He-Man And The Barbies
Sometimes we are surprised by what other people think of us or of our work. Sometimes we figure out that we have created something in a certain way, and we view that in the way we conceived it, believing to have achieved our objective, and we find out that other people have a completely different perspective from our own. That's pretty understandable, since different persons interpret things in different ways. But, nevertheless, we are caught by surprise simply because we haven't even thought about some particular point of view. It's a risk we take when creating and publishing something, specially if it's not something new, but rather an adaptation of something that already exists and that people already know, as in the case of "Grayskull".
I am writing this editorial because I have received an e-mail from a female visitor (notice that I referred visitor on purpose, because I observed clearly from the contents of the mail that this person has not read the book), concerning the new visual of the female characters (Teela and Evil-Lyn) depicted in the drawings. She was "profoundly disturbed" by these pictures and has stated her opinion, which although I do not agree, I find plausible and worth considering.
The critic made was that the female characters had lost their personalities and turned into "bimbos". She based her opinion in the new costumes (which by the way are no "uniforms" - just the clothes the character uses at some point of the story.) and the posture of the characters. So, in her point of view, Teela should dress more "formal" cloths and have her hair tied, mainly because she was captain of the royal guard. And the "was" is a fact. I'd agree Teela should be presented in a more formal way IF she was captain of the royal guard. Those who read the book have noticed that the place now belongs to Zodac. And I'd like to refer that this has nothing to do with Teela being a woman. I didn't change that part of her background for disbelieving her to be able to take the place. There were other reasons for that choice, mainly a greater approach to the original concept (warrior goddess), the fact that she's just too young in the beginning of the story, and that I needed her outside Eternos. The story focuses on the adventures of He-Man, Teela and Duncan throughout Eternia. If she had obligations as captain of the guard, I couldn't just have her leave the kingdom and travel around freely. And I want her to do so. Teela is one of my favorite characters and plays a great role in the whole concept. Her development from an inexperienced, slightly insecure girl into a mature woman, warrior and adventurer is something that I will explore and greatly fascinates me. As to the fact that her breasts would "pop out" if she run, well that is a possibility, but I've mentioned that she has small breast, and a slightly tight top wouldn't fall off, I guess.
On the other hand, according to this visitor, Evil-Lyn is "just sad". She says "she is supposed" to have short hair (is she?), to have her body mostly covered (really?) and, not with these words, but not to be presented as a provocative, tempting woman as I've made her. The question is, why? First of all, I am in fact changing the story and the characters, and that doesn't mean simply change the "uniforms". The changes are obviously much deeper. Second, I always though Evil-Lyn was visually poor, nothing but a twisted Teela figure, which was neither attractive nor threatening. The role she played was the very single fact that made me keep her in "Grayskull". And put this, I could turn her into an old hag, or change her into a "femme fatale", and make her the attractive presence in the dark, evil army of Skeletor, and create a character of extremes, extreme beauty and extreme evil. The objective was indeed to turn her into a sexy, attractive woman whose dangers go beyond what meets the eye. If I failed in doing so and the drawing makes her seem a superficial person, than I can only ask for the readers' apologies.
But what I find more curious in this e-mail is the "macho way" of seeing things that this visitor presents me with. Does her observations mean that, in her point of view, an attractive, provocative, sexy woman must lack personality? She says, in a certain point, that I've dropped the characters down to the typical "fantasy bimbo". I agree that the characters are still somehow stereotypes of a certain physical perfection (this still is a fantasy epic story), although I'm making an effort to combine better the mix between divine and real of the original series. And what about the male characters? Are they, simply because they're almost half-naked also, and some are, I believe, quite attractive (Adam is supposed to be quite beautiful and sex-appealing, and so is Albow when I'll fully describe him), some sort of bimbos too? Why are beautiful, attractive women considered "dumb" and men not? That is a sexist point of view, I believe. I deeply appreciate and respect women, and I confess that I like to see a beautiful woman dressed in a provocative manner. That does not mean I see women as sexual objects. I go beyond that, and I don't relate beauty or sex appeal with intelligence. More, women which are REALLY sex-appealing need to be intelligent, at least in my point of view.
My point is, the new visual and personality concepts of Teela and Evil-Lyn are not intended to be even close to the "Bimbo" stereotype, and it sadness me to find out people thinking that way. I'm trying to make an open-minded vision of MotU, with the hopes that people will read it (and not just see the drawings - that's not what the site is about) with an open mind. I may seem to be defending too fiercely my point of view with these words, but that is simply because I do believe in what I'm writing here. This in not a book about macho men (despite He-Man's name...) and weak women, this is about characters, both male and female, each with different strengths and weaknesses, each with different personalities, but both sharing the important roles of the story, even though the main character happens to be a man. I'm sorry if my art shocked or offended anyone. That was not my intent.
I'm asking readers to send me their opinions about this matter, since I know it is still a polemic subject, and the old-fashioned view of the dominant male over the weak female unfortunately still exists. And I hope that this story and these words may help some people change their point of view on such an unfair judgment.
PS: No second intentions to the title. Barbie dolls can be as smart or as dumb as people wish them to be. But then again, someone created this stereotype that the Barbie doll, representing a beautiful woman, just has to be stupid. The less favored ladies will excuse me, but is that jealousy?...