent, and it shows right there with her contempt for Research.)
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From: deiseach Date: October 26th, 2007 06:04 pm (UTC) (Link)


That Catwoman cover is just - argh. Selina Kyle is tough, smart, dangerous, capable, sexy - and they think this boils down to "nipples like chapel hatpegs" (to quote Lily Savage) when being mauled by a monster-dude.

I don't think Bats would be very happy seeing his friend treated like that, guys. If some night a masked vigilante swoops down out of the darkness and duffs up the artist, well...

The "Heavenly Sword" cover is silly, too. Whatever about the way she's holding the sword, the curvy, swivelly, bendy way she's standing is totally implausible (if you're trying to hold up something heavy at arm's length, you *can't* stand like that, for goodness' sake!) Have these guys never held anything heavier than a pencil? Oh, wait...

Yeah, the male re-do is very, very revealing (ahem). The top half of the costume is not the worst I've ever seen (though I'd love to know what gives these artists the impression that women have torsos of steel and therefore don't need the same kind of armour that males would), but the bottom!

That silly little strip of gauze doing nothing but making it impossible to walk in any fashion other than mincing along! As pointed out, it certainly isn't covering any areas that need covering - or is flashing your bits the new martial art?
bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 26th, 2007 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

If you zoom in close, she's wearing a thong

under that armoured-belt thing - it's rust, or flesh-color, and fades in, but when I zoomed in to silo the clothing it was obviously an undergarment, so apparently a posing pouch is all the well-trained warrior needs!

Have these guys never held anything heavier than a pencil? Oh, wait...

Apparently they've never stood in front of a mirror and tried to hold a pose, either! Someone I saw around the net did for one of these covers and managed with great effort to get her spine into it for long enough to get a sketch, but complained that she almost fell over and her back muscles hurt for the rest of the day.

I don't think Bats would be very happy seeing his friend treated like that, guys. If some night a masked vigilante swoops down out of the darkness and duffs up the artist, well...

Oh, yes. Then there's this, which is getting defended around the block on the grounds that Lex is a villain, so of course he's going to do something like this! Oh yeah, that's getting regendered, all right.
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bellatrys From: bellatrys Date: October 26th, 2007 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

also, unbalanced

I noticed how Implausible - shoot, Impossible - the swords were when I had to clone the hilts and fingers out into separate layers, and I realized there's no bloody way that they're not going to slip right out of the hands, given the disproportion between the size of the blade, the length of the grip, and the fact that the hafts are so flimsy and don't have any proper pommels. And yeah, no way is Miss Twiggy there going to be able to haul ass with not one, but *two* BFS.
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the-willow.insanejournal.com From: the-willow.insanejournal.com Date: October 26th, 2007 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
I thought I'd posted about heavenly sword(s) but I guess I only commented on it. Anyway the thing that pisses me off the most about her, is that she falls into a whole bundle of cliches, yet still has potential, but it's not used.

Spoilory for the game:






So she's the chosen child from some prophecy (hey I did write about this, but in relation to prophecies) that seems to have no real origin. And there's absolute shite to be had when she's born "A Worthless Girl'. Then her father changes his mind about killing her as a baby, but she grows up as her clan's scapegoat.

Then in the game she does all this shite, endures all this muck to fulfill the goal of her people. But fullfilling said goal is slowly killing her.

Then she has the bag guy in her clutches (serious bad dude - Andy Serkis in Bizzaro World) but she doesn't final move him. He gets to live, while she dies. And as she's fricking dying, she tells folk/her father that she doesn't believe she was every their reborn Heavenly Warrior anyway and that she was a failure.

My enthusiasm for 'Heroic Female Saves The World' went splat so hard it was like Barney sat on it.

Also, because it's a "martial arts drama in the guise of a game" (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/zeropunctuation/1350-Zero-Punctuation-Heavenly-Sword-and-Other-Stuff), a movie that lets in on some of the action, it's filled with cut scenes and may actually have predetermination for said character, since reviewers have mention that a player's button pressing doesn't always relate to what the character does in a fight.

So misogyny bingo + cliches + cut scenes that take away the chance to enjoy making her fight -your- way + heroine that doesn't believe she's the special one and some man will come along who'll do the job better but who dies for it ANYWAY = HUGE. Ass. Fail. For. Me.
the-willow.insanejournal.com From: the-willow.insanejournal.com Date: October 26th, 2007 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)


If you go to the game's website. You'll see all I'm talking about in prequel animation episodes. Plus hear the behind the scenes vignettes where her body actor (and possibly also voice actress) is happy that she's a kick ass female in a skimpy costume.

Though truthfully she might just be happy that it's a female protagonist even if she's in a skimpy costume. But it still irked me.

nenya_kanadka From: nenya_kanadka Date: October 26th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, the top half of that costume is actually very pretty. In another context, without the bloodstains, I'd find her much more attractive than the average T&A spandex-wearing superheroine. But then I scroll down to the waist, and *sigh*. Where's her pants (trousers)?! I don't think fighting women go out in public like that, unless they are mud-wrestling for the guys at some bar.

(And the swords just look like they're going to slip out from between her fingers, between the slick metal and the blood--there aren't any grips at all. Ouch, losing your swords and maybe cutting up your fingers at the same time. :S Ow.)

So, if she actually had PANTS, it'd be a perfectly reasonable costume--although I tend to think a little armour might be handy, eh, given that she's fighting some kind of scary bad folks (haven't seen the game so no idea what kind) with pointy heavy metal swords.

Hmm. Definitely better than most, and miles better than the box cover, which is just eurgh. Still has a few issues, though.
From: deiseach Date: October 26th, 2007 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yup, that right there is the problem

You tweak it just a bit, and it's fine for chopping up enemies in artistic gouts of bloodspray ;-)

I mean, if it was designed and sold as "Geisha Mud-Wrestling" or the likes, you'd shrug and ignore it as just idiocy.

But dumbass stuff like bad costume design and not getting to kill the bad guy after you willingly sacrifice yourself in the end?!?!!

Would you design a game in which Wellington *doesn't* get to beat Napoleon at Waterloo (and all right, yes, this could work as an AU) but not one where you slog all the way through the Peninsular Campaign, get to the very end, and then the Iron Duke snuffs it and Napoleon has to be beaten by Some Other Bloke Who Just Pops Up (and I don't mean Blucher)?

I genuinely don't see the point of having a female character in this. Why not a male? If all they are going to do is have her die pointlessly - seriously, is that it? no way that this sacrifical death will save her people after all?
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smurasaki From: smurasaki Date: October 27th, 2007 02:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Ouch. It's bad enough they forgot her pants, but the game is pointless to boot. Wow. That's just made of fail. (the game, not your art)
From: jenny_islander Date: October 28th, 2007 04:21 am (UTC) (Link)
This reminds me of a Larry Elmore fantasy painting I saw once and have never been able to find again. Elmore does about 50 percent tacky cheesecake for basement dwellers and 50 percent female characters who actually look like they could do something. And then there's the one where he puts all of the cliches--sleeveless cutoff top, skirt reduced to long dingly-danglies fore and aft around a bikini bottom, no cloak/armor/pack but lots of bling, high-heeled boots, big hair, terrified expression, backed into a corner and nothing but a stick to defend himself against the leering loincloth-clad troglodytes.

Only it's beefcake.
From: deiseach Date: October 28th, 2007 03:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

That sounds perfect for Daniel!

Daniel Long, wearer of the WitchCup, facing off against his villainous counterpart - and that reminds me, every superhero (snicker) needs a villainous counterbalance.

Who would be Daniel's Arch-Enemy? The Luthor to his Superman, the Joker to his Batman, the Mr. Sinister to his X-Men? (And Mr Sinister genuinely scares me, folks).

Would it be the dreaded Woman Wearing Sensible Shoes? (gasp!) the fearsome FemiNazi (oh, noes!) Or the visually and imaginatively impaired (but that just makes him even more dangerous) L'Artiste des Livres Comiques, who insists on trying to give Daniel (whom he thinks is Danielle, due to the bad eyesight thing) silicon implants because Babes Need Big Boobs and The Bigger The Boobs, The Better The Superheroine? (save me, somebody!)
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