Rose and Misty

In analyzing the meanings conveyed by visual terms, I liked that Rose started off with the acknowledgement that no rendering is ever “innocent”. By the very action of rendering, even those actions as simple as the framing decision in a photograph, the person doing the rendering makes a decision, conscious or not, that filters, adjusts, or in some other way manipulates reality to represent it. What I thought was interesting in the distinction between vision and visuality is that vision, in terms of psychological processes, can be seen in terms of visuality. What we see is constructed, whether we notice it or not, by subconscious processes that filter for patterns, or fill in gaps; for example, our brains filter out what we see in those split seconds when we are moving our eyes from one thing to another, and edits together just what we wanted to focus on. In our daily lives, processes like that help us not go insane; in the world of visual production, such filtering processes construct not the world but a version of the world influenced by the constructer.

I also liked the connection between this manipulation and filtering sort of inherent in producing visual culture and the power it has on our perceptions of society and hierarchy. The potential for enforcing the hierarchies, inequalities, and constructed social categories of colonialism, patriarchy, etc., is all tied up in something as deceptively simple and “innocent” as an image.

As for unpacking Misty with the help of Rose, I see several relevant points to begin an analysis, particularly the considerations laid out for economic agendas, audience, and author point of vies. The comic seems to have been written in the 80’s, and aimed at younger girls, not too many years after the ERA failed to pass. Visually, the comic is littered with huge doe eyes and corseted waistlines, pastel colors, dainty poses, and informational labels on the clothing designers. In not so subtle or academic terms, the first story is pretty freaking sexist. Using tropes hardly modified from the decades where a female’s greatest potential lie in marriage, whichever patronizing, pandering fool wrote this comic seemed to be aiming to write the fluff they thought would sell the most copies to the target audience- a group of females whose major thoughts were occupied with designer dresses, petty inter-female rivalries, and marrying the cutest boy they could find. As for the second story, the entire plot is predicated on the fact that all girls really want to do is shop and all they can think about is clothes. The only way a female could be a super hero is some mistake she makes while on a shopping spree, apparently, in some sort of strange contrast to the female X-Men mentioned by the woman who almost got mugged. Of course, at that point, it was considered, especially by those writing superhero comics, that titles like the New Mutants were going to be read by boys.

Angry ranting aside, reading this comic in light of Rose highlights the ideas around the effects of visual production in society: the stereotypes in this comic, and the goals and behaviors laid out that were clearly expected of girls, would have served to promote and continue those social categories and the tropes associated with them.

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