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Original She-Ra Co-Creator J. Michael Straczynski ‏Weighs in on Anger Over the New Design

She-Ra Princess of Power on Netflix

J. Michael Straczynski has long been one of my genre heroes for creating shows like Babylon 5 and Sense8. An immensely talented writer as well as a creative powerhouse, Straczynski has written for TV, film, comics, and is the author of several novels.

I used to say that I wanted to be him when I grew up, and that has never been more the case than after Straczynski’s response to the squalling by some man-sized children on the Internet after the new design of an actual children’s cartoon character did not prove sexy enough for their liking.

Our Vivian Kane wrote about the grown men who were complaining and trolling Netflix’s reveal of its upcoming rebooted She-Ra character designs earlier this week. We’re hugely excited about Noelle Stevenson’s (Lumberjanes) modern-day take on the iconic ’80s cartoon character. We loved our first look at the youthful, dynamic, strong-armed, practically dressed new Princess of Power.

But a certain segment of the Internet took issue with the fact that this character intended for a cartoon no longer had the mile-long legs, shapely figure, and scant costume of their “ideal” woman, the original She-Ra. And of course, they kicked up a furious fuss about it.

Enter Straczynski, with a wise, sensitive, and illuminating Twitter thread. We talk a lot about the growing fan toxicity over all sorts of properties that dare update themselves from what these men imagine were the halcyon days of their early years, when women wore less just for their gaze or else were barely present at all, where people of color held token roles or were otherwise invisible.

There’s been a call, answered particularly after the sexist and racist harassment faced by Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran, for creatives to become involved themselves, and help push back against the angry noise. Thankfully, this is a growing trend—Tran had powerful defenders come out on her side, as well as legions of loving fans.

In a thread on Twitter, J. Michael Straczynski gave a masterclass in how a creative can best respond to manbaby furor. I hope that all of Hollywood and all fans everywhere are paying attention.

This incredible thread has everything: the intent of the original creators over audience perception; the original creators bent on creating a woman warrior of strengths, smarts, and wit; the shut-down of the “ideal woman” concept; the brilliant and patient explanation that “while male characters tend to be idealized in form and proportion; […] female characters tend to be objectified. There is a profound difference between those two, and failing to perceive that distinction is pernicious.”

Would it be too much to get that entire tweet tattooed on me so that I could stop having to talk about such things and could simply flash my Straczynski’d forearm in future conversations?

Those sentences may be a bit long for a tattoo, so maybe I’ll just go with “be aware that idealization does not equal objectification.” You know you want that on t-shirt. I’m printing up totebags as we speak.

Thank you for this thread, J. Michael Straczynski, for getting it, and for giving us so many female characters who were allowed to be ideal for reasons beyond their costuming. I still want to be you when I grow up.

(via Twitter, h/t @dreadravenanzu, images: Netflix/Filmation/Mattel)

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Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.