DC You. Love it or hate it, it’s DC’s next move in a hit or miss scheme that both of the big two have been following (Marvel Now, All-New Marvel Now, All-New All-Different Marvel Now).
Part of DC You has been a continued, and strengthened, effort in advertising that started with the New 52 and has ranged from merchandising and advertising deals with Target to TV spots and full-page magazine ads. While Marvel has stuck to an overall limited advertising scheme, only really advertising their comics subtly through their parent company Disney, and its ABC subsidiaries, and instead really relying on the sales from their major money-earner: the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With the official June release of DC You, DC Comics also released a new ad, primarily marketed through Youtube, trumpeting the virtues of the newest DC Universe:
When I first saw the Youtube cut of this ad, something about it rubbed me the wrong way.
Wonder Woman: “the God of War never looked this fierce.”
Harley Quinn is “cheery,” “deranged,” and her gang of women are all “insane!” (Those darn crazy women.)
Starfire is merely a list of physical descriptions for the “alien Princess,” while Prez has nothing more to offer up than “hashtag this,” which some might interpret as the trivialization of a young woman’s use of social media. Honestly, it seems like Batgirl and Black Canary are the only female characters who aren’t addressed by their gender or appearance in the ad.
References to 2008’s Project Runway winner aside, the ad, as a whole, seems to fall short in trumpeting its female-led books; this is unfortunate, considering DC has maintained a fairly large roster of female-led titles since the New 52 inception. The titles haven’t all been good, but almost any female-led title could be considered positive progress.
Furthermore, if the best DC’s advertising team can offer about Starfire is hot body, green fire, and Key West, Florida, it seems like their missing some buzzwords that are big in describing female leads in pop culture today (think Mad Max: Fury Road or Pitch Perfect).
The ad pretty clearly relies on some outdated concepts of how to “sell” female characters. It’s a positive thing that the female-led titles DC is advertising don’t all fall into one category–DC is offering up female-starring comedy, drama, and action titles–but the way the female characters are being sold seems to be markedly different from the presentation of the male characters.
I’m glad to see that female characters other than Wonder Woman are being more prominently focused in this bout of advertisement, but it’s always a little disheartening when the tactics used to sell their stories are focused more on their looks or their inherent “female-ness” than their character.