Frank Miller, Political Cartoonist November 21, 2011 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns – Tags: Frank Miller, Mickey Mouse Clock, Mike Pascale
As you no doubt have heard (unless you work for The Huffington Post, which just “broke” a critique yesterday–nice “scoop”!), Frank Miller wrote a rather scathing opinion about the Occupy Wall Street “movement” last week. Among other things, he called the entirety of their members “louts, thieves and rapists”, “iPhone, iPad wielding [sic] spoiled brats” and “pond scum.”
What does Frank Miller do? Interestingly, it depends on who’s writing about him. I did a Google search of “Frank Miller blog occupy wall st” and the descriptors before his name included “Comic-Book Legend”, “Director”, “Screenwriter”, “‘300’ Creator”, “‘Sin City’, ‘Batman’ Scribe” and “Graphic Artist.” That’s an example of either versatility or bad brand management.
Oddly though, no one thought to use “Political Cartoonist”, which he most definitely has become. Not like a Toles, Breen or Fiore, but a cartoonist who’s political. (I’m sure you can think of a few who fit that description.)
As I see it, cartoonists, artists, writers, directors, musicians and other entertainers really need to keep their political views to themselves–or in their work. Directly and publicly spouting off and spilling personal bile does nothing other than to polarize and shrink your fan base. What’s the point? I guarantee you not one of Miller’s fans collect his political views. They collect his stories, his art, books, comics, films and other work.
(What is it about financial and/or critical success that inflates an ego to the extent to convince someone that strangers actually care about your views in completely unrelated fields?)
Granted, at this point in his career, Frank probably couldn’t care less about growing or even maintaining his fan base. I’m sure he’s got plenty of dough and makes enough sales of whatever he touches that it no longer matters. Furthermore, with the “OWS” group, it’s a safe bet that none of his bosses at the movie studios or comics/entertainment companies are members. Only those that buy his branded merchandise would be likely participants.
But still, there’s a reason most corporations that cater to the public shy away from making political statements and public endorsements. (They all contribute to various candidates, sure, but usually through P.A.C.s or non-public means. One usually has to do some digging to find out to whom or what a company contributes.) Whether you’re selling books, movies, apparel, toys, crackers or soap, you generally want to sell as much product as possible to as many people as possible in as many locations as possible.
This is why corporations are likely to shy away from controversy. It’s not because of cowardice or ethics, it’s simply good business. And railing against a fairly large base of current and potential customers is probably not good business.
Sure, I have opinions regarding OCW. Sure, they’ve made some egregious errors as well as impressive strides. But who cares what I think? Unless I have insights that can help them achieve their goals, or help the opposition shut them down, there really is no benefit to my spilling bile on one side or the other. Unless I do it in an entertaining way–in my creative work.
And that’s what Frank should do. He’s a creator–so create something!
Say whatever you want in a way that’s compelling, entertaining, that makes people want to PAY to read what you say. Isn’t that the brilliance of a true entertainer? How many people pay to read Jon Stewart’s and Bill O’Reilly’s books or see Mel Gibson’s and Sean Penn’s movies that disagree with them? Lots. And that’s what it’s all about.
Otherwise, you end up with a load of lousy publicity that turns off many fans and lowers the opinion of your peers. You may not care about that, but your brand and business sure does. It certainly doesn’t convert anyone to your way of thinking. (Most all of the responses on that Google page and Miller’s own blog were merely throwing back more insults and negativity.)
Create–and be heard, earn respect, stimulate thought and possibly change the status quo. And make money while you do it.
Rant–and be ridiculed, rebuked, refuted, rallied against and yelled at.
Which better furthers your cause?
P.S.: Come on, out there…Does no one have the 3.5-inch posable Mickey Robot Clock below or at least know where it’s from? The reward and generous offer still stand. Any useful *facts* about its origin or value gets you a FREE sketch, or HALF OFF a commission by yours truly! Tell Craig here. (Also click if you just want to buy a nice piece of art for the holidays. No politics included.) Thanks!