Friday, March 26, 2010

Old and New, Stereotypes

There have been some interesting comments on my comics blog post recently. What's better--old comics or new comics? Old Nancy Drew or new Nancy Drew?

Personally, I know a lot about 1940's-era newspaper strips, and I like to show off sometimes by bringing out really old strips for people to see. For instance, everyone likes the awesome "Superman Talks to Congress at the Start of World War Two" series...

(As usual, you can click on these images for full-sized copies.)

I especially like the Superman series that ran later that year (in which Hitler tries to ruin Christmas by throwing Santa Claus into a concentration camp--no joke), but I don't have a copy of it scanned.

Anyhoo, back to the original topic. Some people are saying that the old Nancy Drew books are good because Nancy does non-stereotypical things like fly airplanes, but not-so-good because she does stereotypical things like make sandwiches and cry a lot. [Note to self: Write a story called Professor Snaglefoompus and the Mystery of the Flying Rhinoceros: In Which Professor Snaglefoompus Flies an Airplane, Makes Sandwiches, and Sits Around and Cries a Lot. It sounds like a winner.]

I think the official response from the people who make the Nancy Drew videogames is: "Whatever". They've made games where Nancy does stereotypical boy stuff (like go on a train in Nancy Drew: Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon), and they've made games where Nancy does stereotypical girl stuff (like go horseback riding in Nancy Drew: Secret of Shadow Ranch). Both games did well, and why is that? Because they keep the focus on making good games, instead of worrying about whether or not they're living up to certain stereotypes.

At least, I think they said something like that on the topic of being stereotypical in their games. It sounds pretty good, so I give them a thumbs-up.


Michelle said...

Yeah, Nancy sure does make a LOT of sandwiches in the PC games, but I can't remember her ever crying. What game (or book) was that?

Hippodameia said...

Yeah, I remember reading HerInteractive's discussion of stereotypes. It was one of their blog entries, I think. I like the fact that they include both stereotypical and non-stereotypical activities for Nancy in the games. When people think of breaking stereotypes, they think about doing solely the non-stereotypical, and it's a rather foolish idea once you think about it. Stereotypes are not only false but imposed, and by defying those just for the sake of showing others you don't live up to them is useless; you're just living up to more societal demands. By including everything in the games, HI kind of ignores stereotypes completely and lets Nancy do whatever she wants. Nifty!

The one thing Nancy does NOT do is cry, and you gotta give her credit for that. Whether she's trapped in monolith with a rotting corpse, defusing a bomb, or recovering from pepper spray, Nancy does not lose her cool. She's calm and calculating, and that's really why I like her so much. Well, come to think of it, I'M the one controlling her... oh dear, I just unintentionally paid myself a compliment, didn't I?