Sep 7, 2019
Well, It’s been a while since I’ve written for our own website! Let’s correct that with some content fueled by our patron Ariel. She had some intriguing thoughts on Jason Todd that we didn’t get to in the podcast. Her comments are in bold italics, mine are in standard font.
(TW: sexual assault, family abuse)
I don't know if you really want to get into this because it is sensitive, but it has been suggested both in the books and by people analyzing the books that he may have been a victim of sexual abuse - because he does seem triggered by traffickers and criminals who are in the habit of sexually assaulting victims, leading up to the infamous scene where he may or may not have pushed a rapist off a balcony. If you're willing to talk about that theory/suggestion... does it seem feasible? If that's off the table, it's fine!
Tough to say. Jason certainly has the type of tumultuous background that leads to speculation on all forms of abuse. However, he also is paired with people who have exposed him to the atrocities of others as well. As we’ve seen with so many other vigilante characters, the combination of injustice inflicted on others and skilled aggression may lead to violent responses. Perpetrators in those circumstances don’t get sympathy from many. In our world, they have a significant risk of suicide when incarcerated, as well as being incarcerated themselves. I was concerned that, when Todd was written more as an antagonist, that he would stoop to that type of action himself (there is an unfortunate correlation, but in no way would I say that it’s common). Rape (or any sexual assault) is an assertion of power, first and foremost. Jason has a problem not being the Alpha male in most circumstances. Is that a reflection of prior events where he has been shown to be “inferior” in some capacity? I think that’s taking things a step far. Then again, the nebulous nature of any time he spent around his parents leads me to the fact that many sexual assaults are not reported. That tide is changing, and hopefully someone capable of writing about that aspect of his character will shed some light on this topic.
Can you talk a bit about his mother issues, the tension with Bruce, and why it is that he and Damien can't seem to get along even though they're kinda similar and both have a connection to Talia?
Well, it depends on which “mom” we’re talking about. The one that had the backfired scheme with the Joker and killed them both was his biological mom. In doing my research, I somehow forgot that the story mentions she’s an exiled doctor (oh, the horror). I think we got to it in the podcast, but if not, my main thought there is that the woman that brought him in this world, is also the one who took him out of it. I think we’re more used to this drama from the side of an uninvolved biological father. That’s when a resentful child can refer to the parent in unflattering terms to convey fact (“Sperm donor”). Come to think of it, what’s the female equivalent? Egg-layer? NO, I’m not advocating such terms. For such a surly guy, Jason really puts all of that aside and plays the role of traditional son, trying to protect her until the very end. She even told Batman he “must have really loved his mother.” Stepmom died of a drug overdose...well, that sucks. I don’t have much more commentary aside from the known tragedies that misused substances cause. This may hearken back to Jason’s exposure to an abusive environment, but it’s not a prerequisite.
I hinted at my proposed reason for discord with Damien in my first answer: Jason has to be #1. He’s a chosen ward, while Damien is a random product of the genetic lottery. Therefore, according to Jason, it’s better to be picked for talent than to be bred for greatness. He has some basis for this idea. Two of the elite figures in the Batman universe (Bruce and Talia) individually picked to groom Jason at different times, and in different circumstances. There’s a natural tension that develops in some stepfamilies. If the blending process isn’t handled in a way that allows for growth, then stepsiblings (yeah, I know that’s pushing it) can build resentment over perceived birthright.
Thankfully, we covered his relationship with Bruce in the podcast.
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