Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Friday, June 27, 2014

Selina as a Prostitute?

You know it occurs to me the prostitution angle isn't universally liked. It's taken from Batman: Year one, a 1987 Batman arc penned by Frank Miller that has become the defacto origin of Batman, Catwoman and Jim Gordon since it was written until more or less the New 52. Most of the origin retcons in between were comments on, fixes to, or incorporations of that arc.

There are more or less 3 versions of Gotham City that more or less coincide with the Golden, Silver and Bronze/Dark ages of comics. And Batman Year: One is literally the bible of the later.

For instance you want to know why almost every adaptation of Batman for the last 10 years has Jim Gordon as a Lieutenant instead of a Commissioner, because Batman: Year One.

You want to know why everyone does that Bat-call thing.

Because Batman: Year One.

By the way Batman Begins is basically Batman: Year One until you know they just went ahead and made that.

 I can't comment on why Batman Year One has stuck around for so long but the reason why I accept it is because the math works out.

It feels like in order to have most of the Bat-family around, Bruce has had to have been doing his thing for at least 15 years. Add to that that the earliest and latest it makes sense for him to start to be Batman is his early 20's the time for him to have started being Batman feels like the late 70's and early 80's and that's more or less when Batman: Year One takes place framing Gotham as an analogue to the vice filled New York of of the era.

But as I said not every element was liked and people have a justifiable problem with Selina as a prostitute. I don't. At least not in concept, Frank Miller's version of it where she becomes Catwoman largely because of Batman was a little loopy, but as an explanation of why she is the way she is former prostitute makes sense.

Here's why.

Most of the cinematic versions of Catwoman, I know most of them suck, but they're what I have to work with here, are about her use of the persona to regain a certain type of power. In order for that to happen she's had to be in a place where she's lacked power, where she's lacked control over herself, and her life.

You don't have to go as dark as former child prostitute for that but it works.

 Again I have problems with every movie version of Catwoman but the eye role at the word "protection" was a nice call back to the Miller origin where when things start going down and the people around her start asking what's going on she says tells them it can't be the cops because the pimps paid them off, paid "protection" to "vice".

It also makes sense that that's why she's so reluctant to put said persona away and just go straight. In her mind that's tantamount to giving up the power that the persona has allowed her to gain. She's not going to do that.

Not only that but what makes Catwoman interesting is that she does have a code. A code which prioritizes the poor and women. BECAUSE SHE IS ONE OF THEM. Most people have compared Hathaway's dialogue to the occupy movement.  In my head it sounds a lot more like those motivational speakers they bring into high schools to keep kids from going "the other way".

She knows how hard it is to work the system and more over gain the tools to fight it. She feels like someone who has at various points been ignored and written off and is now screaming to the world, "I AM HERE YOU MUST, DEAL WITH ME!"

Going with the prostitution angle could send a powerful message regarding sex workers. And I don't just mean the normal get them out of the life stuff. I mean that the character could give them agency.

The problem with prostitutes in fiction is that they are always people to be pitied or ignored.  As a black guy and a nerd characters with that vibe annoy the ever loving shit out of me. And there are other reasons why that view of prostitutes in particular pisses me right the hell off. Selina as a prostitute is a person first and everything else second. As we all should be.

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