By David Futrelle
So the guys who get mad about imaginary tiddies are mad about imaginary tiddies again — or, rather, the lack of them. This time they’re mad about the lack of huge gazongas in Netflix’s reboot of She Ra, the 1980’s He-Man spinoff that none of these dudes ever watched in the first place either because they weren’t born yet or because it was a show for, ick, girls.
But now that the reboot’s showrunner, Noelle Stevenson, has posted art of the new (less busty) She-Ra and her (less busty) Princesses of Power, the He-Babies have suddenly decided that Western Civilization is at stake — and that the original She-Ra’s ample cleavage must be defended at all costs.
Here are the new character designs that have caused all the commotion:
First look at She-Ra and the Princesses of Power! ✨ pic.twitter.com/NvC56z97cz
— Noelle Stevenson (@Gingerhazing) July 16, 2018
(You can see comparisons of the old and new characters here.)
Some critics of the He-Baby movement have suggested that these guys are angry because they won’t be able to fap to a kids’ cartoon any more. But I don’t think that’s it, at least not for most of these guys. (I imagine that most dudes with an 80’s-cartoon-lady fetish would do much better, fap-wise, with Jessica Rabbit or that one gal in the Heavy Metal movie.)
But it’s also not about the art. She-Ra, like He-Man, was pretty shitty, art-wise, with crudely drawn characters and laughably minimal animation; whatever you think of the character design, the art for the new show is a lot more sophisticated.
So what are these dudes mad about? Having read through several hundred comments on the “controversy” posted on Reddit’s KotakuInAction subreddt, it’s pretty clear that for some of them, it really is about the tiddies: the female characters in the reboot, in addition to looking a lot younger than the originals, are also notably less busty.
Some of the complainers were pretty upfront about their boob fetishes. (Click on screenshots to see the comments in context on Reddit.)
Others were slightly less direct, complaining that the female characters in the reboot all “look like men” — with some complainers throwing some open transphobia into the mix.
And there’s the rub. The He-Babies see the smaller breasts less as a problem in themselves — there are plenty of other busty female superheroes to fetishize — than as a symbol of the new showrunner’s “agenda,” which the He-Babies (and their few female allies) see as an distinctly untasty mélange of feminism, trans advocacy, and pro-fat-activism.
Some saw a more specific agenda — an attempt by the lesbian showrunner to fill a cartoon world with characters who look just like her (and that maybe she wants to fuck). Yep: while some of the He-Babies are complaining that the main characters are being desexualized, others are insinuating that they are being re-sexualized in a creepy lesbian pedophile way.
But these dark insinuators aren’t the only ones who think it’s somehow nefarious that the new characters are teenagers. In their mind, it shows that those in charge of this show for children are coming for … our children?
For others, the real problem isn’t that the show is aimed at kids; it;s that it’s also aimed at adults, as part of an insidious plot to keep them in a perpetual state of arrested development.
One surprisingly large subset of the complainers seemed to be less bothered by the breast-reductions of the female characters than they were about the decision to transform the show’s main male character, Bow, from an overdeveloped, mustachioed white man into a black teenager.
And while I didn’t see any of the commenters on Reddit explicitly calling this “white genocide,” well, it wasn’t hard to tell that some of them sort of wished they could, and were biting their tongues only because Internet Nazis have learned that using the g-word about race-swapped cartoon characters and interracial couples in tv commercials makes them look like the hysterical racists they like to deny that they are.
For some, the fact that the original white character was a redhead made it somehow even more white-genocidey. (Never mind that showrunner Stevenson is herself a ginger.)
Yes, the person who refers to switching a character from white to black as “blacktarring” is accusing others of racism.
It’s no coincidence that the most vehement complaints about the new She-Ra can be found on KotakuInAction, the former GamerGate hub on Reddit that has kept on with its defacto GamerGating despite the original movement’s disappearance from the headlines, with its focus widening to comics and movies and TV shows as well as games.
But even by KotakuInAction standards this reaction is extreme. The standard GamerGate/KotakuInAction complaint is that eeeevil females and other so-called SJWs are invading the sacred male spaces of video games, comic books, Ghostbuster movies. (Granted, none of these spaces actually “belong” to men, but these guys have convinced themselves they do.)
But She-Ra? This was a show from the 80s aimed at girls, and watched by girls. These guys can’t even pretend it “belongs” to them. So they come up with other excuses to get mad about it. Hence the talk about female “role models” and supposedly insidious SJW/feminist/lesbian/trans agendas. Because god forbid a female superhero not be shaped like Barbie.
So why do these guys care about She-Ra’s cartoon boobs so much? Because it’s not about cartoon women; it’s about real women. As one game designer put it on Twitter:
hot take: the She-Ra drama isn't about dudes wanting to fap to She-Ra, it's about them wanting to make sure the role models girls aspire to be exemplify a kind of femininity that's focused on being conventionally attractive to men.
— Ashley Flanagan (@why_wolf) July 18, 2018
Yep. GamerGate — and the amorphous cultural backlash that followed it — was always about reinforcing traditional gender roles and restricting the range of what is considered appropriately feminine. The girls in the She-Ra reboot are feminine; they’re just a different kind of feminine, one that doesn’t cater to the male gaze. These are characters that a lot of girls can identify with, not idealized versions of one narrow and conventional kind of femininity.
Angry He-Babies: this show is mot for you. It never was for you. Leave it the hell alone.