Saturday, February 11, 2012

That’s So Raven: A Disney Super Heroine

Reading through our assigned comics in class, we noted the prevalence of males as comic book artists. We also discussed that, whether intentional or not, these artists tend to draw the female super heroines in a way that appeals to the male eye. Historically, it seems that comic book shops have always been a place for young boys to hang out in and read about the adventures of their favorite superheroes. With this stereotype existing, branching out to the female population would have posed a serious challenge for the comic book companies. We discussed the introduction of women superheroes into the comic book scene as a gateway to developing an audience of female readers. If the intent was to spur young women to find role models in characters such as Wonder Woman and Batwoman, these messages may not have reached much of the young female population due to the lack of female interest in the first place.
            However, there is a super heroine outside the realm of comics that served as a role model for many young girls for over 4 years. That’s So Raven was a television show on the Disney Channel that aired in 2003 about a seemingly everyday teenager who possessed a certain super power.  Raven has a psychic ability that causes her to have visions into the future warning her of upcoming problems. Raven uses this power in attempts to prevent bad things from happening to herself and her friends in a very similar manner to the super heroines in comics. However, Raven’s character more directly reaches the audience super heroines in comics intended to reach—young girls.
            First of all, being a Disney Channel show, the shows already present on the channel were geared toward the child/pre-teen crowd, most specifically toward pre-teen girls. These comedy shows contained strong female leads that deal with everyday life problems (ex. Lizzie McGuire, and Hannah Montana). That’s So Raven brings the action of a superhero comic to a preexisting audience of young girls in a format that is more relatable to them. The violent battle scenes portrayed in comics are replaced by humorous interactions with characters as Raven “fights” to save the day. Provocative spandex costumes are replaced by some downright crazy outfits Raven wears as a way of concealing her identity.
Although the show offers modifications on typical comic-book super heroines, who is to say that this method is not effective? Too much violence and action can deter young girls from appreciating superheroes in the first place. That’s So Raven is a TV show laced with humor and girly quirks, but definitely provides important aspects of the super heroine experience of a comic book in a way young girls can appreciate. Raven, as a teenage fashionista who uses her powers to help her friends in everyday situations, is not only a relatable character, but also a super heroine role model for many young girls.


  1. I agree with Emily's post. I grew up watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch, another super heroine who uses her powers to do good. Just like Raven, her "action" scenes (when she finally beats the bad guy) usually include humor and girly quirks. But her strength is unmistakable, making her the optimum role model for young girls. Although she isn't a generic, "real," super heroine like Wonder Woman or Batwoman, Sabrina is the perfectly relatable high school girl who also serves as great example of an intelligent, powerful, and sensible heroine.

  2. I used love watching That's so Raven when I was growing up. Prior to reading your post I had never really though of Raven as a super heroine but now that you mention it she is should be considered a super heroine on the Disney channel. Raven has psychic abilities, which she uses to tackle everyday problems that will come about in the near future. You have made a great comparison between the outfits that comic book heroes wear and the crazy disguises Raven creates for herself. Raven is a role model for young girls because she is very self-confident and is comfortable with who she is and her unique ability. I now have a new found respect for Raven thanks to Emily.

  3. Agreeing with the two comments above me, I feel I can now have more respect for Disney channel for giving a strong female character for young girls to look up too. She was always seen as a quirky and with a big heart, for she was always hoping to use her powers to do good. I, too, did not realize that Raven was such a superheroine and I can now see why little girls looked up to her. One other thing, I can say is that while Raven was a beautiful role model for young girls, she was not a perfect body type, like much of the superheroines within the comics, and for this reason I also applaud Disney, for they gave young girls a REAL role model to look up to, one that girls can feel proud to look up to.

  4. Though I do agree with you that in many aspects Raven is a positive, real role model, I think that she also embodies many stereotypically female characteristics. For example, her super power isn't super strength, or anything in the physical realm but instead is using her mind and intellect, which is often portrayed as a socially female typed characteristic. Her love for clothes and fashion also follows this stereotype. Despite this however, I agree that too much violence would indeed turn girls away. I believe that the inclusion of these characteristics is necessary for her to be able to relate to other young girls in America. Though Raven doesn't completely portray anti-stereotypical ideals, her booming self confidence and positive self image makes her a great heroine.


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