Commentary, Politics

Occupy Frank Miller // Alan Moore Challenges Miller's "Anarchy"

December 6, 2011

Via Alison Flood of The Guardian (UK), Sin City creator, writer and critically renowned graphic artist Frank Miller posted a rather incendiary condemnation of the Occupy Movement last month, which fractionally reads as follows (Occupy supporters, put on your safety goggles).

The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

“Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached – is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.

Last week, Honest Publishing featured a two-part interview with graphic novel legend Alan Moore — known for V for Vendetta; Watchmen; the fastidiously-researched From Hell; and The Killing Joke — whereby Moore vehemently purported that Miller’s understanding of the movement was grotesquely distorted:

[ … ] Frank Miller is someone whose work I’ve barely looked at for the past twenty years. I thought the Sin City stuff was unreconstructed misogyny, 300 appeared to be wildly ahistoric, homophobic and just completely misguided [… ] I heard about the latest outpourings regarding the Occupy movement. It’s about what I’d expect from him. It’s always seemed to me that the majority of the comics field, if you had to place them politically, you’d have to say centre-right. That would be as far towards the liberal end of the spectrum as they would go. I’ve never been in any way, I don’t even know if I’m centre-left. I’ve been outspoken about that since the beginning of my career. So yes I think it would be fair to say that me and Frank Miller have diametrically opposing views upon all sorts of things, but certainly upon the Occupy movement [… ] I think that the Occupy movement is, in one sense, the public saying that they should be the ones to decide who’s too big to fail. It’s a completely justified howl of moral outrage and it seems to be handled in a very intelligent, non-violent way, which is probably another reason why Frank Miller would be less than pleased with it. I’m sure if it had been a bunch of young, sociopathic vigilantes with Batman make-up on their faces, he’d be more in favour of it. We would definitely have to agree to differ on that one.

Notwithstanding which side of the sociopolitical spectrum one stands in lieu of the Occupy Movement, Miller does seem to exhibit a fundamental misapprehension of anarchism itself (at the very least, the conceptual energy that, in part, fuels Occupiers).

Secondly, the bit of Miller’s “Anarchy” post that underscores America’s war against a “ruthless enemy” feels excessively unsubstantiated, as this country has a fragmented perception of who, exactly, that enemy truly is.  “Maybe, between bouts of self-pity and all the other tasty tidbits of narcissism,” Miller tells Occupiers, “you’ve been served up in your sheltered, comfy little worlds, you’ve heard terms like al-Qaeda and Islamicism.”

The above excerpt is conspicuously timely, inasmuch as — according to Ms. Flood of The Guardian — “Miller’s most recent work, Holy Terror, sees new superhero The Fixer take on al-Qaida.”


As a fan of his breakthrough neo-noir series, Sin City, it is rather disconcerting to see Miller take such a Promethean stance on the Occupiers.  They’ve collectively absorbed deserved-cum-undeserved criticisms from the left and the right, yet Miller’s anti-Occupy quips seem blindly confrontational.

To be fair, though, Moore’s take on Sin City‘s alleged phallocentric, misogynistic underpinnings seems a bit misguided, too.

I can’t speak for Miller’s other works, but as a neo-noir, Sin City subtextually reflects on the manner in which 40s-to-50s crime dramas dealt with a rare breed of Production-Code-era female characters: the unscrupulous femme-fatale (think Barbara Stanwyck in Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity).  Would a film critic whistleblow a period piece for its depiction of slavery in the United States?  One can question whether or not Miller gleans some form of vicarious pleasure from Sin City‘s scantily clad, fetishized “dames”, but one can’t really take issue with its source material.

Dorothy Mackaill in Safe in Hell (1931, pre-Code)

Still, aside from the above (and arguably unnecessary) tangent (leave it for another post, Richard), be sure to read the second half of Honest Publishing’s full interview, where Moore torrentially opines on what needs to change in our current political system.  Sociopolitical pariah or not, Moore’s is a voice to be reckoned with, which — simultaneously — can be compelling and scary, depending on how you look at the anarchist subtext of his work.

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