By Rachel Cannon |Chronicle Blogger|
For these past few weeks, all anyone seems to be talking about is “The Avengers,” the new Marvel film that is breaking box office records left and right.
Although I’m not a comic book aficionado myself, I’ve definitely been struck by the overwhelming positive response to this movie. It seems that most comic book films incite fan outrage by purists who find all sorts of gripes and details in which the movie failed to come through in a way that was true to their own visions or what they perceived to be the visions of the comic artists themselves.
Not so for this film: I’ve heard scarcely a negative word about it at all.
I admit I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve got my tickets. It’s not my usual genre but director Joss Whedon is known throughout the feminist blogging world as a bit of a pro-women renegade badass. He’s got a history of creating strong, multi-faceted female characters and empowering role models for young women.
So I’m excited to see how the women in this film, like Scarlett Johansson’s former Soviet agent Black Widow, will measure up. I’ve heard good things, and I can’t wait to see the film.
With that in mind, my big question is, why was Black Widow relegated to the obligatory sexy-female-superhero-check-out-my-ass poses, Joss?
I’m serious. In so much of “The Avengers” promotional art I’ve seen—and I, along with the rest of the western hemisphere, have been saturated with it as of late—the five male members of the group of superheroes are generally posed with angry, teeth-gritted, come-at-me-bro action poses while Black Widow is… facing away from the camera, giving us a direct view of her glutes.
To illustrate my point, artist Kevin Bolk did a hilarious parody of this promo poster with a telling role reversal. Obviously, the male characters posed in sexy, albeit improbable (seriously, Hawkeye is setting himself up for a lifetime of back problems) stances look completely ridiculous. It’s a great way to demonstrate the inherent sexism and gender expectations embedded into images we see so often yet don’t even think about critically.
To some, this may not seem like such a big deal. But it is.
Study after study has revealed that the media to which we are exposed to plays a huge, even immeasurable, role in our perceptions of the world around us and our expectations of ourselves and others. With images like these, there is clearly an underlying message: men can be tough, competent, intimidating, and strong. Women can be… sexy.