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Monday, May 26, 2014 

The self-importance of David Goyer's host, Craig Mazin

The co-host of the Scriptnotes podcast has written a defense for his degrading, unintelligent commentary on She-Hulk with David Goyer. But while he admits calling Jennifer Walters "slut-hulk" was going overboard (or does he?), he still fails to grasp some bigger pictures:
During our live podcast, I took a swipe at the intentions behind the creation of She-Hulk. Specifically, I felt that she was drawn in such a way to peddle a sexist caricature to teenaged boys.

That’s not some kind of revisionist explanation. I used the word “sexist” in the podcast. It’s audible.

I said this because I believe it. Unlike the Hulk, whose appeal was clearly divorced from any kind of normative standard of physical beauty, She-Hulk was initially drawn (and consistently drawn for many years) as slender, long-legged and large-breasted with flowing locks. Her face was the same old media-model-pretty version we see time and time again.

The cover of her debut features She-Hulk in what I guess I’d describe as a revealing monokini. There are lots and lots of additional examples of artwork on the internet (actual covers, not alt covers) that are clearly pushing sex appeal.

This is a pretty good example.
Yeah, he "feels" and "believes" that was the whole idea. I don't. I have a few issues from the 1980-82 and 1989-93 series in my collection, and I feel/believe the contributors of the times wanted to conceive a character with a personality of some kind, whether serious or tongue-in-cheek, that could make She-Hulk's sex appeal really mean something. David Michelinie was probably the first writer who set the stage for the latter in Avengers #221 where they were looking for new recruits, and she was delighted to accept their invitation. As mentioned before, Stan Lee set out to make Jennifer Walters more intelligent than her male cousin usually was as the Hulk, none of which matters to Mazin or Goyer. Apparently, sex appeal negates everything and there's no way a heroine can be intelligent and good at her job if she looks sexy. By the way, didn't he notice She-Hulk was at the beach in the picture he linked to?
All that aside, some people felt that what I said was sexist. I used the word “slut,” which they took to mean that I think She-Hulk is a slut.

They think I slut-shamed She-Hulk.

First off, my point wasn’t that I think She-Hulk is a slut. I don’t. I don’t think anyone is a slut. I don’t think there’s anything shameful about female sexuality or the female body.
But he doesn't think there's anything wrong with being so vulgar and trash-talking either, does he? That's exactly what's gone wrong with the focus of pop culture: it's all being reduced to the level of Jerry Springer's program. Mazin may have been joking, but it was a very crude one, spoken as though it were fact from the beginning that Stan Lee and company set out to create a prostitute! Mazin must surely think he's a genius for being sleazy, but I think he's a hall-of-shame embarrassment.

And if he really does think that, how come he didn't counter Goyer's crass reference to Jennifer as "chunky"? But if that's what he thinks, why does She-Hulk matter but not other superheroines like Wonder Woman? Better yet, why didn't he take issue with Goyer's own co-creation, Kendra Saunders, the recent Hawkgirl? She may have been first drawn as a tomboy (meaning, her hair was short-cropped for the first several years she'd appeared), but she could still be considered a sexpot with that bare midriff outfit drawn by Steven Sadowski. However, I don't expect Hawkgirl to be the subject of Mazin's sleazy blabber any time in the future.
What I don’t like is the practice of pushing exaggerated images of female bodies to boys because it sells comic books or video games. Women in comics and video games aren’t accidentally drawn over and over and over again with outsized breasts, long legs and narrow waists. It’s marketing. Having a character remark recursively on that marketing doesn’t negate the marketing, of course. It’s a clever way to defuse criticism with grownups while selling issues to hormone-addled boys. John and I have talked about this issue on the podcast before as it relates to video games (specifically in support of the work done by Anita Sarkeesian).

Bottom line: I wasn’t saying that I think she’s a slut. I was saying I think the people who created her were at one time pushing a visual image of Hulk as Slut in order to make money. And I don’t like that. My comment was entirely about the illustration of a fictional character. It was not a reflection of my opinion of the mind or actions of the character.
Sorry, but even if he doesn't think she's a slut per se, he still seems to have a very crude opinion of Lee's creation, and there's a significant difference between comics and video games. In games, nobody bothers or cares about personalities, unlike comics where the smartest writers, editors and artists know it counts. For gamers, what matters is how well the controls work and whether there's a chance they can finish the game. Comics are a wholly different medium. Curious how Mazin won't name Lee and John Buscema as She-Hulk's creators. I can't believe for a moment that a man so bankrupt would be that timid of bringing up their names and at least saying "I think Lee and Buscema" were fools" if he really thinks they were wrong. Maybe he doesn't have enough faith in his view?

And it wasn't merely a matter of moneymaking that prompted Lee to create She-Hulk, it was partly a wish to secure a copyright on the character name, and a desire to entertain the audience. Is something wrong with that?

In fact, if he thinks sex appeal is a big deal, how come he doesn't argue about violence against women in entertainment? That's almost always overlooked when the people who bring this stuff up have a chance, always limiting themselves to the easy targets, and never the hard ones. I figure that 97 percent of the time, the argument is always about sexuality, and never about tabloid violence in showbiz. Apparently, violence is what sells, and it always trumps morale, not sex.
On the other hand, using the word “slut” was a bad move. It’s far too loaded, it’s not even accurate to what I meant, and for many it obscured my point. It may be obscuring my point right now, so lesson learned… and I’ll not use it again.
He may admit his terminology was rude, but what about Goyer's plunge into distorted sleaze? Why doesn't he admit that was in poor taste? Even if he doesn't call Jen a slut anymore, how do we know he won't continue running podcasts with more sleaze in them? How do we know Goyer won't keep on with his own tirades either? He needs to turn over a new leaf before we can buy his words.
Also, if the people who created She-Hulk think I’m totally wrong, I can accept that. They might not be sexist, their intentions may have been pure, and if so, I am guilty of seeing sexism where none was intended. If fans of She-Hulk suspect that I’m not one of them, and that I clumsily wandered into their culture… yup. No question. Guilty as charged. And there’s also no question that the appearance and character of She-Hulk has evolved dramatically and positively over the years. My comments were entirely about the early appearance of the character. She-Hulk isn’t being drawn in the style of a cheesecake model anymore. I think that’s a very good thing.

And that’s all I have left to say about She-Hulk for the rest of my life.
I sure hope so, but I've no intention of listening to his podcasts after that debacle. And isn't this the same guy who said he had a beef with drawing Jen as a beauty? Because she still is being drawn that way last time I looked, and that's not a crime. I guess he's just trying to work his way out of the debacle he and Goyer caused. If Mazin's sorry, he won't invite Goyer for another interview again until they've both cleaned up their act and done some historical research on every comics character they want to discuss. The medium can only be appreciated if the representatives are polite and don't trash talk about it. And if they offer an in depth focus on the best characterization from past tales, what really makes the heroines work.

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She-Hulk is sometimes drawn to be very muscular and there are some men who are into that. A number of fan art involving She-Hulk panders to a number of strange fetishes: transformation fetish (as she can turn into She-Hulk when enraged or something like that), muscle fetish (self-explanatory as her She-Hulk form is sometimes rendered to be that robust) and even freakier like crush fetish. I get those from browsing for She Hulk related art.

And about my previous comment, I wasn't making up about those. Try typing in "She Hulk fetish" and you'd get what I mean.

Yeah, I found some of the results on Google. Some of the pictures of her are drawn with ripply muscles, some make her look like a bodybuilder, and some are even illustrated in 3D computer graphics! Pretty wacky stuff, and some of it did take place when the Sensational She-Hulk series was in print too.

Can't really say anything positive about this version of this volume of Sensational She-Hulk, too meta for my tastes.

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