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Something Tells Me To Stop With the Al-Qaeda. I Ignore It
November 14, 2011 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Frank Miller is a giant among comic book creators. He gave us The Dark Knight Returns, which rewrote the book on Batman and comics in general. He also gave us seminal versions of Daredevil, Batman, and Wolverine. His Sin City and 300 books are a triumph of design, if not subtlety. Lately, though, he's taken a different path. He recently released Holy Terror, which in 2005 was to have featured Batman, but now features a renamed stand-in fighting Al-Qaeda. It has been nearly universally panned as a piece of ugly, anti-Muslim propaganda. Last week, Miller blasted the "Occupy" movement on his blog, describing the participants as, "louts, thieves, and rapists," who, "can do nothing but harm America" and pointing to the looming threat of Al-Qaeda.
posted by Legomancer (227 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Two words on why I refuse to admit to liking Miller - The Spirit.

Way to crap on the grave of one of the greatest men in comics.
posted by Samizdata at 9:54 AM on November 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


Andy Rooney is dead. Long live Andy Rooney!
posted by griphus at 9:54 AM on November 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


Showing 100 of 5391 comments

I'm gonna go ahead and assume someone has already said what I wanted to say.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:54 AM on November 14, 2011 [18 favorites]


David Brin's ass-kicking response to Miller's ignorance.
posted by cjets at 9:55 AM on November 14, 2011 [70 favorites]


This! Is! Old Fartaaa!
Yeah, I've got nothing
posted by Jofus at 9:56 AM on November 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


He's writing them for so long, he finally just turned into a comic book villain.
posted by brand-gnu at 9:57 AM on November 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


And where's Neal Adams to bring sanity to this?
posted by samsara at 9:57 AM on November 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


Frank Miller has become the Superman of "The Dark Knight Returns"...
posted by inturnaround at 9:58 AM on November 14, 2011 [16 favorites]


I heard Frank Miller a couple of years ago on - maybe it was Talk Of The Nation on NPR - and remember thinking, " This can't be that comic book artist, can it?"

He's been off the deep end for awhile now as far as I can tell.
posted by wittgenstein at 9:58 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think I'm going to sell my Frank Miller comics and send the money to a Muslim charity. Granted, I won't get much for them, but what the hell.
posted by RakDaddy at 9:58 AM on November 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


That David Brin link above is very good.
posted by dglynn at 9:59 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the name of decency, go home to your parents, you losers. Go back to your mommas’ basements and play with your Lords Of Warcraft.

Or better yet, enlist for the real thing. Maybe our military could whip some of you into shape.
I already did that. It's your turn, chum. Put up or shut up, Miller.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:59 AM on November 14, 2011 [54 favorites]


Bruce Wayne is the 1%
posted by cazoo at 9:59 AM on November 14, 2011 [32 favorites]


He's become the main character of one of his crappy comics.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:00 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Probably related to his 2005 divorce from Lynn Varley.
posted by nutate at 10:00 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Miller blasted the "Occupy" movement on his blog, describing the participants as, "louts, thieves, and rapists," who, "can do nothing but harm America"...

Well, the targets of OWS are a kind of participant...
posted by DU at 10:00 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think I'm going to sell my Frank Miller comics and send the money to a Muslim charity.

In his name! In his name!
posted by griphus at 10:00 AM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


He's contracted the same brain parasite as Orson Scott Card, Scott Adams & Dave Sim.

The only cure is derisive laughter followed by enforced obscurity.
posted by R. Schlock at 10:02 AM on November 14, 2011 [36 favorites]


Frank Miller is trying real hard to be Hunter S. Thompson. Unfortunately for all of us, he's failing.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:02 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


He is entitled to his stupid, wrong opinion.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:03 AM on November 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Can my old favorite creators please stop turning into creepy old bitter fuckers? I know sometimes you can't choose and it's all a part of the talent package, but geez, it's so ugly.
posted by Iosephus at 10:04 AM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Though I’m not best-known for graphic novels*, I’ve done a few. I’ve been sketching out a script about one of the greatest heroes of western civilization – Themistocles – the man who actually defeated Xerxes. the Persian emperor, during his brutal invasion of Greece, after the Spartans failed so miserably at Thermopylae. In part, this would be an answer to Frank Miller’s “300″… a book and film that I find both visually stunning and morally disturbing.

For one thing, “300″ gave all credit to the Spartans, extolling them as role models and peerless examples of manhood. Adorably macho defenders of freedom.

Uh, right. Freedom. Sorry, but the word bears a heavy burden of irony when shouted by Spartans, who maintained one of the worst slave-states ever, treating the vast majority of their people as cattle, routinely quenching their swords in the bodies of poor, brutalized helots… who are never mentioned, even glimpsed, in the romanticized book or movie.
OMG, I would buy the hell out of this. I never read or saw 300, but from all accounts it sounded like it had exactly this problem. Sparta was pretty evil and were only good insofar as they were controlled by Athens.
posted by DU at 10:04 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Next up, Rob Liefeld weighs in on the Greek credit crisis.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:04 AM on November 14, 2011 [39 favorites]


Good god, Miller is so past his best-before date. I'm not sure even he can tell the difference between his hyper-masculine, homoerotic faux-noir productions and his own psyche any more.

Right now, Miller is flossing his teeth and screaming whores! Whores! WHORES! at the mirror.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:05 AM on November 14, 2011 [16 favorites]


Interesting (awful, yet). My kids are big fans of "The Dark Knight Returns" and were looking forward to meeting Miller when we went to SDCC in 2010. However, they took one look at him and said "No. He's creepy. I don't want to meet him." I was like, uh, okay? And we skipped that line. Turns out they were psychic. He is a creep. I had no idea.
posted by zomg at 10:05 AM on November 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Miller is one of those modern American wannabe macho twerps I would find unbearably depressing if I didn't know that I could absolutely take him in a fight. Who's that other perma-stunted comic boy? The guy who did Cerberus the Aardvark? Yeah, him too.
posted by Decani at 10:05 AM on November 14, 2011


So are all comic artists just dicks? Survey says probably.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:06 AM on November 14, 2011


Themistocles finally drew the vast Persian navy into a trap at a little island called Salamis… glorious Salamis…

Or as Larry Gonick put it "sacred salamis (which is like holy baloney)"
posted by DU at 10:06 AM on November 14, 2011


This really made me sad - I felt like Dark Knight and some of his other work betrayed a subtle and insightful view of politics and history. Now I suspect the things I thought satire were praise? But I can't imagine the Superman from DK is intended as anything but brilliant sad mockery - I'd be very curious what he thinks about his own stuff now. Dark Knight in particular, with its underground terrorist cell of Good Guys, must make him uncomfortable.

Actually, it seems unlikely that he has that much self awareness these days. Sad, but I'm not going to let it destroy my love for his earlier work.
posted by freebird at 10:07 AM on November 14, 2011


I'm really hoping Miller signs up for mefi to wade into this thread, Internet Swords a-swinging, to take on all of his challengers. (While pretending to be a neutral party, of course.)
posted by modernserf at 10:08 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


So are all comic artists just dicks? Survey says probably.

I once linked to this excellent interview with Gerhard, the artist who worked with Sim on Cerebus. The man is ALRIGHT.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:08 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's best not to know much about an artist past his art.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:09 AM on November 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


to wade into this thread, Internet Swords a-swinging

and leather underpants, natch.
posted by R. Schlock at 10:09 AM on November 14, 2011


You know, let me say this about "300."

If you read between the lines, you realize that the entire story is itself a story told by a soldier in order to fire up his fellow soldiers after Thermopylae. In a way, you could read it as the story of how myths are toyed with over time. This story might not even be close to true. Dilios might be lying through his teeth in order to motivate his troops.

Moreover, the downfall of the Spartans in the book is coded into the book's tragedy -- Ephialtes is portrayed as a Spartan cast-off that wants nothing more than to join the Spartans. They won't have him, and because of this, he betrays them. The Spartans are defeated because of the rigidity of their culture.

It's rather classically structured story-telling, and not nearly as gung-ho as you would believe from its criticism.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:11 AM on November 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


Right now, Miller is flossing his teeth and screaming whores! Whores! WHORES! at the mirror.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:05 PM on November 14


To be fair, I do that too, but only when reading Metatalk sober.
posted by Decani at 10:11 AM on November 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


Frank went off the rails with (at least) 300, which was a glorification of a bunch of illiterates who were so brutal towards their slaves that other slave-owners considered them barbarians; a paen to the Spartans as the saviours of antiquity and democracy when they were, ultimately, the ones that would ally with the old enemies of the Greek states to destroy them. The Spartans were, at best, the Vichy of Greece. The fact Frank tossed homophobic jokes in the mouths of his Spartans, to hurl at Athenians, merely underscored his complete historical illiteracy and growing asshattery.

Frank Miller has become the Superman of "The Dark Knight Returns"...

No, he's become the moronic right-wing blowhard the TV sequences satirize.
posted by rodgerd at 10:12 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Holy xenophobia, Batman!
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:12 AM on November 14, 2011


In an interview with comic creator whose name escapes me, the guy pointed out that the job itself takes a toll on one's sanity. Alone with Bristol board for decades on end, producing your own little worlds, tends to make one a little...abrasive and eccentric. The list of great cartoonists who devolved into bitter cranks is long, illustrious, and depressing as fuck.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 10:12 AM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't really understand it -- even if one accepted all of his anti-Muslim stances as the truth, what the hell does that have to do with OWS? Aren't the two pretty orthogonal? Couldn't rabid atheist, a rabid racist and a rabid Islamic extremist all be on the same side (and either side) vis-a-vis OWS? Is it just such an idee fixe of his that he now thinks caring about anything other than Al Quaeda is treason?
posted by tyllwin at 10:13 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


robocop is bleeding: "Next up, Rob Liefeld weighs in on the Greek credit crisis"

Just one word: pouches.
posted by brundlefly at 10:13 AM on November 14, 2011 [31 favorites]


Now that I'm free to editorialize, I can say that I've never been a big fan of his brand of over the top hysterics. DKR has not aged well, and what I can say about The Dark Knight Strikes Again is that I'm glad I got it, because it prevented me from buying anything with Frank Miller's name on it since.
posted by Legomancer at 10:14 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's rather classically structured story-telling, and not nearly as gung-ho as you would believe from its criticism.

You know, that's a nice little fantasy you've cooked up to make the shit sandwich of 300 more palatable, but any time spent reading interviews with Frank at the time of publication makes a mockery of your theory.
posted by rodgerd at 10:14 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Batman: Plutocrat

The Wayne Family got rich off fat defense contracts. It is no surprise that the last scion is a staunch defender of the status-quo. When the revolution comes batman will be the first against the wall, along with the other capitalist fat cats.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:15 AM on November 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


I'm kind of impressed that he got through the entire rant without screaming WHORES WHORES WHORES.
posted by FritoKAL at 10:15 AM on November 14, 2011


That's just shallow, brundlefly. Any real economist of the Liefeld school can tell you that a debt crisis of the magnitude currently facing Greece (and threatening Italy) can't be defeated without at least four laser rifles, each the size of a full-grown dog.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:15 AM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Liefeld school also yields people made of hardy stuff, people you can believe in, because they're holding guns the size of Howitzers one-handed, and those hands are tiny and gnarled and just generally very deformed, so you know that they've overcome a lot in their day.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:18 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know, that's a nice little fantasy you've cooked up

Oh yeah! Well, you smell bad and your mother dresses you funny.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:18 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh no, I already have epic blowouts about Frank Miller at the comic book store, I feel no need to rehash the reasons why his work is sexist, racist, homophobic, pathetic shit in here too.

Also, he ruined Batman. RUINED.
posted by lydhre at 10:19 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


This really made me sad - I felt like Dark Knight and some of his other work betrayed a subtle and insightful view of politics and history. Now I suspect the things I thought satire were praise?

freebird, I've been thinking something very similar all day after reading the screed from the previous link... I have been toying with writing some sort of academic article walking back through DKR and reviewing each element as if it were serious rather than a satire. DKR has probably gotten too much credit over the years as a deconstruction of how mad you would have to be to be a superhero, when it appears that, in Miller's view, you would be mad not to be a vigilante like Batman.
posted by Slothrop at 10:20 AM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


I can understand that Frank Miller has turned into a scared old fuck but what's with the macho bullshit? What's next, drawing fake muscles on your scrawny arms and chest?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:20 AM on November 14, 2011


brundlefly: "robocop is bleeding: "Next up, Rob Liefeld weighs in on the Greek credit crisis"

Just one word: pouches.
"

And no scenes below the shin.
posted by Samizdata at 10:21 AM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah! Well, you smell bad and your mother dresses you funny.

I'm sorry I expected you to be literate enough to read an interview with Frank. You certianly appear quite at home with his level of discourse.
posted by rodgerd at 10:23 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this, cjets. Brin rocks. Wonderful essay.
posted by zomg at 10:23 AM on November 14, 2011


I'm really hoping Miller signs up for mefi to wade into this thread, Internet Swords a-swinging, to take on all of his challengers. (While pretending to be a neutral party, of course.)
posted by modernserf at 6:08 PM on November 14


Oh please oh please oh please.
posted by Decani at 10:24 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh god, the Greeks don't have feet, do they?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:25 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maybe he and Roger Ebert have a bet to see who can attract the most spittle flecked comments sections on a blog entry
posted by JoeGoblin at 10:26 AM on November 14, 2011


and leather underpants, natch.

The correct term for the garments worn in the film version of 300 is, and can only be, manties.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:28 AM on November 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


While not an artist, I've heard Neil Gaimen speak, and he seemed really nice. And the few indie-comic artists I know are universally mild-mannered.
posted by jb at 10:29 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's contracted the same brain parasite as Orson Scott Card, Scott Adams & Dave Sim.

Ha! That's the exact list of examples of other assholes I used in a comment about this the other day.
posted by kmz at 10:30 AM on November 14, 2011


When I saw Frank Miller's Batman, I suspected he was a fascist. Well now there's no doubt.

Spoiled louts who can only harm America? It's rich guys with no sense of perspective that are screwing it up for all of us, along with their shills. Look in the mirror, asshole.
posted by wuwei at 10:34 AM on November 14, 2011


I posted a comment on Frank Miller's blog when I read this ridiculous rant. It was promptly deleted but I present it to you below, reprinted in full:

HEY FRANK, EVEN THOUGH THIS COMIC DOESN'T HAVE PICTURES I STILL THINK IT IS GOOD, BUT LIKE MOST OF YOUR BEST WORK, IT NEEDS MORE SWASTIKAS. IN FACT, LET'S GET KANYE WITH THIS BITCH, ALL SWASTIKAS EVERYTHING. SERIoUSLY: MORE SWASTIKAS. MY FAVORITE ARE THE GANGS IN THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS WITH THE SWASTIKAS FOR NO REASON ALSO I LIKE THE SWASTIKA THROWING STARS IN SIN CITY ALSO FOR NO REASON, ALSO THERE ARE OTHER EXAMPLES BUT NOW I HAVE SWASTIKAS ON THE BRAIN AND I CAN'T REMEMBER THEM BUT I DO REMEMBER THAT THIS COMIC ABOUT OCCUPY WALL STREET (SIDE NOTE: WHERE ARE THE PICTURE? BESIDES MORE SWASTIKAS THIS COMIC NEEDS PICTURES!!!!1111) IS DEFINITELY SWASTIKA FREE AND I THINK FRANK YOUR BEST WORK HAS A PLETHORA OF SWASTIKAS SO I THINK YOU NEED SOME MORE FOR THIS ONE. YOU ARE GOOD WRITER BUT MAYBE NEXT TIME PUT MORE PICTURES IN THE COMIC. THNKX.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 10:34 AM on November 14, 2011 [50 favorites]


Hey, Frank, before clicking 'submit' on a blog post, ask yourself, 'Does this sound like Travis Bickle?'
posted by Soulfather at 10:35 AM on November 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


rodgerd, CPB posted an entirely plausible interpretation of 300 and you tried to shoot it down with a statement of authorial intent.

Your argument deserves less time than he gave it, and your sneering deserves less time than I'm giving it writing these two sentences.

Anyway.

I'm intrigued by CPB's argument. On the one hand, it's persuasive because you can't really refute that it's based on events in the work itself. I might just adopt it as my viewpoint, because Brin's bit about how it's "both visually stunning and morally disturbing" is very apt, for me. I've always thought of it as this kind of weird propaganda, so thinking of it as propaganda within its own world makes sense.

Also, I'm surprised no one's made more of the "rapists" bit of Miller's screed. Where the hell did that come from?
posted by kavasa at 10:36 AM on November 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, I'm surprised no one's made more of the "rapists" bit of Miller's screed. Where the hell did that come from?

He's deluded. Does there need to be a more rational explanation than that?
posted by zomg at 10:38 AM on November 14, 2011


Also, I'm surprised no one's made more of the "rapists" bit of Miller's screed. Where the hell did that come from?\

Brain parasite.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:38 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sometimes people who's work we love and respect are insufferable assholes and sometimes people whose work we detest are the nicest people you'll ever meet.

I hold my peace on my many personaly-experienced examples of the former, but for the latter I offer one "New Kid" Joey Mcintyre, who was such a cool guy to hang out with that I kind of ended up feeling bad about not buying his records, which I would almost certainly hate.

Side-note: A welcome side-effect of growing up and realizing that you ≠ your record/book/movie collection is that you stop judging people superficially for their cultural vices and you also stop giving obnoxious twats extra leeway for their "culturally superior" affectations. And the same goes for your favorite or least favorite author/singer/director.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:39 AM on November 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


It's best not to know much about an artist past his art.

lol wut

Let's try this with some other professions..

"It's best not to know much about a baker past his biscuits."
"It's best not to know much about a doctor past his prescriptions."
"It's best not to know much about a cop past his handcuffs."

Frank Miller may be a cranky old dickhead, but sweeping generalizations never helped anything.
posted by chronkite at 10:40 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


rodgerd, CPB posted an entirely plausible interpretation of 300 and you tried to shoot it down with a statement of authorial intent.


Well, I don't love either's responses, but CPB's original argument, and this thread, is about authorial intent. The question isn't how one can read 300, it's how Miller's current comments, and his contemporaneous comments, suggest he wanted it read. In other words, this thread is about Miller, not his "art."
posted by OmieWise at 10:41 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I supressed an instinct to say Frnak Miller has gone crazy, because I don't think he really has. He is just operating based on a premise I see as wildly, monumentally, ergregiously (yes, THREE ADVERBS REQUIRED) flawed.

If I believed that a shadowy global islamofascist force was engaged in a death-struggle with Western Liberalism and could concievably win and enslave us all, I guess Miller might not seem so crazy. I probably would not have a lot of sympathy for OWS if stormtroopers were landing on the beaches of Long Island.

I don't, of course. The existential threat Just Is Not There.
posted by Wretch729 at 10:41 AM on November 14, 2011


I appreciate the way that the nested comments on Miller's site are progressively given larger left indents while the right margin remains the same. Each successive reply is given less room, and finally the comments become unreadable, in a neat visual representation of the futility of mad internet debate. Many of them resemble a concrete poetry of hate:

Da
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wh
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wor
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divi
sio
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Ye
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it
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on
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of
the
mo
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bra
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of
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sp
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ally
sin
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z.
posted by cincinnatus c at 10:42 AM on November 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


Also, I'm surprised no one's made more of the "rapists" bit of Miller's screed. Where the hell did that come from?

I assumed it was something like "unemployed hippies mooching off hardworking, productive members of society like former comic book artists".

Basically, whenever a privileged white male rich person calls anyone a criminal, they are casting themselves as the victim. Somehow.
posted by DU at 10:45 AM on November 14, 2011


I spent a couple of days sitting in a director's chair next to Frank Miller as we watched the filming of 300 (one of the battle scenes at the hot gates). He is a very.odd.individual, to say the least. For the most part, it was pretty difficult to even have a conversation with him and make any sense of what he was attempting to communicate.
posted by HuronBob at 10:46 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I knew something was up when I saw Robocop 2. It was clearly written by somebody who didn't quite follow the satire in Robocop, and thought what the franchise needed were more robots fighting each other.

That somebody was Frank Miller.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:48 AM on November 14, 2011 [21 favorites]


Also, I'm surprised no one's made more of the "rapists" bit of Miller's screed. Where the hell did that come from?

There's a meme going around conservative blogs/communities that "rape shelters" have been built at many Occupy gatherings because women are getting raped all the time.

I'd find some links but do you really want to go there? (If so, Google should turn a few pages up.)
posted by HostBryan at 10:49 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, now it is official: Frank Miller is a moron. Coincidentally, I just saw Robocop 2 the other day, but I still felt that maybe the studio or the director butchered the script.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 10:50 AM on November 14, 2011


I thought the "rapists" accusation is probably going with the conspiracy theory that the camps are rife with drug use, rape, or child prostitution, but the camp covers it all up out of their distrust of the police.
posted by RobotHero at 10:51 AM on November 14, 2011


"It's best not to know much about a baker past his biscuits..."

I'm sorry, I don't really have a problem with the statements you're listing here. Why should I care about a baker's politics?
posted by Hoopo at 10:52 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


To clarify, I still felt there might have been an explanation for Robocop 2 that did not involve Frank Miller being a moron, but now I am sure that it probably has to do with his idiocy.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 10:52 AM on November 14, 2011


This is the proper sequel to 300:

The Sacred Band of Thebes. A band of 300 Theban warriors, fighting for their comrades and country, defeating overwhelmingly superior forces. They were the first Greeks ever to beat a Spartan army that outnumbered them, and played an instrumental role in the breaking of Spartan power in the city-state era. They all died to a man defending their homeland, refusing to surrender to a superior military force.

Also, they were gay.
posted by Ndwright at 10:52 AM on November 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


I liked 300. I thought the point was that it was an over-the-top homoerotic send-up of patriotism and military valor where the heroes lose pointlessly and achieve nothing.

I refuse to consider authorial intent in these matters, especially because Miller strikes me as the kind of guy who'd adoringly fellate a war hero and deny there was anything homoerotic about it. "Only their due, isn't it? How else are we supposed to support the troops?" He's what you'd call an "unreliable narrator."
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:53 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


The question isn't how one can read 300, it's how Miller's current comments, and his contemporaneous comments, suggest he wanted it read. In other words, this thread is about Miller, not his "art."
Threads don't really work like this. There is no body of arbiters that declare certain aspects of a thing off-limits in a thread while other things are A-OK. Further, "look at this asshole!" threads have always been discouraged on MeFi, so having a vaguely interesting discussion about possible interpretations of something an asshole did is preferable in that way.
There's a meme going around conservative blogs/communities that "rape shelters" have been built at many Occupy gatherings because women are getting raped all the time.
Jesus, I should have known.

Of course we can't just talk about a thing here - we have to make up crazy fantasies about rapetents or whatever.
posted by kavasa at 10:53 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


People, we know these rallies are a breeding ground for illegal behavior because they're surrounded by police!
posted by zippy at 10:55 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought the point was that it was an over-the-top homoerotic send-up of patriotism and military valor where the heroes lose pointlessly and achieve nothing.

Really? I thought it was the sort of movie that Verhoeven had pre-emptively parodied with Robocop and Starship Troopers.
posted by griphus at 10:55 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maybe someone should send him a copy of Give Me Liberty, and he can read about a protagonist who attempts to work with the system before giving it up, as the military industrial complex, crooked politics, and corporate overseers try to squeeze the world until it breaks.

I'm sure he'll throw the book across the room, shouting, "What goddamn librul wrote this?!?"
posted by yeloson at 10:55 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why is everyone so concerned about the opinions of someone who, when you get right down to it, isn't even a human being? You do know he was a lab experiment, right? Almost three fourths of his DNA is parakeet genes.

I doubt he even wrote this. His blog's probably really written by Garth Ennis. You know, like his comics.
posted by Naberius at 10:56 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I watch a clip of these Occupy fellas. They sure have a lot of signs.

I get out the old vitriol. I fire up the blog. I start typing a hundred words a minute. Flecks of spittle are coming off my mouth. I call them every name I can think of. It doesn't do a thing. They aren't comics boys like I'm used to. They're not even A-rabs, they're god damned Americans. They should be living in Sin City and grateful for it. The towers fell and everything went to hell in my head. The internet will help me.

I hit post. The comments section erupts into flames. They think I'm crazy. But I'm not. They don't know I'm Dennis Miller. Yet.
posted by benzenedream at 10:59 AM on November 14, 2011 [25 favorites]


I do think Miller is right when he says the OWS "can do nothing but harm America."

We all know the most dangerous thing for democracy is the free expression of it. The enemies hate us for our freedoms, and they are right to.

I'm the goddamn Bat Man.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:02 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Occupy movement destroyed by harsh opinion of comic book artist graphic novel creator, TEA Party rejoices. Brooding panels at 11:00.
posted by MikeMc at 11:06 AM on November 14, 2011


The goddamn Batman painting himself yellow to fuck with Green Lantern while drinking lemonade with icecubes made of lemonade was very funny. Too bad about Miller and old age though.
posted by Peztopiary at 11:11 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Peztopiary: "The goddamn Batman painting himself yellow to fuck with Green Lantern while drinking lemonade with icecubes made of lemonade was very funny. "

I originally didn't see the "with" in "fuck with" and somehow I didn't bat an eyelash that Frank Miller would have written that scene.
posted by charred husk at 11:14 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Batman painting himself yellow to fuck with Green Lantern

I'd say this was the scene that redeemed All-Star Batman and Robin, but only in the same way a 1/4-carat diamond redeems the bucket of shit and broken glass it was found in the bottom of.
posted by griphus at 11:14 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well as @jasonlatour said on twitter "I guess last night a flapping asshole crashed through Frank Miller's mansion window."
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:22 AM on November 14, 2011 [20 favorites]


I wasn't a Highlander fan, but I knew how they felt when the sequel came out because I'd already been through it with Robocop 2.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:22 AM on November 14, 2011


Also, I'm surprised no one's made more of the "rapists" bit of Miller's screed. Where the hell did that come from?
Unfortunately there have been a handful of rapes at OWS protests. One or two, that I'm aware of.

The other thing is how he says people should join the army so they can kill the Muslims he's so afraid of. Apparently he's not aware of all the veterans involved in the movement? Does he think they're louts, losers, garbage, trash and schmucks as well?
posted by delmoi at 11:23 AM on November 14, 2011


I like the David Brin piece, but this:

How bakers, potters and poets from Athens – after vanquishing one giant invading army, then ran 26 miles in full armor to face down a second Persian horde and sent it packing, a feat of endurance that gave its name to the modern marathon race.

Is wrong, I'm pretty sure. It was just the one dude who ran, not the whole goddam army.

(checks)

Mmhmm.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:23 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Lately, though, he's taken a different path

You remember when 300 (the movie) came out, people were rightly put off by the depiction of Xerxes, and it was pointed out (in a helpful side-by-side pic that I don't have on hand atm) that the homophobic, ahistorical depiction comes directly from the graphic novel, rather than being the result of the film adaptation?

I'm positive MeFites can school me on how, erm, humanitarian Miller's early work may have been (or at least not openly misanthropic), but I've never seen it. He always seemed like an ugly man whose ugliness hadn't fully seeped out. Till perhaps now.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:24 AM on November 14, 2011


That silhouette on his blog makes it look like he's taking a piss on his own writing.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:24 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm really hoping Miller signs up for mefi to wade into this thread, Internet Swords a-swinging, to take on all of his challengers. (While pretending to be a neutral party, of course.)
posted by modernserf at 6:08 PM on November 14

Oh please oh please oh please.


*scrawls MILLER FUD on MeFi home page, waits behind door*

(Yes, fud.)
posted by maudlin at 11:25 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Go back to your mommas’ basements and play with your Lords Of Warcraft."

3/10. Much too obvious.
posted by CaseyB at 11:26 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It's best not to know much about a baker past his biscuits."

That (and your other examples) seem pretty reasonable to me. I don't really care about the personal life of the guy who bakes my bread. He could be a raging Tea Partier or diehard leftist and I wouldn't give two squirts unless it somehow affects the bread.

So except to the extent that an author's political leanings might inform (arguably "pollute") their creative output, I don't really care much about it either. And I'm not sure why I should.

Particularly when an author or other creative person changes over time, I'm always uncomfortable with the way in which some people insist that it's relevant to the interpretation of their earlier work. (E.g. Card, who has become loonier over time to the point where the Author's Note to the first edition of Ender's Game could have been written by a different person.)

The story of the Battle of Thermopylae existed long before Miller wrote the script to 300, and has been extensively analyzed and written about and pondered by literally generations of people. Miller's retelling was particularly...unintrospective, but that doesn't mean that he necessarily managed to strip out every opportunity for disagreement over what the story means. (Because, to be honest, that would be really difficult, and he's just not that good.) He may well view the story as nothing but a glorified, trago-romantic validation of violent fascism, but that doesn't mean it's the only, and certainly not necessarily the correct interpretation of the story being told.

Miller is clearly an ass; I don't think that's really being debated. But the fact that he is an ass doesn't mean that you necessarily have to buy into his crappy interpretation of the material he's using. It's entirely possible for a real asshole to make interesting art, however unintentionally (or even ironically), particularly when they're starting with an archetypal story that already has a huge amount of cultural baggage.

I find both DKR and 300 interesting (which isn't to say "great" or even "good") and honestly, the fact that the authorial intent might have been different from how I read/saw them makes them if anything a bit more interesting.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:28 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I'm surprised no one's made more of the "rapists" bit of Miller's screed. Where the hell did that come from?

Yeah, this is a very big meme in the Tea Party circles right now.

I also noticed a reference to this in the earlier OWS thread from another conservative poster.

It's a very good indication of where Miller is getting some of his crazy. He's fallen in with a bad crowd.

This is a great example of how 9/11 has contributed to building a more fascist mindset in many Americans.
posted by formless at 11:30 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


That Frank Miller sounds a lot like Muammar Gaddafi in the last few months/weeks of his life.
posted by edgeways at 11:30 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


*scrawls MILLER FUD on MeFi home page, waits behind door*

I hope you're being vewwy, vewwy quiet.
posted by griphus at 11:31 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Threads don't really work like this. There is no body of arbiters that declare certain aspects of a thing off-limits in a thread while other things are A-OK. Further, "look at this asshole!" threads have always been discouraged on MeFi, so having a vaguely interesting discussion about possible interpretations of something an asshole did is preferable in that way.

Yes, I understand how threads work. I also understand how this thread has been working. While CPB's interpretation is interesting, it's insufficiently distinguished from the rest of the thread, which is, indeed, about Miller. I'm not arguing one way or the other about what should be in this thread, or what would be more interesting, but the thread thus far has been mostly about what Miller meant, not how we might otherwise interpret his works.* In that context, dismissing an argument about authorial intent is entirely missing the point.

*From the perspective of what's interesting to discuss about art, I find this one of the least interesting things to discuss, but this thread is pretty much about (in the sense of having the preponderance of comments addressing) what Miller thinks, rather than what his art, as it stands alone, says.
posted by OmieWise at 11:31 AM on November 14, 2011


I am reminded of Rorschach from Watchmen.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:31 AM on November 14, 2011 [22 favorites]


Sebmojo, maybe "run" is a slight overstatement, but Brin says that the entire army fast-marched to that battlefield. The runner was just sent to ask for -- and not get -- reinforcements. Wiki kinda sorta supports this (crediting Herodutus' account), but anyone with better sources, please step in.
According to Herodotus, an Athenian runner named Pheidippides was sent to run from Athens to Sparta to ask for assistance before the battle. He ran a distance of over 140 miles, arriving in Sparta the day after he left.[110] Then, following the battle, the Athenian army marched the 25 or so miles back to Athens at a very high pace (considering the quantity of armour, and the fatigue after the battle), in order to head off the Persian force sailing around Cape Sounion. They arrived back in the late afternoon, in time to see the Persian ships turn away from Athens, thus completing the Athenian victory.
(Oldie but goodie.)
posted by maudlin at 11:31 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


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.


Dear Frank, America is at war with an enemy more dangerous than those you have named. Its name is IGNORANCE and your statements show why we need to fight it to the very end. Unfortunately, guns and swords do not work against this enemy so that military that you worship will not save us.

I think that a good comic for you to make showing that LOGIC and TRUTH win the battle of IGNORANCE and PROPAGANDA. I think a character named Frank Miller would be a good character to use in this comic as one who parades the flag of IGNORANCE and later learns what a fool he has been.
posted by JJ86 at 11:35 AM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Go back to your mommas’ basements and play with your Lords Of Warcraft."

3/10. Much too obvious.


Heh, seriously. "GO BACK TO YOUR MOM'S BASEMENT, THE GROWN UPS ARE MAKING SUPERHERO COMIC BOOKS HERE"
posted by Hoopo at 11:38 AM on November 14, 2011 [40 favorites]


When the movie came out, I read an argument that the betrayal by the deformed Spartan was a version of the stab-in-the-back legend; only a (corrupted) Spartan could cause the defeat of the superior Spartans.
posted by theclaw at 11:40 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


According to Herodotus, an Athenian runner named Pheidippides was sent to run from Athens to Sparta to ask for assistance before the battle. He ran a distance of over 140 miles, arriving in Sparta the day after he left.[110] Then, following the battle, the Athenian army marched the 25 or so miles back to Athens at a very high pace (considering the quantity of armour, and the fatigue after the battle), in order to head off the Persian force sailing around Cape Sounion. They arrived back in the late afternoon, in time to see the Persian ships turn away from Athens, thus completing the Athenian victory.

Ah, that makes sense, seemed odd he'd something so wrong if he knows the period.

My understanding has always been that Pheidippides was the uh trope namer, but it's a reasonable elision.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:41 AM on November 14, 2011


Heh, seriously. "GO BACK TO YOUR MOM'S BASEMENT, THE GROWN UPS ARE MAKING SUPERHERO COMIC BOOKS HERE"


The terrific last line of the AV Club's piece on this...

"And also know this, Occupy Wall Street protesters: Right now Frank Miller is drawing Batman punching you so, so hard"
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:43 AM on November 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


I would love to see a movie depicting the battle at Marathon or the Athenian navy's contribution to the battle at Thermopylae, or really any of the victories of the Athens citizen army led by Themistocles. Ideally, I'd fit, off in the distance, scenes from 300, but taken from a distant enough perspective as to show the small part they took in a much larger narrative.

As for Miller? He's trading current credibility on past successes, and tainting those works by association with the vile shit he's been spewing.

I can't imagine how he can make this better, so I'll chose to do him the favor of ignoring him from this point forward, because it looks like he dug himself a hole and is going to try solve that problem by digging it even deeper. It won't end well and in the end he's going to be remembered as the guy who did some neat stuff and then went crazy and alienated his audience.
posted by quin at 11:46 AM on November 14, 2011


"Go back to your mommas’ basements and play with your Lords Of Warcraft."

"I just make comic books. I wouldn't actually read them - they're for losers."
posted by -harlequin- at 11:47 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The New Progressive Movement: #OWS signals the end of the Reagan era
posted by homunculus at 11:53 AM on November 14, 2011


When I was 12 or so I though the Frank Miller DareDevils were the shit. Those were some of the coolest depictions of ninjas ever. And Elektra was hot. It's been a long but steady slide downhill since then.

I sold off my comics several years ago. The shop gave me much more in credit than they would in cash so I browsed around for a while trying to find something I wanted. I read 300 in the store. It's lol-bad, just god awful. At least it warned me away from the movie.

The stand at Thermopylae was an incredible act of will and courage. But Miller's depiction of the event and Spartan culture was embarrassing to read. No surprise to see his ridiculous politics given his uncritical embrace of a cartoon version of Sparta.

-----

If you read between the lines, you realize that the entire story is itself a story told by a soldier in order to fire up his fellow soldiers after Thermopylae. In a way, you could read it as the story of how myths are toyed with over time. This story might not even be close to true. Dilios might be lying through his teeth in order to motivate his troops.

Moreover, the downfall of the Spartans in the book is coded into the book's tragedy -- Ephialtes is portrayed as a Spartan cast-off that wants nothing more than to join the Spartans. They won't have him, and because of this, he betrays them. The Spartans are defeated because of the rigidity of their culture.


The Ephors of Sparta should have taken little baby Ephialtes and thrown him on the reject pile for the vultures.

If I remember right, in Miller's telling it's Ephialtes' parents who rescue the child that's been left out for exposure. Well then it would be the parents' abandonment of the traditions of Sparta, where they raised a rejected child that led to the defeat of Sparta. In other words, the "between the lines" reading is a championing of Sparta and a denouncement of those who fail in their obedience to its laws.

-----

Though I’m not best-known for graphic novels*, I’ve done a few. I’ve been sketching out a script about one of the greatest heroes of western civilization – Themistocles – the man who actually defeated Xerxes. the Persian emperor, during his brutal invasion of Greece, after the Spartans failed so miserably at Thermopylae. In part, this would be an answer to Frank Miller’s “300″… a book and film that I find both visually stunning and morally disturbing.

This is a bit much. I agree that Themistocles is a greater hero than Leonidas and a key figure in the history of the West, but to say the Spartans "failed so miserably at Thermopylae" is way off the mark.
posted by BigSky at 11:56 AM on November 14, 2011


This is a bit much. I agree that Themistocles is a greater hero than Leonidas and a key figure in the history of the West, but to say the Spartans "failed so miserably at Thermopylae" is way off the mark.

I think the entire thing is off the mark. I agree with Brin about the laughably a-historical presentation of pretty much everything in 300, but the idea that a deliberately over-the-top ooh-rah action movie about Spartans "forges into territory that we haven’t seen since the propaganda machine of 1930s Germany" is... well, even more so. That shows a dangerous and blatant disregard for the lessons of history; 300 is just Conan re-treaded for today's audience, and should be treated as such.
posted by vorfeed at 12:05 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


But how pure are their bodily fluids? It's all about Purity Of Essence.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 12:06 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


""It's best not to know much about a baker past his biscuits."
"It's best not to know much about a doctor past his prescriptions."
"It's best not to know much about a cop past his handcuffs."

Frank Miller may be a cranky old dickhead, but sweeping generalizations never helped anything."


I dunno, I thought that sounded like pretty good advice - thought you were serious until I read the last line. FWIW it's better to just not know too much about people in general. :)

By the way, the absolute best damn bagels to ever grace the face of this earth were made locally by a cranky, sweaty, dingy old pervert. (Past tense, he retired.)
posted by Xoebe at 12:08 PM on November 14, 2011


It's always a good idea not to learn too much about the people who prepare your food.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:13 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


yeloson: Maybe someone should send him a copy of Give Me Liberty, and he can read about a protagonist who attempts to work with the system before giving it up, as the military industrial complex, crooked politics, and corporate overseers try to squeeze the world until it breaks.

Absolutely. Give Me Liberty is moving, funny, bleak and really cool satire. It's a very capital "A" American story. Read it even if 20 some years later the author turned into a bit of a butthead. Pick it up at the library if you can't bear to send money toward FM.

Some folks really went right-wing after 9/11 (I think of Dennis Miller, David Mamet). As far as I can tell, the "terror" part of terrorism has worked on them. They have interpreted terrorists not as thugs who you're less likely to be hurt or killed by than, oh, drowning in your own bathtub (I'm making that up - but the odds of being killed in a terror attack have got to be pretty darn low compared to other risks we live with daily), but as hyper-competent super-criminals who are capable of destroying American Culture and the only way to respond is to curtail our inalienable rights so they can't ever succeed in hurting us again.

And they are so wrong.

I'm looking forward to, in 10-15 years, these guys saying "what the hell was I thinking?"
posted by artlung at 12:18 PM on November 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


I agree that it's not always possible or advisable to draw a line between someone's work and their opinions, Kadin2048, and I don't see this in all Miller's work (I remember Ronin being fairly normal, at least), but The Dark Knight Returns in particular is a massive piece of vaguely Nietzschean ubermenschity. Half the comic is a plea for misguided, panty-waisted liberals to wake up and stop aiding and abetting the crimes of monsters, including extended scenes where pop psychologists help the Joker murder an auditorium full of people because they believe that he can be rehabilitated.

There were basically three types of people in DKR: strong, upright, ascetic heroes, effete and brutal villains, and weak, waffling bystanders. There were limited exceptions made for special cases (Superman being a case in point), but until the climactic Bats/Supes fight it's largely two hundred pages of the Joker wearing lipstick and Robin's parents forgetting they had a child because they're too busy smoking pot and reminiscing about Woodstock. Batman's heroic acts are almost offset by a completely non-parodic insistence that Gotham doesn't deserve saving, and that Batman's insistence on True, Right Goodness is simultaneously the only possible response to the depravity surrounding him and the irrational act of a man in a world gone mad. The civilians given dialog in DKR are explicitly designed to be as unsympathetic and shallow as possible, not appreciating Batman's tough love even though it's the only thing that can save them. It's not quite Batman training Robin by locking him in the Batcave and forcing him to eat rats, as he would do in All-Star Batman and Robin, but it's not exactly a world apart.

Which isn't to say that I don't love DKR--I go back to it fairly frequently as a perfect distillation of a certain kind of aesthetic. If I knew anything about film Frank Miller might be the Leni Riefenstahl of comics to me. But it's more or less a pure adaptation of the putative Orwell quote about how "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

Which is more or less exactly what I see in his descriptions of OWS. You've got the bizarre, over-the-top descriptions of evil at OWS (the louty rapists), the weak-willed abetters of terrorism (now Islamists instead of Death Wish-era street gangs), and presumably the heroic Rough Men of the Republican Party. The best we can hope for out of this is a luridly-titled graphic novel in which a ridiculously-muscled beat cop masks himself and infiltrates the blood-soaked rape orgies of Occupy Wall Street with his plucky escort sidekick.
posted by Tubalcain at 12:19 PM on November 14, 2011 [16 favorites]


Its never a good idea to not learn too much about your food. Its why we have industrial farming, listeria outbreaks, groundwater depletion, so many modern ills. Know your baker, know your farmer, know your cook, know your neighbors. And treat them well.
posted by GregorWill at 12:20 PM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


quin, it's not movies, or even what you wanted, but have you read Gene Wolfe's Soldier of the Mist and its sequels? Awesome stuff.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:23 PM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


As much as I love me some David Brin,

"the first invasion by Persia, ten years earlier – under Xerxes’s father – had been defeated by just such a militia army… from Athens… made up of farmers, clerks, tradesmen, artists and mathematicians. A rabble of ill-disciplined “brawlers” who, after waiting in vain for promised help from Sparta, finally decided to handle the problem alone. On that fateful day that citizen militia leveled their spears and their thin blue line attacked a professional Persian force many times their number, slaughtering them to the last man on the legendary beach of Marathon."

is just not all that historical. The key to the Greek army's victory at Marathon lay in incredibly well-trained and disciplined infantry with vastly superior armor and well coordinated strategic communications, as well as the Persian general's idiotic mistake to separate his forces.

And you can say what you want about Miller; and about Sparta in general; but Thermopylae was, in fact, insanely courageous, and the Spartans were, if anything, more badass on the field of battle than the movie portrayed.
posted by felix at 12:27 PM on November 14, 2011


As far as I can tell, the "terror" part of terrorism has worked on them.

It is not possible to say this often enough. If the objective of the terrorists is "they hate our freedoms" (as these same people have told us so often) and they want us to stop being ourselves, then Miller and those whose notion of patriotism is like his wasted no time in capitulating completely.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:30 PM on November 14, 2011


And where's Neal Adams to bring sanity to this?

Actually, he seems to have written a rambling response over here.

"Some say America doesn’t need to be reclaimed. I say it does and I think everyone thinks it does."
posted by martinrebas at 12:33 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


but have you read Gene Wolfe's Soldier of the Mist and its sequels? Awesome stuff.

Nope. But I'm adding it to my to-read list right now. Thanks!

posted by quin at 12:37 PM on November 14, 2011


you know dan clowes is probably too meek to say anything very horrible publicly but he always struck me as a guy with a whole lot of suppressed rage
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 12:53 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great comic book writer, titanic asshole. The two seem to go hand-in-hand with surprising regularity, although I feel comfortable saying that Miller is perhaps the most racist.
posted by cell divide at 1:02 PM on November 14, 2011


artlung: "They have interpreted terrorists not as thugs who you're less likely to be hurt or killed by than, oh, drowning in your own bathtub (I'm making that up - but the odds of being killed in a terror attack have got to be pretty darn low compared to other risks we live with daily), but as hyper-competent super-criminals who are capable of destroying American Culture and the only way to respond is to curtail our inalienable rights so they can't ever succeed in hurting us again."

Also, we can't transfer Guantanamo detainees to American jails because they'll use their Islamo-powers to bust out and go on a kaiju-style rampage.
posted by brundlefly at 1:03 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


sweeping generalizations never helped anything

Urge. to point out irony. Rising!
posted by zippy at 1:10 PM on November 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


What good work has Frank Miller done? I found Watchmen clunky, reactionary, and confused, not to mention kind of boring. Is that his "good" work?
posted by GregorWill at 1:13 PM on November 14, 2011


"It's always a good idea not to learn too much about the people who prepare your food."

And to reitierate, I don't understand this sentiment. Why don't you want to know about the people who prepare your food? Also, together but separately, why wouldn't you want to support financially those who have similar politics and viewpoints to your own?
posted by GregorWill at 1:17 PM on November 14, 2011


What good work has Frank Miller done? I found Watchmen clunky, reactionary, and confused, not to mention kind of boring. Is that his "good" work?

That isn't Frank Miller.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:19 PM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


He's contracted the same brain parasite as Orson Scott Card, Scott Adams & Dave Sim.

That list should be divided in two:

Dave Sim's comics work remains brilliant - yes, even the weirdshit fake-women's-magazine comic, Glamourpuss. Cerebus went out at a creative peak; not bad for a quarter-century run. His madness did affect his work, but it didn't totally devalue it as Miller's has; his storytelling and technical skills are undiminished. If he took up a monthly comic of pretty much any type I'd buy it.

MEANWHILE!!

Scott Adams has always written rubbish. Orson Scott Card now writes rubbish. Frank Miller now writes rubbish.
posted by waxbanks at 1:20 PM on November 14, 2011


Is that his "good" work?

Cerebus and Sandman are both widely regarded as great and he did a pretty amazing run on Animal Man when Vertigo was still new.

The devil made me do it.
posted by griphus at 1:21 PM on November 14, 2011 [12 favorites]


Watchmen is Alan Moore, not Frank Miller.
posted by WPW at 1:22 PM on November 14, 2011


What good work has Frank Miller done?

I mention a few in this post. These are the titles (along with Ronin, The Martha Washington books, and Hard Boiled) that are considered his successes.
posted by Legomancer at 1:22 PM on November 14, 2011


...yes, even the weirdshit fake-women's-magazine comic, Glamourpuss

Is that still going? I picked up #1 a few years (?!) ago and was just really, really confounded by the content.
posted by griphus at 1:22 PM on November 14, 2011


Frank Miller/Alan Moore what's the difference?

They both have three syllables.

/s

sorry for the derail
posted by GregorWill at 1:26 PM on November 14, 2011


I don't think FM is commenting on the OWS protests. I think FM is commenting on the OWS protests HE'S IMAGINING IN HIS MIND. Seriously, all the people in my personal experience who have gone out of their way to gripe about it to me have this crucial element in common: none of them really know jack about it. They're all just griping about some standard imaginary liberal conspiracy they hear portrayed again and again in the echo chamber of right-wing (imaginary) news media. It's not even distinct to them from the other imaginary liberals - ACORN, the Black Panthers, Nancy Pelosi. They all have exactly the same imaginary goals and tactics - no one on the other side has one mustard seed's worth of curiosity or courage to actually go downtown and find out what the enemy is really about. Why bother with that (or, like, Goggling it) when their own fair + balanced news programs are already reporting on it?
posted by newdaddy at 1:28 PM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Alan Miller's best comic is probably The Invisibles. I love Spider Jerusalem!
posted by shakespeherian at 1:30 PM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Alan Moore:

Beard
Named checked by Pop Will Eat Itself
Takes his name off shitty movies made of his comices.

Frank Miller:

No beard
Not referenced by Pop Will Eat Itself
Puts his name on shitty movies, both based on his comics and original scripts

Dave Sim:

No beard
Not referenced by Pop Will Eat Itself
He will punch you in the face for writing "Bone"
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:32 PM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


And to reitierate, I don't understand this sentiment. Why don't you want to know about the people who prepare your food?

This is getting to be a derail. The point is that we were talking about whether it matters or not that a comic book author has crazy political views, and whether it makes a difference in terms of content you enjoyed before finding out. Some people don't care and can enjoy the comics in themselves without ever considering what the author does in his spare time. Others find the crazy political views seeping into the comics and can't separate them. At the end of the day, more people are buying meat from the local supermarket than from Whole Foods, and most of us are OK with fast food from time to time. I don't think it's controversial that people don't know their butchers or bakers or candlestick makers and get along just fine, no listeria or nuthin. I mean look how many people here are fans of some of Frank Miller's work who didn't turn into right-wing reactionaries.
posted by Hoopo at 1:32 PM on November 14, 2011


Alan Miller's best comic is probably The Invisibles. I love Spider Jerusalem!

I hate this city.
posted by verb at 1:37 PM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Are people sure the early "good" work by Miller didn't evidence early-onset extremism that was simply more palatable to your then-juvenille tastes and world view?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:38 PM on November 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


These are the titles (along with Ronin, The Martha Washington books, and Hard Boiled) that are considered his successes.

Hard Boiled is a two-bit Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep-knockoff that was kept afloat only by the fact that Geof Darrow clearly got a hard-on from drawing, for instance, individual bricks in brick walls.
posted by griphus at 1:40 PM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's something very Soviet about how people whose work we like instantly turn into people we hate whose work has always been worthless when their political opinions change. Christopher Hitchens, Orson Scott Card, Frank Miller, David Mamet and a bunch of others have suffered the same fate around here.
posted by joannemullen at 1:42 PM on November 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm going to name-drop here, only to provide what I think are counter-examples of radically interesting comic-noir done well, without always having WHORES WHORES WHORES on the brain:

Brian Michael Bendis. I'd start with Jinx, but I liked Goldfish, too.

And nobody does true crime comix like Bendis.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:44 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's this 'we' stuff, kemosabe?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:46 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


@joannemullen, I'd have to say everyone in your list I either identified as hacks early on (save Mamet, who I can't really claim to knowing very well), or was introduced to when I was 13, and therefore had no context for.

Maturity has since showed me that Card (for example) is a terrible writer, and always has been. He might be terrible good, as in a guilty pleasure or a necessary door-stopper for a long flight. But he is /terrible/.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:47 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's something very Soviet about how people whose work we like instantly turn into people we hate whose work has always been worthless when their political opinions change. Christopher Hitchens, Orson Scott Card, Frank Miller, David Mamet and a bunch of others have suffered the same fate around here.

We have always been at war with Hackistan.
posted by R. Schlock at 1:51 PM on November 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


Maturity has since showed me that Card (for example) is a terrible writer, and always has been. He might be terrible good, as in a guilty pleasure or a necessary door-stopper for a long flight. But he is /terrible/.

I have no problem saying that Ender's Game was a really solid and thought provoking book, especially when you look at the relative shortage of stories tackling those kinds of problems in what was a mostly pulpy genre. The fact that he has some pretty nasty views on other social issues makes me lost a lot of respect for him as a thinker/observer of society, but that's another story entirely.
posted by verb at 1:51 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The best we can hope for out of this is a luridly-titled graphic novel in which a ridiculously-muscled beat cop masks himself and infiltrates the blood-soaked rape orgies of Occupy Wall Street with his plucky escort sidekick.

Wait until you see the new tract that Jack Chick is writing.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:53 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait until you see the new tract that Jack Chick is writing.

Occupy The Temple!
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:55 PM on November 14, 2011


...people whose work we like instantly turn into people we hate whose work has always been worthless...

What? At least as far as comics is concerned, even Miller's good work has always been lopsided and more than borderline misogynistic. And I've never heard anyone say they disliked Dark Knight Returns -- which outside of Sin City is the work his hat is hung upon -- because of Miller's politics.

And you'll find few people who have read the first half (or so) of Cerebus and say they dislike it, even though Dave Sim has been a well-known crank for almost longer than he hasn't.
posted by griphus at 1:55 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


The best we can hope for out of this is a luridly-titled graphic novel in which a ridiculously-muscled beat cop masks himself and infiltrates the blood-soaked rape orgies of Occupy Wall Street with his plucky escort sidekick.

that's not a graphic novel, that's the platform of at least one of the major contenders in the Vancouver municipal election.
posted by Hoopo at 1:56 PM on November 14, 2011


I still like The Dark Knight Returns even though the drawing is atrocious. Whether Miller intended it or not, it's a good Moore-esque investigation of Batman as psychopath and Supes as fascist.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:57 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


What a d-bag.
posted by Fister Roboto at 1:59 PM on November 14, 2011


As years have gone by, Miller's art has become - I don't even know that representational is the word for it - and the lettering he does is at this point the kind of thing you tend to see in letters from schizophrenics. Not that I'm diagnosing the man with anything, but the small amount of Holy Terror I've read so far has looked like full-on outsider art.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:59 PM on November 14, 2011


Nothing wrong with juxtaposing the tendency to Card previous work with the sentiment of the recent thread on not disowning our past tastes. They are somewhat at odds. This isn't necessarily the case with Miller, but people pushing the "brain parasite" theory are arguing that there's some kind of stark divide between his good old stuff and his modern crazy old self. It's like splitting with your guy/girl and sticking with the "and then they became an asshole" theory, as if you weren't just ignoring it before.

What? At least as far as comics is concerned, even Miller's good work has always been lopsided and more than borderline misogynistic. And I've never heard anyone say they disliked Dark Knight Returns -- which outside of Sin City is the work his hat is hung upon -- because of Miller's politics.

This was the missing piece for me, so thank you. First, that DKR is really the pedestal topper here. I also think it's super fricking good (though it's been awhile and I've never tried reading it as an exercise in authorial political divination). Second, confirming that, yes, Miller has always been a bit of a dick.

Also, what happened to Mamet? I didn't get the memo.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:04 PM on November 14, 2011


Not too surprising that Frank Miller ends up a conservative crazy person. I had to stop reading him when I realized that all his female characters tended to be either ninja hookers on wheels, or raped to death.
posted by surlyben at 2:06 PM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, what happened to Mamet?

9/11
posted by R. Schlock at 2:06 PM on November 14, 2011


Oh, too bad. Common malady, that.

I wonder how these types would react to being called "a victim of 9/11".
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:07 PM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


There's something very Soviet about how people whose work we like instantly turn into people we hate whose work has always been worthless when their political opinions change.

To the extent that people let authorial intent guide their interpretation of work, this makes perfect sense to me - it's less a "Soviet" thing and more of a discovery of deeper meaning.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:07 PM on November 14, 2011


There's something very Soviet about how people whose work we like instantly turn into people we hate whose work has always been worthless when their political opinions change. Christopher Hitchens, Orson Scott Card, Frank Miller, David Mamet...

I won't speak for anyone else, but I never said I hated any of these people. I find Card's opinions to be loathsome and reprehensible, but I enjoyed his work when I first read it. Mamet's Spartan is still one of my favorite movies, and Miller has done amazing things prior to his latest rant.

The relationship people have with artists whose work we love is a complicated one. But they feel angry and betrayed when someone they respect demonstrates that they hold opinions which run (sometimes extremely) counter to our own.

Some people may walk away from this interaction hating, whenever possible, I try to separate who they were from who they've become. But that is sometimes harder with some than others.

But drawing any larger conclusions about this is like herding cats; mefites are not a single entity and there is no universal opinion about this sort of thing. Some hate, some feel hurt, some are indifferent. It's just the nature of the thing.
posted by quin at 2:13 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe someone should send him a copy of Give Me Liberty, and he can read about a protagonist who attempts to work with the system before giving it up, as the military industrial complex, crooked politics, and corporate overseers try to squeeze the world until it breaks.

I'm sure he'll throw the book across the room, shouting, "What goddamn librul wrote this?!?"


What? GML is a monument to Ayn Rand and Objectivism. I think you better go back and re-read that comic with this in mind.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:16 PM on November 14, 2011


GML is a monument to Ayn Rand and Objectivism.

I've never read it, but Miller has definitely taken a number of open jabs at Objectivism. Dark Knight Strikes Again, the Question, who is a hardcore "Rand didn't go far enough" Objectivist (equal parts Mr. A and Rorschach (who are all basically the same character, meanwhile]) and the Green Arrow (who, iirc, becomes some sort of vigilante Socialist/Communist) get into an argument on a TV show wherein the Green Arrow says one of the best lines Miller has ever written:

"You want to take this out back, Mr. Privatize-the-Fire-Department?"
posted by griphus at 2:21 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's something very Soviet about how people whose work we like instantly turn into people we hate whose work has always been worthless when their political opinions change. Christopher Hitchens, Orson Scott Card, Frank Miller, David Mamet...

It is possible to find somebody loathsome but to still enjoy their work. I still think Mamet among the best American playwrights of the last fifty years, for example. Miller's DKR and Daredevil work is still excellent (though his later work has consistently been lousy, especially his screenplays). Card has always been a hack. I don't know enough about Hitchens' work to have an opinion one way or another.

I'll add that I like films by Polanski even though he is thoroughly loathsome. Same (to a lesser degree of loathsome) with Woody Allen. I think Dave Sim's work almost never wavered in quality despite his... issues. Roald Dahl? Apparently a first class ass, but a great writer right to the end.

That said, it is challenging, sometimes, to separate out the person from their work. Miller, as it happens, has increasingly tied his politics to his work, to the detriment of his work. I have no problem saying that I don't like his work now, but its not so much because of his politics as it is because he writes lousy stories (and painful dialogue).
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:25 PM on November 14, 2011


ninja hookers on wheels

Oh please, in Batman: The Dark Night Returns she's ... on rollerskates.
posted by zippy at 2:27 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's something very Soviet about how people whose work we like instantly turn into people we hate whose work has always been worthless when their political opinions change

By "Soviet" I presume you mean "something done by those lefty scum", because whatever is happening in this thread, a Soviet conformism to the party line ain't it. What's your real problem?
posted by howfar at 2:28 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Soviet" presumably referring to the phenomenon where anybody who went against the party line got vilified, erased from history, or both.

Not that bashing Frank Miller on a message board is anywhere near that level.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:32 PM on November 14, 2011


Frank Miller: SILENCED ALL HIS LIFE.

There's something very Soviet about how people whose work we like instantly turn into people we hate whose work has always been worthless when their political opinions change.

I would really love to hear your defense of Dark Knight Strikes Again, All Star Batman and Robin, The Spirit (the movie), etc.

Dave Sim:

No beard
Not referenced by Pop Will Eat Itself
He will punch you in the face for writing "Bone"


Even if Dave Sim wasn't a misogynistic asshat, hating on Bone would vault Dave Sim to top asshole status.
posted by kmz at 2:52 PM on November 14, 2011


Holy cats... Frank Miller... Dave Sim...

I totally forgot about Sim's fairly brutal take-down of DKR. It was issue #81 of Cerebus, I think, featuring the Secret Sacred Wars Roach (also a parody of Secret Wars and Spiderman's black costume). Funny style parody, and (if I recall correctly) also a fairly blatant suggestion that the Roach/Dark Knight got off on violence.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:01 PM on November 14, 2011


Also, to clarify re: Sim and Bone, I don't think he had an issue with the comic, but he famously had issues with Jeff Smith.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:02 PM on November 14, 2011


Hard Boiled is a two-bit Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep-knockoff that was kept afloat only by the fact that Geof Darrow clearly got a hard-on from drawing, for instance, individual bricks in brick walls.

Weirdly, you've just summed up why I genuinely like that comic.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:06 PM on November 14, 2011


Not mentioned, a good work of FM: Batman: Year One.
posted by artlung at 3:25 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Next up, Rob Liefeld weighs in on the Greek credit crisis.

"In my opinion, it's going to be a while before the Greeks find their feet."

LOLOL JUST LIKE THE CHARACTERS YOU DRAW LIEFELD LOLOLOL
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:37 PM on November 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Frank Miller is now that awful uncle who forwards you typo-soaked emails about THE OBAMANATION and BARACK O'BUMMER and his suspect lineage. You delete the emails and maybe sometimes you laugh at their expense first, but often it just makes you sad that your beloved uncle has been reduced to this.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:25 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Slothrop: I have been toying with writing some sort of academic article walking back through DKR and reviewing each element as if it were serious rather than a satire.

I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

zomg: I'm surprised no one's made more of the "rapists" bit of Miller's screed. Where the hell did that come from?

Projection? Considering how often prostitutes seem to come up in the (limited) Miller I've read...

joannemullen: There's something very Soviet about how people whose work we like instantly turn into people we hate whose work has always been worthless when their political opinions change.

It's not that their work suddenly loses its past merit so much as that work gets re-evaluated in the light of new evidence. Imagine how your childhood memories of tasty breakfast sausage would get re-assessed if you had come of age in 1906, around the time Upton Sinclair's The Jungle was released.
posted by Decimask at 4:33 PM on November 14, 2011


Related: people who discover that Puff, The Magic Dragon isn't just a touching song about a child's memories of a wonderful imaginary playmate.
posted by verb at 4:36 PM on November 14, 2011


Frank Miller is now that awful uncle who forwards you typo-soaked emails about THE OBAMANATION and BARACK O'BUMMER and his suspect lineage pictures of his aching hard-on.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:50 PM on November 14, 2011


It's not that their work suddenly loses its past merit so much as that work gets re-evaluated in the light of new evidence. Imagine how your childhood memories of tasty breakfast sausage would get re-assessed if you had come of age in 1906, around the time Upton Sinclair's The Jungle was released.

That's it, but it still reeks a bit of the ad hom. I mean isn't this what the right does to discredit anything? Person X reveals hideous truth about corporation and government. "Oh, isn't he that adulterer?" (or whatever) I don't start questioning claims made in The Jungle if I find out that Sinclair hated teh gays. Except it's that much easier when the "truth" of the work being discussed lies only in artistic merit.

Frank Miller is now that awful uncle who forwards you typo-soaked emails about THE OBAMANATION and BARACK O'BUMMER and his suspect lineage pictures of his aching hard-on.

slooooooo-motion then fast
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:59 PM on November 14, 2011


Related: people who discover that Puff, The Magic Dragon isn't just a touching song about a child's memories of a wonderful imaginary playmate.

FTFY
posted by howfar at 5:00 PM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


American Flagg is so much better than Dark Knight Returns.
posted by Scoo at 5:03 PM on November 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


my local paper would have rejected this screed as unpublishable - chances are, so would have yours
posted by pyramid termite at 5:18 PM on November 14, 2011


300 is just Conan re-treaded for today's audience, and should be treated as such

One thing that bugged me about 300 is the bit about how the king is supposed to get the oracle's approval before going to war, but the movie presents the oracle as a bunch of child molesters and celebrates the king's decision to proceed without their approval. In other words, you've got an executive exercising their war powers in defiance of constitutional checks on those powers, that executive valorized, and the opposing institutions condemned as morally corrupt. The comparison to fascist propaganda doesn't seem at all off the mark to me.

I've no great love for the Conan movies, but I didn't notice anything like that in them.
posted by stebulus at 5:41 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, Crom laughs at the gods of Olympus.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:49 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bunny Ultramod: "Also, I'm surprised no one's made more of the "rapists" bit of Miller's screed. Where the hell did that come from?\

Brain parasite.
"

It rapes your brain, so you get fixated.
posted by Samizdata at 6:02 PM on November 14, 2011


kmz: "Frank Miller: SILENCED ALL HIS LIFE.

There's something very Soviet about how people whose work we like instantly turn into people we hate whose work has always been worthless when their political opinions change.

I would really love to hear your defense of Dark Knight Strikes Again, All Star Batman and Robin, The Spirit (the movie), etc.
"

A spurious and impossible point.

There is NO defending The Spirit movie.

'Nuf sed.
posted by Samizdata at 6:29 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I dimly recall in Chris Claremont's introduction to the original TPB of his and Miller's original 4 issue Wolverine series from the 80's that Claremont said that when he pitched the idea to Miller, Miller was reluctant to sign on because he didn't feel like drawing the adventures of a one dimensional psychochotic killing machine. Ironic that his legacy these days seems to be nothing BUT being notorious writing and drawing adventures about one dimemsional psychochotic killing machines.

As far as his screed against OWS goes, can anyone actually be suprised by that at this stage of his career? I've just learned to accept the fact that nothing that comes from his brain these days is to be taken thoughtfully. The man has become the punchline to his own joke.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:48 PM on November 14, 2011


I take it The Spirit isn't so-bad-it's-good. Is there some particularly acidic review someone can point me to that presents its shortcomings to maximum effect?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:56 PM on November 14, 2011


Frank Miller is now that awful uncle who forwards you typo-soaked emails about THE OBAMANATION and BARACK O'BUMMER and his suspect lineage. You delete the emails and maybe sometimes you laugh at their expense first, but often it just makes you sad that your beloved uncle has been reduced to this.

I'm going to have to agree with kittens for breakfast. When I was a kid I really enjoyed Dark Knight, and found his work after that pretty interesting. But even thought they captured my imagination at the time, I couldn't enjoy them as much now since on some level I'd be comparing them to his personality now. It's a lot like James Lileks who writes for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. He also used to have a really entertaining radio show. During 911 his blog decayed into much of what Frank Miller writes now. It was heart breaking.

Also, where did "WHORES, WHORES, WHORES" originate from? It is one of those in-jokes I can't see how I missed.
posted by pbeyer at 7:00 PM on November 14, 2011


Whores whores whores
posted by stebulus at 7:31 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


One thing that bugged me about 300 is the bit about how the king is supposed to get the oracle's approval before going to war, but the movie presents the oracle as a bunch of child molesters and celebrates the king's decision to proceed without their approval. In other words, you've got an executive exercising their war powers in defiance of constitutional checks on those powers, that executive valorized, and the opposing institutions condemned as morally corrupt. The comparison to fascist propaganda doesn't seem at all off the mark to me.

To me this is mitigated by the part where he obeys the letter of the law by leaving the entire army at home, because "no Spartan, subject or citizen, man or woman, slave or king is above the law".

I'll agree that the portrayal of the oracles is way over the top (much like 98% of the movie), but the point still isn't yay fascism. It is -- as explicitly stated -- what would a free man do. As someone pointed out above, this is all "rough men stand ready", "don't tread on me" style stuff, and there's more than enough of that in the world (especially in America) without reading fascism into its every nook and cranny.
posted by vorfeed at 7:47 PM on November 14, 2011


I remember some particularly strident commentators hailing the movie 300 as a parable for strong men in dire times, a rallying point for true Americans opposing Al Qaeda.

The problem with this is that Al Qaeda's own self-mythology also would allow them to watch the same movie and visualize themselves as the brave Spartans, idealistic and pure in their beliefs, opposing the mightiest forces in the world, corrupt and amoral.

Isn't that weird?

Those same simplistic commentators also were arguing that Red Dawn had things to teach us, and we could be Wolverines. Of course, Iraqis and Afghans could easily watch the same movie and.....

This art stuff is flexible.
posted by dglynn at 8:14 PM on November 14, 2011


mitigated by the part where he obeys the letter of the law

Yeah, but there's all that smirking about the three hundred that he does take. (Oh, they're my personal guard, nyaa nyaa.) To me this read as contempt for the law as a mere obstacle to the king's righteous action.

I'll agree that the portrayal of the oracles is way over the top

Sure, but that's not what I was trying to get at. The king's enemies are portrayed as impure. The oracle being a bunch of child molesters, the Persian king and his court's decadence, the Spartan reject, the other politician guy who rapes the queen — all are deviant in some way, sexually, morally, physically, and presented as disgusting.

I guess this obsession with purity isn't uniquely fascist, but when you combine it with glorification of war (the whole movie) and of the leader (see above re righteous action), well, I don't think I'm overinterpreting.

the point still isn't yay fascism. It is -- as explicitly stated -- what would a free man do. As someone pointed out above, this is all "rough men stand ready", "don't tread on me" style stuff

I'm not too familiar with "don't tread on me". Isn't it more suited to resistance against an oppressor? I don't know how to apply it to the actions of a king, as in 300.
posted by stebulus at 8:40 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


...[Hard Boiled] was kept afloat only by the fact that Geof Darrow clearly got a hard-on from drawing, for instance, individual bricks in brick walls.

I came across a piece of incredible comic book memorabilia at a stand at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo in Brisbane a couple weekends ago. It was just a yellowed bit of paper in a sealed plastic lunch bag, with a little sticky label on it, asking for fifty bucks. I took a closer look and what do you know? It was a note from Geof Darrow to Frank Miller, written during their time together on Hard Boiled!

"DEAR FRANK

JUST GOT THE SCRIPT FOR ISSUE TWO, IT LOOKS GOOD AND ALREADY I HAVE STARTED ON THE GLASS SHARDS. I WAS THINKING MAYBE FOR ISSUE 3 WE COULD HAVE CARL GOING INTO A BOLT FACTORY? AND THEN THE BOLT FACTORY EXPLODES?

THANKS,

GEOF."
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:47 PM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I guess this obsession with purity isn't uniquely fascist, but when you combine it with glorification of war (the whole movie) and of the leader (see above re righteous action), well, I don't think I'm overinterpreting.

Guess we'll have to agree to disagree -- I think bog-standard ooh-rah American conservatism is a much simpler and more apropos explanation for all of this, purity included (note that the same obsession with "garbage", "scum", "filth" etc. is all over his Occupy rant).

I'm not too familiar with "don't tread on me". Isn't it more suited to resistance against an oppressor? I don't know how to apply it to the actions of a king, as in 300.

In what way isn't a massive invading army an oppressor?
posted by vorfeed at 9:20 PM on November 14, 2011


people pushing the "brain parasite" theory are arguing that there's some kind of stark divide between his good old stuff and his modern crazy old self

I don't know; I'm not sure it's hard to believe that when someone is struggling to get their career going, they might manage to keep their less-than-mainstream (read: crazy) opinions damped down, and then when they become famous and surrounded by sycophants, that the crazy suddenly bursts out. Sure, it might have been there all along, but to a distant observer (say someone who only knows them via their official communications) it can sorta come out of nowhere.

I unfortunately don't have it in front of me, but if you read OSC's introduction / author's note to the first edition of Ender's Game, it sounds like it was written by a pretty interesting, balanced, and generally sympathetic person; maybe someone with a bit of a chip on their shoulder about their own adolescence, but nothing terribly untoward, IIRC. If you put it up next to some of the stuff he's let fly more recently, it's jarring. I suspect you can find a similar trajectory in the paths of many other "crazy celebrities" regardless of their medium or actual degree of celebrity. All it takes is unflinching validation.

There's no reason to invoke brain parasites, though; fame and success are enough of a drug on their own to bring out all sorts of latent crazypants.

(I still don't really think this bears on how one should consider their work, though; I just find it interesting to think about.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:23 PM on November 14, 2011


Guess we'll have to agree to disagree

No, I insist that we agree. I insist!
posted by stebulus at 9:37 PM on November 14, 2011


No, I insist that we agree. I insist!

DON'T TREAD ON AGREE
posted by vorfeed at 9:40 PM on November 14, 2011


Durn Bronzefist: "I take it The Spirit isn't so-bad-it's-good. Is there some particularly acidic review someone can point me to that presents its shortcomings to maximum effect?"

How's this, tagged "'The Spirit' could serve as a template for how not to make a film."? Or this, which, while much shorter, state unequivocally, "Someone get this man a decent script."

Will that work? (Found via Rotten Tomatoes)

Of course, I figured the unrepentant disgust felt by a fellow MeFi, who usually only unleashes vitriol on George R.R. Martin, Glen Frey and Comic Sans might be enough for you. I was even being SNARKY, damn it! (/whiny voice)
posted by Samizdata at 9:51 PM on November 14, 2011


Frank Miller is was a giant among comic book creators. He gave us The Dark Knight Returns, which rewrote the book on Batman and comics in general. He also gave us seminal versions of Daredevil, Batman, and Wolverine. His Sin City and 300 books are a triumph of design, if not subtlety. Lately, though, he's taken a different path. He recently released Holy Terror, which in 2005 was to have featured Batman, but now features a renamed stand-in fighting Al-Qaeda. It has been nearly universally panned as a piece of ugly, anti-Muslim propaganda. Last week, Miller blasted the "Occupy" movement on his blog, describing the participants as, "louts, thieves, and rapists," who, "can do nothing but harm America" and pointing to the looming threat of Al-Qaeda.

FTFY, BTW.
posted by Samizdata at 9:55 PM on November 14, 2011


Hmm, thanks, Samizdata. I caught your comments about it, but I wanted to know in what ways it spectacularly failed. Ebert wasn't particularly on the attack for this one.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:03 PM on November 14, 2011


Emergency Tweet from OWS. ZUCOTTI PARK IS SURROUNDED BY COPS AND THEY"RE EVICTING!!

Livestream.
posted by Skygazer at 10:20 PM on November 14, 2011


Radio WBAI is on the scene.
posted by Skygazer at 10:27 PM on November 14, 2011


CBS News Helicopter (live)
posted by Skygazer at 10:31 PM on November 14, 2011


Talk of LRAD deployment before it cut out just then.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:40 PM on November 14, 2011


Also, to clarify re: Sim and Bone, I don't think he had an issue with the comic, but he famously had issues with Jeff Smith.

Sim was probably deeply upset when Smith admitted he hadn't actually gone to Washington and delivered an impassioned marathon filibuster speech against corruption.
posted by Naberius at 8:11 AM on November 15, 2011


Alan Moore: Beard

Sun: Warm
Universe: Biggish
posted by CaseyB at 9:07 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think bog-standard ooh-rah American conservatism is a much simpler and more apropos explanation for all of this, purity included

Actually, one more thing, vorfeed: That word "explanation" has been vexing me. My intent was not at all to explain, but only to describe; now I wonder if we have been talking at cross purposes. What do you mean by explanation here? What is being explained?
posted by stebulus at 9:48 AM on November 15, 2011


That word "explanation" has been vexing me. My intent was not at all to explain, but only to describe; now I wonder if we have been talking at cross purposes. What do you mean by explanation here? What is being explained?

In this context I think there's not much difference. To "explain" one's interpretation of the meaning of the movie seems more or less equivalent to "describing" it.
posted by vorfeed at 10:52 AM on November 15, 2011


Sure, but I'm not sure how that relates to the bit I quoted. American conservatism is a better (because simpler) explanation than fascism... of what? Of your interpretation? Colour me more confused.
posted by stebulus at 11:16 AM on November 15, 2011


American conservatism is a better explanation than fascism because it better fits the context this movie was made in. This is a man who has defended his Holy Terror comic with quotes like "Superman punched out Hitler. So did Captain America. That's one of the things they're there for", after all. This is also a man who holds many beliefs which are entirely compatible with American conservatism (the rhetoric of freedom, the obsession with vigilantism and rebellion rather than state control), but are not very compatible with fascism.

Much as American left-wing thought is rarely about communism, despite the opposition's loud assertions to the contrary, most American right-wing thinking is about romantic notions of Minutemen, not Hitler. Note how the 300 are portrayed as a volunteer army in the movie, and how often it references notions of freedom (I count twelve separate uses of the word in this transcript, including a straight-up invocation of that hoary ol' refrain, "freedom isn't free"). In short, 300 is a ridiculously American movie, to the point where Miller pretty much turned Thermopylae into the Alamo, or Chosin Reservoir, or any given canyon in Afghanistan. Calling it "fascist propaganda" simply because it glorifies war and martial purity misses the point.
posted by vorfeed at 12:53 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, I think we have been talking at cross purposes.

I think you've been talking about the origin and meaning of the movie as an act of communication by its makers. Here I agree with your analysis completely. Its authors are very much American conservatives and not fascists. (Your reference to the Alamo is, I think, spot on.)

But American right-wing ideology includes fascist elements, just as left-wing ideology includes communist ones. The complex of ideas I've emphasized — militarism, glorification of leader and of war, obsession with purity — are exactly the fascist elements of right-wing ideology. When people call 300 fascist, they're talking about its support for these ideas.

(I speak here only of fascist ideology. For actual living fascism of course more is needed, like a populist movement and a totalitarian state.)

(I have now reached the point where "fascism" looks like it can't possibly be spelled that way. Is there a term for this kind of repetition-induced aphasia?)
posted by stebulus at 3:12 PM on November 15, 2011


When people call 300 fascist, they're talking about its support for these ideas.

Yes, and my point is that calling militarism, glorification of leader and of war, and obsession with purity "fascist elements" is rather simplistic and smacks of dog-whistling, as does calling things like egalitarianism "communist elements". These are elements of fascism, sure, but they are also elements of countless other movements which pre and post-date fascism, many of which are not considered fascist. Many elements of fascism are not necessarily considered "fascist", either, perhaps because we think they're just great when we do them (see: nationalism, propaganda, scapegoating, even certain anti-conservative and anti-capitalist ideas).

Many of the things we typically associate with "fascism" are neither an essential part of the definition of fascism nor unique to it -- note that all three of the things you mentioned were all over Maoism and Stalinism, for instance. As Orwell (a great enemy of fascism) once remarked, this has become an "almost entirely meaningless" word used to label people and ideas that we don't like, and I don't think that's a good thing.
posted by vorfeed at 4:28 PM on November 15, 2011


Richard Pace Responds To Frank Miller. Brilliant.
posted by martinrebas at 1:20 PM on November 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


simplistic and smacks of dog-whistling

<donkey>You cut me deep, Shrek. You cut me deep just now.</donkey>

But seriously: You make good points. I am partially convinced, as follows.

I'll concede that I use "fascist" as an epithet, insinuating guilt by comparison, and I shouldn't do that. I'll concede also that my use of the term in this thread is not well-founded in the historical examples of actually fascist groups and their ideologies, and that's got to be pretty frustrating for someone, like you, who wants to be able to refer narrowly to those groups, but can't use the obvious and most appropriate word for them because it's been hijacked by people like me. I am very sympathetic to your complaints there.

I won't concede Orwell's contention that the word is basically meaningless — here, as elsewhere, I don't find him particularly credible on language use — but I don't think this issue is very important for our discussion, so I won't get into it unless requested.

Back to 300. Excising the allegation of fascism from my arguments in this thread, there remains a collection of specific complaints about the political ideas advanced by the movie, which (to return to my original point) as far as I recall have no analogues in Conan. So I don't get your comparison of the two.
posted by stebulus at 3:26 PM on November 16, 2011


It's hard to believe this is the same guy who wrote Daredevil #191.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:17 PM on November 16, 2011


Maybe this article will help regarding Conan. The themes of purity, strength, will, etc never seemed all that subtle to me.
posted by vorfeed at 8:43 PM on November 16, 2011


Dave Sim:

No beard
Not referenced by Pop Will Eat Itself
He will punch you in the face for writing "Bone"


I'd also add "completely barking moon-bat crazy" to this. (Yeah, I read the one issue about the female "void" and the male "light" or whatthefuckever and I got pissed too, but then he went even further into Planet Nutbar with some of his later stuff and I realized, "....ah. There's something else going on. 'kay."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:06 AM on November 18, 2011


Richard Pace Responds To Frank Miller. Brilliant.

Yes. That was good.
posted by OmieWise at 9:32 AM on November 18, 2011


Richard Pace Responds To Frank Miller.

See! The principle of charity forces us to resolve the contradiction between his historically insightful scripts and his present nujobbery in favor of the insightful writer of nutjobs. This whole thing is a subversive performance of unthinking conservative nonsense!
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:10 AM on November 18, 2011


To say something more about Frank Miller's oeuvre than his political sentiments: his incessant attempts at gritty, grimy so-called "realism" are very tired and somewhat sad, I think. The Dark knight Returns is sort of the moment when he left behind any notion of making comics with heart or optimism and turned to a pessimistic, cynical mode that he seems to think reflects the way the world really is. In the light of that, it doesn't surprise me too much to find out that he's stridently conservative; cynicism is an attitude a lot of conservatives share.

Anyway, I wanted to say that I just finished what is probably the best comic book I've ever read - Grant Morrison's Flex Mentallo series - and it offered a strong and thoughtful critique of the cynical mode in comics. As the Hoaxer says at an important moment in the book: "Only a bitter little adolescent boy could confuse pessimism with realism."

That sums up pretty perfectly my objection to Frank Miller and his style and work.
posted by koeselitz at 1:25 AM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guardian: Frank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood
posted by stinkycheese at 7:02 PM on November 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Alan Moore – meet the man behind the protest mask: From Wall St to Athens and Occupy sit-ins worldwide, protesters are wearing masks inspired by V for Vendetta. Here, its author discusses why his avenging hero has such potency today
posted by homunculus at 4:25 PM on November 26, 2011


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