I loved the Powerpuff Girls when I was in middle school. They premiered in 1998, which was the year I was twelve years old. I was a little too old for cartoons, but my friends and I seemed to think the Powerpuff Girls had a brand of cute, funny and slightly-ironic girl power that we were ok with liking, even as tweens.
Apparently, the Powerpuff Girls I loved are terribly outdated. The Powerpuff Girls are in comic books now….and they’re sexy. Like, really sexy. Gone are the cute spunky cartoon girls who kind of looked like bumblebees, and in their places are women with breasts in shiny dresses, on the cover of the subscription variant cover for Powerpuff Girls #6. Ok, so it’s only ONE comic book, but it’s causing a big brouhaha.
According to The Mary Sue, the controversy started when:
…comics retailer Dennis Barger Jr., owner of Detroit’s Wonderworld Comics, called IDW out on Facebook for “taking grade school girls and sexualizing them as way older… they are wearing latex bondage wear mini dresses, which on an adult would be fine but on the effigies of children is very wrong… especially on an ALL AGES kids book marketed for children.”
The comic book company responded right away, saying:
That was actually a Cartoon Network mandated cover, by an artist of their choosing. I think they were thinking of it more along the lines of “female empowerment” than the kind of thing you guys are talking about, but certainly, we’re sensitive to the issues here. We love making comics for kids, and always want them to be appropriate. For what it’s worth, CN has been a great partner in that regard… I know an 8 year old and 10 year old really well, and always look at these kinds of things through their eyes… Half of the employees have kids here, and we pride ourselves in making comics they’ll enjoy and not give them a warped view of the world (except, you know, in a good way). Anyway, I certainly see your points, and we’ll be sensitive to these things, as I think we mostly have been.
That’s nice. But how could anyone look at that cover above and think it’s appropriate for all ages of children, that it’s about “female empowerment” rather than, well, appearances and sexiness? It’s not like the Powerpuff Girls were already depicted as grown woman…they were made into grown women for this particular cover.
Other people complained, and the Cartoon Network decided to pull the cover. But then, the artist, Mimi Yoon, got a little snippy on Facebook in regards to the controversy. She reportedly said, “one opinionated dog barks (i’m fine with that)… and the rest of the pack barks ‘pretending’ to know what they’re barking about (hate those idiots)… tsk tsk tsk,” as well as “I find all of the accusations for my Powerpuff Girls image sexualizing minors not only ridiculous but also embarrassing for the accusers.” Then she linked to pictures of Dennis Barger Jr, the original person who’d raised questions about the cover, at a strip club.
While I understand the impulse of Mimi Yoon to defend her work, I fail to understand how anyone could see that Powerpuff Girl cover art and think it’s appropriate for both characters that are supposed to be children and consumers that are supposed to be children (I’ll add that posting compromising pictures of someone, no matter how righteous your anger, is pretty immature). It’s one thing to update characters and redesign them according to your style and your tastes, but it’s another thing to give them boobs and tiny dresses, even if they are supposed to be 22 years old now, according to their creator Craig McCracken‘s timeline, as some people argued in favor of the cover.
Call me a stick in the mud or closeminded or hell, even puritanical. But I say let’s keep the Powerpuff Girls as freaking girls.
Photo: Dennis L. Barger on Facebook