Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On Being Correct

Just today, points of discussion have been raised about the “political-correctness” of the Zaturnnah story. The two points, thus far, involve:

1) A homosexual turning into a female superhero. (Why not a homosexual superhero? Is this some sort of criticism against homosexuals?)
2) Feminists serving as principal antagonists. (Is the storyteller suggesting that feminism is an "enemy"?)

Any piece of creative expression released to the public will, depending on its urgency or relevance, be subject to some kind of contextual analysis, critical theory, or criticism. Looking at it positively, it’s good for the artist. It means that the work has reached a level wherein people are willing to devote time to think and talk about it.

But really… Ada/Zaturnnah does not represent the entire gay population, and the Amazonistas do not represent all women who live on other planets.


Ian said...

Just to add my two cents on the matter:

I think the concern voiced by those who raised the questions stems more from the current climate that the comic exists in, and less from the comic itself. Meaning to say that there are so FEW gay and strong feminist characters in pop culture, so when one is created, in ends up taking more responsibility as the 'standardbearer' of whatever group they represent.

ASTRO CITY'S Kurt Busiek, in the creation of Samaritan's nemesis The Infidel, briefly considered making him Arab to reflect the multiculturalism of his book. However, he said that because there were so few Arab heroes in comics (true), he didnt want the first one he came up with to be a villain, as it might end up sending the wrong message. He ended up making the Infidel black, which was okay since had populated his heroes with many black characters already, both heroic and villainous.

Sometimes, well-meaning efforts to add shading to a character beyond his or her sexuality can backfire; In Marvel Team-Up, a gay hero named Freedom Ring, whose story arc revolved around his struggling to become a hero and learning his powers correctly.
He met with a tragic end, making a rookie mistake while battling a more experienced foe. What the creator tried to do was tell a story that really doesnt get told enough, about how not every super hero successfully becomes this master crimefighter. In such a treacherous line of work, some newbies can and should fall in the line of duty.

He was trying to give a twist on an old story (Coming of age) with a further shading by using a character who just HAPPENED to be gay. Unfortunately, what ended up happening was a lot of readers inferring that Freedom Ring was so inept BECAUSE he was gay, which could not have been further from the truth. The creator has since said he regrets making that decision and if he could go back, he would have made the character a straight white male, free from any subliminal messages.

The sad truth is that if a character is created from an underrepresented group, for better of for worse he or she ends up bearing the entire burden as the unofficial role model of that group. Under such conditions, trying to be a three dimensional character and tell interesting stories is made all the more difficult, if not impossible.

That said, I totally agree with your point. It's not your responsibility to liberate the comics climate of whatever limitiations it has. I love Zsa Zsa for who she is, sans any messages. Bring on the sequel!

Carver said...

Hello IAN! (Nice profile on Entrepreneur! Heheheh.)

You made a really good point, something I hadn't given much thought to. Since I didn't really expect any of this when I was making the book, I just did what I felt like doing. So now there's the whole responsibility aspect going. I hope it won't slow me down.

Happy New Year, bro! HUGS

Gerry Alanguilan said...

Perhaps people do take away what they get from things they interact with be it movies, music, books and comics.

However, it's becoming very troubling to me, as a creative person, that every single character I create is now being scrutinized as being "representative" of something. And when some that character does something questionable, it is now interpreted as my judgment, and my opinion, on certain groups of people.

It's becoming so that no character I create can no longer do anything wrong, can no longer say anything offensive, lest I offend some section of society.

As a creator, it is slowly becoming a tighening noose... and is very nearly, if not already, tantamount to censorship. And it is getting worse. This is political correctness going haywire and out of control and somebody has got to start drawing the line.

I personally refuse my creations to become burdens of becoming "unofficial spokepersons" of whatever group they are perceived to represent.

If there are people out there who are bereft of enough intellectual maturity to get the difference, as a creator, I refuse the carry the burden of their shorcomings.

Magalit na ang magalit.

Gerry Alanguilan said...

I guess all I'm saying Carlo, is that we shouldn't let things like this restrict us as creators.

It's not like we're going to go out there and create the most offensive characters and make those people or these people look bad.

With regards to you, I've known you as a good, decent, and moral human being. Anyone like that cannot, by defaut, create anything that is malicious towards anyone.

Your creation of ZSAZSA, without your realizing it, has already passed through your conscience filter. It has passed your personal codes of morality and decency, and as such cannot be regarded as hateful or contemptuous of anyone, even if you show people doing questionable things. All of that is part of telling a story, and a story cannot be without flawed humans, no matter what section of society they belong to.

Just go with your instincts. Don't think about this political correctnes bullshit. It will just be an added and uneccesary burden on your creativity.

Carver said...

Gerry... thanks. :-) Self-censorship really worked for me, and I intend to still use it in the future. Nakakagulat lang since ngayon lang ako nakarining ng ganito about Zaturnnah. First time for everything. Happy New Year!!


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