Robot 6

Quote of the Day | Marketing to women doesn’t equal alienating men

… I’m pretty familiar with marketing being done without impacting a brand. And that’s why the idea that DC [...] “risks” alienating boys by [...] marketing to women flies in the face of brands that were more testorone filled than DC Comics will ever be; more focused on “entertainment for boys.” The NFL and NASCAR [are] doing pretty damn good expanding their marketing and not alienating their core audiences [or] diluting their brand.

Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass, responding to Heidi MacDonald’s assertion that DC and Marvel not targeting female readers “isn’t an accident. It’s a program.”

Sue’s quote is especially interesting as she’s one of the “superhero suffragettes” that MacDonald mentioned in her article. It’s also cool that she and MacDonald — while fundamentally disagreeing about the prospects for change — obviously respect each other and are presenting their arguments accordingly.

Sue goes on to show how things have changed at DC in particular, citing the publisher’s large number of female-led series, female-friendly programming on DC Nation, the success of the Smallville digital comic (based on a show with a large female audience), and a recent quote by Ann Nocenti in which the new Catwoman writer says, ““I think they reached out to me partly for that reason … as an effort to bring female perspective into comics.”

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Not sure why she brings up NASCAR and the NFL since those aren’t story driven industries like comics. And no, the owners pushing an underdog to get more viewers or the latest player drama is not the same kind of story driven I’m talking about and you know it.

That said, the super-hero properties at Marvel and DC are male power fantasies that more or less all follow the Superman/Spider-man and Batman formulae. See, that whole “male” part means the stories don’t resonate with women like they do men.

Now the Big Two COULD publish comics with stories for women, so I think the better question is to ask why they don’t do that instead of endinglessly bashing your head against the wall trying to figure out how to fit the square Spider-man peg into a round hole.

“Not sure why she brings up NASCAR and the NFL since those aren’t story driven industries like comics. And no, the owners pushing an underdog to get more viewers or the latest player drama is not the same kind of story driven I’m talking about and you know it.”

But the fans DO see stories within what’s happening. “Is Team X going to be majorly affecting by So-and-So being injured? Will Player Y be able to keep the pace and break this previous record? Will this young player be able to improve and remove the ‘bust’ label? Will the break-out team from last year be able to repeat their success or was it just a fluke?” People not paying close attention do see much more than just two teams competing, but the fans paying attention are able to see those narratives taking place. And if there weren’t stories like that taking place then all the sports history books out there would be very dry reads.

I also don’t get the use of sports analogies. Sports-oriented entertainments have the advantage of being culturally approved by the Popular Audience, so there’s no hump for them to get over. Superhero comic books have been used as whipping-boys for dopiness outside the industry for decades– remember Gomer Pyle and his “Shazam?” And of course within the industry they’re still frowned upon by Bloody Comic Book Elitists.

Movies might have made a bettrer comparison. For many decades anything like a superhero movie was usually a low-budget affair aimed at kids, and often skewing toward boy kids, with a few exceptions. STAR WARS changed that by distilling the essence of the “space-opera superhero” into a visually pleasing form that adults and juveniles could share. Thanks to that paradigm shift, male and female audiences alike regularly take pleasure in the current advances in superhero tech– SPIDER-MAN, THE AVENGERS– but again, superhero movies piggyback upon the high regard that Joe (or Josephine) Popular Audience has for anything for the cinema as a source of entertainment. Comics are getting better press now than ever before, but I still see no signs that the medium has moved into a similar sphere of high regard.

As I understand it, Heidi’s point was that comics publishers aren’t willing to chance losing the male readers to take a chance on an influx of female readers. Sue is correct to say that there have been changes, but they have been slow and incremental, and I don’t think that’s the kind of radical change for which many of the “suffragettes” are stumping.

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