Frank Miller’s Reactionary Chic

Last fall Frank Miller unloaded a rant on the OWS movement.  Miller’s commentary amounts to a collection of standard clichés you have heard a million times.  They are the type of rants one expects to hear from a racist relative or a republican co-worker or from Fox News.  The rant succeeds in making Miller look nasty and out of touch.  The main idea of the rant is that OWS is not a legitimate movement, and that making war on Islam is what matters.  Miller is, of course, the writer of some extremely influential graphic novels/comics, which have been reproduced on the big screen.  His work includes the Dark Knight Batman, Sin Cityand 300.  Once you read the rant it is hard not to question Miller’s art.  For example, 300 already appeared to be a grossly simplified tale that espoused Spartan warrior virtue over those pantywaisted Athenians, history be damned.  If all you know about Greek history is 300, then you probably believe that Athenian pussies never would have been able to incubate democracy, science, literature and philosophy were it not for those Spartan beefcakes.  In other words, everything that is good about modern life rests on the muscled shoulders of Spartan studs.  Miller’s version of history is defeated within minutes of an armchair historian’s first google search on the subject.  See here.

Enough about 300, here is Miller’s November 7, 2011 post, entitled Anarchy.  Read the fevered rant for yourself:

Everybody’s been too damn polite about this nonsense:

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.

This is no popular uprising. This is garbage. And goodness knows they’re spewing their garbage – both politically and physically – every which way they can find.

Wake up, pond scum. 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.

And this enemy of mine — not of yours, apparently – must be getting a dark chuckle, if not an outright horselaugh – out of your vain, childish, self-destructive spectacle.

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.

They might not let you babies keep your iPhones, though. Try to soldier on.



So, that was Miller’s audition to get onto FOX News.  To anyone that has been paying attention to recent history, Miller’s rant couldn’t be more detached from reality.  Miller prefers to cast his characters, however flawed, in righteous battles against ultra-evil boogeyman.  A Frank Miller narrative collapses if you fail to believe that the flawed protaganist has a good reason for killing everything in sight.  In the non-fiction world of 2011, Miller placed himself on the side of society that includes Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, Edward Conard, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter, the Koch brothers, Oliver North, Grover Norquist, and the rest of the deeply uncool collection of bastards that run the rightwing policy and PR shop.  If Miller’s non-fiction world translates at all into fiction, then are we to believe that Oliver North was really a flawed and misunderstood superhero in Miller’s version?

While Miller’s plots depend on a clear distinction between good and evil even while his characters brood and struggle with their own imperfections, there can be no doubt that Batman, Leonidas and Detective Hartigan are killing for understandable reasons.  Miller’s material would be almost pure evil if the readers didn’t believe the deeply flawed protagonist still had a plan to obtain a measure of justice.  With this rant, it calls into question who Frank Miller’s protagonists really are.  After reading Frank Miller’s rant you might believe that he’d take the side of Goldman Sachs executive Lloyd Blankfein’s when Blankfein claims to be doing “God’s work.”  Here is some writing from Business Insider about Blankfein:

“We’re very important,” Blankfein is quoted as saying in The Times of London. “We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. It’s a virtuous cycle.”

He goes on to admit to being the focus of public outrage–“I know I could slit my wrists and people would cheer”–but then blows the attempt to reconciliation by saying he is “doing God’s work.”

Lloyd  Blankefein appears ready to join a casting call for 300.  Frank Miller might give him the part.

Frank Miller’s rant also recalled the 60’s in a funny way.  In the 60’s social change started to happen so quickly that cool people could be transformed into has-beens almost literally within months.  In the JFK-60’s the rat pack was cool.  By the end of the 60’s the rat pack was part of the very uncool ‘establishment’.  For those liberals who tried to keep up with the times, Tom Wolfe raked them over the coals in an essay, “Radical Chic, That Party at Lenny’s.”  The essay took aim at the hypocrisy of well-heeled society flirting with hardcore radicalism.  It was clear that the goals of jet-setters and Black Panthers were not completely entwined and to Tom Wolfe and many readers Leonard Bernstein appeared totally insincere and foolish by hosting Black Panthers at a penthouse party.

The OWS, especially in 2011, was causing this sort of rapid transformation and disruption.  Stephen Colbert is definitely cool enough to keep up with the times, but Frank Miller looks like a cranky, modern version of Archie Bunker.  Frank Miller’s sneering reaction to OWS is so contemptuous that it does not manage to address any substantive points.  He calls the protester rapists, louts and other mean names, and then points how comfortable their lives are, and then finishes with the time-honored insult to hippies of telling them to get a job.  It is all fine if Miller wants to sit in his Archie Bunker chair and not bother us with his dark brooding characters who are probably imagined by Miller to have the moral fiber of a Lloyd Blankfein.   Anyway here is a final blast at Miller’s rant taken by none other than Alan Moore:

“Well, Frank Miller is someone whose work I’ve barely looked at for the past twenty years. I thought the Sin City stuff was nreconstructed misogyny, 300 appeared to be wildly ahistoric, homophobic and just completely misguided. I think that there has probably been a rather unpleasant sensibility apparent in Frank Miller’s work for quite a long time. Since I don’t have anything to do with the comics industry, I don’t have anything to do with the people in it. 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.

“As far as I can see, the Occupy movement is just ordinary people reclaiming rights which should always have been theirs. I can’t think of any reason why as a population we should be expected to stand by and see a gross reduction in the living standards of ourselves and our kids, possibly for generations, when the people who have got us into this have been rewarded for it; they’ve certainly not been punished in any way because they’re too big to fail. 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.”


2 thoughts on “Frank Miller’s Reactionary Chic

  1. here’s what i don’t get.
    the super wealthy can do great things.
    what’s his name hedge baron is willing to personally pay for an nba team in seattle.
    hundreds of millions of dollars.
    that same money used for classrooms could make seattle’s students the best-educated in the world.
    but there is no urgency.

    just like krugman always says.
    ww2 created incredible federal spending year over year.
    spending spending spending.
    and that federal spending not only beat the nazis but also propelled the united states to greatness in the latter half of the 20th century.

    all we need is urgency.

  2. occupy just wants the super rich to show even one iota of concern for the well being of the other 99%.
    that’s all.
    just to recognize the social benefit of philanthropy in whatever form it appears.

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