Comic Talk and General Discussion

Sexism in comics and pop-culture?
fallopiancrusader at 6:24AM, June 30, 2015
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Quoting from ElCid:“ You're not going to convince me that game companies, or movie producers, or comic book companies, are so inexorably misogynist that they're willing to watch millions of dollars fly out the door rather than add more female characters. That's a little bit nutty.”

I'm not trying to convince anybody. I am merely reporting that the phenomenon quoted above is precisely what is happening in the gaming industry. It is nutty, but that is exactly what is happening. The same discussion that is going on in this forum thread has been going on for years in my industry. Things are changing, but very slowly, and with a lot of resistance (including death threats against developers who choose to include more diversity in their games). However, I don't want to get side-tracked into video games, because it's getting off-topic.
last edited on June 30, 2015 6:34AM
KimLuster at 6:44AM, June 30, 2015
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The thread title is comics AND pop-culture (which I considers games to definitely be a part of), so you're not off topic, imo…!
Genejoke at 7:28AM, June 30, 2015
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but bear in mind those studies only show information from a small group and can be misleading.  The sort of people who would be less progressive are probably less likely to submit that kind of information.  
fallopiancrusader at 10:52AM, June 30, 2015
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In that case, here is the rest of my post, which I deleted because I feared that I was veering too far off-topic:
My previous post was based on the sources cited below. The task of analyzing the general game-playing demographic is far beyond the scope of this post, because what kind of games people play, and who plays them varies widely by genre and country. As a result, the statistics I have cited should be viewed while assuming a reasonable margin of error (source: endgadget 2014)

The percentage of gamers that are women varies between 44% (source: statista, 2015) and 52% (source: the Guardian 2014)

60% of girls prefer playing as female characters (source: GDC 2015)

6% of playable characters in games are female (source: E3 2013)

My interpretation: A significant number of top-tier publishers will put sexism above profits. Funny enough, other mainstream journalists have come to a similar conclusion (source: BBC 2014) 
I have participated numerous gaming industry round-tables and panel discussions, attended by hundreds of industry professionals, and we have all come to similar conclusions. But that last group is anecdotal evidence, so feel free to take it with a pinch of salt

@Genejoke: Of course, you are right. Nevertheless, I prefer inductive reasoning over speculation, even if the sample set is limited. Anecdotal evidence is valid, but I will still put more weight in a controlled and focused study with controlled parameters. Not only is a small sample size a problem, but so is the validity of the methodology. On top of that, all data can be interpreted in multiple ways, such as this famous one on gaming and sexism:Kotaku 2015 This study is more comprehensive, but it's from 2009, so it may no longer be relevant:Williams, et al. 2009
last edited on June 30, 2015 12:07PM
El Cid at 1:44PM, June 30, 2015
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fallopiancrusader wrote:
I'm not trying to convince anybody. I am merely reporting that the phenomenon quoted above is precisely what is happening in the gaming industry. It is nutty, but that is exactly what is happening…
 
No, unless you're privy to some special inside knowledge behind the motivations of gaming executives which you've failed to share with the rest of us, all you've done is present your interpretation of the data. I hope you're aware of that. We're all perfectly welcome to agree or disagree with your conclusions.
 
Personally, while I respect the fact that you're (apparently extremely) passionate about this, I find your interpretations highly unlikely. The data itself seems fine. I don't doubt at all that if you asked them, 61 percent of high school age males would tell you they think there's too much objectification of women in the media. I'm surprised the number wasn't higher. But if you're my marketing director and you use that tidbit to tell me you believe we can increase sales to young males by having less sex appeal… I'd fire your ass on the spot. That's a very poor job of reading the data. What people say and how they behave are two very different things.
 
I think sometimes, when we get too used to viewing things through a certain prism, we can forget that not everybody else is seeing things the same way. I don't think most game developers see things through a prism of feminism, or for that matter environmentalism, or socialism, or animal rights, or whatever else. They're just trying to make good games. And the companies are just trying to make money. If you're able to come behind after the fact and plug the end product into some template which says they haven't met some feminist requirements they never aimed to meet in the first place, I don't see where that makes them the bad guy. Frankly, it seems more like you're antagonizing them for no good reason.
 
Also, I'm very much interested in hearing more about those death threats which were sent out. That's something I would not expect to happen, so I'm curious what all was involved with that.
fallopiancrusader at 8:47PM, June 30, 2015
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Quoting from ElCid: “We're all perfectly welcome to agree or disagree with your conclusions.”
That's why I included citations. So that people can disagree with my interpretations, interpret the data differently, or (best of all) cite data that refute my position. That's what a good discussion is all about. If you notice, my link to endgadget underscores the limitations of the data I am interpreting. The link to kotaku is about a study that may or may not refute everything I have been saying, depending on interpretation.

Here's an article about death threats in the gaming world from Bloomberg Business

Here's an article about more generalized harassment in the gaming world from The New Yorker

Here's an article about the ongoing debate on sexism in the gaming world (and about how the sexism is diminishing) from Time Magazine 
I have taken pains limit myself to well-known, mainstream publications, in order to insure that the journalism is sound. The author of the Time article was herself subject to an online harassment campaign.
last edited on June 30, 2015 10:03PM
El Cid at 10:14PM, June 30, 2015
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Okay, so at first you weren't making interpretations at all; you were making statements of incontrovertible truth. And now, as it turns out, you're acknowledging I was correct in that you're actually just sharing your interpretations. Good that we can reach an agreement on that at least.
 
Thank you for including a link to the story behind the death threats. It's not quite what it sounded like in your post, but it is nonetheless disturbing. It seems there's a whole movement dedicated to sending this woman rape and death threats. Sadly the anonymity of the internet has a way of emboldening these kinds of bottomfeeders.
 
I'm not sure why you posted the other two links, but I still do appreciate that you took the time to include them. As I alluded to before, I don't see that there is much of a disagreement on any of the available data so far; just different people reading different things into it. I actually did specifically cite data from one of your links in my previous post, though really I feel like that's a bit much to expect from people at a forum like this. Not very many people are going to have the time or the interest to wade through an endless barrage of external links. I know I won't. Anyway, yeah, interesting stuff.
 
Hopefully somebody else has some interesting thoughts/observations to throw in?
KimLuster at 7:14AM, July 1, 2015
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(long post - no tldr version) I’d like to add one last thing for anyone interested; I thought I'd lay out why I give biology such a prominent role in human interactions as I do…  It's a very simplistic breakdown of our evoutionary history, but I think we have a tendency to downplay it.  Nevertheless, I feel it really helps to keep it in mind when thinking about any sort of -Ism.
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During the course of our evolution instinctual behavior came first - I don't think anyone would disagree with this.  Afterwards (by a good bit of time), we humans developed self-awareness (what exactly that is and what brought it about is for another day…).  It's through this self-awareness, or consciousness, that ‘ethical’ behavior, societal mores and taboos, and culture sprang from…  In essence, self-awareness enables us to override our instinctual tendencies to varying degrees.  Biologically, sex is for reproduction, but our awareness enables us to use it for physical enjoyment only.  Eating is for bringing in sustenance to maintain our bodies, but our awareness has turned it into a cultural art form.
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Like I said, very basic stuff…  But I think we need to be ‘aware’ (*snicker*) that Self-awareness does not erase Instinctual behavior.  It merely tweaks it and sometimes overrides it, but the instinctual behavior never disappears.  It's always there, always just beneath the veneer of our civilized cultural mask, and it’s beastly face pokes through all the time.
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So, when I observe human behavior, I always try to imagine what sort of instinctual behavior could be manifesting ‘behind the scenes’.  It often helps to try to imagine how humans would act prior to our current level of self-awareness.  One of the easiest ways to do this is simply look at some of our closest relatives: Chimps!
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Chimpanzee ‘society’ is fiercely patriarchic.  Males are very aggressive and often violent, toward each other and toward females.  Were we to apply a human filter to male Chimps, we would, without a doubt, call them Sexists.  But of course we don't call them that because they're just animals acting on their instincts…
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I believe (actually I think it's clear as day) that we humans have very similar instinctual tendencies.  Our bodies want to act in certain animal-like ways.  But thank god we have something else, a will that is packaged with self-awareness, to keep it in check a most of the time (sadly, not all the time).  But the beast-within-us had a BIG head start; it’s always there, always wants to exert itself, and to me it explains so much.  
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In modern times, I sometimes think males have the harder of it.  Male instinctual violence and patriarchic tendencies has to be suppressed for society and culture to function.  Females can act a bit more ‘naturally’ without disrupting everything, but even females have be careful - female chimps can be pretty ornery too! :D But we all can do it, we just need to be aware of that animal inside us (know your enemy haha)!  With knowledge comes power!
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If only our instinctual behavior were more like our other close relatives, Bonobos!  Bonobos are matriarchic and settle most disputes with sex! :D  But (sigh) a simple observance of humanity and it’s clear which one we more closely tend to be like!
Genejoke at 9:21AM, July 1, 2015
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I think many will argue the point because they want to believe our intelligence makes us better than chimps.  But personally I agree.  
Banes at 4:11PM, July 1, 2015
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Fascinating post, KL! Brilliantly stated!

Those instincts are powerful, even in our modern world. I like how you said the instinctive mind has had a head start on the more advanced parts of us.

As primitive as that part of us is, the effects ripple up, if you will, to our higher functions. Beneath our self awareness and civilized selves lie the instincts that have kept our species alive through the centuries! Culture is not as strong as Biology.

That's not to say we're doomed to be sexist or warlike or selfish, of course. We have advanced minds to direct our impulses and make better choices and gradually, better societies.

Ah, I'm just paraphrasing KimLuster I guess. Probably not well, either. But it's a fascinating subject!

I've read stats that say there are actually more women than men in college, and even in the business world, for the first time. Part of this may be the females' natural instincts for working together and what not.
KimLuster at 10:41AM, July 2, 2015
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Yeah, I've always found it fascinating (and often frustrating, personally :D) that modern civilized behavior requires to us to push down or divert so many of our biological urges!  My 14-year old body was quite ready to mate and reproduce…!  It just couldn't understand this waiting-until-older-and-married bull bullocks!!
bravo1102 at 3:53AM, July 3, 2015
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KimLuster wrote:
Yeah, I've always found it fascinating (and often frustrating, personally :D) that modern civilized behavior requires to us to push down or divert so many of our biological urges!  My 14-year old body was quite ready to mate and reproduce…!  It just couldn't understand this waiting-until-older-and-married bull bullocks!!
There are plenty of cultures that accept that humans are biologically ready to mate at 14.  The current one has some crazed undercurrents that go back about 2000 years to the hang-ups  of early Church Fathers and then the various Puritanical and Victorian guilt and romanticism coupled with a dose of Classical Islamic romanticism, guilt and lust for the forbidden fruit.

Equaling a really messed up view of human sexuality, gender roles and mating rituals. It's no wonder why so many Europeans took the opportunity to “go native” when given the chance. A comparision of 17=19th century ideas versus those of many cultures like Native American and Polynesian and from a modern perspective you'd almost be silly not to go native.
irrevenant at 6:06AM, July 4, 2015
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Re: Nature vs nurture, there are clearly underlying biological drives. But (a) they're completely tangled up with learnt behaviour in every human being we know, (b) our grasp of biology is not currently up to disentangling them, and © they may not be unentanglable for any practical purpose - the extent to which inherent genetics express themself is deeply entwined with environmental triggers.  To a very real extent it's not nature vs nurture, it's nature interacting with nurture interacting with nature interacting with nurture in a cycle. 

Add to that, we're probably the only species on this planet that can analyse morality etc. in an intellectual way and decide that, for example, a person in a wheelchair deserves the same access to buildings as anyone else.

That means it's fairly pointless for most practical purposes to worry about whether behaviour is biologically inherent or not.  Because, whether a particular behaviour is (a) not biologically inherent and developed via nurture or (b) biologically inherent but suppressed by nurture, the point is: behaviour can be created or removed via learning and environment.

In terms of superhero comics in particular, we're talking about a genre where ordinary mortals are gifted godlike power. If there's any genre where it's a no brainer that women can compete alongside and equally to men, it's supers.  Every character is their own weight class. There's no reason the most powerful being on earth can't be a paraplegic five year old girl. 

One responses to a specific point (it was going to be to a few points, but this is long enough already xD) :

“And btw, key point: When they say “what the people want,” they don't mean, what people say when you ask them to answer survey questions. They mean, what people actually put down their money to buy, what they actually go out and see at the movies.”

I imagine you see the positive feedback loop problem there.

How much money did people spend on the last superhero blockbuster with a transgendered hero?  How about the last one with an Asian lead?  Hispanic?

And how do you *parse* “What people actually buy”? There are a billion factors that go into a film. Sometimes a film lives or dies based on when it was released or what it opened opposite to. Catwoman tanked. Does that mean that people don't want to see superhero films with black female leads? Or does it just mean that it was a shit film?
El Cid at 6:27AM, July 6, 2015
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That's a universal problem, but probably moreso in the film and video game industries. The Snapple flavored tea company can put out a new flavor every week and then drop it if doesn't sell so well. But if you're putting tens of millions of investors' dollars into a movie or video game and it's pretty much a sink-or-swim proposition, you're in less of a position to make radical changes to the formula. So long as it continues to be a successful formula, and they keep making money, the rest sort of becomes a moot point. They'll keep doing it until people show signs of losing interest and, given that we're drawing on archetypes which have survived over a thousand years, I don't imagine that will happen any time soon.
 
You're a lot more likely to see radical deviations from the norm in the smaller, more nimble indy film and game industries (I don't know if there actually is an indy game industry, but why not!). If some basement movie company strikes gold with a series of transgender superhero movies, then it won't be long before the “big boys” start mining the same vein. Who knows, we could see a crossdressing Vin Diesel in the next ‘Fast & Furious’ movie! (how's *that* for “drag racing!” ba dump bump)
irrevenant at 3:39PM, July 7, 2015
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@ El Cid: Yup yup. 

And, without intending to speak for anyone else, I think that's mostly what we talk about when we talk about sexism and minority under-representation. I dont believe anyone thinks there are moustache-twirling executives going “Muahahaha! I will keep the women and the minorities down, no matter what it costs me!” (well, maybe there's one or two).  It's that people tend to invest in what has worked in the past - which means that investment is inherently conservative. And as you say, the bigger the investment, the more conservative they tend to be.

You may or may not be familiar with “Young Justice”, in my opinion one of the best superhero cartoons ever.  It had a rare ‘problem’ - the show was very popular, but around half the viewers were girls. Superhero shows largely exist to sell merchandise and girls were largely uninterested in buying action figures so the show was canned. Kevin Smith argued (fairly reasonably IMO) that if girls won't buy action figures, then sell them something else they *will* buy - but the executive producers only knew how to sell to boys so the show died. 
(Article here: http://io9.com/paul-dini-superhero-cartoon-execs-dont-want-largely-f-1483758317) 

The problem isn't that there's an elitist cabal working to keep the little people down. It's that there's a massive disconnect between what people would be willing to buy and (a) what executives *think* people are willing to buy, and (b) what executives are familiar and comfortable with producing. 

There's also a reputation of an industry mired in the past to overcome.  There actually are a few comics out there that work to be more inclusive. But people who've been turned off comics aren't suddenly going to start walking into comic shops past racks of the same old sexist, unrepresentative stuff that turned them off in the first place, just to buy those one or two comics.

There's also an element of “the second mouse gets the cheese” - its usually those who follow the initial bold foray who do well. So everyone wants someone else to go first. 

All this adds up to executives who, yes, *do* turn away huge scads of potential revenues because a more progressive approach doesn't have the weight of history behind it. 

It's short-sighted. Maximising profits in the short term is seriously damaging and limiting the industry in the longer term.

Random aside:
Y'know, I just realised the initial line up of the Avengers consists of:
* A straight genius white guy 
* A straight rich, genius white guy
* A straight white guy who is literally the Aryan ideal. Oh, and a god. 
* A straight white guy who embodies the 40s American ideal
* A straight white guy government agent
* A straight white woman government agent with a questionable past

(interestingly, SHIELD seem a lot more well-rounded with a black boss and a woman as second-in-command) 
irrevenant at 8:07PM, July 7, 2015
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On the positive side, the rise of crowdfunding seems to be helping quite a bit with this. For the first time producers are able to go directly to customers and say “If I produce this, will you buy it?”. I've seen a number of Kickstarter projects with stories about and by various underrepresented groups and the response is almost universally “OMG, take my money now please!!” (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/44069577/exo-the-legend-of-wale-williams-part-one is one recent example).

So hopefully once it's proven that people actually *do* want this stuff, the bigger companies will sit up and take notice. 

Random aside #2:  Oh, and for comparison, DC's Justice League:

* Straight white man who stands for truth, justice and the American way (defacto leader) 
* Straight rich, brilliant white man who hunts criminal scum.
* Straight white woman who is a princess and essentially a goddess. 
* Straight white scientist man with superspeed. 
* Straight white cosmic cop man. 
* Straight white regal aquatic man
* Straight black cyborg man

Random aside #3: And finally Heroes Alliance
* Straight (originally) white (now purple) shapeshifting guy
* Straight White woman (leader)
* Straight Hispanic teen boy with energy powers
* Straight white (alien) man with (alien) exosuit
* Straight genius Japanese man with exosuit
* Straight (originally) white (now green) woman
* Straight white teenage girl

That's as at HA #1-2.

HA #3 adds:
* Straight asian mystical fighter woman
* Straight hispanic brawler type
* Straight black teenage guy who shapeshifts into a bird 
* Straight shapeshifter guy (I *think* Mr Imp is black, but I'm not sure) 

Note: HA and it's related series tend not to have many romantic plot lines. I've said “straight” as the default because, even if some of them aren't straight, it's not minority representation if their minority status isn't known. As far as I know only two of the above have indicated their sexuality “on camera”.

Note 2: This much-more representative mix of characters didn't result from any deliberate attempt to create a diverse team. It's just the result of a diverse bunch of people creating what they'd like to read. 
last edited on July 7, 2015 8:08PM
plymayer at 12:51AM, July 8, 2015
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Would it be sexist to point out hao many out fits Supergirl has worn sinfce her first appearence in Action Comics #252? 
KimLuster at 8:11AM, July 8, 2015
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plymayer wrote:
Would it be sexist to point out hao many out fits Supergirl has worn sinfce her first appearence in Action Comics #252? 
Ha how many are there?  And how old is she?  How old to you have to be to be called Super-Woman?
irrevenant at 3:07PM, July 8, 2015
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I  believe the official count is “lots”. There's a neat summary at http://metropolisplus.com/Supergirl/Index.htm though it doesn't have her New 52 one (http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_small/0/40/2015088-full.jpg). 

Presumably how old you have to be to be called Super-Woman depends which state you live in. :P

One of the few things I think the New 52 got right is giving Supergirl a distinct identity beyond “like Superman only a girl” by focussing on the fact she was the Kryptonian brought up by Kryptonians rather than by humans. The costume is a bit of a miss, IMO, but serves to emphasise her alienness  compared to Superman. 
 
KimLuster wrote:
plymayer wrote:
Would it be sexist to point out hao many out fits Supergirl has worn sinfce her first appearence in Action Comics #252? 
 Ha how many are there?  And how old is she?  How old to you have to be to be called Super-Woman? 
irrevenant at 3:10PM, July 8, 2015
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P.S. I'm kind of partial to the white crop top look from the animated series, myself. Looks visually distinct to Superman *and* looks like the sort of thing a teenager might wear. 
ozoneocean at 7:40PM, July 8, 2015
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In the Superhero anime Tiger and Bunny, there are only two lady heros out of the full ensemble of hero characters, and one black guy who is also gay.
But then the show IS japanese, which is much more of monoculture than the US or Australia so any other ethnicities are a win, AND the whole relationship between Tiger and Bunny gets really ambigious towards the end… so there may be more than one gay character ;)
 
That turned out to be a pretty clever Superhero show and pretty entertaining. It could have benifited from more female characters though and those that were there deserved more from it:
-The Dragon Girl character kept on being told she should be more girly and wear dresses even though she absoloutely didn't want to. It took being compelled to look after a baby to get her girly side to come out and she eventually conformed: that's fucking bad.
-The other character, Blue Rose, goes from being very independant and forceful to mooning over one of the male main characters. Again, bad, but not as bad as poor Dragon Girl.
 
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Irrevenant and Kim Luster are BOTH left hands with magic powers… WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? O_O
 
bravo1102 at 2:47AM, July 9, 2015
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ozoneocean wrote:
 
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Irrevenant and Kim Luster are BOTH left hands with magic powers… WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? O_O
Sexual roles in anime and manga is another kettle of sushi.  Though some of the strongest funniest female characters I've seen were in harem animes. 

As far as foreigners in anime, Asians in Western shows are tokens so it's only fair they treat Westerners in their shows as tokens.  Watch Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works for an anime that is almost entirely Western characters from Gilgamesh to Arthur and some mage German families.

As for lefties… that is another topic and best left for another time. I'll just say that old word for left : sinister and what that implies in Modern English. 
 
last edited on July 9, 2015 2:51AM
ozoneocean at 2:51AM, July 9, 2015
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It's the same kettle: it's all pop-culture. :)
 
KimLuster at 7:01AM, July 9, 2015
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*Smacks you and your pop-culture!* :D  Ooooo I just know I'm gonna get brought up on sexist harrasment charges :D
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Mine and I Irrevenent's Avatars were used to great affect by Fallopiancrusader's ‘After Party’ pic in the 2014 DD Awards - the hands-themes was brought up…!
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As for lefties, turning to biology (and chunking pop-culture into the can where it belongs :D), lefties tend to do well in sports and in cultures where hand-to-hand combat is important.  The thinking is Righties' brains and bodies aren't programmed to dealing with someone who works ‘the wrong way’ and are thus at a disadvantage, whereas Lefties have had to deal with a world of Righties since birth and thus have gotten use to it…  Bottom line is lefties can be see as exceedingly dangerous, and when someone is dangersous and also different, that's all it takes for prejudices and stereotypes to kick in :D
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I guess the reason lefties aren't even more successful (through biology and culture) is because they may also be saddled with other issues that come with being flip-flopped: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204083204577080562692452538
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(edit: I know pop-culture has it's place - I just being the funnies :D)
ozoneocean at 7:56AM, July 9, 2015
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Pop-culture is what the thread is about though: TV, film, comics, books, fashion, plays… etc.
  
As for left handedness being an advantage in fighting, it's all because of training, not inbuilt.
- People are trained for right hand dominant styles because most are right handed (in sports too, the non fighting kinds as well).
- You can train to have a left hand dominant style instead, or even ambidextrous, going against your natural handedness, but I'm told it's not really too much of an advantage.
 
bravo1102 at 8:07AM, July 9, 2015
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ozoneocean wrote:
It's the same kettle: it's all pop-culture. :)
Different culture, hence different kettle. Asian culture has a lot of different views and assumptions about genset and sexual roles that often make little sense to the casual Western viewer.
ozoneocean at 10:31AM, July 9, 2015
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I'm  talking about all current pop-culture  though. There's not that much difference.
 
If we're talking differences, the UK, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand and sometimes even Canada share certain things that the US simply doesn't… not to mention South Africa! (It's  more different  than you'd  think in many small but significant  ways)
The world's  major English  speaking countries can understand a comon pop-culture despite other cukture differences, adjusting for them is a akill we use to cope. We apply the same skills to any culture we come across. 
 
irrevenant at 8:12PM, July 9, 2015
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Sorry to disappoint, but I'm right-handed. The reason the picture is of my left hand is that I took the photo using my right. :) 

“Talk is cheap, and people like to be thought well of. Teenage boys can say all they want about women being objectified, but they're the ones more than anyone else going out and buying those gamer magazines with the scantily clad vampire fighter on the cover. What people *really* want is going to be reflected in their behaviors, in their purchasing habits, in what sites they click on, and that's what ultimately drives companies to make the decisions they do.”

That's actually a really interesting example. Publishers put that on the magazine covers in order to appeal to male customers and male customers by them (Aside: the average gamer is much older than their teens nowadays. That may or may not be reflected in magazine demographics).

But is correlation causation? Are people buying the magazine because of the cover? Despite it? Regardless of it? Are the publishers just smearing peanut butter on the floor to keep the tigers away? After all, they've always done it and there's no tigers, right? 
It'd be a brave company to be the first to stop smearing and take the risk, no? 

“I should note, as a disclaimer, that I'm not much of a gamer personally, and never was even back in high school. But even from what little I can remember, and from what I do pick up about the current gaming universe, there already do seem to be plenty of female characters in games (Samus from ‘Metroid,’ Chun Li, Lara Croft, Aveline de Grandpre from ‘Assassin’s Creed'), so I don't even understand why this is something we're supposed to be upset about. Because there aren't “more” female characters? How much is “more?” When is “more,” enough? Likewise, there are plenty of butt-kicking female characters in comics and movies ('Kill Bill,' the entire ‘Alien’ franchise, ‘Colombiana,’ ‘Salt,’ ‘Lucy,’ the list goes on). I've probably seen more female police detectives on TV proportionally than exist in any metropolitan police department. And I've *definitely* seen more sword-wielding warrior vixens than ever stalked the Earth. So it's hard for me to get too worked up about it.”

I think a fairly reasonable rule of thumb is “is it representative?”. If one in two people are women and one in twenty video game protagonists are women then that's not real representative. If one in twenty Americans are asian and one in a hundred Hollywood movies star an Asian that's not representative (and it gets worse if you start looking beyond the action movie genre). (That one also gets complicated because the biggest Hollywood stars of Asian origin are also the ones who can pass as non-Asian, like Keanu Reeves and Dwayne Johnson.)

One in eight Americans have a disability. One in a hundred television characters do. And where they are represented it tends to be as stereotypes. (Random trivia fact: For Avatar, Sam Worthington studied how to accurately portray a paraplegic getting in and out of their wheelchair. Someone made the decision that it didn't look laboured enough.) 

“No one's going to argue that women are absolutely ignored as leading characters, and if you're upset that entertainment companies aren't meeting your own personal arbitrary benchmark, well, that's *your* benchmark, not theirs.”

Representativeness isn't actually an *arbitrary* benchmark - it's about accurately reflecting the society around us, and that's objectively measurable. 
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But yes. That's why we should always be leery about leaving important social goals like representation in the hands of companies and blindly expecting them to action them without significant pressure being exerted. Weirdly enough, the people who aren't being underrepresented tend not to have a problem with it. 

Though in this case, the stupid thing is that better representation makes good business sense too.  Audiences are always on the hunt for new and interesting stories and perspectives. The media company that realises that, for example, ‘Empire’ is fascinating to everyone, not just black people is the media company that gets to start printing money hand over fist…
bravo1102 at 2:09AM, July 10, 2015
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ozoneocean wrote:
I'm  talking about all current pop-culture  though. There's not that much difference.

And because of these assumptions of iniversality we get things like CNN branding anime and manga Child P0rn. (No link, just google it)  Different cultural assumptions that lead to major misunderstandings of things that are casually accepted in some culutres and offensive to others.   We DO NOT cope or adjust all that but just impose our assumptions on everybody else.
 There is this veneer/facade and then there is underlying assumptions that are fundementally different and most people do NOT cope with them, but ignore them and go along their merry way as the oblivious tourist.  Then there is the soldier's experience overseas. Talk about not getting another culture you're immersed in.  Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam.  
last edited on July 10, 2015 2:13AM
bravo1102 at 2:22AM, July 10, 2015
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posts: 4,634
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Show of hands, who as a writer feels they have dealt the most with cross-cultural assumptions about sexuality and gender roles in his/her comics?  

Could just happen to be me. That's scary. The guy who is the most wrong-headed in this discussion is the one who actually writes about it the most. 

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