2 years ago10,000+ Views

Is one fan's entertainment is another's alienation?

When it comes to comic books, there's often a lot of fan service, and it's always met with mixed reviews. Some fans really enjoy seeing it, while others have said that it makes them less likely to continue reading (and with readership dropping, that's a very real problem for all of us). A little while ago @BrandonHenderso started a similar conversation in the anime community, but we haven't really talked about fan service in the context of comic books yet.

First of all: What is fan service?

It's a term that began in the anime community, but the truth is that fan service has been around since the dawn of visual media. It refers to (usually) sexual material in a series which is intentionally added to please the audience. This can mean sex scenes that don't necessarily move along the plot, skimpy armor or outfits, and camera angles that focus on specific parts of the body.

Who are the fans, and who does the service?

I thought I'd grab these two images to compare: The first is a close-up of Black Widow's butt which lasts a few seconds right at the beginning of CA: TWS. The second is an image of the Winter Soldier, topless and restrained. What's interesting is about this movie is that it's not really the norm. Aside from the one above exception, Natasha isn't really objectified in this movie. She spends most of her time in sweats (with the exception of the third image at the end). Bucky on the other hand has a very long scene where he's the subject of the male gaze in the context of the film- and possibly the female gaze in the context of the audience.

But like I mentioned, this is very rare.

Female characters are overwhelmingly the subjects of fanservice, despite studies that suggest women are reading comics at almost the same rate as men. Which is not to say that women can't be attracted to other women, but they're not the fans artists assume they're serving when they make art like this:

So, what's the solution here?

Getting rid of fan service altogether? Appealing to a broader range of fans with fan service? Or separating fan service-y comics from the main line so that the more titillating stories can reach their intended audience without alienating those that aren't interested?
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I like fan service to a degree. When it gets out of hand I have to take a break from whatever I'm watching or reading.
I believe there is a time and place for it in some comics for either comedic value or to elaborate on a character more but too much just makes it seem like they're trying to turn it into echi
@shannonI5 personally I just laugh at fanservice in comics. For me it doesn't really matter either way. there's a time and place for it.
I think fanservice is amazing... so long as it's not overdone, like some anime, where a female takes a step, and her breasts bounce and sway for the duration of an entire conversation, lasting 30 seconds or more.
I think like with Baka To Test it had a perfect balance