META: Wish Fulfillment, WCs, and Mary Sues

martinphipps2 at martinphipps2 at
Sun Mar 12 21:19:21 PST 2006

Tom Russell wrote:

>    I defended the genre as best I could, offering
> explanations where I could and invoking such grandiose
> terms as "suspension of disbelief" and "world
> building" when I couldn't come up with a satisfactory
> answer.  But, in actuality, none of my answers were
> satisfactory for Shaun.  And, at the end of this
> conversation, of our first day in one another's
> company, he hit me with the double-whammy: it's all
> just male empowerment fantasy anyway.

Which, of course, is why Wonder Woman was created, ie
to provide a female empowerment fantasy for young girls.
Problem is, the Wonder Woman's creator (Dr. William
Moulton Marston) ignored the fact that women don't normally
try to solve problems with their fists.  Wonder Woman's skimpy
costume, of course, appealed to men, whereas male characters
like Batman and Superman had full body costumes including
capes.  The bracelets and lasso even suggested that the writer
was symbolizing bondage with Wonder Woman using the
symbols of slavery (the bracelets) against her oppressors and
then tying them up and making them obey her commands (in
this case, to tell the truth).  Rumour has it he even had his wife
dress in a Wonder Woman costume.

Now what were we talking about?  Oh yeah.  So comics are a
fantasy no matter how you look at it.  And romance comics are
not female (empowerment?) fantasies?  I mean, romance comics
are not sex books: they don't appeal to guys.  One imagines
that the stories about men telling women that they love them
represent an ideal world to these writers and readers as well.

Freud said every dream is a wish so maybe comics are the stuff
of dreams.  Who hasn't dreamed they could fly?  Stan Lee seems
to think that comic book heroes are like the heroes of mythology
and legend, and indeed there's overlap with characters like Thor
and Hercules in his books.

If a comic book, book, movie or novel is not somebody's fantasy
then who wrote it and to whom does it appeal to?  In order for a
shared universe to have a widespread appeal, it has to appeal on
a primal level.  If somebody says superhero comics are just "wish
fulfillment" then he needs to explain what is entertainment that
doesn't satisfy our wishes and what satisfaction at all you can get
from it.


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