Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Question of Genre

As a comic book, Clockwork Angels portrayed an interesting story of two women struggling against a (near) faceless villain in 19th century New Orleans/Texas. Even though the story contains elements of myths, science fiction, and romance, it also contains a hint of the “fairy tale” convention. This, I think, was implied in the “Director’s cut” version of the graphic novel. In the end notes, Hernandez references many Disney movies, e.g. Aladdin and Lilo and Stitch, and I remember her inspiration to be a comics artist from another Disney movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This led me to think of the parallels and the contrasts between the typical Disney fairytale and Hernandez’s Clockwork Angels.
One of the main similarities between the two types of “fairytales” is, of course, the happily ever after ending given to the “good guys” and the not so happy ending for the “bad guys.” The sudden and unexpected turn of events in the favor of the “good guys” seem to always undo the “bad guys” in the most ironic ways. Hernandez references this favorite ending in Aladdin, whereas I could also see it in Hercules, The Little Mermaid, and The Beauty and the Beast (just to name a few!).
The most interesting, however, lies in the differences, which ironically enough are somewhat based on the similarities, between the two “fairytales.” First, the two genres are catered to the girls, yet each addresses a different perspective to the audience. The Disney movies seems to promote the ideology that a girl is always in need of some rescue, favorably by a cute guy or a handsome prince, who will whisk her away from the “bad guys” and keep her somewhere safe, like in his castle. This perspective instills, what I like to term, the “damsel-in-distress syndrome,” which plagues our society in different mediums.
Hernandez, however, counters this syndrome in Clockwork Angels. She presents her “good guys” as women, who not only save themselves but also save their friends/sisters from a monstrous (male) villain, the “beast.” Their acts become a means of female empowerment, which not only repels the typical fairytale but also other comic books that include women for the main purpose of the hero’s rescuing them. In this graphic novel, Hernandez promotes the idea that we started out with this semester: Girls could be superheroes too!

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