Today a fellow internet type, Ozzie Arcane, posted an article over at Reviewers Unknown, under the title “Fantasy Vs. Reality Rant“. (Please read first, UPDATE: changed to his own site since RU closed.) In it, Ozzie challenges comments by Linkara and The Spoony One when it comes to how certain characters in comics and games are treated, especially underage ones. There have also been some comments on a video game I’ve never heard of called Lollipop Chainsaw, a game that certainly has either the oddest or awesomest title ever, if not both. I couldn’t tell you because I’ve never seen it.
As I wrote my response, I realized that there were a lot of paragraphs on my part, so slag it, just make an article response. Now Ozzie is one of my internet comrades. We follow each other on Twitter, we often get along, and while we may disagree on a few things we respect each others’ opinions. So while I agree with some of his observations, there are others where we don’t.
Here is some of what he had to say.
Now don’t think I’m doing this to rag on either of them, because I respect both of them. Heck Linkara is probably one of my bigger inspirations. But crap like this just irritates me to no end. Who cares that a fictional character is under the age of 18? Can we please get back to worrying about protecting the real kids and teenagers of the world? You know, the ones who can actually be hurt. I think that’s probably more important.
I agree and disagree for one simple reason: the intent of the artist. They may be fictional, but when you’re caught up in a story you tend to think of these people as real (if the writer is any good and cares about the characters he/she is writing). This is why Lian Harper’s death or the ending of the Spider-Marriage (or at least how it was done) pisses off so many comic fans.
There are some artists who absolutely sexualizes female characters (male characters not so much), and issue gets taken. It may not encourage people who pursue 16 year olds, but it still puts that thought in your head to look at them that way. You should see the outfits some of the 16 and younger girls wear when they come into our store. I’ve see outfits at nightclubs less revealing.
For me it’s more the posing than the outfits. The thing is the artist or character model creators WANTS you to be turned on by that pose. Catwoman and Black Cat are fit, attractive, and wear tight outfits, but that fits their character and are functional for their “jobs”. Black Canary wears a sexy outfit, but it matches her fighting style. It’s the position of the “camera” and the pose of the character that activates that center of the brain that goes “want her”, fictional or otherwise.
(Although “fictional” isn’t the right word. Hannah Montana is fictional but she’s played by a live actress, Miley Cyrus, whom he brings up in his article. I’d go with “drawing” or “computer graphic” as more accurate terms.)
This is the intent of the artist, and why Linkara and Spoony take issue with it. They’re created that way simply for the “T&A”, to tantalize and tease, which is the problem with these images and characters. THIS to me is the argument. But there’s another argument that Ozzie brings up.
For starters, as much as we Americans like to believe otherwise. We are not always the global standard for what is right or wrong. Many countries have age of consent laws lower then 18, so calling people who happen to find a teenager attractive a pedophile is retarded. The real fun thing is that doing so also ignores that not even every state in the US has an age of consent of 18. In fact the state I live in has an age of consent of 16. Just in case anyone was wondering, not that it matters to me since girls my own age don’t even give me a time of day let alone someone that young.
I’m sure, knowing Ozzie, that he’s not looking for teen porn. That’s not his point with any of this. I will agree on one comment. “Pedophile is the wrong word”, although it doesn’t stop those who continue to rag on Catholic priests because of the whole scandal over pursuing young boys, most of whom were teenagers from what I recall. He also mention that in some countries/states a 30 year old (for example) could sleep with a 16 year old with no legal repercussions (I believe that’s how age of consent works). I would counter with just because the law says it’s OK doesn’t mean it is. In some areas you could marry your first cousin, while for many people that’s like marrying your sister.
There is no reason that I should change my opinions because Japan disagrees with me. When God isn’t involved I will judge based on my own perspective, not Japan’s or Ed Benes’, one of the aforementioned comic artists looking to get you turned on by choosing poses and camera angles towards that end. Japan is confortable with that? Fine, but this isn’t Japan, tentacle hentai doesn’t fly here. (That’s not a “strawman” argument, that’s an extreme example; there’s a difference.) We have to judge what we see based on our own values and perspectives, so if someone isn’t comfortable with a minor (in cultural opinion if not law) being treated as a sex object, saying “Japan doesn’t think that way” only means it’s not wrong in Japan. We’re not in Japan.
When it comes down to it, there is really one major problem with trying to even say it’s the same. Ya know, aside from cartoon and video game characters looking next to nothing like real people. The fact is, the age of a character is determined by one thing. Whatever the writer said it is. If the writer had decided to say the characters were 18, there would be no ground to stand on for the complainers. Plus such complaints just become infinitely stupid when you factor in the idea of humanoid characters that either don’t age or don’t age in the same way that a human does. Things such as Androids, Demons, and Aliens would be very unlikely to have the same rate of development as humans. Age of consent exists with the knowledge that we are the only sentient beings on the planet.
I see demons differently than Japan (yes, based on the Bible’s depiction), so we’ll put that aside. Aliens? Who knows. We may be more alike than unalike. Androids? I can see the link being attempted. They, like a fictional character, can be ageless. Look how long Bart Simpson had been a little kid, or the Peanuts gang. I remember some of my fellow Transformers fans were…concerned…with the way the adult females were drawn in Kiss Player promotional material, if not the concept itself (Transformers getting a power boost when a pretty girl kisses them).
Japan’s culture isn’t American culture and just as we can’t expect Japan to accept ours when it runs counter to theirs, we shouldn’t have to accept theirs. Understanding Japan’s culture only allows us to examine their intent. As history has shown us on so many occasions, “intent” doesn’t always make the result any easier to accept.
By the way, tracked down the trailer for the game that started this rant.
Totally not my thing. At all.