Monday, 24 October 2011

It's just a book about Indian history. Earlier this week, Salman Rusdie told Haaretz: Everybody loves The Wire and I think it's okay, but in the end it's just a police series. I love The Sopranos. Deadwood, which didn't last long, was a series I liked a lot; it had more filthy language than I've ever heard on television anywhere in my life, but it was brilliantly written. I like some of what is on now, like Breaking Bad and Dexter. Ever since then, his Twitter feed's been mighty entertaining. In particular, he implicitly claims that The Wire is "just a police series" but Entourage is something more. (I'm not sure exactly what that something is, but it must have to do with the fact that, as a celebrity himself, he could relate to the Vince and his crew on a profound level inaccessible to those of us who found the show and its characters vapid and humorless.) Rushdie's dismissal of The Wire as "mere" genre fiction couldn't be more poorly timed, coming as it does on the tail end of Colson Whitehead's dismissal of genre fiction as an operative category in contemporary literature. Genre only matters, Whitehead argues, to people incapable of seeing past it. One would assume that a magic realist like Rushdie would understand that. But no. He'll watch Game of Thrones, but only because it qualifies as research: I watched all that because if I am going to work in this field, I need to know what it is going on. I have been making myself have whole-series marathons to get the point of how it goes. I will soon start writing my little series. What's his "little series" about? It's a sort of paranoid science-fiction series, people disappearing and being replaced by other people. Sounds like just another science fiction series to me.
Holy Terror, Frank Miller! In 2006, Frank Miller announced a forthcoming publication called Holy Terror, Batman! in which the Dark Knight would go to Afghanistan and get in a fistfight with Osama bin Laden. He claimed it would hark back to an earlier era in comics history when, for example, Superman would marshal his many powers to annoy Hitler: All well and good, except DC didn't think the Batman brand would be enhanced by being aggressively associated with the worst elements of the Bush administration, and so the world was spared Holy Terror, Batman! Until a few weeks ago, that is, when Miller published Holy Terror, a book about a Batman-type vigilante who teams with a Catwoman-type thief and a Commissioner Gordon-type chief to defeat a series of terrorist attacks against a Gotham-type Empire City. (Miller's roman à clef is so obvious I believe DC might be able to sue for copyright infringement.) Let me begin by warning you: This book is more terrible than I'm leading you to believe it is. It's Batman as written by Pam Geller after she and Glenn Reynolds split a box of wine. Only worse. Where the art isn't muddled it's obscured by a dense bank of unnecessary Eisner spritz. Human proportions—especially female proportions—remind anyone who may've forgotten of his directions to Jim Lee on All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder: If you thought his sexism was shameless, you should see his xenophobia: At least he acknowledges that Muslims belong to the human race. Generally speaking, that is, because it's not like he can tell them apart: So these terrorists, all of whom are named Mohammed, are attacking Empire City because it stands as a shining beacon of democracy and freedom. Which means, as we all learned during the early years of the War on Terror, that we're "down with" torture: As well we should be, after all, because we're fighting a new enemy now and have no choice but to engage in "postmodern diplomacy": It seems strange for Miller to play jihad for a joke when he obviously believes it necessitates his adolescent diplomatic fantasy, but that's just another symptom of his declining mind. Consider this: the man who wrote and pencilled The Dark Knight Returns in 1986 decides to write and pencil another book about another Batman-type figure going to war against an invading army of blinkered idiots, only in 2006, he lacks the imagination required to have this Batman-type figure fend them off with anything short of an arsenal. What would Batman say to that? Moreover, what would Batman do with a horde of poor kids whose misdirected aggression has left them vulnerable to persuasion by a radical ideology? He would provide an alternative: Before you ask: that is Batman, on a horse, leading until-very-recently mindless terror-proxies in an attempt to save Gotham. Frank Miller in 1986 believed that the enemy wasn't only human, but capable of being redeemed; his 2006 counterpart, however, is having none of it. After all, 9/11 Q.E.D.

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