Saturday, January 18, 2014

ALAN MOORE, ELITIST NEOPURITAN PT. 3

I took issue with Alan Moore's remarks about the superhero filmgoing audience in this essay in part because they were expressed incoherently, with no justification as to why he had contempt for said audience.  In a more recent interview, he has expanded those thoughts, which are no longer incoherent but are still kind of stupid.

The subject of comic-related-films (or film-related-comics) had understandably arisen and, when asked, I had ventured my honest opinion that I found something worrying about the fact that the superhero film audience was now almost entirely composed of adults, men and women in their thirties, forties and fifties who were eagerly lining up to watch characters and situations that had been expressly created to entertain the twelve year-old boys of fifty years ago. I not only feel this is a valid point, I also believe it to be fairly self-evident to any disinterested observer. To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children’s characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence. It looks to me very much like a significant section of the public, having given up on attempting to understand the reality they are actually living in, have instead reasoned that they might at least be able to comprehend the sprawling, meaningless, but at-least-still-finite ‘universes’ presented by DC or Marvel Comics. I would also observe that it is, potentially, culturally catastrophic to have the ephemera of a previous century squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times.

Not only is this a stupid opinion-- even though Alan Moore is obviously NOT a stupid man-- it's also a fairly routine and boring one.  If the adults of current years have learned to enjoy superhero films, it cannot be because there is something intrinsically entertaining about larger-than-life spectacle.  It must be "a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence."  The argument "fantasy offends realistic concerns" dates back to Legman and Wertham.  Those worthies dissed juvenile comics-- the sort of things Moore has found entirely appropriate to their audience-- because said comics confused youngsters about real-life matters of science (Superman's absurd defiance of physical law) or history (Superboy helping George Washington cross the Delaware).

And of course, it's Alan Moore, so he must work in a shot or two at Marvel and DC Comics. who are
"squatting possessively on the cultural stage and refusing to allow this surely unprecedented era to develop a culture of its own, relevant and sufficient to its times." Of course not all superhero films are derived from Marvel and DC, though certainly they are in the majority.  But if films are made of relatively recent properties like HELLBOY (1993) or SCOTT PILGRIM (2004), are those films also squatting on the cultural stage? 

I'm not finished reading the Big Long Alan Moore interview yet, so it may be that he has more to say about the pernicious effect of superhero films.  If so, I'll address such remarks later.

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