Sunday, November 13, 2011

Occupy: What Would Batman Do?

I spoke my piece about the disturbing worldview of comic artist Frank Miller a month ago after his graphic novel Holy Terror -- a celebration of bigotry dressed up as a celebration of patriotism -- hit the shelves, and I was happy to let it be at that. But then he went and chimed in on the "Occupy" protests that have been multiplying all over the place, and, well, I just had to wade back into the deep end of the crazy pool. From Miller's blog early last week (with hat-tip to Bleeding Cool for pointing me there):
This is no popular uprising. This is garbage. And goodness knows they’re spewing their garbage – both politically and physically – every which way they can find. 
Wake up, pond scum. America is at war against a ruthless enemy. 
Maybe, between bouts of self-pity and all the other tasty tidbits of narcissism you’ve been served up in your sheltered, comfy little worlds, you’ve heard terms like al-Qaeda and Islamicism. 
And this enemy of mine — not of yours, apparently - must be getting a dark chuckle, if not an outright horselaugh - out of your vain, childish, self-destructive spectacle.
You see what he did there? First, he essentially says that the First Amendment only applies to the speech he agrees with, which is a little nutty, but, in this day and age, not nutty nutty. No, what really brings it across the endzone and spikes the ball is when he says that by allowing the protests to occur, we're letting the terrorists win. FTW, Frank. FTW.

I've already said here that I'm of mixed feelings about the Occupy movement itself, agreeing with the sentiment behind it if not necessarily the way it's being expressed, but what strikes me about Miller's comments is not only how ill-informed he is about the actual issues at play and who's out there on the streets, but also how he's willing to stand so proudly -- defiantly, even -- on that ignorance.

Back when I was in the early planning stages on my Master's thesis, which ended up being about the portrayal of Muslim characters in post-9/11 narrative fiction, I expressed concerns to my advisor that, by tackling another yet Muslim-related paper after having already written several in succession, I risked becoming a single-issue writer. A one-trick pony, if you will.

She assured me that there's a difference between being a single-issue writer and strongly advocating for a particular issue. Well, given the singleminded focus of his recent creative output, and given how he manages to swerve and carom his point straight off the protesters' concerns about economic inequality and somehow make it all about the War on Terror, I'm going to be charitable and say that that Miller is a strong advocate for that particular issue.

Of course, the most ironic part in all this may well be that this screed comes to us from the Batman writer responsible for one of the single most defining moments in the character's long history (posted up-top, from 1987's "Batman: Year One" -- art by David Mazzucchelli), wherein the newly-debuted Dark Knight makes his presence known to Gotham City's corrupt bureaucrats and moneyed elites, pretty clearly signalling in the process precisely where he'd stand on the whole "Occupy" thing.

Here's the same scene via the excellent Batman: Year One animated movie that came out last month:

With how much and how clearly Miller seems to identify with the comic book realities he's spent his life toiling in (so much so that the events of 9/11 moved him to want to do a Batman vs. Bin Laden story rather than "enlist for the real thing," as he exhorts the Occupy protesters to do), I'm surprised he hasn't put himself in the cowl of the character with whom he's most identified and asked, "What would Batman do?"

1 comment:

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