One day my brain will explode (PART 2). How a reviewer of Holy Terror got me riled up….

But although I am ranting about the Catwoman book, I should extend my example of questionable reviews to other genres.

Has reviewing comics become synonymous to blurting out “Not cool, man”, the short version of opinion? I mean, I keep reading of reviewers disliking a book basing their opinion on the fact that it shows “boobies” like in the case of Catwoman, or because THEY VIEW IT as propaganda, such as in the case below.

I am not sure how valid it is to evaluate a comic basing your rating system on “how it makes you feel” alone. I mean, most of Steranko work in the 70’s-80’s was not my cup of tea, but I was able to find merit and value on it, even if it didn’t entertain me, or pleased me. It was groundbreaking, innovative and had lots and lots of merit!

I saw this review for the Graphic novel Holy Terror, by Frank Miller, and man! Was it full of holes, and full of subjective opinions masked as objective statements.

I wanted to refrain from posting name and specific articles, but this reviewer was so concerned with being PC (Politically Correct) that he was constantly sacrificing review of the book for the sake of his PC beliefs.

God forbid someone got offended!!! Bad Frank Miller! BAD!!

I tried to respond on his article on his page, but the response was limited to 3000 characters and my response had a bit more, counting the quotes (and I wanted to include quotes, in order to be more specific in my arguments).

Do not think for a moment that I am trying to start a reviewer’s feud. I respect too much the fact that the reviewer in question is a professional writer, and likely has a large contingent of followers while I am barely a no-one in the web world.

Since I can’t post a response on his site, I will post it here.

The original article can be found in Comicsalliance web

http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/26/frank-millers-holy-terror-review/

I started my response in the following way:

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I just wanted to bring to your attention some very subjective points you were making and remind you that it is in everyone’s’ best interest (yours and your readers) to differentiate between the comics strong points as a work of art, and your subjective opinions on any (comics, politics, sports) given topic.

I appreciate the effort you put into your review, so I am going to point out some items that are a bit ambiguous or erroneous.

1. This comic as Propaganda: I understand why you would be inclined to qualify this comic as “propaganda”, when you use the popular definition of propaganda, meaning a piece of information with an agenda. But “popular” is not always right, if you don’t believe me, ask Wikipedia. To qualify as propaganda that item has to be created with the specific intention of “changing your mind, perception or belief system”. Miller’s work MAY incite people to sway their beliefs but I doubt it was created with that intention in mind, primarily. I think it was created as a piece of reactionary entertainment. Thus, you labeling it propaganda shows bias on your part. I dare you to find someone who after reading this book will say “I used to be partial towards terrorists, but after reading Holy Terror, I think we should punch them in the face!”

2. QUOTE: “The conversation about terrorism and Al-Qaeda in the United States has too often drifted into a critique, or worse, of Islam itself. How do you define your villains as being Al-Qaeda first and Muslims second? “

Mhhh… Al-Qaeda bills itself as ardent supporters of the Muslim Faith. That’s the end of your argument. You should comfront Al-Queda members and ask them politely to stop billing themselves as such. Are all muslims Al-Qaeda? Of course not. But it is up to them, by co-relation, to differentiate themselves from Al-Qaeda, not the rest of the non-muslim world.

Miller in most of his book, has his hero fighting the terrorists. Who happen to be of muslim faith. I don’t see his hero fighting a muslim that is not a terrorist, in any given panel.

QUOTE: “Without care, you run the risk of portraying Al-Qaeda not as a radical Islamist terrorist organization, but as representative of Muslims as a whole, a factually incorrect position.”

You,  dear writer of this article, may run into that problem. I don’t have it. I actually never had. I haven’t met in my life someone who does. I am not saying they don’t exist. But I can step forth, as living proof that I haven’t. Of course I can only answer for my actions. A horse is a horse, a camel is a camel. And Miller doesn’t have The Fixer wipe out the whole arab community in, say Queens. He has his hero fighting terrorists. Again, you come across as over-sensitive, and fishing for any angle to condemn something that seems to make YOU nervous, namely the mistaking of muslims for terrorists.

3. QUOTE: “David has a blue Star of David tattooed on his face. That was around the point where I wanted to put the book down forever and pretend like it never happened, to be perfectly frank.”

Wow… should we consider you then Anti-semitic? I mean, since we are jumping the gun on conclusions and assumptions….Because although I understand the political conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, can you extrapolate that in this comic the Star means pro-jewish agenda, ergo IT HAS TO BE also Anti-muslim??? Isn’t that making too many assumptions on your part, and projecting them onto the reader? And in all fairness, the character of David appears in 1 page, and is accompanies by two Asian super-ninjas. Over-reaching your PC grasp, man.

4.QUOTE: “The slurs against Islam continue as the book goes on. The Fixer nabs a terrorist and calls him “Mohammed,” because “you’ve got to admit that the odds are pretty good it’s Mohammed.” They call him “Moe” throughout the rest of the book. The terrorists are viewed as something sub-human. “

I happen to be inclined to believe that the odds are pretty good that the person would be called Mohammed. I don’t know the exact numbers, but higher than being called Jose, or Chun-li. Since I am aware of this fact, I bothered doing some research. As a perfunctory activity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_(name)  (Of course I will readily admit that Wikipedia is NOT the best source of anything, but http://www.helium.com/items/927803-muhammad-the-most-common-name-in-the-world  just in case)

And more importantly… why does it bother you that the terrorist is viewed as something else than Sub-human? I always known that from the moment you start dialoguing with terrorist, (be it Al-Qaeda, IRA, ETA or whatever) you are giving weight and credence to their methods and validating their actions. YOU ARE SAYING HIS ACT OF VIOLENCE OPENED THE DIALOG. From the moment that a human being has chosen to commit violence upon innocents, they do not rank highly in the scale of human beings. I don’t have a problem dehumanizing it, and converting it in a pest, like rats, that has to be eradicated.

5 QUOTE:“The constant bashing of Islam as a throwback to the Dark Ages is stupid, ugly, and tiresome. It’s also factually incorrect. While Europe was in the midst of the so-called Dark Ages, the Arab world was in the middle of what was essentially a golden age of enlightenment. They made vital discoveries and advances in science, math, medicine, art, architecture, and several other areas that had a profound impact on the rest of human civilization.”

A lot to be said about this statement. Although it could be construed as true in absolute terms, you seem to forget that the areas where Islam flourished were the regions where secular rule of law and secular government officials were in power, promulgating and facilitating pluralism and multiculturalism.

Other areas that were in the care of more fundamentalist rulers sunk or remained in obscurity. I am in a position to say that many cultures and countries manages to flourish DESPITE religious imposition, such as some parts of europe and asia.

Just so you know that I am not bashing your review, I will publicly state that I agree with some of your comments such as :

QUOTE: “The Fixer shouts that the terrorists have Stinger missiles into his two-way wrist radio one page before the terrorists use those missiles to destroy a helicopter. Where were they hiding that they knew where the helicopter would be? Who knows? They just do. What’s important, apparently, is the drama of the scene, not the logic.

The terrorists somehow scramble fighter jets (several of them) to blow up a thinly veiled Statue of Liberty (because they hate us for our freedom) in American airspace (presumably because the government is useless and/or in cahoots with them). The first-person narration skips around and doesn’t always do a good job of establishing who’s speaking, especially late in the book.”

I completely agree with this analysis of the art of storytelling in this book. Miller went for sensationalism and neglected continuity and coherence. And that was the type of analyses I would’ve expected to read from a comic reviewer. If you had filled your article of lines like that, I would’ve even allowed a personal note at the end where you stated your personal opinion, and announce that you thing the book to be bias and racist, if you so choose.

Well, I am sorry that your own prejudices and pre-conceived ideas got in the way of enjoying the book for the right reasons and hating it for the wrong reasons.

Your review makes it sound like you have a list of “No touchy topics” and as soon as someone got closed to them, your subconscious started screaming “OFFENSE!! OFFENSE!!”

Bear in mind, the majority of intelligent comic book readers have none of the problems distinguishing between the differences you seem to have a problem setting apart.

Now, you may think I liked the book or the message. Or that I am an ardent defender of Miller.

Let me set you straight on that: I didn’t like the art that much, and the story was too full of holes. But I found no problem with an avenger beating the crap out of terrorist. I didn’t get up the next morning and avoided Mohammed (No joke, his real name) in the coffee stand where I get my donuts and black coffee before I go to work, even know I know he is Muslim, and one heck of a painter. And I prefer to think that the majority of the readers are like me: Adults who can make up their own minds, and have no problems distinguishing fiction from reality.

I also believe that Miller is past his prime, and is not contributing much of worth lately to the world of graphical narrative. He wants to join the Hollywood crowd, and thinks his meal-ticket is storyboarding. Once his one-trick- pony of bringing to the screen Sincity or 300 is done… he will be passe.. and the majority of his comic book fans will be very resentful for having sold them out.

Cordially

Gerald Dean, the Comic Watcher

www.comicwatcher.blogspot.com

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Since I couldn’t post my comment on his review, I left a note on his comments section pointing it to here.

I should mention that recently Jim Shooter posted a review on Red Hood and the Outlaws.

http://www.jimshooter.com/2011/10/dc-comics-new-52.html

That type of review is what I think everyone should strive for, to the T!!

Analysis on the constructing of a graphic narrative, pointing out the hits and the misses.

I encourage everyone to read it and give kudos.

Anyway, like I say in the title of my post… sometimes I read things that make me feel like….

And now i’m going over to http://www.jimshooter.com/2011/10/dc-comics-new-52-part-2.html to see what he wrote about Catwoman.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. johs says:

    Your logic is incredibly flawed. I read this imagining a 13 year old wrote it to be quite honest. You constantly misunderstood arguments, cut quotes too short and have no analytical skills whatsoever. Stop writing.

  2. ComicWatcher says:

    You are aware that for you to state “Your logic is flawed” you should also be providing some arguments to support your statement, right?
    Otherwise… you sound like a kid (did you said something about a 13 year old?) saying “you are wrong, I am right! Nahahnhaha”

    I quoted and refered the original article. It is up to the reader to go back and read the source material. I DON’T have to, nor I SHOULD have to repost the entire original article.
    If that is too much for any given reader to do, then they should stick to more “accessible” forms of literature.
    Also notice, my friend, that I bother to point out the elements I disagree with, while you, who accuse me of having flawed logic and no analytic skills, do not bother or are too lazy to do either.

    Given the fact that most of what you write is pretty subjective… all I can say is “You are entitled to your opinion”

    I would say that I would propose “you start reading” before you advise me to stop writing, but your concise and unfounded answer tells me you ceased that activity long ago.

    Anyway, I do thank you for posting.

  3. checharne says:

    Johs comment aside from an empty response sounds more like the writer of the review you are commenting on in troll form or a scorned ex girlfriend.

    The link to the other review is already posted there is no need to copy and paste the whole thing just to respond to things, shortened quotes were more than sufficient. Based on reading both blogs I’m going to have to agree with Comic Watcher on this one because Comics Alliance seems to be a vague, rated G easy way out review with no depth.

  4. John says:

    Hey,

    For what it’s worth, I 99% agree with what you say. The 1% is the fact that Frank Miller himself called this work propaganda although I would guess (I have not read it yet) that he was going for propaganda parody. No one would ever make real propaganda and call it so.

    I too felt the author was too afraid not to walk on any PC landmines, This is unfortunately the case with almost all “bloggers”. The younger crowd sees it as cool to hate on yourself on your culture and your beliefs. It seems to be hip to sympathize with the ones who want to destroy you. You can be sure our enemies are aware of this and exploit it. I’m not saying we need to rise up or anything like that but how come when someone critiques Islam they always have to add “Don’t get me wrong all Christians are just as evil blah blah blah” when that’s not the case currently in the present time we live in. The truth isn’t always PC. Not all people who follow Islam are terrorists obviously but all terrorists today from that region follow Islam.

    If this bothers you my advice is to spend some time out of the US. I have lived in Eastern Europe for some time and it’s refreshing to not be constantly demonized for being part of the majority (straight, white-male). Again, I have no issues with people who don’t follow my demographic but it’s blatantly clear that today’s media portrays anyone like me as evil or a bumbling idiot. I don’t understand the logic of demonizing the majority to make the minority feel better. Isn’t that still being hateful and bigoted?

  5. ComicWatcher says:

    John, we are too loose with some social conventions, like “demonizing” and calling other “bigoted” and such.
    As you point out, there are times when the truth is not Politically Correct. Many times we jump at the chance of using these terms (and I don’t mean you, I am referring to pundits and political spokespersons) and by using them in the wrong context or by overusing them, we create a propensity of people trying to find “bigotism” or “demonizations” everywhere they look.
    And as thinking humans, and rational beings, we should find ways of reconciling our faiths (Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, whatever) with truth, science, and facts. In light of that statement, ALL AL-QAEDA are Muslims, but NOT ALL MUSLIMS ARE AL-QAEDA. And that is a fact. And we should respect other people’s faith and traditions. That is fact. And we shouldn’t censor ourselves or our speech to accommodate other peoples sensitivities.I firmly believe that.

    I also happen to agree with your opening statement about Frank Miller calling his work “propaganda” and how you very eloquently added “No one would ever make real propaganda and call it so.”

    Thanks for sharing, and for keeping the dialog open.

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