“Everybody’s been too damn polite about this nonsense”

Saturday’s usually a quite day on the internet. Nothing really happens. Most people use the day as an opportunity to step outside and experience the real world.

But when Frank Miller decides to drop a king sized bastard of a blog post, well, people tend to log back on.

I’m sure by now most of you have read Miller’s latest example of public expression. It’s a little blog post he titled “Anarchy.” In it, Miller criticizes the now inescapable Occupy movement as well as suggests that our real enemy exists in the form of a turban and prays to another god. Haven’t read it? Do so. It’s interesting.

Now, before I really set out on this attempt of clearing my head, I need you to understand that Frank Miller is and always will be one of the absolute greats in this medium we call comic books. No matter what he states on the internet, no matter the man’s political beliefs, Miller’s pure ability as a visual storyteller earns him a pile of respect. I guess you could say it’s similar to Dave Sim. His views of women and whatever else may be completely insane, but removed from that Sim’s skill as a draftsman as well as completing such a ambitious project gives his credibility as a comics artist.

It’s complicated. Most suggest the artist and the artwork are one and the same, and they are, but it doesn’t always mean that you can drag in outside comments to tear down the actual works. It’s two different contexts.

So, I love Frank Miller’s comics, and I most likely always will. Because you know what? They’re great. Absolutely great. This world would be an even sadder place without a Dark Knight Strikes Again in it.

That said, because I can discuss Miller’s works as Miller’s works …you know, as their own thing, away from the other stuff, I can discuss Frank Miller as Frank Miller. Meaning, without discussing his works, I can talk about his beliefs and how he chooses to express them online. So that’s what this post is. This is a criticism of Miller’s blog post and the point he makes in it. None of this has anything to do with Miller’s comics. And I must say, Miller’s gone a little far.

I’m completely cool with an artist holding an opinion. Even when it’s an opinion I could not disagree with more. Opinions make us who we are, and this is a world of variety. In some funny way, even when differing opinions may annoy us, the human species, most, I feel varied opinions are an absolute necessary otherwise we’d all be chugging Diet Coke and watching re-runs of Charles in Charge, acting as if that were the pinnacle of society. So, if Frank Miller wants to be all conservative and tell the young kids to get jobs, fine, he can do just that. I wouldn’t agree with the belief, but if it’s how he feels, whatever, I can ignore the opinion and still read DKSA happily.

His latest statement goes beyond opinion though and into territory of hate and unnecessary name calling. As Miller puts it, the Occupiers are “nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness” who will undoubtedly “harm America.” That’s a bit much.

The Occupy movement may have made a mess of Miller’s beloved New York City, and it may also lack a solid focus, but to go out and generalize an entire group of people as “rapists” and “thieves” extends beyond the regular old understanding of being upset and disagreeing. And to claim that the movement will “harm America” … I don’t know, that only comes off like a plea from a successful man who enjoys the system currently in place because he’s at the top of it.

I kind of get where Miller’s coming from with his dislike of the Occupy Movement. He’s a cartoonist who’s worked hard for many year to achieve what he possesses today. He worked for the respect, the reputation and the money. And difficult work as well, locked away in isolation hunched over a drawing board. So, yeah, kids marching in the street, somehow acting like they’re entitled would set you off. You’d want to be the old man bellowing “get off my fucking lawn” in order to voice some concern over the latest generation’s willingness to work.

The problem is though that the Occupy Movement isn’t that simple.

I’m sure there are plenty of people protesting who fit the description of “young and entitled,” and I’m sure there are at least a dozen who are simply lazy and want handouts. But what about all the people who have actually tried to get jobs – like the college graduates – or the individuals who had jobs,  were laid off, tried all other means possible and now only have this? I’m sure there are also examples of that. So, what, they’re all rapists, now? Thieves?

No. Occupy is just a group of people who want change. Yeah, the focus may not be entirely tight, but I don’t necessarily feel that matters. What matters is the idea within this movement. The idea that people have tried and tried, but because the system is so damn complicated and broken, have no other option and now must take to the streets in order to voice a desire for help. That’s all this is at this point. It’s the social consciousness manifested into a physical form, and it’s showing everyone that these large problems can no longer be ignored.

I can only disagree with Miller when he states that the movement will “harm America.” No. What’s in place now, this broken system … that will harm America. Not the people’s desire for change and improvement.

And there’s also the call to arms Miller puts forth. According to him, we should all enlist with the military immediately to fight the real enemy … Al-Qaeda.

Now while these guys aren’t entirely nice and kind, Miller voices his concern for Al-Qaeda in a way which suggests fear. Fear of extremists rising up and shattering everything we know. He then moves on to insult what is probably most of his fan base – the nerds – by using the age old “you live in you mom’s basement” technique.

Really, a class act.

Certainly, Al-Qaeda is something to be concerned about as they are in favor of scary, bad things – to put it plainly. And I do feel that this extreme group should be dealt with in some fashion – whether diplomatically or actively – in order to protect innocent people. But Miller kind of casts these guys as cartoon villains, or as the “black” to his “white.” There is no grey.

And that’s the problem. We live in a fucking grey world. To be so “these are the bad guys, we’re the good guys” comes off as immature, really. It comes off as extreme. Isn’t that what Miller’s against? Extremism? I thought so, but this blog post really has me questioning. If Miller’s against extreme measures, well, I would say he’s being a bit hypocritical here because this “call to action” is completely extreme. I mean, the guy wants all of us to go to war and kill terrorists. That’s like as extreme as it gets.

That’s better than peacefully protesting the government? Really, Frank Miller?

While Miller may fear a sense of extreme anarchy, it seems he’s entirely for an extreme sense of order. You know, keep the powerful on top and eliminate the crazed religious guys. Put us all in the military where we can wear the uniforms and jump out of bed at 5 am. I kind of can’t believe Frank Miller – the same Frank Miller I have always loved – wrote this blog post. But I guess I should.

When I first read Miller’s statement, I automatically went into a mode of justification. I needed to find a way to justify his actions here because Miller, to me, has always been a man worth respecting. And I still feel he is simply based off of his work. But the fact is, Miller, even though a hero, isn’t exactly what I felt he was cracked up to be. At first response, I sent out this tweet:

So Frank Miller said some highly conservative shit. Big deal. I don’t agree whatsoever, but it’s not like he kicked me in the balls.

After a few moments of thought though, Miller’s statement went past simple “conservative shit.” This tweet was my sad attempt to save Frank Miller in my own eyes. I was fighting off the truth about someone I look up to. Reading “Anarchy” kind of falls in a similar place as meeting your hero. That terrible thought in which your hero does not live up to expectations. Yeah, I guess he kind of did kick me in the balls.

So I can’t really justify or apologize for Miller’s outside concerns anymore. He is a legend, and I love his comics – but I have to face facts – Miller’s political beliefs are not my own, and the way he choose to voice them leans a bit close to the extreme, and I’d say, unhealthy. The man can be a great cartoonist, and I can enjoy his work. This doesn’t mean I cannot call him out on his absolute bullshit, though. And that goes for any artist, really. Whether comics, music or film. I can dig the work, but just because I dig the work or am a fan doesn’t mean I have to stick up for everything they do or say.

Because “Anarchy” is absolute bullshit. Just the typings of a fearful, “good vs. evil” man. Miller does claim everyone is “too damn polite about this nonsense,” but I’d say his rough and rude approach did little to help either.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to ““Everybody’s been too damn polite about this nonsense”

  1. Stringer

    Interesting read.

    For the most part I always try and keep a firm line between artist and art, craftsman and craft. There are a couple of exceptions, such as the interest I take in the man behind the music of Paul Westerberg, and I talk to a number of authors whose work I admired before I got to know them.

    But on the whole, I want to engage with the work. I want to experience the piece of art that a person has sent out into the world as their message, and not muddy it with getting to know the person behind it. The work will stay the same, the person can change completely. And it’s also because I want to be judged by the work that I put out there, rather than the impressions of me that people might form from 140 characters here or there.

    But it can get hard if the artists works so hard at breaking down that wall. Does the fact that Miller seems so intent on being the angry extremist impact on my view of his work? Yeah, probably more than I would like. I would like to put the barrier back in place, but he makes it hard.

    It’s probably made easier by the fact that I stopped engaging with his work at some point over the past few years. Which isn’t something i’m angry about. There are fans on the net who like to shout about Miller’s output as if he owes them anything, they have a sense of entitlement, but I don’t. Anything he ever owed me, he repaid with DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN and BATMAN: YEAR ONE. And that’s it. The artists pays their debt to the fan when they deliver a work that touches them in some way. Since BYO, I think Miller has put out maybe one comic book that I enjoyed, and the SPIRIT movie that I had a lot of fun with. Aside from that, his work is not for me. Maybe some day he’ll put out something that I engage with again, maybe not, but he doesn’t owe me anything because he already delivered my two favourite comic book stories.

    But we don’t owe him anything, either. The fact that an artist once produced something we like, doesn’t mean he or she get’s a free pass on quality for the rest of their output. And he also doesn’t get a free pass on being a loon. He can be one, sure. He has the right to voice his opinion, but it’s the same right that the Occupy folk have to voice theirs. So there’s no harm in pointing out that whet Miller said here was nasty, mean-spirited and extreme.

    It won’t stop me buying his next work -because I was already unlikely to anyway- and it won’t stop me enjoying work I engage with from 25 years ago. But It makes it hard to be a ‘fan’ of Frank Miller.

    The other thing I really don’t understand is when folk use the fact that the protesters have iphones or drink starbucks to somehow write off the whole thing. Sure, there is an irony there. But it’s nothing more than a passing bit of funny. Something for us to make a quick joke about and draw a wry smile. But the fact that people have mobile phones and like to drink coffee doesn’t devalue the fact that a lot of people are disenfranchised with the corporate world or a faulty political system.

    I’m not completely onboard with the Occupy movement. There are a lot of people out there with the right ideas and good intentions, but there are also a lot of people out there whose motives I question. And I think we have a generation who want to protest, but who don’t really know how to get things done. I’m probably more for them than against them, but I don’t think they’re using the most effective method.

    But all that said, of the best argument the critics can come up with, “oooh look their argument doesn’t count because they have iphones,” well, that’s an argument so silly that it defeats itself.

    Which is what Miller has done, really. He’s not made any interesting points. He’s not started an interesting discussion on his site, or presented any considered and honed opinions. All he’s done is shown himself up as the angry drunken uncle at a New Years Eve party; the one who was once the life and soul of the party, but now can’t hold his liquor and makes crass comments. You still love him, because he’s your uncle, but you don’t value what he has to say and you wouldn’t want him round for dinner.

  2. It’s probably made easier by the fact that I stopped engaging with his work at some point over the past few years. Which isn’t something i’m angry about. There are fans on the net who like to shout about Miller’s output as if he owes them anything, they have a sense of entitlement, but I don’t. Anything he ever owed me, he repaid with DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN and BATMAN: YEAR ONE. And that’s it. The artists pays their debt to the fan when they deliver a work that touches them in some way. Since BYO, I think Miller has put out maybe one comic book that I enjoyed, and the SPIRIT movie that I had a lot of fun with. Aside from that, his work is not for me. Maybe some day he’ll put out something that I engage with again, maybe not, but he doesn’t owe me anything because he already delivered my two favourite comic book stories.
    +1

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