Funnybook Babylon

May 17, 2007

The Furor over the Mary-Jane statue

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , , , — Joseph Mastantuono @ 8:21 pm

Mary-Jane bends over some laundry, the statue.

Checking out the apparently widespread “fan-girl” rage and confusion depicted in blogs rounded up nicely here, I can understand where this statuette can get such a strong reaction out of people.

I believe almost anyone who looks at this statue is likely to feel a bit disgusted. But here’s a weird thing, I think that if you had a statue of mary jane in full lingerie, or any other rather sexually explicit pose, it wouldn’t have engendered that response.

Even her posing in the same pose (laundry basket and all), in an issue of spider-man (where I think the pose comes from) wouldn’t have gotten that response. The problem is that in a statue or statuette one is used to seeing the artist’s idealized or iconic pose of the character… And this statue shows that MJ’s idealized pose is the do laundry while in a position that implies she’s waiting to get railed.

I don’t think the problem that the shot is cheesecake or pin-up style or even submissive. How many chesse-cake style statues are produced that no one blinks an eye at? The problem is that the medium of the statuette inherently doesn’t have context. And this pose without context is ridiculous. Especially that every OTHER statuette you see, whether some ideal character, totally cheese-cake sexualized character, or even slightly bondage type pose isn’t laid out in such a way. Yes she’s the super-hero’s girlfriend/wife but she’s always been played as the firecracker artistic type. A character that these female viewers identify with in such a traditionally submissive pose, does have a bit of a “women belong in the kitchen and they should enjoy it” tone.

Her face and pose directly imply the “Hey, LOOK AT ME DOING SOMETHING DIRTY” but without the reverse shot that’s in the comic of Peter, which would make it ‘ok’. She’s also performing for everyone, in a pretty demeaning way, as in the statuette the can’t be the the gaze of Peter to contextualize the action, you are only left to imagine the grubby paws of your local comic book neck-beard caressing it, wishing mary-jane was his girlfriend so he could stare at her ass while she does his laundry, smiling… Not as a panel of the same thing which would be MJ just looking sexy while doing laundry or Her actively seducing parker, or any of the myriad of contexts which would make this acceptable, understandable, or even comprehensible behavior. Because it’s not the implied sexuality that’s making the fan-girls rage and the more mature fans embarrassed and disturbed, they’re used that. It’s the statue implies that the comic book fans don’t just like big tits, and sexy drawings, but they like submissive women who should count themselves lucky to be doing their super-hero husband’s laundry.

I don’t think the makers of this statue actively thought this through, I think that they just weren’t thinking. And don’t really get that statuettes don’t have the same luxury of context that comics do. And I think that’s indicative of a real problem in this industry and why this particular statue has gotten this kind of response. Some people just aren’t thinking.

1 Comment »

  1. […] own Joseph Mastuontono chimed in, and his article links to a good round-up of other contemporaneous reactions. Despite the furor, […]

    Pingback by Funnybook Babylon · Archives · 5-10-15-20: Comic Book History for May 2012 — June 1, 2012 @ 5:10 am

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