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.)

 

You Occupy Wall Street kids get off of my lawn!” yells Mr. Happy. The kids are yelling back that they’re not interested in this type of “political cartoonist

 

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.

 

Frank Miller fans would much rather see the storyteller’s Batman on his high horse than Miller himself.

 

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.

 

I never shied away from political commentary in my work…keywords being “my work.” Who wants to read my personal views here?

 

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?

 

Best,

Mike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

   

 

 

Published by Mike Pascale

Mike is a freelance storyboardist, artist, writer, comic book/web comic creator, graphic designer, award-winning senior art director/copywriter, Kubert School alumnus, Spectrum Fantasy Art award-winner, guitarist/songwriter, future novelist and full-time, life-long comics fan, pop culture collector, and book hoarder. His creations include Bru-Hed™ (America’s favorite Blockhead™), The Game Buzz!™ weekly webcomic, Nasti: Monster Hunter™, Mikey Moo-Moo™ and more “™s” waiting to be unleashed from his crazy cranium.

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4 Comments

  1. It’s worth pointing out that Germany and Japan’s economies were destroyed by the war, and we leveled some pretty serious damage on their civilian populations (Dresden, Hiroshima). This makes the analogy to slavery a bit naive (to put it generously). The US was built on slavery, and we never made good on reparations after the war. What’s more, What’s more, while slavery ended after the war it was followed by decades of institutional discrimination (think Jim Crow) that didn’t end until the mid 20th century. Finally, we weren’t engaged in a war of attrition with Africa, and they weren’t taking slaves from Europe.
    So let em add something to your essay… it’s not just about being entertaining, it’s about knowing your subject well enough to speak out on it. John Stewart succeeds in large measure because he does his homework and thinks through his jokes. Frank Miller fails, in large measure, because he does not. Being a good political cartoonist means being a thinker, and not just a humorist.

  2. The problem with your argument is that when he *did* put his political thoughts into a “work”, the graphic novel “Holy Terror” (which, given your topic, you strangely do not mention), he got the same bile thrown at him.

    It’s not the fact that he’s making political statements that are getting him negativity, it’s that they aren’t the *correct* political statements. If he had called “corporate bigwigs” a bunch of names, he’d be lauded by the people cursing him now. (The people who disagreed with him would just shrug their shoulders, “another liberal member of the media”).

    You mention Bill O’Reilly and Mel Gibson as being successful. But they also have had to put up with a constant barrage of negativity in the MSM. Negativity that Jon Stewart, Michael Moore and just about every actor/director/writer/whatever in Hollywood *never* have to put up with, no matter how insulting or outrageous their statements are.

    How often is Keith Olbermann denounced for the vile things he says? And how often are statements by conservatives blown out of proportion for political reasons (like Hank Williams, Jr.)?

  3. Frank has always been political – – being one of the biggest defenders of the 1st amendment and creator’s rights against corporations… except now he’s reversed himself and mocks the OWS protestors freedom of speech against corporations, while showing his rampant Islamophobia.

    …And nothing he’s written or drawn in the past decade has been very good, certainly not up to the level of the work that gained him his fame and his place as one of the most well known to the mainstream comics creators.

    With fame and money comes power and “with great power comes great responsibility”… which he has abused.

  4. Nate and Mike, good points. Robert, I see where you’re coming from. I didn’t mention HOLY TERROR because I’m not familiar with it. (I haven’t bought a Miller book in decades.)

    But still, I bet any fallout he received from that work mostly impacted the work and not him personally. It didn’t send off a wave of mainstream media publicity, and probably didn’t shrink his fan base much. My main point is that it’s still in a work of art, so it can be bought or sold, enjoyed or not. When it comes straight from the person, it’s different.

    Regarding Bill O’Reilly and Mel Gibson, sure their works get negative reviews from the media and such, but it doesn’t much affect their sales or their brand because that *is* their brand. Just like political cartoonists. Only when Gibson *the person* went nuts in public did hit really slam his career and brand.

    Michael Moore has had lots of criticism leveled at him by various media as being a hypocrite and he’s been attacked repeatedly by the other side. (Including some really hilarious parodies.) Plenty of directors have had to deal with fallout from un-PC comments, like Brett Ratner and Lars von Trier. And Keith Olbermann was fired for his comments. When it’s on his show, that’s fine because that is what he does. He’s a political commentator, not an artist.

    Bottom line is, I’d rather read an artist’s political views, however thinly veiled, in his work, not in blogs, FB or Twitter. I think creatives should stick to creating and leave politics to the politicians. (And yes, that includes me!)

    When they have issues with policy, they’d do themselves and the world a LOT more good by addressing the people in power directly, by voting and petitioning the government. Yelling on a blog ain’t gonna change a darn thing.

    Thank you very much for taking the time and effort to comment! Greatly appreciated.

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