Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let's Send Disney A Message About Marvel's "All-Ages" Books.

I avoided writing about this for the last few days. Partly because I hadn't read the issues in question and partly because so many others were covering the story in a better fashion than I ever could. In case you've somehow avoided hearing about the "Spider-Man Rape Scandal" until now, you can read all the dirty details, with image scans, here.

Actually, you can read all about them at more than a few sites. The story has become so big it has broken into the mainstream media at multiple points. So why break my silence now?

Because I still believe that with great power comes great responsibility. And minute as my power as a comic-reviewing blogger is, I do feel a responsibility to use it.

Because I don't think that heroes - especially heroes in a book advertised as being suitable for young children (Amazing Spider-Man is rated "All Ages" according to Marvel Comics) - have any business drinking to the point of insensibility.

Because I don't think that it is appropriate to imply sexual activity - particularly irresponsible sexual activity - in a book that is apparently intended for younger audiences. And make no mistake - according to Marvel assistant editor Tom Brennan, "what you think happened is pretty much what happened."

Because I don't think portrayals of women as hateful, nagging shrews who can be turned into clingy, obsessive bimbos after one sexual encounter rape make-out session are funny or appropriate in the 21st century.

But mostly - because I don't like having my intelligence insulted. And I can't think of any word besides insult that I can use to describe a Marvel Comics editor Steve Wacker insisting that "readers have imagined more than is on the page" after they depict a woman wearing a man's shirt and underwear as she immediately starts setting down rules for their relationship and telling him what they are going to do together.

They've implied a sexual act occured between The Chameleon and Peter's roommate, Michelle. Plain and simple.

And you can argue the legal definiton of rape, based on whichever country, state, provience or prefecture you live in - it's still sleazy and wrong by any decent moral standard.

And even though the most recent issue reportedly confirms that nothing happened between Michelle and the Chameleon besides a make-out session on the kitchen floor, portraying Michelle as clingy folowing the act - whatever it was - when she's been nothing but dismissive and insulting to Peter before now does not make a lick of sense.

At best, it's an insulting stereotype (i.e "bitch just needs to get laid!"). At worst, it's an insult to the intelligence of the readers to believe this sudden change of heart came about because of a simple make-out session on the kitchen floor.

Thankfully, there's a new power running things at Marvel now. And they don't take kindly to racial stereotyping, blatant sexism or rape as comedy.

I think they would appreciate hearing your polite, thoughtful letters about your concerns over this sort of thing being presented as "All-Ages Entertainment".


  1. At best, it's an insulting stereotype (i.e "bitch just needs to get laid!").
    I can see a better scenario, one I have seen happen in real life. Sometimes, men and women will treat some one they like poorly, why? Who knows. But after they get together it changes because one or both parties pretty much wanted that all along and didn't go about the most healthy ways of doing things.

  2. Marvel rating system
    I am not debating the rightness or wrongness of the Chameleon rape sequence, but did want to point out, for the record, that "Amazing Spider-Man" is not, in fact, rated as appropriate for all ages. It carries an "A" rating, which Marvel Comics' website defines as "appropriate for ages 9 and up." Were it "appropriate for readers of all ages," it would carry a rating "ALL AGES."
    Again, whether you think the Chameleon story is appropriate for 9 and up is also debatable -- but, to be fair, Marvel did not, in fact, present the story as "All-Ages Entertainment." The statement "Amazing Spider-Man is rated 'All Ages' according to Marvel Comics" is simply untrue.
    You can clearly see the "A" rating for the issue here:
    Mike Poteet

  3. Re: Marvel rating system
    Mea culpa. But I think this further shows just how utterly dangerous and in need of reform Marvel's rating system is.
    You see, the reason this confused me is that most of the American Manga publishing industry (Tokyo-Pop, Viz, etc) use A as the rating for All Ages books. And checking with the book vendor for my library, I see that several A-rated TPs from Marvel are listed as All Ages on their website, in the "Age Range" section.
    Marvel further muddies the waters by using T+ for books intended for 13 year olds and older when T+ is used by most publishers to mark books for Ages 16 and older. And Parental Advisory (for 15 and older) sounds way too close to Parental Guidance (PG) for my liking.
    And here's a question; what does the A in Marvel's 9+ catagory stand for, anyway? Acceptable? Appropriate? Absolutely Not Inappropriate?!