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Author Topic: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics  (Read 1885 times)

JayzusB.Christ

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Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« on: 03 March, 2018, 02:19:22 pm »
Maybe this would have been better on the political thread, but it's something I've been thinking a bit about lately (in the wake of Trump, Weinstein, the #metoo movement and so on).

How come Dante always got a free pass from readers for his fairly blatant sexual harassment of women?  He was always smacking arses, groping and kissing without a shred of consent.  He planted evidence on some English princess by reaching into her bra, and made constant inappropriate comments about women's bodies.  His courtship of Jena consisted largely of a sustained campaign of harassment, which infuriated and humilated her but finally caused her to fall for him.

Even at the time, when the lad's mags were at their height, I thought it highly dodgy, but the editorial stance (and a lot of readers' opinions) seemed to be that he was a lovable rogue rather than a sleazebag creep.

He grew on me eventually when he matured a bit and toned all that shit down (also Robbie Morrison's use of dialogue improved vastly, which is always important to me), but initially I thought he was a bit of a prick, and couldn't believe that people weren't at least a little appalled by his behaviour.

I don't miss those earlier stories, but I do miss the series. 
“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”

Colin YNWA

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #1 on: 03 March, 2018, 02:52:32 pm »
But the fact that he was a prick doesn't stop him being a good character. Surely one of the things that sustained him being a great character was the evolution and change in him.

His starting off as a bigger prick is kinda the point.

Richard

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #2 on: 03 March, 2018, 02:55:48 pm »
Just what I was going to say. Just because he’s the lead character doesn’t mean you have to like him — 2000AD has had lots of characters who aren’t necessarily likeable. Dredd is cool but you might not care to have a drink with him.

The contrast between early Dante and the later, more subdued, tragic, worn Dante is one of the key strengths of the series. (It’s also why I went off it again when he regressed to his old ways later on.)

Greg M.

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #3 on: 03 March, 2018, 04:12:36 pm »
Dante was a loveable rogue because he had charm, cheek, and a fundamental streak of decency underneath his lecherous exterior. He's much more moral than Flashman, the character he's partially inspired by, and his bawdy antics are comical because they're fictional. Princess Jena always gave as good as she got, and routinely put him in his place - she was never shown as a passive, submissive victim of his advances (and I don't think he'd have been interested in her if she was.) Besides, Dante frequently fell flat on his face (and once, memorably, on his cock) - his lack of inhibitions regularly and routinely backfired on him, and was a flaw that helped drive the story.
« Last Edit: 03 March, 2018, 04:17:42 pm by Greg M. »

IndigoPrime

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #4 on: 03 March, 2018, 04:18:09 pm »
From my perspective as a reader, the question is whether characters are sexist, or whether productions are. So with, say, Skyfall, much of my distaste wasn't about Bond himself, but at the decisions made as a whole within that film. With Dante, I'm not sure if the same criticism can be made, but then it's been a while since I read the strip.

JayzusB.Christ

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #5 on: 03 March, 2018, 06:10:02 pm »

The contrast between early Dante and the later, more subdued, tragic, worn Dante is one of the key strengths of the series. (It’s also why I went off it again when he regressed to his old ways later on.)

True; and it was only when he became a war-scarred soldier I started enjoying the series. 

Dante was a loveable rogue because he had charm, cheek, and a fundamental streak of decency underneath his lecherous exterior.

Hmmm, not the way I saw him, at least not in the early days.  For me there was a bit of Preacher going on; i.e. the writer seemed to think he was a cool, heroic good guy, whereas I thought he was just an annoying cock.  I did grow to like him later though.
“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”

Greg M.

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #6 on: 03 March, 2018, 06:28:24 pm »
For me there was a bit of Preacher going on; i.e. the writer seemed to think he was a cool, heroic good guy, whereas I thought he was just an annoying cock.  I did grow to like him later though.

I suspect we view the character rather differently, but I'd say he was a cool, heroic good guy who could also be a right dick when it came to the ladies. He was undoubtedly intended as an antidote to 2000AD's traditional raft of murderous virgins - somewhat less immoral, I'd suggest, to touch the odd bottom unsolicited than to incinerate several million innocent people, a la Dredd - but look at how often Morrison gives Dante his comeuppance for his randy antics. Jena didn't fall for him because of his lechery - she fell for him in spite of it.

matty_ae

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #7 on: 03 March, 2018, 06:30:06 pm »

He was a good shag, though.

I don't mean that flippantly. Women enjoyed his company. That gets you quite a long way.
And he was also objectified as a male, put in compromising situations (on billboards!) and taken advantage of i.e. Lady De Wynter.

I'm not saying Nikolai's behaviour was admirable but I don't think he could be accused of being anything more than a lovable cad within the confines of a 'sci-fi romp' fictional set-up.

I love the first books. Of course Dante's initially a self-interested knob. But that's kind of the point. He literally puts his flesh in very dangerous game.

JayzusB.Christ

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #8 on: 03 March, 2018, 06:51:58 pm »
somewhat less immoral, I'd suggest, to touch the odd bottom unsolicited than to incinerate several million innocent people, a la Dredd

That is a fair point, but Dredd wasn't supposed to be a good guy.  Don't get me wrong, I grew to really like Dante, and near the end it was pretty much my go-to strip if other ones weren't floating my boat; it's just that I thought the character was a bit of a wanker in the early days.  But, as you say, he was taught many a lesson because of it.
“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”

Blue Cactus

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #9 on: 03 March, 2018, 08:05:37 pm »

The contrast between early Dante and the later, more subdued, tragic, worn Dante is one of the key strengths of the series. (It’s also why I went off it again when he regressed to his old ways later on.)

True; and it was only when he became a war-scarred soldier I started enjoying the series. 

Dante was a loveable rogue because he had charm, cheek, and a fundamental streak of decency underneath his lecherous exterior.

Hmmm, not the way I saw him, at least not in the early days.  For me there was a bit of Preacher going on; i.e. the writer seemed to think he was a cool, heroic good guy, whereas I thought he was just an annoying cock.  I did grow to like him later though.

That's precisely how I felt about him too. To me at the time it felt like I was supposed to think he was great, and laugh and cheer at his hilarious exploits, whereas I just couldn't stand him and his smug catchphrases about how 'cool' he was. By the end it was one of my favourite series of all time. Looking forward to re-reading the whole lot for the first time, once I've got all the Hachette volumes. Kurakin remains one of my favourite 2000ad supporting characters.

broodblik

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #10 on: 04 March, 2018, 06:12:07 am »
Circumstances put him in certain positions not always of his making that formed him as a character in essence he is a flawed good guy.

Timothy

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #11 on: 04 March, 2018, 01:02:41 pm »
He regularly acted like a prick but almost invariably got his comeuppance. The beauty of he story is that he grew and, as others have commented, became more likeable latterly.

JayzusB.Christ

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #12 on: 04 March, 2018, 01:27:50 pm »
He regularly acted like a prick but almost invariably got his comeuppance. The beauty of he story is that he grew and, as others have commented, became more likeable latterly.

As I said, I liked the character at the end; he clearly learned a lot of lessons (though not enough,
 as the presumeably still-single Jena could probably attest to right now
).  His flippant lack of understanding of Jena's word 'incorrigible' made me laugh out loud, something that very rarely happens when I'm reading comics. 

Now I think about it, I have male friends like that.  Realising in their teens or twenties that they were attractive to women, they became smug, arrogant and borderline insufferable; but as the years went on they got over their ego trip and now as old-time middle-aged mates we jog along together, like the rest of human kind.
“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest”

Dark Jimbo

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #13 on: 04 March, 2018, 01:42:07 pm »
.
Hmmm, not the way I saw him, at least not in the early days.  For me there was a bit of Preacher going on; i.e. the writer seemed to think he was a cool, heroic good guy, whereas I thought he was just an annoying cock.

I syspect initially Robbie Morrison was a little bit in love with this 'cool' character he and Simon had created - the first year of stories do read as unashamedly adoring. Later he seemed to realise that Dante would be more interesting if he became a bit more nuanced, and that's when he really starts to grow as a character to have a but more going on behind the cheeky smiles.
« Last Edit: 04 March, 2018, 01:47:17 pm by Dark Jimbo »

TordelBack

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Re: Nikolai Dante and his lovable sexual harassment antics
« Reply #14 on: 04 March, 2018, 01:48:20 pm »
I absolutely hated Dante when it started, dropping the Prog (again) soon after.  The insufferably smug goateed hero, the anachronistic setting, the cheesecake, the awful design of the bio-blades - all of it, really.  I returned to the Prog sometime during 'The Courtship of Jena Makarov', and fairly instantly realised how wrong I'd been.

I don't quite believe that early Dante was supposed to be a cautionary tale about an unlikeable sex pest, any more than Flashman's rogering is supposed to be a lesson in morality, or Sid James' smutty cackling is supposed to make you think he needs to lay off the Viagra.  I'd argue it's all supposed to be shallow fictional fun, undercut by the tragedy that inevitably follows and by the women who repeatedly get one over on him, and of course giving the character to room to grow: but I suspect you're still supposed to have a half-admiring half-despairing giggle at his bum-pinching antics. 

Whether you can manage that or not is up to you, but my re-read along with the Ultimate Collection suggests I definitely can.