It’s Not TV. It’s a Sh*tshow.
Speaker 1: That’s it.
Allegra Frank: Welcome to the Wave Slate’s podcast about gender feminism. And this week, the part about every episode you get a new pair of women to talk about thing that we can’t get off our minds. And today you’ve got me Allegra Frank, a deputy editor for The Daily Beast’s Obsessed.
Speaker 3: And Me Inkoo Kang TV critic for The Washington Post.
Allegra Frank: Ingo and I are here to talk about the Batman, among other things. We’re here to talk about Batman, Batgirl and Warner Brothers, where they currently live, or if they did. In the case of Batgirl, recent news was HBO Max canceling the release of The Bad Girl movie. The movie was already shot and now it’s being shelved, which is very, very rare. And it generated a lot of questions on both what is happening to the platform, but also what this means for content featuring women and other marginalized identities in a traditionally pretty white male genre.
Allegra Frank: And I have done some reporting on this. I wrote a piece for Obsessed about it, and I’ve spent a ton of time thinking about HBO, Max and Warner Brothers and Batman and the DC Universe and Men in different kinds of ways. I won’t get into that. Inkoo Why do you want to talk about this?
Speaker 3: This is a topic that I can’t stop thinking about because now after these like years long discussions about what is television, what are the streaming wars, why are we seeing so much content? Now we are sort of forced to reckon a little bit with sort of the gendered nature of the streaming wars. And, you know, in their essence, the streaming wars are about these giant multinational corporations sort of going at it like Godzilla versus King Kong. And you’re like, I guess we’ll be like the collateral damage to the Duke. But from an audience standpoint, they’re also really a struggle over what our mass culture is going to look like, who gets the opportunities to tell their stories, which perspectives get a hearing, which groups will have their experiences represented on screen, and really how our collective imaginations will be steered toward new futures or not.
Speaker 3: Batgirl is one film. Let’s get that clear. And yet I think it’s fate is a potential anchor for what happens to stories about women and women of color and other marginalized identities as the entertainment industry appears to be contracting in the near future. The streaming wars have increased the kind of stories that pop culture has been able to tell, simply because there has been a greater, some would say, unsustainable investment in content and with these companies deciding that they would like to tell fewer stories going forward. The question for us, I think quickly becomes who stories will be considered disposable?
Allegra Frank: Next up, we’re going to talk more about what happened with that girl, the black girl movie we have referenced and why that has set off a conversation about whose stories, as Inkoo, beautifully said, are considered disposable when it comes to media. More on that after this ad.
Allegra Frank: All right, we are back. I’m here with Inkoo. I’m Allegra. We’re going to talk a little bit about the Batgirl Girl movie, which I’m sure many of you weren’t even aware of. They were making a movie about Batgirl. Maybe you don’t.
Speaker 3: I wasn’t.
Allegra Frank: Right. I didn’t. I think I had heard this was happening, but I didn’t know too much about it. I didn’t know when it was coming out. I didn’t know who was involved. But turns out it had a pretty interesting pedigree to it. And so when HBO announced, I should say, Warner Brothers Discovery, HBO’s parent company, its step parent Discovery, once they joined hands and got married and decided to figure out who’s living where and which furniture gets to stay back, girl was thrown to the curb.
Allegra Frank: A lot of people were disappointed because the movie was already shot. They had spent months shooting it in Scotland and also the directors were people of color. They recently worked on the show Miss Marvel, which is a rare show in superhero and the superhero media landscape about a woman and a woman of color lead and Leslie Grace of In the Heights, another woman of color was going to play Batgirl. There was a trans Asian actress who played Bat Girl’s best friend. It was just going to have this pretty impressive, you know, kaleidoscope of actors to it.
Allegra Frank: But HBO, Max, which was going to host this movie, it was going to be a direct to streaming film, will no longer show it. No one will get to see this movie, at least officially or legally, because, you know, it was in post-production. So it was close to being done. It hadn’t had a release date set yet, but pretty much everything that needed to be done on it was done and they decided to toss it out. WB Discovery was going to take a tax credit instead of releasing the film the $90 million film, which is pretty wild. So.
Allegra Frank: Inkoo you mentioned you didn’t know much about Batgirl and then you heard the story. What was your reaction?
Speaker 3: I think the thing that sort of threw everyone was how baldly commercial and baldly financial a decision that was. I think like that’s really one of the reasons why people went so nuts over it, because we like to pretend that that all of the pop culture that we see are sort of like things that exist because people are like, this will make a great story as opposed to this is the thing about is going to make money and I think that there’s been so many discussions in the last, I don’t know, five, ten years about these representational milestones.
Speaker 3: And we really like to think of these as these, like cultural touchstones and to have someone go out there and be like, actually, all this is is just like a matter of dollars and cents on a ledger to me. But I think, you know, on the other side of that, it was going to be, I believe, the first Batman anything with a Latina lead, which I think was going to be pretty big for DC, which does not have a huge record of stories fronted by women of color.
Allegra Frank: Right? Or really women.
Speaker 3: Or really women in general. And at the same time, it was hard for me sort of like not to notice that the way that it was dismissed was a way that a lot of stories, a lot of like, quote unquote, diverse stories or stories about women are generally tend to get dismissed.
Speaker 3: David Zaslav, the guy who now runs Warner Brothers Discovery, said that the movie feels small and that we’re going to focus on quality. And so there’s this sort of immediate assumption of there are certain movies that are are big and universal, and there are other stories that are small and only appeal to a niche. And I think we all sort of know which types of stories tend to get coded as like universal versus niche, right? Or big versus small. I think if he says like, we’re not going to put out a movie unless we believe in it, like that’s fine. But there are lots of movies that get release who are serious, don’t really believe in that, and they become really big hits anyway. Like the studio totally thought that that was going to be a disaster.
Speaker 3: And now there’s a Venom two and probably a Venom three, and I think sort of in the overarching DC Universe version of things, their line with regard to the Batgirl thing has been our job is to protect the DC brand, but they had this like ongoing disaster. With us from Miller and The Flash, where the star of that movie is much more expensive than Batgirl is a ongoing PR. I don’t know. It’s like a dumpster fire and yeah.
Allegra Frank: I was going to say disaster war zone, right? It’s going to just say disaster is way to like what’s going on there.
Speaker 3: And so it feels really frustrating that you have this movie that is sort of being dismissed out of hand and really dismissed with the kinds of coded language that stories that aren’t about white men tend to get dismissed. So all of that was like very frustrating for me.
Allegra Frank: I have to approach this as a business story as much of as it is a creative story, which is frustrating because a big part of the reason why this happened is there was this merger, Warner Brothers and Discovery Merge. Discovery is known for making, you know, mostly non-fiction television. HBO, Warner Brothers owns HBO. It owns CW. It owns more scripted channels. They have more scripted programming. So and they also own, obviously, the DC Universe and DC brand, the film rights to it.
Allegra Frank: So before the merger, they were very gung ho about not just pushing DC into new stories and new places, but also to diversify in ways that Marvel has slowly done. So, I mean, not to give Marvel much credit, really, but let’s not. Let’s not. But they do have at least a few a few female heroes that they’re trying to bring in.
Speaker 3: They already have a ms.. Marvel.
Allegra Frank: Exactly. That they have Ms.. Marvel. They have Captain Marvel. All of them have to be called Marvel. So, you know, Marvel and DC just doesn’t have that. And it is disappointing. It is disappointing that that is what they considered. As we said, disposable. Obviously, this they said it was small. And I do agree. I think that is very coded language for like this was never going to be big enough to warrant a theatrical release anyway, which is why we are just going to dump it on streaming in the first place and then it’s not even worthy of that. It is kind of disappointing in the same way that Ms.. Marvel was just a TV show, right? The stories about women of color that do get to exist in these very large mainstream media franchises are still shunted to separate corners. And I think that.
Speaker 3: You know, as much as we really hate talking about this, there is sort of this like particular hierarchy of diversity that like we’ve been able to see, you know, you when people start complaining about how there is a certain franchise that’s dominated by white guys, then the studios are like, okay, we’ll give you stories about black men. We’ll give you stories about white women, and then maybe eventually, gradually, somewhere, we’ll give you a story about women of color. And I unfortunately, it feels like this was the point at which that was going to happen. And then the rug got pulled out from under it. And so there’s a sort of sense, at least for me, of this like a board, a project of like that representational fullness. That also felt really frustrating.
Allegra Frank: Do you have any hope now for if not a Batgirl movie in theaters for the new overlords at WB discovery to reinvigorate this project that they were very, very slowly trying to undertake with the greenlighting of things like Batgirl, or do you just have no hope yet left that, you know, we’re just going to get our little Shazam movie and our little, you know, black Adam movie and continue to only have Wonder Woman on screen.
Allegra Frank: Where do you stand on the future?
Speaker 3: Well, on a bleak question.
Allegra Frank: I know the future in general. Inga, where do you think we as people are?
Speaker 1: I, I don’t.
Speaker 3: Know. I don’t want to be overly cynical about it because we don’t know what the future is. We don’t know precisely what the development pipeline looks like. I think there’s been a lot of talk about a Black Canary movie. I don’t know, like the DC Universe super well, but I believe it’s the Jurnee Smollett character from the Harley Quinn movie. Birds of Prey, starring Margot Robbie. They haven’t canceled of that yet. And I do think that Warner Brothers Discovery now knows what’s optically really, really bad. But do they seem like people who care about optics versus caring about money? I don’t really know.
Allegra Frank: The way they bungled all of this, you know, over the last few weeks with how this news was reported, I mean, we say that they announced the stuff, but it was only really after the fact a lot of reporters scooped them on this information before anyone at WB was able to confirm it. So they weren’t doing a great job actually holding down the fort and taking holding themselves accountable or giving any kind of valid or validating sort of information about the decision making here. So they’re not they’re not doing the greatest job on any of those fronts.
Allegra Frank: And actually, on the day they were recording, they just there were some reports, some more damning reports released that they laid off 14% of the workforce, about 70 different staffers across the various programming departments over at HBO, Max, predominantly kids and family and reality programming, neither of which Batgirl, for example, would pertain to. But also those are two genres that do often have more diverse casts. So there really is a D prioritization to me. It feels as though it does kind of working toward that, that mission, that if implied, if not stated outright toward giving more women and people of color there do I agree? I hope Black Canary makes it, but I similarly don’t have a ton of faith for any of this.
Speaker 3: Yeah, as long as they say boy island.
Allegra Frank: Oh, my priority. If they don’t save F Boy Island. I swear to God, I don’t even I don’t even think about that. Let’s not put that energy. And now we’re going to have to reset, because I’ll take a breather from that thought and we’re going to take a break. But if you want to hear more from Ingo and myself on another topic, check out our Waves Plus segment. Is this fabulous where today we’re debating whether the fat man is feminists? I really can’t do that.
Speaker 3: That was beautiful, honestly.
Allegra Frank: Thank you. I think of getting.
Speaker 3: Better and please consider supporting the show by joining Slate.
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Allegra Frank: Okay. We are back. Inkoo. We talked a lot about Batman. We talked a lot about Batgirl. We talked a lot about DC. What about streamers in general? So we HBO, Max is sort of at the heart of this whole discussion. And part of what we’re suggesting is that with the new merger, the merger between Warner Brothers and Discovery, they are prioritizing these stories of people of color and women. Do you see that being anomalous in the streaming landscape or is that pretty par for the course that the focus is on the consumer, which, according to these guys is white men?
Speaker 3: So I made a short list of what I think are the biggest shows on HBO. Max Hacks. The Gossip Girl Reboot. Julia About Julia Child. The Pretty Little Liars Reboot. The Flight Attendant, Love life, sex lives of college girls and just like that. Or I guess. And and just like that. But that sounds really awkward.
Speaker 3: The point I’m trying to prove is that I think HBO Max was largely created or the programming is really largely oriented around bringing in more women viewers with scripted content. And I feel like at this point with regard to HBO, Max, that’s probably one of the reasons why it has become such a gigantic juggernaut.
Speaker 3: I don’t know about you, but as a TV critic, HBO Max seems to me by and large, the streamer with the biggest hit rates and certainly the most cultural cachet and yes, like the HBO brand is like a part of that. But on the other hand, I think it’s also because they’ve been really chasing after this bigger female audience. And I feel like it really should be taken into account that one of the reasons why I became so big is because they are chasing HBO’s audience.
Allegra Frank: HBO Max has sort of supplanted Netflix in that way, where it has a really smart and curated but also diverse onslaught of content. And that’s what I think. I think that HBO, Max, we love.
Speaker 3: A diverse onslaught. That’s the new name of the podcast, by the way.
Allegra Frank: No, I mean, I think Netflix actually has the onslaught problem of they have so much stuff. And HBO Max doles out its releases in a much smarter way, I think. And it does, you know, it will it will drop something like hacks and then it’ll drop something like Suite Life, Los Angeles, and then it will drop, wrap shed and then, you know, then it’s also buttressed by the fact that HBO is still part of it. Like HBO is a huge part of it. So then you get things like the rehearsal, you get things like succession, you get all these kinds of shows that are all existing in the same sphere. And so the quality is just it’s so there.
Allegra Frank: But then, you know, Netflix used to do this where it had a ton of very well acclaimed shows and it was appealing to so many different audiences. But now it’s sort of lost its way and just dumped a ton of different content, but not in such a manner that a ton of different people are going to want to find it because it’s hard to find it. So I think HBO Max really nails that old school sort of Netflix vibe for me.
Speaker 3: First of all, we should know that like the streaming merger or whether it be consumers will really feel it between Discovery Plus and HBO, Max isn’t really going to go into effect until summer of 2023, so everyone has like a full year to still really relish HBO. Max Until then. But I do think that there was a really unfortunate slideshow presentation from the WB Discovery Chief a couple of weeks ago where there was sort of this, I think gender essentialist discussion of like what are male skewing shows what there are female skewing shows. And I think that particular blunder really made people fear once again what we’re going to be seeing from WB Discovery History, IMAX going forward.
Allegra Frank: So what you’re referring to is that WB Discovery has its earnings call and this happens every quarter like every business does this. It’s just that most of us don’t pay attention to them because we don’t we’re not stockholders, so it’s not relevant to us. But you and I both have been in this industry. I’m sure you’ve watched these earnings calls and other sorts of investor meetings before. The point is, they’re very business focused.
Allegra Frank: So when. WB discovery talking about its merger posted a slide saying we’ve done our research and HBO is male skewing and or HBO Max and Discovery plus which is Discovery’s streaming service obviously is female skewing. And I think a lot of people, you know, took umbrage to that because. That suggests with that, without context and just seeing that image, it’s like, oh, so HBO Max is four guys and Discovery Plus is for girls. That’s what you’re saying. But I mean, it’s truly that this is written by an A person without empathy who is paid a lot of money to make a lot of money.
Speaker 3: To not have empathy.
Allegra Frank: They are paid to not have empathy and they’re paid to not understand how anyone will ever read their their work and understand it outside of that realm. So when they say something like male skewing, it’s just that, you know, in talking to friends who study this sort of thing, too, if 54% of HBO max subscribers are men, that’s male skewing, they’re going to run with that because they’re going to say, hey, we’ve captured the male audience.
Allegra Frank: So advertisers, you can sell your sports and Viagra and condoms to these people. That’s the first thing that comes to mind for me with Ben and products. I don’t know what that says about me, but then with Discovery Plus. 54% of those subscribers could be women and therefore it is female skewing and you can sell your tampons, yogurt and orthopedic shoes to them. Again, I don’t know what this says about me. So to me, understanding this and understanding strategy, I’m like, okay, that’s just them trying to say, now, look, we can have the whole 100% of genders, all two of them in in our combined streaming service.
Allegra Frank: But of course, to us human beings, we see that and we’re like, well, this doesn’t feel good, especially compounded by the fact you just dumped back girl. You’ve dumped like Gordita Chronicles, which is a show that was well-regarded, a family show about a young Hispanic girl. We don’t have a lot of shows about. Asian people showing them in good lights or Hispanic people showing them trans people. You know, we’re watching HBO, Max, and all these other services kind of contract when it comes to diverse content of genre and a medium, too. But like with the visibility, like with the actual faces of these content, this content and to see that slide, I think probably felt like, you know, doubling down on that. Does that does that sound right to you?
Speaker 3: Yeah, I think it’s right to feel anxious. I think within that sort of TV, TV critics industry, there has been this like ongoing hand-wringing about how there are too many television shows. John Landgraf, the president of ATX, started counting some years ago. How many new scripted shows? So like not even counting reality TV. There are made every single year and up until the pandemic, the numbers just kept going up from something like 500 shows to I think the number got as far as like 700 something shows. Obviously there are too many shows.
Speaker 3: And at the same time, I think that, you know, in that ecosphere of a too many shows, there were all of these really amazing perspectives that were able to be given a chance that probably would not have been given a chance in a more traditional TV environment, let’s say 15, 20 years ago, before Netflix came on the screen or before Netflix was a really big player and everyone knew that that money was unsustainable because all Netflix was doing was burning money. And then because Netflix was burning money, everyone else also felt like to keep up with Netflix, they also had to burn money.
Speaker 3: And I think we are 2022 is basically the point at which people are going to stop burning money or at least burn a little bit less money. And now that we sort of grapple with the smaller slate of programming, that is probably going to come, and a lot of that being supplanted by unscripted shows or cheaper shows, especially on the Netflix side of things.
Speaker 3: I think the question is going to become, okay, so does that mean that all of these experiments with diverse storytelling and with all of us who focus on female led shows, does that mean that that is going to be less of a thing going forward? I’ll ask you the tough question, Allegra this time around and ask you that conjecture. Like, do you think that that is what we are going to be seeing?
Allegra Frank: That is a tough question.
Speaker 3: Look, in your crystal ball.
Allegra Frank: I feel like there’s going to be a level of backlash. Increasingly so, I think as people. Become increasingly aware of these sort of industry moves as things continue to combine and contract and condense. And I think people are wanting more from their companies in terms of just there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism. But that’s the thing we feel very strongly about, right? Like we we want our companies to be more ethical. We want them to be more reflective of us and our needs. And I do feel like people are going to become increasingly outspoken about this sort of thing.
Speaker 3: I hope that the diversity genie has been let out of the bottle and there is no putting it back. I hope. But I also think just from a business side of things, I feel like I have been hearing for the last five years when people have been talking about, quote unquote, the diversity boom and Hollywood is the one that’s going to be over. And I really hope that it’s not over. But I don’t know. Like what sane person would put their hopes in Hollywood?
Allegra Frank: Before we head out, we want to give you some recommendations. Inkoo What are you loving right now?
Speaker 3: I think while we’re on the subject of Batgirl, I really want to go to bat for the Harley Quinn cartoon, which is currently in its third season. It is actually on HBO, Max, although it started its life, I believe, for the first two seasons on the now defunct DC streaming site. It is a cartoon version, a very gory, very violent, very emotionally rich version of Harley Quinn and her best friend, Poison Ivy. Harley is voiced by Kaley Cuoco, who does just a brilliant job and Poison Ivy, which is who I always love calling plants, Daria, because that’s sort of like the gist of her character is voiced by Lake Bell.
Speaker 3: And essentially the cartoon sort of begins with Harley leaving the Joker, realizing that was just a bad relationship she needs to get away from and rediscovering her purpose as a supervillain and sort of trying to, like, deprogram her mind from wanting all of these things that male supervillains wanted because they were male and because she doesn’t really question what her values, who are before and now sort of realizing that she actually needs to figure out her own goals as a supervillain.
Speaker 3: I guarantee you it is probably the best written Batman thing I have seen in forever and in the current season. There is one episode where Harley, who began life as a psychiatrist for the criminally insane or whatever the term is, actually goes inside Batman, Bruce Wayne’s mind. And the way that they depict that trauma is both really hilarious and really emotionally rich. And I don’t know how the show pulled that off, but it’s just like a perfect encapsulation of the strengths of that show.
Allegra Frank: That was a very, very eloquent and strong recommendation. Definitely cosign that recommendation.
Allegra Frank: As for a recommendation of my own. I recently finished the new season talking about streaming. Keep that going. The new season of Never Have I Ever, which is on Netflix, not HBO. Max Season three. If you haven’t seen the show before, it’s great. It’s a a.
Speaker 3: Teen.
Allegra Frank: Dramedy teen comedy, but it really appeals beyond just teens, I think. But it is about a an Indian-American high school girl and her friends as they sort of navigate being nerds, but also really horny. And how do you how do you reconcile those two things? Because nerds don’t get any except in this show. They do. And it’s actually quite lovely and it’s very funny.
Allegra Frank: And the cast is very, very diverse. And it made me cry this season because there’s also a beautiful story about mothers and daughters. There’s explorations of grief, identity debates, competitions, school plays. It’s all the kinds of things that are both fun to watch and moving to watch. So I would definitely recommend checking that one out. On Netflix, it’s about ten episodes, half an hour each. I watched it in like a weekend. You can probably do the same.
Speaker 3: It is definitely the horny Asian-American story that I wish had existed during my coming of age.
Allegra Frank: Yeah, it’s a pretty good year for those stories between turning red and this new season of never having.
Speaker 3: Love turning red.
Speaker 1: That’s.
Allegra Frank: That’s our show this week. The Waves produced by Shayna Roth.
Speaker 3: CNN policies, our editorial director. Alicia montgomery is the vice president of Audio. That’s a title I wish I had. Daisy Rosario is senior supervising producer.
Allegra Frank: We’d love to hear from you. Email us at the waves at Slate.com.
Speaker 3: The waves will be back next week. Different hosts, different topic, same time and place.
Allegra Frank: Thank you so much for being Slate Plus member. And since you’re a member you get this weekly segment. Is this feminist? Every week we debate whether something is feminist. And this week we’re talking about appropriately. Batman. Batman. Less so the man. I mean, I’ll let you define the sort you want, but I think we mean less so the man and more so the franchise. Like Batman movies, Batman comics, are they feminist? But if you have an argument as to whether or not he himself, Bruce Wayne, is a feminist or not, please, I will not hold you back. But Inkoo. What is your take? Is Batman feminist?
Speaker 3: I am going to say that Batman is probably not a feminist. I don’t think that there is anything sort of like intrinsically interested in women about the Batman franchise. I think, you know, over the years it is a franchise that has proven highly malleable to sort of like the social mores of each generation. You know, if you compare something like the Christopher Nolan movies, which are very like gritty and very dark and like the women are basically there to be sort of like sacrifice so that Batman can be more angry and more muscular, like.
Speaker 3: Sure. I mean, if you compare something like that to say like the Batman, The Adam West Show, the 1960s or something, which is like a very goofy obviously it’s a franchise that has been able to be really expanded upon in terms of tone and theme based on what people are interested in it in that time. But I think overall, even though it’s given us some fantastic female characters, I don’t think it’s necessarily something that care at all that much about women. I don’t know. What do you think?
Allegra Frank: I mean, I agree pretty much wholeheartedly.
Allegra Frank: Have you ever heard of or read or seen Batman The Killing Joke? Are you familiar with that story?
Speaker 3: I don’t think that I am.
Allegra Frank: Alan Moore wrote it. Alan Moore of Watchmen fame. And it’s a pretty well-known, infamous, controversial Batman comic, like one shot, which is just like it’s one story. Basically, it’s about like how the Joker came to be. It gives him a back story. But part of it is like that’s the back story.
Allegra Frank: But then the present timeline of that story involves Barbara Gordon, who some may know as Batgirl or, you know, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. And as a way of stoking Batman’s ire, as you said, like a woman to sacrifice, to make him more angry. They do something called foraging. They ruthlessly destroy her, attack her, hurt her in horrible ways. She’s raped. She’s abused by the Joker. She’s just completely it’s awful. She’s assaulted and she loses the use of her legs as a result of this attack.
Allegra Frank: And it’s this really controversial moment in comics and especially Batman, because, you know, it’s disabling a woman and putting her through some awful hell for the sake of giving the man an emotional arc. And it’s just it’s despicable. It’s terrible. And it’s reading it in the comic. You know, it’s from the late eighties. You know, I have to wonder, was this okay? Like, I know it was controversial then, too, but with more distance in watching it, reading it now, I’m like, Yeah, no, this is terrible. The fact that this is like.
Speaker 3: The eighties are such a great time for.
Allegra Frank: Women. I know. I mean, I was like, what the heck? Women were doing great back then, you know? Yeah. So that always sticks in my mind when I think about Batman just in general, because that is just a very disturbing plot and part of that story. So, yes, basically, long story short, I agree, I would not consider Batman as a franchise particularly interested in protecting, upholding and empowering women without there being some sort of caveat of, well, she’s also going to be a damsel. Well, we’re also going to make her a paraplegic. Oh, well, we’re going to put her in a complete, awful, terrible situation so that, you know, he can rescue her.
Speaker 3: I think the malleability is really key. If you think of something like the Lego Batman movie, which is my favorite Batman thingy, I guess of all time that it’s so much about sort of like how you have to embrace your feelings and how you have to embrace your family. And it is, you know, like a genuinely like much softer version of Batman, which I think tells us that this franchise has that really a multitudes contained within it. I can’t think of like another superhero franchise that really is so insistent that straight men need to go to therapy. And I think that that is a very important lesson to draw. But does that necessarily make things feminist? Probably not. Yeah.
Allegra Frank: I mean, I think that’s something about American comics in general that there’s like these characters and they were created. But then have Adam like there’s obviously some parameters you have to follow, but different writers and artists have taken on the Batman storytelling mantle and are able to do different things with it. I mean, I mentioned Barbara Gordon, but she ended up having her own spinoff series where even though she was, you know, assaulted and her the use of her legs were robbed from her, she still was able to be a superhero of her own. And that is something that’s really impressive.
Allegra Frank: When someone else takes takes the reins on this franchise, there is still room to correct those mistakes or explore other directions. But still, yes, the inherent core of Batman as a straight, sad man is who is a playboy and loves girls that aren’t good for him. That’s that’s hard to shake.
Speaker 3: I feel like probably maybe be closest thing that we get to a really complex female character and the bat franchise is probably Catwoman, right? And yet it’s very like women be shopping and if they aren’t hit, then they are taking those things without paying for them. I am sure I’m grossly simplifying, but I don’t really know what Chalamet’s motivation is beyond diamonds and I guess psychological damage.
Allegra Frank: She is also very it depends on the version, I guess, but she’s also very sexualized. But not that that’s inherently not feminist, of course, but I think in relation to Batman, she often is like, Ooh, sexy black cat lady, but she’s still very cool. I would say like Harley Quinn is kind of an interesting character in modern iterations too. On the evil, evil side of things, the villain side like Harley Quinn, you know, with the Suicide Squad and the Birds of Prey film, the Harley Quinn cartoon, she’s definitely gotten some chances to really be her own character, separate from the Joker and not just be like this evil lady with a shrill voice who wants to make out with, um, with the Joker. So that’s been kind of fun to watch, too.
Speaker 3: Do you think that when Harley Quinn and the Joker make out that the makeup rubs off? Or is it that they’re both wearing really strong white makeup? So it actually stays pretty intact because they’re just rubbing the paint on each other?
Allegra Frank: That’s such a good question.
Speaker 3: These are the questions that I answered.
Allegra Frank: I think I think that it doesn’t rub off. I think it’s just, you know, because their face paint is so impervious to mess. It really is just two people rubbing the same color face paint onto each other. So it’s going back and forth. So, yes, I think when Harley and Mr. Jay are making out it, they don’t have to do any touch ups after, I think.
Speaker 3: Well, if there’s something else you’re dying to know, if it’s feminist or not, or really more about the supervillain makeup, we would like to hear from you. Please email us at the waves at Slate.com.