Booze, Broads, & Bullets: I’m sick of flags.

April 16th, 2010 by | Tags: ,

Chad’s talking about Family Values while Sean is over here making connections between That Yellow Bastard and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Booze, Broads, & Bullets: we got it covered from all angles. Start at the index, work your way down.

Page 63 of 9-11: Artists Respond features a story by Layla Lawlor. It’s a one page story about the impermanence of things, but also about the way things live on and on in new forms. It’s a hopeful piece, about the way life ebbs and flows and then becomes great again. Pages 66 and 67 are about Peter Pachoumis’s memories of 9-11. Frantic phone calls, live television broadcasts, a slow return to normalcy. It has the iconography of most 9-11 related tales– firemen, cops, flags, and dust. It’s about shock, rather than Lawlor’s hope. And then you have pages 64 and 65.

An atom bomb of anger and cynicism dropped into the middle of a book filled with stories about unity and tolerance and sadness. The rest of the book is your mother comforting you and putting ice on your black eye, while Miller’s two pages are your father asking you if you gave as good as you got, and if not, you better do better next time. It’s a mood-killer, a bug crawling across your dinner plate on the night you want to propose to your lady.

It’s cynical and ugly and I don’t know that he was wrong for doing it. Something about the sparse art and jagged lettering makes me think that this is just as personal and honest as the rest of the stories in the book. Miller is a big fan of New York City, whether it was the mythical one in his Daredevil run or the city he moved to with a portfolio full of art in an attempt to make it big.

There’s anger and hurt in these two pages, these fourteen words, but there’s also a love. Most of all, though, there’s hurt feelings. Miller’s reaction is short, curt, and mean. It’s a slap in the face. Miller uses a star and a cross, specifically American symbols of church and state, to symbolize the ideas that he’s disgusted with. It’s a very pointed choice, and feels like a backlash against the reactionary patriotism that swept the country in the wake of 9-11. “They weren’t right, but we aren’t right, either.”

His views have changed in the years since. 2006 saw him deliver an impassioned essay on the subject of how his belief in the flag turned around. He’s a supporter of the war on terror, and considers it to be vitally important to the survival of the country. Holy Terror, Batman! was going to be a “piece of propaganda” that will “offend just about everybody” before it changed into something else entirely.

I don’t know enough about Miller’s political views to accurately judge him. He’s libertarian, I’m not. He supported the War in Iraq, I don’t. But this quick blast of anger, this “Get real!” in the middle of “It’ll be all right!”, is fascinating to me. You can see where he was coming from and exactly how he felt, and it’s all in three panels and fourteen words.

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7 comments to “Booze, Broads, & Bullets: I’m sick of flags.”

  1. I think it took me all day to remember another one from that book aside from Miller’s (the one where the guy breaks down and cries when he hears “Let it Be” came to mind), but that’s not because any of the others are necessarily bad or even mediocre. That whole book got to me, but Miller’s is the one that I remember the most.

    Miller’s words are so curt that you can’t do anything but just think about them. I’m sure if you gave this to a Conservative pundit they would be talking for hours but nothing they could say would have as much impact as the images he made coupled with the words. This two-page spread is honestly one of the best criticisms I’ve ever read, and it’s only 14 words long.

  2. He’s also said some very nasty things about middle eastern people. He could simply have been angry but still.

    Also interesting NPR link, never read it before.

  3. […] 4thletter! Booze, Broads, & Bullets: Ronin Booze, Broads, & Bullets: Elektra Lives Again Booze, Broads, & Bullets: Man Without Fear Booze, Broads, & Bullets: Spawn-Batman Booze, Broads, & Bullets: Sin City: The Big Fat Kill Booze, Broads, & Bullets: I’m sick of flags. […]

  4. For what it’s worth, it was announced about the same time as this post that Miller’s not going to complete Holy Terror, Batman.

    And, while I’m not an expert on his political philosophy either, he strikes me as enough of an iconoclast that I wouldn’t judge all libertarians on anything Frank Miller says or writes.

    About his 9/11 piece… it’s definitely the most memorable entry in the two-volume memorial anthology, if for all the wrong reasons. I’m glad to see that his opinion has apparently since changed, and I have no problem believing that the sentiment was honest.

    But that sentiment is still completely toxic.

    Man’s problems have never stemmed from faith, per se, but from the misguided objects of faith and the rotten fruit of faith. Some faith is directed toward very worthy objects, and some faith produces very noble results.

    Mother Teresa and MLK are the most obvious recent examples, but even 9/11 itself shows the other, commendable side of faith. Those who ran into the burning and collapsing buildings to rescue others did so out of faith — some, out of an explicit faith in God, and all of them acted out of faith in the idea that, essentially, one ought to love your neighbor as yourself.

  5. @Bubba: Holy Terror! is still on, actually, just not with Batman.

  6. If you read Miller’s interview with The Comics Journal, you’ll see that you misread his intent with the Sick of Flags piece.

  7. @Jose Seispaqu: I have that interview, and just reread it after your commend. I don’t think I misread anything. He describes the work as an anti-religious, anti-nationalist track, a “pox on both your houses” kind of thing, which fits in with what I talk about.