Random Ephemera

The 4 Most Depressing Lists on the Internet

We do a lot of lists here in the Houston Press blogs because they're easy and the Internet likes lists. I like lists, too. It's fun to gather up the strangest Nintendo controllers and the funniest novels and things like that. You feel like you're curating a mini-museum of pop culture online.

But just as there are museums in the world that cruelly mock all the faith in a loving God you may have accrued in your lifetime, so are there lists that simply make you want to French kiss a gun barrel. In the course of my research as a journalist here, these are the four that required most of a bottle of vodka to get to sleep after seeing.

The Women in Refrigerators List

Gail Simone is one of the best comic book writers out and about in the world today, and as you've probably guessed by her name, she's a lady. She's responsible for some of the best moments in Birds of Prey, Deadpool and the brilliance that is the current run of Batgirl. In 1999, Simone recognized a pretty sad tendency of wives and girlfriends in comic books ending up killed, raped, mutilated and otherwise hurt simply as a way to empower the rage of the hunky male superhero they were attached to.

The result is the Women in Refrigerators List, so named because Green Lantern Kyle Raynor came home one day to find his girlfriend Alex DeWitt murdered by Major Force and stuffed in their ice box during a story arc in 1994. The updated list is despairingly long. Even non-significant others usually find themselves broken at the hands of writers.

Take Betty Banner, the girlfriend and wife of the Hulk, for example. Her entry reads: abused, changed into a harpy, multiple miscarriages, dead. Well, what do you expect when you have a human wife to the mighty Hulk? Okay, let's talk about Black Canary, arguably the finest hand-to-hand combatant in the DC universe, with a sonic scream to boot. She was tortured, had her vocal cords mutilated and they made her sterile just for extra fun. Even the massively overpowered Starfire ends up chained raped, and sold into sexual slavery.

So if you were like me and thought it was a bad idea to get Barbara Gordon out of the wheelchair, then go peruse the list for a while and you'll feel like a jerk.

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner