John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

When the Boundary Violation is the Part You Get Off On

So laurie_robey and I have been watching an anime on Netflix called The Seven Deadly Sins, in which the main character (a pretty standard anime Gary Stu) is beloved by everybody despite being a massive creep. Although it's clearly intended to be for laughs, he is forever groping the female lead, putting her into revealing "uniforms" for his own titillation, periodically stealing her underwear (while she's still wearing it) and so forth. You know, just your basic good old fashioned misogyny straight out of the Rat Pack era. Those darn boys will be boys.

In concert with this, a female supporting character has a crush on our "hero" (because Gary Stu) but normally can't interact with him much because she's a giant. When magical hijinks shrink her down to normal human size, she gets all excited because finally it means he'll be all lechy at her, too ("Dehumanize me, Sempai!"). Except he totally doesn't, because what fun is it to grope a woman who clearly wants to be groped? Obviously it's not the actual groping that he cares about: it's the violation of boundaries that gets his motor running.

I relate this not to talk about the specific show, but to talk about the psychology at work. Because it's a theme I have seen popping up in my own work. Drezzer Wolf, for instance, was prey to this exact same mindset, except his target of choice was Conrad. I always tried to paint this as a flaw in Drezzer's character and something that had hurt both his career and his personal life when he went overboard with it. However, I had more than a few readers for whom this was one of Drezzer's charming features, and it's a theme that comes up again and again in people wanting to commission art.

But the thing is, the more you think about it, the creepier it gets. When does "teasing" go from a friendly nudge into a bullying grab? The fundamental, underlying belief of someone who gets off on pushing boundaries is "How I feel about your boundaries is more important than how you do." This is not a relationship of one peer to another. This is an exercise in power over someone else.

Of course, when pushed back by someone who's had enough of their boundaries being trampled, the would-be pusher gets very defensive, using such tried-and-true bullshit responses as "I was just playing!" or "Can't you take a joke?" In the case of Drezzer, I did make an effort to have him own up to it when confronted, because overall I wanted Drezzer to be a positive character. But I wonder sometimes if I didn't make it too easy on him. He's lucky that Conrad didn't end up giving him a sock to the jaw, and I guess it's not really in Conrad's nature to do that anyway, but from a storytelling standpoint I'm not sure it wouldn't have been better if he had. (Of course it's also a topic on which I have stronger feelings now than I did when I was creating the original SJ, so I don't know how I would approach it these days.)

Anyway, this is just something that struck me as I was working on one of my "overheard at the Watering Hole" type commissions, because it's been a recurring theme of one or two commissioners and it's something I've come to the conclusion that I don't want to draw any more. I'm going to finish this set, as I've committed to doing it, but no more after that. It's not fun, and it's not funny.

-The Gneech
Tags: anime, comics and art, deep thoughts, rant, suburban jungle
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