Fabio Paolo Barbieri (fpb) wrote,
Fabio Paolo Barbieri

Two NOT classics

It's my belief that Miller's Dark Knight Returns and Moore's Watchmen are long overdue for a re-evaluation, downwards. All the most unpleasant trends we see in modern pseudo-super-hero rubbish celebrate their triumph in these two series: the body-count element, the bitchy cynicism, the re-visitation of hoary old super-hero cliches with the addition of graphic violence, arise from the influence of Miller and Moore. What Miller, especially did, was to add some largely reactionary social references and a quite astounding degree of violence; his mass-murdering Joker is the prototype of every later grinning ghoul used to show on-panel slaughter and disembowelment by dim-witted Image clones. What real insights do we gain from Dark Knight Returns? None: it is all of it really about that most stock of all contemporary Marvel/Image stock cliches, obsession. Miller's admittedly stylish (too stylish) and energetic (too energetic) approach, simply drives us into forgetting the realities and subtleties of human life, casting us into a simplified world of guns, very few roses, and a lot of poses. It is powerful, dynamic, attention-grabbing - like a mugging, or a ÂSunÀ headline. And now we find that his latest offering has a big-gun-toting black woman (there's the poltical correctness bit taken care of) indulge in scenes of extraordinary violence in a war waged by the U.S. Governement against, of all things, a burger corporation. (Oh, how novel: an Evil Corporation!) What insights about the reality of human life this pap has to offer, I simply don't know - but it has big guns and loadsanloadsanloadsa style. Whoopee! No wonder Frank Miller is Todd MacFarlane's artistic hero.

My estimate of Watchmen is just as bad. It is the most classic case of missing the wood for the trees it has ever been my misfortune to see. We positively don't want, and certainly don't need, to be told that super-heroes in the real world would be vicious gits like the Comedian, obsessional lunatics like Rohrschach, or ineffective wimps like Owlman (whose love story, by the way, is painfully sentimental and incredible: what woman of any sense would go for such a nerd? - but then, sentimentality is always the obverse side of cynicism). The point is, 1), that realistic super-heroes are a contradiction in terms and 2), that even in realistic terms, this kind of cynicism is not true to life. No sir, "good" people are not always ineffective wimps; I object most strongly to the cynical view that it is the most ruthless who are the most effective. It is quite simply wrong in terms of daily experience - or is it your experience that to trample, abuse, and antagonize people, is in the long run an effective way to act? If ruthlessness won wars, Hitler would have won his. End of argument.
Tags: alan moore, frank miller, overrated things
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