This Trope Has Got To Stop

March 24th, 2009 by | Tags: , ,

I just saw the preview for Justice League 31 on the IGN website, and something in it really bothered me.  This something has been bothering me for a while in comics.

Dinah decks Ollie, her husband, because he embarrassed her.  It isn’t playful roughhousing, or a light smack on the shoulder, or even a slap.  She punches him, and he gets up and says that he deserved it.  Then Hal Jordan, Ollie’s friend, says that he deserved a lot more than that.  Then they go on with the discussion.




No, no, no, no, no.

Let’s run that the other way.  Ollie comes up to Dinah and punches her in the face hard enough that she’s knocked to the ground.  When she gets up, he tells her that he punched her because she’s his wife and she embarrassed him.  Do you think there is a chance in hell that she’d agree?  Or that her friends would also agree and the discussion would go on?  No.  Ollie would go the way of Hank Pym.  He’d get thrown out, beaten up, and his character would be marked as a disgrace for the foreseeable future.

This isn’t Batman and Catwoman fighting because they’re on different sides of the law.  It isn’t the friendly wrestling matches, or even the full-on fights that we see between vigilantes when things get heated.  This is one spouse, in this case the more highly trained martial artist, beating another spouse for not toeing the line.  This has happened before with Ollie and Dinah.  This is not okay.  This needs to stop.

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21 comments to “This Trope Has Got To Stop”

  1. Damn.
    For those who don’t know me, exceptionally bad writing and exceptionally good writing both usually illicit this one word reaction. I think you can guess which one this falls under.

  2. Ditto. Big time.

  3. Wow. During this scene, did Ollie also say “Dinah only hits me because she loves me”?

  4. I actually thought it was a kind of shojo (or whatever, I’m not actually fluent in manga) sendup by McDuffie, but the thing that got me about the preview was that the greatest disappointment of Final Crisis was that it would inevitably be followed by James Robinson written, Shane Davis drawn, Dan Didio edited crap. Also that Dwayne McDuffie used to be awesome, what happened?

  5. Wearing tights like those, you know he was asking for it.

  6. …you mean this trope has spread from anime/manga into Western fiction? [shakes head] I agree; unless this is leading to “A Very Special” story arc denouncing it, DC needs to drop it.

  7. Now I’m not gonna defend McDuffie’s JLA because truth be told it’s pretty damn awful, but you guys are completely over exaggerating. This was just an act of cartoon violence no different from the old 50s cartoons where a wife would hit her head over the head with a rolling pin for doing something dumb. McDuffie is not going out telling women to beat up their husbands.

    Seriously, lighten up.

  8. Yeah, the fact there was a star-spangled sound effect and Ollie and Hal aren’t taking the smack that seriously dampens the whole thing for me. And, playing Devil’s Advocate here, Dinah’s a staff sergeant in a superhero platoon (hell, more than that, she’s the leader). If Geo-Force did whatever Ollie did I’m sure the results would be the same. Just because he’s her husband doesn’t mean she can make exceptions. Screw up, get reprimanded.

    That said, Jesus Christ I’m tired of DC forcing someone to be a dickhead just so a new team’s creation or some super event is justified. Dinah didn’t sound like Dinah at all.

  9. I like the scene where she’s trying to make a powerful statement and what we see of her is HER CROTCH, and Ollie behind her butt.

  10. @Debaser: @Dane: Mm. It is true that it is meant to be lighthearted. However, I think there was no way that it could have played that way, or any way but horrifically, with Ollie punching Dinah.

    Also, this is not just McDuffie. In the Black Canary Wedding Planner they pulled the same crap. Dinah and Ollie were fighting, and Dinah slapped Ollie. Then they had sex. No way would it have worked the other way around.

  11. I look forward to the Very Special Intervention Issue where all of Dinah and Ollies friends & family hold an intervention for her rage problem. They can get Judd Winnick to write it…

  12. I agree to Esther. This is just another example of a very embarassing double standard.

  13. I think this would have worked better in a military/leader way, as someone mentioned above. “SOLDIER, YOU ARE OUT OF LINE” *punch*

    But the whole “you embarrassed me, i’m your wife” line killed any chance of that.

  14. Was I the only one who read the last line of that preview and thought of a Bryan Adams song?

  15. It reminds me of the kind of silly Boy slap, girl slap, intense angry stare, immediate and intense makeouts thing you see in some cartoons.

  16. I thought the same thing, and commented on it in Daily Scans. If Reed Richards clocked the Invisible Woman for embarassing him, we’d have even more “Reed is a creep” threads and people would be calling for him to be arrested.

    And REED isn’t a trained martial artist. BC has clobbered guys half her size, and Ollie’s fighting skills aren’t in her league.

    No pun intended. (However, you notice I’m letting it stand.)

  17. She knocked hell out of him. I’m amazed people are trying to justify that.

    It wasn’t because he was a physical threat to her or anyone else. It was because he wanted to join another team. That is asinine.

    Isn’t her JLoA the same team that chose the Red Arrow over the Green? How is THAT any less embarrassing. (Truth be-told, I’m not sure if the Big 3 were over that decision or not, but, either way, no one got punched for it.)

    Also… what was up with Wonder Woman being called “Dinah?”


  18. “She knocked hell out of him. I’m amazed people are trying to justify that.”

    I don’t think anyone’s actually trying to justify it. Putting it in context, more like, wherein the context is itself kinda crap. It was definitely a bad idea on McDuffie’s part to try to incorporate what would pass for cartoon violence into a pseudo-realistic comic, but that’s pretty much McDuffie’s JLA run in a nutshell.

  19. I think you’ve missed a comment or two.

  20. *sighs* I’m a bit torn on this as well.

    Yes, spousal abuse in any form is wrong. Yes, Dinah is a trained martial artist who could easily kill Ollie if she wanted too. And read straight, this whole scene is a horrifying indictment of a relationship where a man is beaten repeatedly by an abusive girlfriend and his best friend witnesses this and just laughs it off, going so far as to say “you deserve to be beaten.”

    On the other foot, I think it’s pretty clear that the intent of the whole scene at the start was meant to be semi-humorous with three old friends who – because they are so close and they all know there’s no malicious intent – will crack jokes that only they could get away with, even in an argument.

    Dinah even says as much – “You don’t get to joke about this, Hal” – when Hal tells Ollie “You deserve to be hit repeatedly. She doesn’t even know about half the stuff you’ve done.”

    Do you think Hal Jordan would stand by and make jokes if he thought anybody was actually in physical danger?

    Do you think that Dinah Lance lacks the control and ability with just enough force in a non-lethal manner to knock him down without bruising him?

    Do you think someone as willful and quick-tempered as Oliver Queen is just going to lie there and take a real beating?

    Absolutely not. And yet, that doesn’t take away from the fact that – no matter what the intent – we’re supposed to be amused by a man being beaten up by his girlfriend. Forget that she’s an accomplished martial artist easily capable of fighting several men at once; it’s still negative gender-role reinforcement.

    It looks bad anyway you slice it though. The art says action even as the dialogue says comedy and I can think of a thousand ways that could have made the intent a lot clearer.

    For instance, I find myself wondering if Page 4 is just as much an art mistake as page 1 (with Diana being shown in place of Dinah) and that the intent was to show Dinah giving Ollie a sucker-punch in the stomach or something to knock the wind out of him instead of sending him flying.

    Even having Ollie say “Yes, Mistress” sarcastically after Dinah says “Don’t make me smack you again.” would help even if it did inspire a new wave of fanfic I’d rather not read.

    And yet, despite all this, I’d still rather have McDuffie writing Green Arrow/Black Canary instead of Judd Winick or Andrew Kreisberg.

  21. I just have to say that this is FAR from the first time Dinah has Punched Ollie, and had he ever shown any signs of submissiveness afterwards its would be totally wrong.. but he never does.. he just listens..

    My favorite time was issue 13 of Mike Grells run.. and as usuall.. it ended in sex