13 April 2011

robot marx, part 3

Robotech®, Patriarchy, and Kids' Culture:
A Conflict Theory Perspective

There are a couple of interesting parallels between The Powerpuff Girls and ROBOTECH. On a superficial level, both series feature a trio of female characters with specific representational colors and personality types. On a deeper level, both feature female characters who demonstrate the concept of diva citizenship.

In her article "'Saving the World Before Bedtime': The Powerpuff Girls, Citizenship, and the Little Girl Superhero," Lisa Hager writes regarding The Powerpuff Girls' primary characters: "Each Powerpuff has a clear personality that is revealed through her signature colors [...]"; Hager then goes on to discuss in detail the Powerpuff Girls' personality archetypes and representational colors (70-73). Wikipedia sums up their characterizations succinctly: Blossom is the "smart one" and wears pink; Bubbles is the "cute one" and wears blue; and Buttercup is the "tough one" and wears green.

The second generation of the ROBOTECH saga -- "The Masters" -- similarly features a trio of female characters who each have their own distinct color and personality set. Dana Sterling's military uniform and battle armor are highlighted with pink; her personality is carefree, good-humored and impulsive. Marie Crystal's military uniform and battle armor's base color is often light-blue; her personality is relaxed, reasonable and polite. And Nova Satori's primary color is black accented with green; her personality is uptight, serious and relentless.

In both The Powerpuff Girls and ROBOTECH's "The Masters," "the girls' personalities as a group work to sustain the law even as their individual excesses are radically lawless" (Hager 70). This ties directly into the concept of diva citizenship -- "a moment in which a previously abject citizen 'stages a dramatic coup in the public sphere in which she does not have privilege' and temporarily makes her radical critique central to the dominant discourse [... thus making] visible the State's inability to live up to its ethical principles" (Hager 64, 65).

Hager discusses the specifics of the Powerpuff Girls' diva citizenship, but what about ROBOTECH's "divas"? In the case of Dana, Marie and Nova, they are female soldiers who answer to male military higher-ups. They are expected to follow orders and expected to not question their superiors' decisions; in essence, they are expected to be "good little girl soldiers." As happens throughout the whole of the "The Masters" saga, though, Dana regularly takes the lead in insubordination; Nova hounds her and, in the process, becomes an active participant in the action; and Marie plays the peacemaker between the two, also getting caught up in the subversive acts. In their "radical lawlessness" -- always based on "ethical principles" and almost always resulting in a heroic "turning of the tide" -- they challenge the patriarchal status quo, are lectured for insubordination but are rewarded for its outcome, and promptly return to their subordinate status in time for the next episode. Just like the Powerpuff Girls.

The parallels between The Powerpuff Girls and ROBOTECH in portraying their "diva trios" is apparent. In both cases, their characterizations are built on the foundation of particular "types" and their diva citizenships are key in shaping their respective series' stories. In like fashion, they function within their worlds' power structures as "girl superheroes" saving the world.

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Hager, Lisa. "'Saving the World Before Bedtime': The Powerpuff Girls, Citizenship, and the Little Girl Superhero." Children's Literature Association Quarterly (2008): 62-78. Rpt. in Project Muse: Scholarly Journals Online. N.p.: n.p., n.d. N. pag. Web. 2010.

Robotech.com. Harmony Gold USA, Inc., 2007. Web. 2010. http://robotech.com/.

"The Powerpuff Girls." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 2011. Web. 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powerpuff_girls.

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ROBOTECH ® and all associated concepts, names, designs, and images are trademark and copyright Harmony Gold USA, Inc. 1985-2011. Application of such for the ROBOT MARX project by Evan Harrison Cass is based on the U.S. Copyright principle of Fair Use for not-for-profit "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research." No infringement of Harmony Gold USA, Inc.'s or associated companies' and individuals' rights is intended.