Saturday, April 15, 2006

Why The Last Man? Because...

This is the definition of "covert misogyny."Everyone on the indie tip gives this book big props. Good friends of mine have begged me to read it, which I did. It was bound to become a film. You want a great indie book to read? Read Fables! This is a big overhyped turd. Great Idea for a Sci-Fi movie though, even if as a Comic Book it's a sad fantasy of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tie Bo generation of post feminists and metrosexual 20 something men with the inability to create facial hair. This thing had Hollywood written all over it from the first issue.For those that don't know about "Y the Last Man," it's about a sensitive new-age guy who is the only male on Earth left standing after something (plague, magic, maybe a medallion has something to do with it?) instantly causes every other human with a lower pair to drop dead instantly. Women rule the planet and everything is pretty much in disorder as the various factions kill each other and fight for power as our hero travels west across the country, with a lesbian geneticist and one badass super secret service agent, oh and a monkey. Plus, he never has sex with anyone and an Amazon "Men hater" terrorist group (they each hack off one breast), which his sister has joined, is trying to kill him.Should I go on? No, please no! This book is so obviously written by a man. It's the saddest excuse for misunderstood empowerment since Russ Meyer declared himself a Feminist! (He didn't, did he?) Like the white liberal that says he sees all people as if they were white, I imagine sensitive men reading this and thinking it's all about the strength of women and the weakness of society, but to me it's just S&M for wimpy boys. It's filled with women prisoners, religious fetishism and bloody women fighting bloodier women and that's just what will be in the movie. The hero seems to play the weak fool, but in this world of double X chromosomes, he's the only sane character, like Charlton Heston in some twisted version of "The Planet of The Apes!" Either it's a total farce or the most blatant piece of fetish I've seen pawned off as pseudo enlightenment since "Show Girls." Boys, boys, boys, if you want to see empowerment read Hothead Paisan!

I read four or five of these trade collections my pal lent me, and while it's fun and the mystery of what happened to the men is truly compelling, the book seems so intent on telling you that women can be as violent and badass as men that it never shows us one decent woman character who isn't just a slick stereotype and never answers the big question: "How would women run the world differently?" I always
thought things might be a tad better than they are, but Brian K Vaughan, the writer, seems to feel it would be more like "Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death!" This is the saddest kind of acceptable porn and I guarantee the movie will play that fetish line much more openly then the book does.Sorry to my pals that love the book, but this guy isn't fit to lick Alan Moore's loafers. Anyway, CHUD has a bit on the pre-production of this one.(HERE)

By Devin Faraci

Brian K Vaughan is one of the best comic book writers today – his three main titles, Y The Last Man, Ex-Machina and Runaways are all among my very favorite books on the market (Y and Ex-Machina often jostle for the top spot in my list). The third trade paperback volume of Ex-Machina, Fact vs Fiction, was released this past week (buy it from by clicking here) and I had a chance to talk to Brian on the phone for quite some time yesterday.

The full interview will be coming on Monday, but in the meantime here’s a cool bit of information he dropped about the long-looming film adaptation of Y The Last Man:

Q: Y has been in development hell for some time. What’s the status of the film? Do you know at all; are you in the loop on that?Vaughan: Yeah, I’m really in the loop. In fact I would upgrade it from development hell to development limbo, maybe. I am actually writing the screenplay right now for Y The Last Man; they’re letting me take a shot at it. It’s been really good. The input I’ve gotten so far has been really positive.In no way does that mean a movie is right around the corner, or that a movie ever will get made period, but it seems to be on an OK track.It sounds like Brian has learned that you don’t make definitive statements during the development process. Still, this is great news – he and artist Pia Guerra created the world of Y – a world where all the men except one mysteriously and suddenly die – and he’s the best choice to adapt the
material to the screen.David Goyer is still attached to to produce, Brian tells me. (Quick update: I had mistakenly said Goyer was directing. There is no director currently attached) He’s hoping to be finished with his current draft soon (when that’s done he’s hopping back to work on his script for an Ex-Machina film), and maybe we’ll be hearing some more official announcements after that.Anyway, CHUD has a bit on the pre-production of this one.


amalekite said...

I think you've raised some fair criticisms of Y and I agree that for a supposedly gynocentric planet it's still very much a androcentric plot, but I still think it's a great read and I'm gonna stick with it till the end.

And for my part, I'm very fond of Y, Hothead Paisan AND the films of Russ Meyer.

Anonymous said...

Thank god, I'm not alone. I understand why guys would love this book (lone guy surrounded by a whole world full of beautiful women), but I just don't get why there are so many female fans of the series.

Dan coyle said...

I can't stand Y, myself- partly for personal reasons (I see a really unpleasant individual I gave far too much emotional control over me in most of the characters), partly for some of the reasons you cite. Of course, I can't stand Fables either.

Stuff Daddy said...

Yeah, it is a great read, that makes it even more frustrating that it never really rises past "B" movie characters and plots. Yoric is the central character through which we see the world. Films like "Dances With Wolves" which show great depictions of Native American culture are tainted by the "as seen through the eyes of a white man" focus. Yoric is not just the lust object, commodity and opressed outsider, but he is a commentater on the insanity of all the women around him. The turn around is clever but like the movie "Disclosure" where Micheal Douglas is sexually harassed by Demi Moore, it comes off as an S&M daydream in the worst possible taste. (What guy wouldn't want to be sexually harassed by Demi Moore?) I'm a little sick of this kind of "White Man" logic. ( I can say that...I'm a white man.)

Ginger Mayerson said...

I salute you, I tried to say something similar two years ago

and was buried in hate mail for it. But someone has to write these things.

I don't understand the books following either, but it says something about how far we've come and how far we have to go as men and women. In our society today it's obviously so unacceptable to show the graphic slaughter, torture, debasement of women in mainstream pop culture, that BKV and DC were forced or inspired to kill off all the men, so the only people slaughtering women were, well, women and somehow, that's okay. Yeah. Well. Anyway, I just get in trouble when I talk about this book, so I'll just leave it at that.

Thanks again for pointing out the covert misogyny in YTLM.

PS. Fun fact: in 2005 Pia Guerra was the only woman on the Special Guest list at Comic Con San Diego. I'm surprised no one got irony poisoning from it.

Stuff Daddy said...

Ginger, Thanks for calling it as you see it and taking the heat for it.

Unfortunately, the lines of post feminist empowerment and fetish misogyny seem to blur. Entertainment has found a way to satify more than one audience with one product. Different people watched Xena or Buffy for different reasons. Not all of that is bad.

But I have had my fill of "Y" being praised as empowering. I feel old. "Y" is self rightous porn, served up guilt free, disquised as equality, much like the Lolita- like pop singer craze, which turns Mouseketeers into objects that attract the attention of every twelve year old girl and her Dad.

Sarah said...

Thanks for that.

I can see personality in most of the female characters in the series, but my big issue is the fact that every single feminist-identified character is a psychotic murderer. Maybe--just maybe--some fringe members in the movement just might form this self-destructive cult under such circumstances--but in fact the vast majority of feminists do not fall into that wet dream of conservatives known as the feminazi.

Stuff Daddy said...

The goals especially of the "Amazon" cult in the book are greatly puzzling. Before they even know Yorik is alive, they run around telling people that men and men's ways are bad. Since all the men are dead, I don't understand why this group even exists. Seems a bit like warning people not to listen to "Kenny G" at a PFunk concert. What is the goal of these Amazons? They're only purpose seems to be to hunt a man they don't even know exists at first. That's quite a plot device.

I think the big message of the comic is on the first page of the first book where the female police officer says "all the men are dead!" and then shoots herself. I mean cloning!! Cloning!! Life might just go on.. I wonder if men would act differently.

Adora said...

How is women finally being treated equally in comics "misogyny"?

Yorick does have sex. Twice, I think. But definitely once in a church. You didn't read that part, I take it?

And if you can't understand a group using an illogical ideology to do nothing except extend their own grip on power (re: Your gripes with the Amazons) then you frankly shouldn't be talking about misogyny or feminism in the first place.

The irony of your "sad fantasy of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tie[sic] Bo generation of post feminists and metrosexual 20 something men with the inability to create facial hair" statement is that those groups you so hilariously put down? Yeah, they're the major comic-buying audiences of the current industry, as much as it tries and excuses itself with the "It's for kids, no really!" excuse. BKV knows this, and doesn't insult the intelligence of his audience by pretending otherwise (Ex Machina is also wonderful for this reason).

It's sad you didn't actually address any of the real issues in the comic, since I would have been really interested to hear a deeper criticism of aspects like the prison community girls and the Amazons, but you seem intent on just panning it and hey, it's your blog, go right ahead, but saying every character is a stereotype and not explaining how isn't helping your rant.

For the record, you might be interested in seeing the movie "The Last Man On Earth" which Y borrows heavily from, but has more zombies instead of women. ;)

Stuff Daddy said...

Well, I can understand your interest and outrage, although I find people who tell other people what they have "business doing" to be avoiding the issue. Is it always a sign of insecurity to tell another person they don't have any business saying something and isn't dismissal easier then discussion?

I won't lie, I take a lot less pleasure watching women brutally die again and again, then some, but then again, I'm not really into the blood thing in general.

If you read any comics written by women, or even men who see women as more then thin templates that can be summed up in a few adjectives, I think you can get tired of things like "Y" or "Strangers in Paradise" which earnestly hit one note and never let the female characters grow past the simple template. Being a guy, I smell selfserving fetish when its replacing sincerity. Both of these writers have a heavy fetish level in their books, believe me, it's what drives them, along with the praise they get for writing about "Strong women." If however, you read only manstream .... I mean mainstream comics then "Y" must seem a wondrous Oasis in a world of big breasts and impossibly curved spines. I would rather read Brian Bendis' "Alias" or "Love and Rockets" or Alison Bechdel or Devin Grayson or Jessica Abel or a multitude of things then read "Y."

Does Yorick finally have sex? I forgot because I found it implausible that at least for the sake of the future, he doesn't have sex with anyone.... for at least for a year. I think folks would want him to help try to create another generation, but he seems to be holding himself for Australia. Also, every girl he even smiles at dies ten minutes later.

Is it really weird to wonder about a militant feminist group in a world of no men? Okay sue me.

I'm glad that you have found something in which you see "women finally being treated equally." I guess I'm sorry that "Y" or Buffy or other lame excuses for strong women are all that we have available to us. It seems that the comic landscape is so bleak that even books like this are lifesavers in the ocean of Powergirls and Striparellas.

If you have "deeper criticism of aspects like the prison community girls and the Amazons" I'd love to hear it too. I thought that the Prison Community was actually the sanest group. I just wrote a review, not a thesis. I don't really feel this book deserves that, but I would not be upset if you proved me wrong.

I wrote about the book because the book is "crazy popular" and it's getting a strong socially responsible buzz, which is not only sad, but criminal. Empowerment and porn are starting to merge no one seems to care! Hey, if the film is made by a smart director, maybe a woman who sees the farce and fetish among the blood, maybe something good will come out of it, but I doubt that's what's going to happen.

2097 said...

While it is pretty clearly written by a guy, I think he does his best to be an ally. A lot of the things you complain about are rectified further along in the series. It’s a very varied comic book that explored different things, some poorly and some pretty good. I like it overall, especially as entertainment.