Saturday, June 11, 2011

I Can See Your Underpants

DI: Okay, now I have something to ask you. You’re usually a pretty practical guy. So I assume that even when you do something strange, you do it for a reason. So why did you where your underwear outside your pants.

B: You’ll have to be more specific. But if you’re talking about last New Years, I’d have to say liquor.

DI: Cute. But no, I’m talking about your costume. Black or blue underpants on the outside? Were you just trying to copy Clark, or what?

B: He has the excuse of it being a Kryptonian design. I, well, I needed extra support. And protection. The earliest costume I wore, which didn’t last long, was basically just a black unitard. That got replaced quite early on, because I kept getting hit in the balls. Even untrained criminals know to aim for the weak points, apparently. Even the costume that followed was basically still a unitard, only with several sheets of Kevlar sewn into the chest. The crotch padding was difficult, though, because without having the suit custom-sewn, it was going to cause a really odd crotch bulge. Alfred had the bright idea of making the padding part of a design that looked almost like underpants- I was afraid it would make me look like I was wearing a diaper, but it had the effect of leading the eyes away from the bulge. After I adopted a sleaker, more armored design to the costumes, it was pretty simple to conceal the padding, but at that point the design had become a part of the persona, and it kind of stuck. I’ve used hundred of different costumes through the years, so not all of them had the underpants design- but there it is. Mystery solved.

DI: But on that note, DC Comics, the subsidiary to Warner whom you and the League lease your license rights to for the sake of charity, are relaunching most of their books. And there’s apparently an editorial edict, one demanding that all of the female characters cover up their legs. Notably, this has effected characters like Zatanna- known popularly for her magical feats and fishnet leggings- though not necessarily in that order.

B: That’s a travesty.

DI: You say, as someone quite familiar with Zatanna and her leggings.

B: Careful.

DI: I don’t meant to imply anything by it. Just that you’re at the very least friendly with her. Colleagues. And I’m sure, as a connoisseur of the female form, you’ve at least taken in the sight.

B: She’s a friend. And we’ve worked together, extensively. She’s a hell of a magician- and she’s got some excellent legs- a fact I know she’s proud of.

DI: Really?

B: Of course. You can’t magic up legs like that. She works out. She shows them off because she’s proud of them. There’s also an element of distraction to it, too, but that isn’t all of it.

DI: Hmm. Because of a fairly recent change to her costume, at least in comics, Wonder Woman isn’t being affected. In fact, her costume change seems to be a precursor. What did you think about that, when it happened?

B: I agree with Gloria Steinem’s reaction, actually- which extends to the entire line. Making it so superheroes have to wear pants make it seem like only pants are powerful. Which is of course blatantly untrue. She cited the ancient Greeks, who basically wore armored skirts into battle, and sumo wrestlers. What’s more insidious, I think, is that it takes away choice from the equation. I think Diana said something similar, in her response about the MAC make-up collection she endorsed, but feminism should be about choice.

DC having the standard heroine costume be skimpy is sexist. Dictating that heroines cover-up, almost burqa-like, is just as sexist. It might make it harder to objectify them, but it’s no less sexist. And more to the point, the new costumes are still skin-tight, the art used on them still ridiculously over-accentuates the female form. There are lots of things DC could do to make their heroines both more realistic and healthier representations of femininity, but forcing all of them into pants is not one of them.

Speaking of Diana specifically, her usual outfit, the one-piece bathing suit, is the casual version. Her actual costume looks a lot like Greek armor- the one-piece is what she wears under all the leather armor. But unless she’s planning on being smacked around with a sword and a shield, wearing around the armor everywhere is impractical- not to mention uncomfortable. And she sweats in it. A lot.

DI: And nobody wants to buy BO Wonder Woman action figures.

B: No. And I know how that feels. I’ve got some armor that’s basically everything-proof; anything short of someone drop a Sherman tank on my head wouldn’t hurt. But my entire body smells like the inside of a marching boot for a week after wearing it.

DI: And is your opinion maybe the least bit biased by having spent time with women in phenomenal shape who seem to have a collective aversion to fabric.

B: Of course. I am an unapologetic admirer of the female body. Always have been. But I’m pretty sure that’s a biologic necessity- not something to feel ashamed of.

DI: Even though you came out?

B: Just because I’m no longer looking to buy a new sports car doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate ones that drive down the street.

DI: I can’t tell if you’re ironically objectifying women.

B: I’d say it’s more accurately categorized as a metaphor. Women are of course people, with thoughts, feelings, desires and the right to be treated with respect. But that doesn’t mean men can’t or shouldn’t appreciate the way they look, or how the way they look makes us feel. And vice versa. We’re all of us human beings, and our sexuality is very much a part of the experience of being human. It doesn’t make sense to deny that part of ourselves.

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