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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Above: Princess Clara praying.
From: "Princess Clara" page on Wikipedia.org website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Clara; viewed 1 July 2007):
Princess Clara is a fictional character in the animated series Drawn Together. She is one of the eight housemates who are the focus of the show...
Princess Clara is a pampered, naive, racist member of royalty, and a spoof of the Disney Princesses. Her features (her hair and eyes in particular) are based on Ariel from The Little Mermaid, while her outfit suggests Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty; another noticeable influence is Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Like many Disney princesses, Clara has a beautiful singing voice, and has many animal friends who like to join her while she sings...
Clara's father, the King, is the ruler of a medieval-type kingdom...
According to creators Dave Jeser and Matt Silverstein, Clara is partially based on Julie Stoffer from The Real World: New Orleans, a Mormon girl [i.e., member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] who had little experience dealing with gays or people of other races, and who tended to make offensive remarks without realizing it. [Source: http://tv.ign.com/articles/746/746056p1.html]
Clara's unconscious racism
Clara represents a stereotypical upper class WASP, and is insensitive toward minorities and those less fortunate than her. She is also very anti-Semitic, which is ironic considering her voice actress is Jewish. In this manner, Clara often acts as the (also Jewish) producers' vehicle for Jewish humor on the show. Though she makes the occasional spiteful comment, on the whole, she doesn't seem to hate or look down on people of other races, but she cannot seem to let go of the stereotypes she holds; for the most part she is completely unaware that she is being racist. The episode "Hot Tub" suggests that these beliefs were ingrained in her by her father. Later episodes have furthered the notion that Clara maintains these attitudes because she is simply behind the times, and has yet to recognize the social advances recent years have brought. She overcomes her prejudice to form a friendship with Foxxy Love, though her repeated mention of black stereotypes sometimes puts a strain on that friendship. In the first season, Clara's racism was the source of most of the character's humor; however, beginning in the second season, her racist tendencies would be largely de-emphasized, and instead, Clara's narrow and unbending religious views would become the character's driving force.
Though she is tolerant and supportive of her gay housemate Xandir..., Clara is also severely homophobic, her homophobia being the product of her conservative religious views...
Clara is the least promiscuous of the eight housemates, and the only one who seems to possess any sense of modesty about his or her body. In Season One, it was suggested that this was because of her character's innocence..., but as the series has progressed, her religious nature has also become a significant factor.
Aside from her prejudices, Clara is usually depicted as a very warm and caring person with a genuine love for most living creatures. She occasionally shows a quick temper and fits of anger, though these outbursts are seldom long in duration. Though she is frequently guilty of insensitivity and closed-mindedness, she usually realizes when she is wrong about something, and always tries to make amends. Clara is often characterized as being well-educated and sophisticated, but lacking in common sense. In this regard, she is the complete opposite of Foxxy Love, who is unsophisticated and poorly educated, but with a great deal of common sense and practical wisdom...
Clara's darker side
Originally, while Clara was portrayed as being extremely bigoted (including being a member of the Ku Klux Klan), she never seemed to be genuinely hateful. [Note that the membership of the Ku Klux Klan was drawn primarily from Baptists in the Southern states, particularly from the members of the Southern Baptist Convention. The leadership of the Ku Klux Klan was comprised heavily of Southern Baptist preachers. Catholic members of the Klan were extremely rare. The primary targets of Ku Klux Klan hate-mongering were: blacks, Jews and Mormons.] For example, she seemed to get along with both Foxxy and Xandir despite being both racist and homophobic, and acted surprised and confused when they were offended by her behavior. However, later episodes have her as harsh, strident, and intolerant; concerned solely with crusading against sinfulness, her desire to quench sin is so strong that she shows no concern for the happiness or well-being of others. In "Foxxy vs. the Board of Education", she vows to stop Spanky's gay marriage to Xandir despite Spanky's life being in danger without the insurance Xandir can provide. In "Clum Babies", she crusades against both Wooldoor's masturbation and the use of the Clum Babies to heal the sick despite the number of lives that are being saved and diseases that are being cured, but ultimately, and hypocritically, disguises herself in an attempt to procure a Clum Baby to cure her tuberculosis. (On her behavior in this episode, Executive Producer Bill Freiberger stated, "Clara's attitude about it all is completely in character for her as a character and for her as a symbol of the religious right. She's definitely a meat eater as we've seen in the past. And she's not above killing animals. But she is against harming embryos no matter how much good it will do for the living... unless it benefits her directly, then she's more than willing to be a hypocrite to save her own life." [Source: http://forums.toonzone.net/showpost.php?p=1981231&postcount=60])
This version of the Clara character is used to satirize the right wing conservative Christian side of society; thus, Clara goes into evangelical mode whenever that angle is needed for a story. To this purpose, she serves as the villain in these episodes, trying to foil whatever she objects to. In fact in some episodes, she is depicted as having witch-like powers (most notably the ability to teleport in a flash of black smoke).
In the episode "Ghostesses in the Slot Machine" Clara seems to be aware of how her behavior comes across to others, and she wants to let everyone know this is not all there is to her character. In that episode, when Foxxy thinks she plans to object to exotic dancing, Foxxy sarcastically says, "I know, there's probably something in the Bible about 'Thou shalt not grind thou's coochie into thy neighbor's...'," to which Clara responds, "You have me all wrong - I'm more than just the same joke over and over!..." ...Clara even parodies this aspect of her own character in the episode "Wooldoor Sockbat's Giggle-Wiggle Funny Tickle Non-Traditional Progressive Multicultural Roundtable!". Convinced that Wooldoor's new children's show will turn the world gay (a charge which turns out to be accurate), she angrily bursts onto the set of Wooldoor's show and shrieks, "What in the name of one-dimensional characters and predictable reactions is going on here?"
In the third season, Clara's characterization took on a decidedly negative turn. For several consecutive episodes at the beginning of the season, Clara was shown treating her housemates quite harshly. In the past, Clara had been sweet on the surface and insulted people mainly through ignorance. In Season Three, however, she was shown behaving with actual malice and spite. Additionally in the first two seasons, whenever Clara behaved badly toward one of the other housemates, she was usually allowed to realize she was wrong and given the chance to make amends; however, in Season Three, she shows little or no remorse for her behavior, and her character receives no real redemption... In "Unrestrainable Trainable", she mistakes Wooldoor for a Jew and pushes him into the pool in order to baptize him. When Wooldoor contracts hypothermia, Clara expresses a distinct disdain for being forced to take care of him, despite having played a big sister role to him in earlier episodes, and despite the fact that his condition is her fault to begin with. When she begins receiving accolades for taking care of him, Clara develops Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy and deliberately keeps him sick and/or injured in order to keep him in her care; when he later confronts her about this, Clara becomes remorseful and promises to make amends, but then has him step into a bear trap while she is helping him recover...
No specific explanation is given for this trend in Clara's behavior, though the episode "Unrestrainable Trainable" gives some possible insight into Clara's mindset on the issue. When her housemates first begin praising her for taking such good care of Wooldoor, a surprised Clara exclaims, "Gosh, my roommates always hated me." This seemingly indicates some ongoing tension between Clara and her housemates that the show has not yet fully explored.
Executive Producer Bill Freiberger has stated, when discussing Clara's behavior in "Spelling Applebee's", "While Clara is sometimes misguided out of ignorance or naivete she is also very often misguided because she is a selfish, spoiled princess (figuratively and literally)."
Clara is extremely religious, sometimes to the point of fanaticism. Clara is a devout Christian; she mentions Jesus often, and on more than one occasion has gone off on crusades against things she considers abominations in God's eyes (see Clara's darker side above).
Clara's faith is mentioned multiple times in the first season. The first mention of her religion is in the second episode, "Clara's Dirty Little Secret"; when Foxxy mentions how gullible Clara is, the show cuts to a flashback of Clara accepting Jesus as her Savior. Though this moment has all the hallmarks of a quickie non-canon joke, Clara's Christianity would be confirmed in the Season One finale. In that episode, when her group is assigned the task of promoting religion to the masses, Clara cheerfully declares that she loves Jesus "like more than a friend." She then directs Foxxy and Toot in a blatantly anti-Semitic film depiction of Jesus's crucifixion (a parody of the... controversy surrounding Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ), revealing what would become yet another prominent character trait for her, her strong anti-Semitism.
Despite these references, in the first season, Clara's racism remained her primary character trait. It is not until Season Two that her religious nature becomes a defining part of her character. In the first episode of Season Two, when the group is interviewing potential new housemates, she declares her wish for a roommate who shares her deep Christian faith (then humorously adds, "or a beaner"). It would be the second episode of the season, however, that would mark the major turning point for her character. In "Foxxy vs. the Board of Education", when she learns that Spanky Ham is planning to enter into a gay marriage with Xandir in order to receive health insurance, she immediately declares that the act is an abomination against God and vows to stop it, revealing the true depth of her religious convictions. From this point on, Clara's racist behavior would be largely phased out in favor of her extreme religious views. Additionally, as her racial prejudices would (for the most part) cease to be mentioned, Clara's homophobia and anti-Semitism would become far more prominent.
Clara's specific denomination has not been explicitly stated, but there are numerous signs she is Roman Catholic.
- In both "Clum Babies" and "Xandir and Tim, Sitting in a Tree", Clara is shown observing forms of penance, the former instance involving corporal mortification, and the latter involving praying incessantly while barefoot and wearing a dress made of sack cloth.
- During the flashback sequence where Clara is shown accepting Jesus, Wooldoor is depicted as a priest; though Wooldoor's presence in this scene is just a gag and not series canon, the fact that a priest is depicted at all may be another sign Clara is Catholic.
- In "Lost in Parking Space, Part One", Clara is shown to own both a rosary and several crucifixes, two of the most common external trappings of the faith.
However, elsewhere in the series, it is suggested Clara may have ties to Protestantism. Clara adheres to the doctrine of a pre-Tribulation Rapture (such as that described by the Left Behind series of novels), which is rejected by Roman Catholicism. Also, Clara financially supports Jews for Jesus (a controversial organization dedicated to converting Jews to Christianity), which is part of the evangelical movement. In all likelihood, the writers are combining a large number of stereotypes without worrying greatly about doctrinal consistency.