Over on Newsarama, a man goes on the record, and it’s Adam Hughes talking about his designs for the Mary Jane statue. First, the secret origin:
My idea was pretty simple, I thought – classic Mary Jane, from the days when Peter and MJ were boyfriend and girlfriend, and she’s found his Spider-Man costume in the laundry basket. It’s the weird little secret that couples have from each other that gets discovered. For me, the gag was that this was the moment when Mary Jane found out that her boyfriend is Spider-Man. She’s not doing his laundry, because I don’t know anybody that does laundry in a basket on a table. Even if you don’t have a washing machine, you’d do the laundry in the sink. This was MJ spotting something in the basket, pulling it out, and doing the “What’s this?” with a look back to Peter over her shoulder.
NRAMA: Still – why this pose and this look?
AH: Well, Mary Jane isn’t a superhero, so you can’t really do anything with her that’s not some version of her just standing there. On top of that, they’ve already done a fantastic statue of her first appearance of “Face it Tiger, you just hit the jackpot!” So – with that gone, what do you do with her? My thought was to do something that hearkens back to the good old days of the Brown and Bigelow pinup calendars, which is why I put her in the straight-leg bent over pose. It was supposed to be her pulling the shirt out of the laundry basket with a knowing look over her shoulder. Somebody also made a big deal that she was conspicuously not wearing her wedding ring. It’s the iconic look, not the current status, which changes daily. Mary Jane, for the majority of her life as a character, was Peter Parker’s girlfriends. Mary Jane’s life as Mrs. Peter Parker has been the minority of her years. I was going for the iconic look, the iconic era MJ.
Hughes’s original sketch for the scene is reproduced at Just Say AH!, and if it’s not something I would hang in my 11-year-old daughter’s room, it’s still a cute little sketch, with a more successful execution of the idea than the statue. The statue, to be honest, is just not capable of reflecting all the emotions of the situation; telling an entire story with a single image is hard. Maybe Norman Rockwell could have done it, but Sideshow didn’t, IMHO.
Hughes comes off as a nice guy genuinely baffled by the uproar — I suppose this is understandable, although whatever “PC” is has become as conventient a scapegoat as any in matters of this kind. The real money quote is at the end:
NRAMA: Has this response led to any changes in your design or release plans?
AH: We’re not changing any of our plans on the subsequent statues, but we’ve gone through and looked at the other designs to see if we’re doing something that could be misconstrued as sexist or misogynistic.
NRAMA: But isn’t that a slippery slope? Isn’t that in a way going back toward self-censorship in order not to offend a segment of the audience who the product’s not aimed at who are going to be offended by a thousand differing degrees?
AH: It’s not self-censorship, but rather, we’re flirting with self-awareness. Self-censorship would be us looking at the plans for Aunt May cleaning Uncle Ben’s toilet in a teddy for the next statute, and then change that to her doing something assertive, and not doing chores. It’s self-awareness if we look at the designs and see something on the next statue that could possibly bring about the same amount of negative attention from the same people, so that we can prepare for the possible repercussions, whether legitimate or otherwise.
“Flirting with self-awareness.” What a great phrase. I think that’s all we were asking for all along.
BTW, I’ve received a few oblique communications that hint that TPTB are not as oblivious to the issues being raised over the last few days as their public silence would indicate. Developing.