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14 September 2009

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Having read most of a 'Jackie' from 1975 re-printed by the Guardian this weekend I was fascinated by how narrow the 'correct' identity model or acceptable behaviour boundaries for young girls was. It’s disappointing to hear that similar levels of social manipulation still exist today within this type of media. I think this is why learning how to critically evaluate the messages from mainstream media is essential in schools (much of this involves evaluating visual not textual information which I suspect we don’t teach very well). Without this our children will simply be pushed around by the corporates.

I was wondering whether any research had ever been done on the preponderance of Cold War-inspired stories in these comics, particularly when I was reading them in the mid-70s. I particularly remember a story about a gymnast who had been kidnapped by the USSR and was now returning to England to compete and passes her old home in the coach en route where her Mum is in the front garden crying over a rose bush. So the comics seem to have been a conduit for broader political forces as well.

Josie, your talk was fantastic on Saturday and thank you so much for this extensive post.

I would love to survey the readership of Jinty to find out what kind of long term effects reading this insane comic had on its readership.

Fascinating reading! I'd not realised till you mentioned this that you were into comics - I've equally probably not mentioned to you that I've got a fair collection (or perhaps you noticed them!) of old girls school stories - from a slightly earlier era.
Meantime, several of the folks I know via that are also into comics - indeed, I went to a session at the ICA called "I love Girls comics" a couple of years ago with one of them. (She's done a lot of work in the area - so I've pointed her to this post).
Now, really ought to get on with my own post re. ALT-C!

Great post, Josie! I never realised how truly weird the comics I didn't read - because I had the wrong biological bits - were.

Only one criticism. Discipline & Punish on acid? Nah: surely Lacan, and probably on barbies rather than acid.

Hi Josie,
Loved your talk @interesting09. I was reading "tommy the tomboy" from yday´s guardian and couldn´t stop laughing.

Hello! Thanks for putting up your notes - I had seen from @mondoagogo that it had happened but no more, so it's good to see some details.

Ha ha, I remember this story in Tammy! "Lights-Out for Lucinda - Lucinda becomes trapped in a district where people still think it is World War II, due to her father drugging them so he may use them as slave labour." I didn't read Tammy regularly so I only saw a few episodes out of it.

You say that Jinty introduced elements of horror as well as sf and adventure; I wouldn't say it dealt in horror per se (Misty clearly did), though it had some stories that were pretty scary and exciting. The important thing with Jinty was that the protagonist ended up winning out, whereas with Misty the protagonist could be trapped in a nasty circumstance that she was clearly never going to escape from (probably because she deserved it because she was a bully or whatever).

One further point on the notion of conduct literature - I think that there could be more to be said in comparing girls comics with other kinds of guides to conduct presented in literature and media. For instance, the Jinty story "The Children of Edenford" is a very direct parallel to "The Stepford Wives", as I've said before. But I've only now actually read the original Stepford Wives, which is a lot grimmer in many ways! The central macguffin in SW is turning them into robots, which is noticeably more irreversible than drugging the schoolgirls in CoE. The message in SW is pretty stark - conform or be killed / replaced - while in CoE it's actually pretty upbeat, ending in a message that individuality and anti-perfection are good. So in a world where messages like those in SW are being output, the conduct instructions seen in that specific Jinty story at least are pretty radical. I'm sure you could say that CoE is not really a conduct piece, which is true, but it is part of the whole set of messages going towards the socialisation of the readership.

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