In which the Blogger interrupts his discussion of the canon with a look at an entirely contemptible sequence of rape-porn panels in Kick Ass 2, part 11:
I wonder if there's ever been a creator associated with the
mainstream of the super-person comic-book who's worked as hard as Mark
Millar has in order to be indivisibly associated with the leitmotiv of gratuitous sexual
violence? He started off his career with the anal rape of a priest in Saviour back in 1990, which all seemed rather punk rock and
precocious for a 19 year-old in the context of the story and the age. And now here
we are, more than twenty years later, and he and John Romita Jr are
showing us the newly-christened - oh, yes! - "Motherfucker" beating
up a terrified teenage girl before unzipping his super-pants and
declaring that " ... it's time to see what evil dick tastes like."
already shot her parents in the head. He's got his masked, gun-toting gangbangers lined up
behind him. And look, he's taking his cock out and he's making a joke about it
Now, that's entertainment.
I can't do this anymore. I really can't. There's just no defending Millar anymore. Like some perpetually willful
thirteen year old egomaniac who simply won't stop trying to piss people
off in order to draw attention to himself, Millar just can't seem to
imagine why he wouldn't present the world with such a
morally-dessicated, imaginatively-bankrupt scene. For it's not just that
it's a thoroughly unpleasant business that's he and Mr Romita Jr are waving around for the entertainment of their
readers, although that's the overwhelming majority of the objection here. But it's also all so lovingly, prosaically and banally
done, and yet, despite all that fetishistic attention paid to the rites of rape-porn, the plot's not advanced in this slightest. Well done, all you splendid gentlemen and women involved! Well done Clint Entertainment! Well done Marvel Comics and Titan Books too! Why not reduce the
representation of the victim of this sexual assault to a terrified, silent, shivering object
while presenting the whole scene from the perspective of ... god help me
... Motherfucker and the gaze of his minions? After all, there's those ever-tempting thirty pieces of silver clinking away in the background for everybody involved, isn't there?
Shall we attempt to raise the will to try and imagine
what any stray apologist might spit at me by way of a defense of "the
Boss" and his work here? Perhaps the young adolescent victim of the scene will turn the tables on her attackers in the
next episode now that we've been encouraged to linger on those hackneyed
and indefensible panels of panic, dread and psychopathic sexuality?
(She doesn't, by the way.) Perhaps Motherfucker - awe-some - will only ever wave his super-villainous genitals in front of
her before they're separated from him, which will, of course, be funny, as such things supposedly are in some comicbooks, rather than
traumatic, as is inevitably the case out here in the real world. Perhaps
what we're being shown is a smartly-framed insight into the pack-male
mentality, reduced by the absence of both conventional social restraints
and any intervening officers of the law to a rape-gang default setting? Perhaps
it's just "funny", or "exciting", or perhaps Millar sees his work as being two
stiff fingers up to those politically correct, self-righteous Whitehouses who
can't see that he's only having a little bit of fun at their expense?
Perhaps this is a satire of the superhero genre, and one which, some half-a-decade and more after Doctor Light's outing as a rapist in Identity Crisis, is intended to helpfully reveal the true scale of super-villain sexual atrocities? Or perhaps
what we're watching is comic-book realism? Gosh. What would happen if
super-people existed in the real world? Faced with such an awe-some
concept, it's sure-ly Mr Millar's responsibility to create an entirely
implausible and pornographically-toxic narrative while cloaking it in the spurious
justification of comics-documentary verisimilitude. For he isn't actually writing this story,
you see, or so some of his defenders would seem to have almost convinced themselves. He's not imagining it, he's not choosing every moment that you
see on the page. No. He's channeling it. What would happen if
New York City was invaded by an army of super-villains, for we should be told! The sexual assault of Katie is nothing, it seems, but legitimate literary speculation based on an absolutely compelling premise.. And, self-evidently, it seems that such super-villains would set about raping helpless teenage girls, and we'd have to watch it too. A warning, it seems, from the
pulpit of the perpetually publicly virtuous Mr Millar, adding this necessary social warning to his charity auctions and his other press-friendly good works in the community. Bad people rape women. Bad people in costumes do it in such a terrible way that we need to really linger on the evil of it all. Got it?
And I'll be willing to bet that all this suffering leads to a great vengeance-fueled blockbuster of a finale for Kick-Ass II, with Hit Girl playing such a prominent role that non-one could possibly suggest that Messrs Millar and Romita Jr were in any way playing for the side not typically associated with the angels.
But then, given that super-villains never will exist - oh, no! - then Millar might as well have discussed the "what-if" of, for example, an alien invasion of sentient five-foot tall Toblerones driven to sodomise the under-fives, or even - if you can believe this - a bomb that can be irremovably wired into the womb of a pregnant woman. You know, entirely cretinous, utterly irresponsible, attention-seeking wankerisms.
Who knows? Maybe Millar's hoping Clint
will benefit from the publicity which a little scandal might kick its
way. All publicity is good publicity, or so some Barnums might attempt to convince us. But men-children who constantly cry rape eventually end up in the
same situation as the tiresome little brat in the fairy story who cried wolf. In the
end, no-one cares too much about them anymore, or at least, they don't unless the
rape-fixated creator manages to identify a demographic who just can't see what
the harm in misogyny, sexual violence, crap storytelling, and plain-and-simple stupidity might be.
In which case, the boy who cried 'rape' ends up feted, stinking rich and profiled by the worthy on The Late Review.
you won, Mr Millar, didn't you? I do hope this sequence of panels will be useful to you
the next time you take up your position as a senior member of your
church or as a media commentator on Scottish political affairs. After all, given that you so regularly discuss the worthiness of your public concerns in the press, it seems only fair to point out that there's the chance here of a contradiction between what one Mr Millar says and does and what the comics professional himself gets up to when basically only the fanboys are watching. Or perhaps it is that
this scene in Kick-Ass II is intended to serve as a distillation of your politically-minded worries matched with your writerly genius where some of today's most
pressing social problems are concerned. Obviously, you could present these panels proudly in any schoolhall or seminary room, and use them to help everyone who's there come to grips with some of the day's most atrocious and appallingly commonplace acts of exploitation and oppression. Why, yes, Mr Miller, thank you; men can be sexual beasts, it seems, and women can find themselves being terrified, beaten and violated, it appears, and men can make jokes
about it while forcing themselves on their victims too. If there are costumes involved, why, it's even worse. Well, whoever would've guessed it, and whoever would've understood the matter if it hadn't all been turned in a comic strip for our soul-saving edification?
has obviously been a public information comic-book! If these super-villains were real,
they might do just about anything terrible which Mr Millar can raise the energy to imagine. And look! What
he imagined was this, and Mr Romita Jr came along to help him get the details right too.
No insight. No imagination. No compassion. No cleverness. No heart. No moral purpose that isn't drowned out by its stupidity and callousness and soulless triviality.
But, most certainly, big fucking bucks.
enough, and fully accepting how joy-killing and reactionary a view this may seem to be, I can't
even start to convince myself that violating utterly defenceless young women is so exciting and
informative and funny that we need to see it at all, let alone in such absolutely vivid,
by-the-numbers, story-slowing, morality-defeating, detail. Yet apparently we do.
You pays your money, you get to enjoy the "evil dick" scene!
Oh, well. Keep
standing up for the rights of the individual to free expression, traditional morality, and cutting-edge humour, Mr Millar, as well as continuing
your campaign against social injustice everywhere you can. As for me, and not
that anybody will give two hoots, but I'm out of here. Life's just too short to
care, although I really, really did want to.
In fact -
whisper it - I was even something of a considerable fan, and not so long ago either, always hoping
that all that talent and all those on-occasion clearly visible good
intentions would triumph over the arse-to-the-world, look-at-me-children
snakesoil salesman act. For it seemed to me that the Mark Millar who wrote 1985, that Fantastic Four run and the first Kick Ass was a creator who was becoming skilled at stirring up teacup-storms while grounding his work in unimpeachably moral foundations. Informing the first Kick Ass with recollections of Mr Millar's own childhood, for example, helped to create a comic which was as fundamentally touching as it was hi-octane entertaining. Indeed, it was impossible not to associate Dave Lizewski with Mark Millar himself at certain key and tragic moments in the text, and to wonder whether this was the moment at which the writer finally nailed how to entertain without regressing into a crass lack of concern for anyone's interests beyond his own.
But, straw meet camel's back. Camel's back, meet Clint # 11 ....
(No. Let's not.)