Another trip down memory lane here, as I finally catch up with my Aeon Flux DVD boxset. I remember seeing the original shorts (technically two minute slices of a pilot) on MTV’s Liquid Television, back when it was aired on BBC2 in the 90s. I think I’m right in saying it was shown around six o’clock in the evening, as part of the channel’s edgy “yoof” programming… whereas, nowadays you’ll find Weakest Link reruns in that slot. Sigh. Once again, it’s a shame to see how the New Media have precipitated a straightening of mainstream terrestrial channels. There used to be so much more bizarre and unnerving material being beamed into the nation’s sitting rooms… now, I suppose, it’s all on YouTube… is that progress? I’m not sure.
What’s fascinating about the original Aeon Flux shorts, is that Aeon is really quite incompetent… and un-heroic. It’s not that she’s an “anti-hero”, in the technical sense of the term… she’s just very easily distracted, and prone to unfortunate accidents. Her writer/creator, Peter Chung, is also more than willing to question her morality, and motivations, as he steers well clear of ever unequivocally glorifying or demonising her. It’s a very smart and ambiguous take on well worn action tropes, so kudos to him for that. There’s also some rather errant sexuality running through the series, and plots which verge on abstraction, without ever letting the characters lose their sense of humour. Creatively, it’s quite an achievement, and would certainly be a golden feather in MTV’s cap, if they hadn’t turned their backs on such innovation and experimentation, in favour of reality programming. Ick.
Meanwhile, a commentary nugget relating to Aeon’s costume got me a-thinking. Chung explained that she wore so little because, as a basically mute character, he wanted her body to do the talking for her… and for that to work you really need to be able to see her body. He linked this to artists studying nudes, because they want to study the person, rather than their “costume”. They don’t want to get distracted by all the folds and wrinkles of the clothing, at the expense of the essential human element. Obviously there’s a degree of titillation going on there too, but it’s not only female characters who wear the skin-tight spandex in comic books, and there are always plenty of manly pecs and abs on display… so it seems a fairly plausible explanation. A more realistic or practical costume would have been more time-consuming to draw and to animate… plus it would have ruined the graceful lines of her limbs. That doesn’t explain why she has to wear quite such a teeny thong, of course… unless buttocks speak louder than words?