Some Thoughts on Frank Miller
As many of you may know, Frank Miller harshly criticized the Occupy Wall Street movement in a recent blog post. Personally, I’m not surprised that he made those comments. They fit into the world view that he often espouses in his works.
To be fair, I’ve only really read Sin City and Batman: Year One. I’ve also watched 300. Now, I rather like the Sin City stories, but I also recognize them for what they are.
Frank Miller’s work often valorizes the strong individual, rugged and self militarized, who battles it out against a corrupt society, all the while spouting right wing talking points. Basically, the plot of most of the Sin City yarns is this: hero gets into scrape over a girl (who is threatened by corrupt authority) and must then deliver brutal justice to the perpetrators. From corrupt politicians, dirty cops, powerful crime lords, and cannibalistic priests, Miller’s work portrays the myriad forms of a corrupt and corrupting society. Mixed with a strong dose of noir, it is never certain whether the ending is bitter or bitter sweet.
The individualism depicted and romanticized in Sin City is clearly right wing, if not borderline fascistic. But 300 takes that imagery and runs with it. (As a disclaimer, I have not read the graphic novel 300 but I have watched the film adaptation.)
For a great take down of 300, go read David Brin’s essay at his blog (http://davidbrin.wordpress.com/2011/11/13/move-over-frank-miller-or-why-the-occupy-wall-street-kids-are-better-than-spartans/ ). I’ve even commented there. And to further my comments, I was, personally, more interested in the half naked men than I was in being annoyed at the utterly horrendous usage of history. While the conceit is propaganda, it still reveals what it is that Miller values: strength and an elite warrior cultural mindset that emphasizes glory, even if it is spectacle.
I’ve read elsewhere (and listened on podcasts) that have opined that Miller’s work has steadily declined over the years. This I can believe. Miller has been a revolutionary voice in comic books, but his inability to move on, to change and adapt, means that the revolution has already passed him by.