Friday, January 24, 2014

Powerpuff Controversy

Please go read this article.

The cover in question
Mimi Yoon was commissioned by Cartoon Network and IDW to re-imagine the Powerpuff Gilrs in her signature, clearly anime-influenced (not to mention owing something to those BRATZ dolls), style. Obviously, she made them older, but what I see are three teen girls who's poses reflect the characters as we know them, standing in triumph over a defeated enemy. (She even got a variation of Blossom's "fists on hips" stance)

(Mojo Jojo, to be exact, who's pretty much just a massive Asian stereotype, but no one really wants to tackle that issue.)

My first thought upon seeing it? "Cute." Nothing more, nothing less. The proportions of their bodies don't feel overly exaggerated (ok, aside from the eyes/heads - but that's a long time anime trope), and the poses seem innocent enough. Based on the art itself, I don't immediately think, "not for kids."

Not liking the style is a whole 'nother matter. I'm personally not a huge fan of anime, as I find the big eye thing kinda creepy. However, I can also recognize talent, even in styles I'm not overly fond of.

You can take some task with aging the girls, but is it inherently wrong to imagine that Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup might grow older, and continue to be heroic? That seems like a pretty empowering thought, to me. Which goes along with Dirk Woods' response:

I think they were thinking of it more along the lines of “female empowerment” than the kind of thing you guys are talking about, but certainly, we’re sensitive to the issues here. 

Fan art
Are there people out there with anime fetishes, for example, who might be aroused by this? Oh, you bet, but, as I've asked before, do we really want a society that judges, and moves to censor, everything on the level of those furthest outside the norm? Does the fact that maybe 10 people out of a hundred get boners negate the 90 people who may just see a pretty cool re-interpretation of the characters?

Take the fan art to the right, it's the same concept, The Powerpuff Girls grown up, and the style is far more realistic, clearly using models to set the poses. It also strikes me as much more sexualized than what Yoon created. All supermodel bulging boobs and hitched hips.

Of course, that's fan art and not official IDW/Cartoon Network material. It is a difference. And there's FAR, FAR worse fan art out there...believe me.


It is a matter of perception, I admit. With such a personal thing like sexuality and eroticism, it always is. Some people are into babyism, different strokes, folks.

When Dennis Barger looks at Mimi Yoon's art he sees sex. I see three heroic teenage girls. His interpretation of them wearing "rubber fetish wear" is also not the first thing that came to my head, either (looks like a pretty standard, anime-influenced, "superhero" costumes based on the outfits from the show).

I honestly can't help wondering if that says more about him than the art itself.

And now, of course, IDW and Cartoon Network have pulled the cover.

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