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So It's Come to This...Building a "Ms. Fanservice":

 1 Voltech 44, Wed, 16th Mar '11 4:37:20 PM from Alongside a Virtual Weasel
All Guns Sparking
S-stupid trope! It’s not like I like you or anything!

Oooookay. So I’ve got a bit of an issue here, and I could use some much-needed Troper input. We’ve all had our experiences with a character like this at one point or another, with varying levels of acceptance and/or facepalming. And, after working with one of my characters pretty extensively as of late, I realized that it’s entirely possible that she may qualify for this most sacred/heinous of tropes. Fair enough. But if I’m going to do this, I want to do this RIGHT.

So let’s get the obvious out of the way. Not only is my character Ursa an important character, but the MAIN character. The heroine — or at least our protagonist. She’s also Bigger Is Better in virtually every way imaginable, as seen in the list. Hips, legs, butt, chest, even the woman herself is seriously huge — alternating between 25 and 250 feet to suit her needs. Combine that with a curtain of blonde hair and green eyes, and horns and a tail, and I imagine that she may be the kind of character that sends many a lad to his bunk. Though I haven’t decided on her default clothing yet, it’s entirely possible that she’ll end up in a Wonder Woman-styled costume, or something similar…only covered in cow print. It’s symbolic. And lampshading fuel.

Ursa’s…solidly built, but only because I want to try my hand at creating a character who epitomizes “strength, beauty, and love.” I don’t want to make her a character that’s just for getting a rise out of people, and I’m pretty confident that I’ve taken measures to prevent that. She’s a single mom-turned-Kaiju on a quest to find her missing son, and has to deal with a) being used as a living weapon to overthrow an evil empire b) maneuvering in a world where humans reign supreme, and other races are heavily mistreated, and c) deciding whether or not to use her newfound power to overthrow the world order and create a perfect home for herself and her son. Through the thick of it all, she’s a genuinely kind person who protects those who stand beside her (even if she can be a bit airheaded/childish/perverted at times). She’s got plenty of issues that need sorting out: how much she’s willing to destroy to save her son; not letting the power go to her head; learning to love people besides her son; dealing with the buried anger inside her. And of course, she’s got more crowning moments per square inch than most of my characters put together. Like power-bombing a dragon.

Oh, and she’s also savvy to the extreme.

Anyway, I don’t want people to miss out on Ursa’s wild adventure just because of her character design. I’m worried that people will say, “Ho hum. I’ll pass on this pandering piece of filth.” Or “What a babe! I’m totally in this for that radical hotness!” If possible, I don’t want to make any compromises to her appearance; she may look a certain way, but her thoughts and actions should trump that. And if possible, maybe there’s some way I could actually use that status as a part of her character, rather than shy away from it (in a positive, not-groan-inducing way, of course).

Well, what do you guys think? Any good ways for me to play with this trope? Any examples from your own works? Comments, opinions, what have you? Let's hear it!

edited 16th Mar '11 4:37:34 PM by Voltech44

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 2 Mr AHR, Wed, 16th Mar '11 4:39:17 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Don't sexualize her. People can be heavy on the assets, and so long as they aren't dramatically arching their backs with every pose, and you're supply heavily detailed ass shots, you should be fine. Treat her like she's a person. Forget what she has, treat them like stats, not sexual objects. Don't have people comment on it constantly, either.

edited 16th Mar '11 4:39:52 PM by MrAHR

 3 Voltech 44, Wed, 16th Mar '11 4:43:16 PM from Alongside a Virtual Weasel
All Guns Sparking
Of course. I wouldn't dream of it. Heck, I'm making this post because I'm so worried about her being sexualized...

Whatever the case, that's a pretty fast response. Thanks for the quick feedback.
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 4 Mr AHR, Wed, 16th Mar '11 4:47:11 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
People will sexualize your characters regardless. Let them. But let THEM sexualize the characters, not you.
 5 Voltech 44, Wed, 16th Mar '11 4:50:12 PM from Alongside a Virtual Weasel
All Guns Sparking
Hmmm. Fair enough. Now that I think about it, I was the one that cited Wonder Woman as a faux-inspiration. She's fanservice-y, one could argue, but that's not the key part of her character; it's that heroic nature that makes her special. Courage and honor, and things like that.

I see...things are already starting to look up.
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 6 Mr AHR, Wed, 16th Mar '11 4:51:19 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Wonder Woman might be a bad example, since the orginal dude usually loaded the comics with bondage stuff.
 7 nrjxll, Wed, 16th Mar '11 4:51:39 PM Relationship Status: Not war
[up][up][up]Yes. I personally think this trope and all who deliberately use it should be expunged from the earth, never to be heard from again. Yes, people will sexualize your characters - people will sexualize anything somewhere. That doesn't mean you need to do it yourself.

In other words, my advice (or at least opinion) is, don't do it. I don't think there's any good way to play with this one that involves playing it at all straight. Subversions, deconstructions, and so forth... maybe.

Edit: Whoa... ninja'd!

edited 16th Mar '11 4:53:17 PM by nrjxll

 8 Voltech 44, Wed, 16th Mar '11 4:54:01 PM from Alongside a Virtual Weasel
All Guns Sparking
[up][up]Whoops. Forgot about that. Which is strange, because I once did a report that focused heavily on Wonder Woman...

[up]You may have a point, too. Going by what AHR said, I should shy away from sexualizing Ursa; if I'm really concerned about her character over her looks, then it may be better to axe those elements entirely.

It's something to consider, at the very least.

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 9 Sand Josieph, Thu, 17th Mar '11 10:38:07 AM from Grand Galloping Galaday
Bigonkers! is Magic
Here's a tip, one that I use with my own Ms. Fanservice, who also happens to be the main protagonist of my story: Let your other characters fantasize about her rather let the narration do the fantasizing. That way her "hotness" is part of the universe, not just something to turn on the audience. Granted the best way I can describe Kat is Hot as Hell but since I'm only allowing the characters to fetishize her it still works out.
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 10 Voltech 44, Thu, 17th Mar '11 12:44:24 PM from Alongside a Virtual Weasel
All Guns Sparking
Hey, that's a good idea. And there IS a drunken boor in the midst, so it could work.
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 11 Mr AHR, Thu, 17th Mar '11 12:48:37 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
Of course, the question is, to what purpose would it serve? How would it advance the plot? How would it advance characterization?
 12 Sand Josieph, Thu, 17th Mar '11 12:53:14 PM from Grand Galloping Galaday
Bigonkers! is Magic
It may not help plot, but it would help flesh out the setting and what kind of people said heroine has to deal with.
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 13 Mr AHR, Thu, 17th Mar '11 1:21:31 PM from ಠ_ಠ Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Ahr river
How does one person ogling someone flesh out the setting? And if someone is attracted to her, fine, but devote an entire schtick to it? If said person is being used via POV, then it might as well be the narration doing it.
 14 Killer Clowns, Thu, 17th Mar '11 1:26:46 PM from the Midwest Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
Easily entertained
First: a character isn't a Ms. Fanservice unless her sex appeal is a central part of her character. Fetish Fuel, maybe, but not a Ms. Fanservice. So Ursa is not a Ms. Fanservice, plain and simple, just a character whose traits include being physically attractive.

Secondly, Tropes Are Not Bad. Watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Take note of Jessica Rabbit. She is a well-written, well-rounded, intelligent character. But she is definitely a Ms. Fanservice. It is a core part of her character: even in-universe, she was created for the role. It affects everything she does, and colors every single interaction she has with other characters (excluding Roger Rabbit — make of this what you will). This does not, however, detract from her character; you could put her in a book, thus making her physical appearance no longer count, and she'd still be a memorable character.
 15 Voltech 44, Thu, 17th Mar '11 1:30:52 PM from Alongside a Virtual Weasel
All Guns Sparking
[up][up][up][up]Well, I've thought about it some, and while I can't say I've completely nailed it, I do have some idea of where I could go (so it's not just blatant pandering). Incoming Great Wall of China...

Here's what I have so far: prior to her little growth spurt, Ursa — and by extension her son Canis — live a pretty repressed life. She's a single mom, and a farm hand at best (and a slave at worst) in a world where myths, magic, and monsters clash. But she doesn't get to experience any of that; she's the target of Fantastic Racism, by virtue of being not quite human in appearance. She's got those horns, a tail, the strength of a dozen or so men, and she stands roughly two feet taller than the average man. So when I say her animal motif is "the cow", I mean that fairly literally; she's more or less treated like a mule or something. To say nothing of her curvy form — in-universe, she's regularly frowned upon just for looking the way she does by half the population, Big Bad included; another rough half just looks at her and thinks she's a harlot or something. (I say something because, again, I'm working on it.)

It's messed with her head, naturally. She's dressed in rags almost 24/7; she wears a hood to hide her horns as best she can; she stoops over so as not to seem quite so tall (and fails); she's more or less an Extreme Doormat, acting unhealthily friendly to pretty much anyone she meets. All that stress is bottled up inside her; despite her kind demeanor, it's regularly suggested that she hates pretty much everyone but her son (so yeah, she's got some self-loathing issues, too). And all that stress tends to come out in explosive bursts.)

Come Kaiju-ification, she can't hide anymore. She's on display. Not nude, of course — or ever — but the humble, socially-approved rags she used to wear are a few hundred sizes too small. The racism gets turned up to eleven, since the planet as a whole has an extreme distaste for the "Beasts" (name pending, lol). So the irregular woman that was once a servant is now an irregular woman whose massive movements are being watched by virtually the entire world.

So why the Ms. Fanservice moniker? Well (here comes the symbolism!), the way I see it, it's to feed into her character development — to have people looking up at her with joy instead of looking down on her with shame. Doubly so, considering the height shift, and played with oh-so-figuratively. She gets tired of being looked down on; little by little, she starts to build her own strength and confidence, and comes to accept the skin she's in not as a curse, but a blessing — a chance to do good, to become a hero, or above all else to make her son proud of her. She's not doing anything to attract attention to her sexuality; it's all in her actions. Her beliefs. A Rousing Speech here, a suplexed minotaur there. She's not doing anything more than being herself — just kicking ass and bein' a big damn hero. "Strength, beauty, and love" — that's what Ursa is all about.

tl;dr? To build her pride — and her ability to love — both on the inside and the outside.

At least, that's what I have so far. I'm sure there are suggestions to be made/holes to be poked, so go ahead and say something. And thanks to all of you for the feedback you've given me so far; this is a character that I think has a lot of room to grow, and it's thanks to you Tropers that I'm starting to get a clearer view of my ideal.

[up]Damn, Clowns. You make a really good point. And maybe I should take another look at Jessica Rabbit. It might do me some good to study some other Ms. Fanservices and see what I should do and shouldn't do.

edited 17th Mar '11 1:46:26 PM by Voltech44

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 16 Killer Clowns, Thu, 17th Mar '11 1:50:30 PM from the Midwest Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
Easily entertained
One last thing, upon contemplation. I suppose women (or at least heterosexual ones) may want to consider a similar member of their preferred gender for proof that emphasizing a character's sex appeal can compliment, or even enhance, genuine, meaningful character development. Would Captain Jack Harkness be the same character if he wasn't, in-universe and out, a blazing beacon of raw, charismatic sex appeal? (Yes, straight men notice it just fine, and anyone who says differently is a thrice-damned liar.)

(Editted to clarify unclear statements.)

edited 17th Mar '11 2:16:50 PM by KillerClowns

 17 Sand Josieph, Thu, 17th Mar '11 2:00:36 PM from Grand Galloping Galaday
Bigonkers! is Magic
This whole topic is reminding me that I need to do something about my "Joan's Bosom" story, which is starting to go in a whole new direction.
♥♥II'GSJQGDvhhMKOmXunSrogZliLHGKVMhGVmNhBzGUPiXLYki'GRQhBITqQrrOIJKNWiXKO♥♥
 18 Voltech 44, Thu, 17th Mar '11 2:06:40 PM from Alongside a Virtual Weasel
All Guns Sparking
[up][up]...Not quite sure who Harkness is, but by the sound of it that's a good thing. I fear I may get lost in his eyes...

At any rate, I think I've got the "handsome men" angle covered. One of the main characters is a Bishōnen prince beyond belief; while he's a bastion of honor and goodness, he — like a lot of the cast — is also the source of plenty of humor. Mostly because he's almost as much a Butt Monkey as he is beautiful. There are a couple of others, but much like Ursa, their appearance isn't the focus outside of a gag here and there.

[up]I'm both curious and frightened! Where will your adventure lead us readers?!

edited 17th Mar '11 2:09:10 PM by Voltech44

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 19 Killer Clowns, Thu, 17th Mar '11 2:14:51 PM from the Midwest Relationship Status: Shipping fictional characters
Easily entertained
@Voltech: You misunderstand me. I didn't mean "if you have a Ms. Fanservice, you must also have an Mr. Fanservice." It's your work, not mine. I meant, "if you are female and bothered by the Ms. Fanservice trope, consider the Mr. Fanservice trope instead, and see how that has been made to work intelligently and respectfully." I'll edit the post to clarify that.
 20 Sand Josieph, Thu, 17th Mar '11 2:21:26 PM from Grand Galloping Galaday
Bigonkers! is Magic
[up][up]If you're curious, in "Joan's Bosom" the titular bosoms are the actual viewpoint "characters" and Joan herself is merely a vehicle for their adventures. I'll start another thread so as to not muddy this one.
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 21 Voltech 44, Thu, 17th Mar '11 4:33:20 PM from Alongside a Virtual Weasel
All Guns Sparking
[up][up]Yeah, I kind of figured. I was just being funny. Weird — every time I make a joke like that on the TV Tropes forums, people take it as a misunderstanding. Maybe it's me...?

Well, whatever. I've had this story in mind for about six years, and it's been through 8 or so permutations; miraculously, the handsome prince has been a constant the whole time. Maybe it's a sign. Or maybe I just really, really want to make a prince butt monkey.

[up]That's got to be one of the craziest premises I've ever heard...but damnation, you've piqued my interest. I would ask where you got the inspiration from, but I get the feeling that I won't like the answer...

edited 17th Mar '11 4:35:28 PM by Voltech44

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Total posts: 21
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