Harley Quinn and the Latest Faux Outrage

When I read Suicide Squad #3, I knew a certain scene and comment would cause a stir.  Sure enough, Laura Hudson at Comics Alliance has raised the alarms about this panel.

While on the run and attempting to not get killed Deadshot and Harley Quinn decide to pause a bit to release some tension.  Hudson has issues with writer Adam Glass and artist Cliff Richards‘ scene, first with the fact the characters are still clothed (it’s possible, quite possible actually, ahem) but also what Harley Quinn says.  The line by Quinn is:

this reminds me of a joke about a clown car

The rage from Hudson is that this might insinuate that a lot of folks have been in a Quinn’s va-jay-jay.  That’s one interpretation, but there are others.  I also took it that maybe it’s a referencing stuffing a lot in a small space?  Deadshot tends to use small guns, so he’s clearly not compensating for anything.  Maybe it has to do with something coming and coming and coming… ahem.  No matter the interpretation, Harley Quinn is a crazy clown!  She’s supposed to say inappropriate things.  To me, it’s similar to the famous line said by Marla Singer played by Helena Bonham Carter in Fight Club:

My God. I haven’t been fucked like that since grade school.

That line also caused controversy (the original line that replaced was “I want to have your abortion”).  It’s supposed to make you giggle in a twisted way with your mouth agape.  Kind of like the idea of a clown having sex in general (I’m not a fan of clowns).  This is a “holy shit, I can’t believe they said that” moment.

But what’s left out in the “rage” is the context (as usual).  The Suicide Squad are villains who are drafted into a off the books squad to complete dangerous mission, they might get released eventually if they do a good job.  To make sure they fall in line they are implanted with bombs that can go off if they don’t complete their mission in enough time and in this case, mission done, they’re waiting to get picked up.  Deadshot also may have been infected with a killer virus, so he thinks he’s dying in two different ways.  So, there’s that.

Is the scene silly?  Yes.  Is the scene not needed?  Sure.  Did it make me cringe?  No.  What it did was make me wait each day since it’s release for the eventual faux outrage.  People are a bit on edge with DC comics and it’s portrayal of women, as they should be.  Out of their 52 releases, there’s been a handful of pretty badly written female characters where their shapes have taken front stage instead of their strength and personalities.  What no one mentions is the dozens of other positive portrayals of women, really because that doesn’t drive traffic to a website.  We need more of the latter all around.  It’s easier to be negative than actually focus on the good.  There’s plenty of reasons to be angry, the fact is, publishers need examples of the goo.  We as a community need to champion the strong, positive female characters and the talented female writers and artists because we want to make sure these series stick around, but also so we see more of them.

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One comment

  • I agree with you on a couple of points here, Brett:

    The scene isn’t that bad. Out of character for Harley? Maybe a little. But not for Deadshot. He like’s his ladies to be 20 pounds of crazy in a 5 pound bag. It’s how he roles. And I do not care of characters have sex as long as each character is portrayed with a personality, motivation and depth.

    While there are great examples of women being kick-ass, and personality filled in the DCNU (Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Batgirl, Mera in Aquaman), they don’t outweigh the poor characterizations of Selina Kyle and Starfire, and the problematic portrayal of Amanda Waller as so intensely skinny as opposed to her full figure of the past.

    The problem with a lot of these DC books, in my opinion, is that a lot of the writers seem to be using the reboot as an excuse to fulfill some of their personal fantasies about some of these characters. It certainly seems that way from books like Catwoman and Red Hood, and I don’t think that mainstream hero books that people pay for are the place for that sort of thing.

    After all, that’s why Fanfiction exists.