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As I was catching up on my reading, I came across this article in the Wall Street Journal discussing the new fall TV season. Ladies, I have news for you. The networks have finally figured out something;
Their core audience—female viewers—want to see a woman take down the enemy, preferably with a little bloodshed along the way. The approach overturns years of belief that violent shows turn off women who prefer to watch earnest nurses, headstrong housewives or quirky career women.
Say what? Action heroes who are women? I’ll give comics credit. Ass kicking women have been a staple of both DC and Marvel, as well as independent titles for years. Of course, the majority of those books are not designed for female readers. Women, for the most part, are an afterthought. Just the jimmies on top of the big ice cream sundae that is the highly desired comic book demographics of males 14 +.
But still there are some great characters in comics that women looking for strong characters can turn to, the Birds, Batwoman, the female X-Men, to name a few. But before you even start patting yourselves on the back DC and Marvel, take a minute to read some of the other findings. This one jumped out at me:
To test the waters, market researcher Ms. Buckingham showed the groups of young women different images of Nikita. Sexy poses in skimpy bikinis were okay, as long as the bathing suit served a purpose—like in one scene when she sneaks into a pool party to kill a gangster. They preferred sexy outfits that were the result of a vicious fight such as a shredded T-shirt. A too-skimpy outfit, prompted the group to ask: “But where would she put her gun?”
The nerve of those women. Not liking sexy poses with no purpose? Expecting practicality in a costume? Can you imagine if they showed them some of the costumes in comics?
So there it is in black and white — women want strong, gritty action heroes. Of course, they have wanted them for years. The recent book "Ink-Stained Amazons"provides a look at how when media pays attention and coughs them up, women consume them. But now with television fighting to keep viewers, women have a greater opportunity to exert their muscle.
If you read this blog, you know I have spent a lot of time talking about how comics can reach out to female readers. Gail Simone pointed out on her Tumblr last week the opportunity comics has by doing this. If television is seeing this an opportunity, I hope comics gets the message too.
My hope is that the shows are good and get watched. You would think the former would ensure the latter, but we know that isn’t necessarily true. I am going to add a few shows, Chase from NBC and Covert Affairs from USA, to my DVR. Give them a try. If any one of them are a hit, maybe comics will pay attention.