Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Creators and Politics

There's been lots of talk lately about comics creators and their politics--both from the creators themselves and from the world that reports on comics.

And all that talk has got me thinking about a couple of things.

First and foremost among them is this. Let's say a favorite creator of yours (doesn't have to to be comics, and doesn't even have to be creator--could be an actor or director or editor or whatever) comes out with some political--or religious, or whatever--statement or proclamation this is completely opposite of your own belief system.

Does this change the way you view the work of this particular person?

So as not to make this about politics--and to instead focus on how a creator's worldview might change the way a reader looks at his or her work--I'm going to use a perfect example.

Which is rare, because nothing is perfect. Except, of course, this example.

Let's take Frank Miller and Alan Moore, two giants in the comics industry who are, quite literally, on polar opposite sides of the political spectrum and who have just gotten into a little back and forth about a certain issue.

Recently, Frank Miller published a blog post documenting his feelings towards the Occupy Wall Street movement. As with everything when it comes to Frank Miller, the comments were...well, they were Frank Miller-like.

Biting and uncensored and without even a hint of remorse.

A couple of weeks later, Alan Moore talked about Miller's comments in an interview. Moore, as he is known to be, was quite biting and uncensored and offered not even a little remorse, either.

Whereas Miller was quite strongly opposed to Occupy, Alan Moore was quite firmly in the corner of the movement.

So here's the question--knowing where these guys stand politically, does this shape the way you view their work, past or present?

I'm interested in your thoughts on this, because I've read so much online about how fans felt that Dark Knight Returns was "ruined" by Miller's political shift over the years, or how Alan Moore is "a disgruntled old man" whose work is "no longer relevant."

For the record, I don't agree with any of the above comments, and whatever my own political leanings may be, I will continue to enjoy the work of both creators as I always have.

Well, I think so at least.

See, I haven't re-read anything by either creator in a while now, and I'm wondering if, when I do finally pick up Dark Knight again, the impact of the book will be different.

I use Dark Knight here because it's quite obvious that Miller's political viewpoint has shifted wildly over the past couple decades, to the point that I'm not sure the young Frank Miller would get along with the older Frank Miller. Alan Moore, on the other hand, has had pretty much the same politics throughout his career.

So, I ask you guys--will any of this affect your enjoyment of their work? Let us know, because I'm really interested in getting your take(s) on the matter.

4 comments:

Joseph said...

I guess most of the people who's work I enjoy have similar views as I do, because I'm not sure I've really been confronted with this issue. Then again, I'm not one to sway radically to one side on a subject, so that may be a part of it to.

However, I would say that a work maintains it's quality in one's perspective regardless of changes in or revelations of a person's views. If you enjoy the stories, read them.

AJG said...

"If you enjoy the stories, read them."

I absolutely agree, Joseph!

zharth said...

A creator's politics might affect my enjoyment of that creator's creations, but only insofar as his politics shape or influence his creations. And that's largely evident in the creations themselves - whatever politics they espouse, will either resonate in me (in which case I'll like the creation), or not (and even then, I'm capable of appreciating a piece of art that I don't agree with, if it's done really well).

I suppose it's possible for me to change my opinion of a creation after the fact, by gleaning new interpretations inspired by external information (like the creator publicly announcing his political leanings). But I've never been the type of person to judge a piece of art based on details of the person who created it that are not evident in the creation itself. For example, I'm not one to boycott an artist's work based on his personal views - that seems rather petty, to me.

On the other hand, in most cases the creator cannot be completely distanced from his creations, but that connection is a dynamic one, and I believe the creation deserves to have a voice of its own, separate and distinct from the voice of the creator - as the creator will grow and change over the years, while the creation stays relatively the same, and may even reflect views or beliefs the creator no longer holds.

AJG said...

I think you nailed what I was (attemtping to) say in the post, zharth, only you did it much, much better than me:

"...the creator cannot be completely distanced from his creations, but that connection is a dynamic one, and I believe the creation deserves to have a voice of its own, separate and distinct from the voice of the creator - as the creator will grow and change over the years, while the creation stays relatively the same, and may even reflect views or beliefs the creator no longer holds."

Well said.

I go back to The Dark knight Returns, by Frank Miller. Have you ever read that?

I just re-read it, and the work was as vibrant and powerful for me this time around as it was when I first encountered it in college.

However, I have to say. Certain depictions of characters--not changed, per say, but maybe, became a bit more heavy-handed knowing what I now know about Miller's eventual political evolution.

This is interesting stuff. Thanks for the comments, zharth.