Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why I Find Damian Wayne Funny:

While perusing the WFA massive update last weekend, I found myself intrigued by a couple of posts under the heading "Damian Wayne, the littlest misogynist."

That heading actually makes me twitch a little, because honestly, I think it takes more than sexist commentary to make a misogynist. But that's tangential. The real point is that the posters are wondering why so many people find little Damian Wayne funny rather than offensive.

Now, I haven't read all of Morrison's run yet and I've certainly not read all of Damian's guest appearances in other comics, but since everything I HAVE read involving the character tends to make me giggle, I thought I'd give a stab at answering this question. Please note, that humor is subjective and I'm one person. Others probably have their own reasons.

But for me, the thought process goes as follows:

1) He's like ten years old.

This is similar to why I find Cartman funny on South Park despite being a racist, genocidal monster. Yes, it probably wouldn't be as funny in an adult character. But this is a kid. It's incongruous, and therefore funny.

2) He's like ten years old.

Combat prowess aside, he's pretty harmless. We're not likely going to be seeing this kid beating up his girlfriend, for example. He's small, he's cute. And he's not really much of a physical threat beyond standard superhero kid hijinx.

3) He's like ten years old.

He's young enough to be taught better. And I tend to find stories where sane adults (especially sane adults unaccustomed to being mentor figures) have to try to civilize poorly socialized young people to be generally hilarious.

4) He's like ten years old.

All of the sane, normal adults around Damian clearly don't agree with what he's saying. This is the case of one small child parroting something that is clearly out of place with the values of the people around him and the readers. If Dick, at any point, seemed to AGREE with him, I would find THAT offensive. But every comic I've seen involved Dick either busy, not present, or amusingly exasperated at Damian's commentary.

5) He's like ten years old.

This probably means that he's less misogynist by nature and it's more a product of his very warped by our cultural standards upbringing.

See, I have a streak of gallows humor. I'm sure this shocks you as I have never once mocked, say, how horrible a mentor Wesley Dodds was to little Sandy even before he turned him into a sand monster and lied about it, or made endless wisecracks about any of the endlessly traumatic events in Scott Summers' childhood. (Or for that matter, the fact that in an alternate timeline, the man put down a TARP before committing suicide.) Things that would never be funny in real life tend to provoke horrified laughter from me when encountered in fiction.

Depictions of Damian's upbringing have tended to push that button for me as well. His culturally inappropriate commentary adds to that effect in the "Oh my GOD, WHAT have they been teaching this poor kid?!" way. And then I can't do anything but laugh.

So basically, the answer is:

It's funny because he's ten.

Now if he's still saying the same shit at sixteen? There might be an issue. Maybe not (my favorite lantern IS Guy Gardner after all), but right now, I'm going to continue to find Damian very amusing.

14 Comments:

  • At December 19, 2010 7:35 AM, Blogger Saranga said…

    Agreed. I saw those posts and was surprised at the blogger's points of view. Damian is 10, he willbecome more socialised (and sociable) as he gets older but right now he's highly amusing.

    Plus, the commentary from the other characters makes it clear that Damian is pretty much always in the wrong. So his POV is now sanctioned or agreed with, on a meta level.

     
  • At December 19, 2010 1:48 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    He IS only ten. I would imagine that he's at the stage where all girls have cooties anyway.

     
  • At December 19, 2010 10:02 PM, Blogger Your Obedient Serpent said…

    Being ten aside, they're also ignoring the fact that Damian says equally-degrading and insulting things to the men around him. It took Dick months before Damian would give him the tiniest shred of respect, or acknowledge that Dick was anything was a poor substitute for Bruce.

    Damian treats Alfred Pennyworth, a man universally respected in the entire superhero community, like a servant.

    Damian is whole-heartedly awful to everyone. He's an Equal-Opportunity Annoyer.

    He's not a misogynist. He's a misanthrope.

    And it's funny, because he's ten!

     
  • At December 20, 2010 12:38 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    I read that and thought, maybe back in the day. When he was doing "In Living Color" and "I'm Going to Get You Sucka". But not so much recently...

     
  • At December 21, 2010 1:11 AM, Anonymous Gcat said…

    I think Damian needs to meet Guy, who he will then insult and is one of the few characters who will send the little guy flying across the room.
    Everyone would then yell at Guy, but then later we get to see panels of people laughing at what happened to the brat or saying how they wish they had done that.

     
  • At December 21, 2010 8:38 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Well, if I take your comment literally, I strongly disagree. Guy (especially given his own history and the whole "used to be a special ed teacher") isn't one for violence against kids. Guy likes fighting people who can fight back.

    Now, if you're suggesting something more metaphorical, such as a good, tactless non-PC return tongue-lashing?

    That I could get into.

    But it'd be VERY out of character for any version of Guy post 1998 (and really, probably even during his brain damaged period in JLI) to be physically violent against a small child.

     
  • At December 21, 2010 1:17 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Yeah, that suggestion sounds kinda like the writer who thought it was a good idea to have Dick Grayson wondering if it was worth saving a ten-year-old's life in Nightwing.

    Damian's annoying, but he's TEN. Nothing justifies that sort of thing, especially from heroes.

     
  • At December 22, 2010 3:09 AM, Anonymous Gcat said…

    I was thinking more of comedic thrown across the room that could have happened when the Justice League was funny. Something that would get Guy yelled at because it wasn't appropriate to do, but you laugh because it's wrong.

     
  • At December 22, 2010 3:31 AM, Anonymous Gcat said…

    He is 10, but he is superheroing with Batman. I think Guy would have no problem tossing him across the room, he would expect the kid to land properly, he is Robin. Maybe I just think it would be funny, because they could do a great "shock" face on Damian and that would make a great panel.
    Either way, from what I've read, physical violence wouldn't teach him anything, but a tongue lashing might.
    I forgot we are in serious mode with Superhero comics. I need to read some more Tiny Titans.

     
  • At December 22, 2010 8:24 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Um, no. Really, Guy would NOT expect the kid to "land properly"

    Guy's never been characterized as someone who would a) hurt a child (the closest he's ever come to threatening a child is the silly conjuring re: Jaime, which were clearly jokes in an otherwise surprisingly supportive mentor type).

    Guy's also an abuse victim himself who became a special education teacher. So he's a particularly bad choice for a set up like this, because a) negative history and b) training to understand that troubled children aren't bad children.

    I don't think it's "serious mode" necessarily to be disgusted at the thought of violence to a child. Some "jokes" aren't all that funny.

     
  • At December 23, 2010 4:41 AM, Anonymous Gcat said…

    I didn't know most of that about Guy's past, I'm going to have to read a bio on him.
    I guess my gallows humor is ok with comedic throwing of children, while your original post mention your enjoyment of Scott Summers traumatic childhood.
    "Serious mode" means something like what I suggested can't be done, because it would be set up like a child was really thrown across the room, instead of going for comedic no one really gets hurt kind of thin.

     
  • At December 23, 2010 8:41 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    There's a difference to me, joke wise, between a character's ridiculously horrifying backstory and cartoonishly out of character actions.

    There are definitely parts of Damian's childhood with Talia that are horrifyingly funny.

    But the idea of a superhero knocking a kid across the room because of his bad attitude isn't funny to me. It's just out of character.

     
  • At September 18, 2012 7:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At November 27, 2012 10:48 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I absolutely apologize. I hit a button and accidently deleted a comment above mine. I apologize profusely to the commenter and hope that he/she might come back and repost.

     

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