Friday, January 10, 2014

Tube Tradition


Art by Daniel, lettering by me.  Backer drawing used with permission.

The “Women in Tubes” trope has proven resilient through the years.  From its humble beginnings with Snow White and Metropolis leading to its first golden age with sci-fi pulp art in the 1930s, it fell into the realm of comic books and b-movies until its late-1990s music video renaissance.  Along with genre fiction and music, it now enjoys more practical uses (mainstream magazines, car ads) and has several categories in the TV Tropes wiki.

Why is “Women in Tubes” still useful today?  Some say it is male control fantasy, keeping a preserved woman as a prize for display through the ages.   Others say that tubes can set a sci-fi/horror tone for their stories.  And cynics point out that tubes can strategically hide a woman’s sensitive areas if necessary.  They are all correct, yet they are missing a bigger picture.

“Women in Tubes” is a dynamic tradition that has evolved over time.  From Metropolis (1927):


to Perfume (2006):

This trope is valuable is because of the thought, criticism and adjustment this tradition has undergone.  It can be used as a mechanism to exterminate or heal.  It can transcend race and creed.  It is innovative yet has its roots in the past.  “Women in Tubes” as a literary device will have a future even after the science can make it a reality, and the best part is that the surface has only been scratched!  So here's to many more occurrences being unearthed or newly created!

(Note: If you would like to start looking into this trope, my favorites are seen above in the top drawing! From left to right: Kiss The Girls And Make Them Die (1966 film), a hopeful web comic sans helmet, Wonder Woman #13 (1945 comic) and my own 2012 comic Pretty Vacant: Final Repose Part 2!)

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