“For Fanservice!” Is the excuse for some rather stupid and juvenile images we’ve seen about women. It’s one of the stupidest trends we have in media depicting women over the centuries. That along with the “women must be this hot to be here!” where we only see “hot” women depicted. Definitions of “hot/sexy” vary depending on who’s in charge, of course.
The above picture is from the recent “Avengers Vs X-Men” comic where Hawkeye imagines the “sexy” battles between Spider-Woman and female members of the X-Men. So we see Hawkeye has a low opinion of his teammate, friends, and some of more popular Marvel female characters. This is a joke ‘worthy’ of a silly fan-comic, not an official Marvel publication. Sadly this is not the writer’s, Jeph Loeb’s, worst work, but he’s the current whipping boy for fans and the reason for that isn’t relevant right now. Of course the worst part is the ending line of “The Winner: You!” which just states in no uncertain terms that they knew what they were doing. That this is for the audience and this is what they, the writer and fully endorsed by Marvel, think of women. That they’re there for “sexy fights” to please the reader, not that they’re characters in there own rights that deserve to be treated with respect.
Of course this is not just something that’s limited to comics. We see it everywhere as a way to catch attention from men, through advertising, media, or anywhere you can get images really. Now I have no problem looking at good looking women, and I think women have a right to look however they want. There are both good and bad ways to depict women as “hot/sexy” as well as a time and a place. In a series about friends fighting friends and an entity that’s already killed billions because it was curious, that’s definitely not one of those times.
One of my biggest pet peeves with Anime is the unnecessary fanservice. Throwing in panty shots with a close up of a girls skirt, women getting the skin-tight boob hugging clothes, or just the trend of having bare breast shots to try and get an Anime sold overseas, which was the practice when Anime became really popular in the 80s/90s. Those are annoying when trying to watch a show for its story and characters. There are also shows primarily about fanservice, with no plot other than to reinforce the fanservice, but they’ll stop just short of showing any nipples or vaginas. Show’s like Battle Vixens (Ikki Tousen) or Eiken do just that, but to the extreme. I’m not going to link to clips or post pictures from them but I can sum them up as, “big boobs, sexual innuendoes, ridiculous ways to show as much skin as possible, and really bizarre sexual fetishes” they’re the kind of thing that’s the biggest extreme of fanservice without going into porn territory. Which is pointless as there’s actual porn out there. A fanservice show is a waste of money to both buy and produce since the audience for it can just buy porn instead, because that’s what they want.
Having “sexy/hot” women to advertise a product like a comic, movie, Anime, or the like, shouldn’t work anymore with actual naked women being available at the touch of a button thanks to the internet. At least I can’t see any point in the “here’s a sexy Catwoman pose” on a comics cover, and most interior artwork, when there’s plenty of free fanart only that’s goes a lot more risqué than DC would ever publish. The key buying point is something that can be found elsewhere with a quick Google image search.
The other big problem is that in America there’s the double standard of “sex sells” with the attitude of “sex is evil” that seems to radiate around these matters. So we mostly get the other fanservice extreme of trying to be sexy while being as tame as possible. The idea of “we’re doing this to get sales” is made fun of in this Alan Davis piece:
If this is about selling the product no matter what then why not do more covers with images like the one above, or hell just cut the BS and make porn? Because that’s not their industry and they’d probably make less money since apparently the porn industry is dying out thanks to the internet. Our culture needs to change in order to get out of the “sex sells” mindset, for fiction at least. Since the “buy our deodorant/perfume/whatever cosmetics because it’ll get you laid” ads will keep on going till humanity dies. Those sell to human instinct whereas the “sexy pose on front cover” sells to a human instinct that can be acquired elsewhere for free.
More than likely this is still happening because these companies don’t know how to adapt to the freedom the internet brings. They don’t know what to replace the “sexy” images with so they double down and hope the customers don’t realise this. At least that’s what DC and Marvel seem to be doing, as far as I can tell. If the comics companies want to attract female customers, like they claim to, then they should stop trying to pander to a demographic that can get actual porn of their characters for free on the internet and make their female characters proper characters and not sex objects.