Saturday, 11 January 2014

Brief Comments On The Alan Moore Interview

See here.

(i) Does Alan Moore respond adequately to charges of racist stereotyping and misogyny? I think so.

(ii) Can a white man write about black people and women? Of course. We assess how well he does it.

(iii) He can write about murder although he hasn't been murdered. Good point.

(iii) Are middle-aged superhero film fans unable to cope with reality? Alan Moore is right to raise this question. Some of us do try to address reality on different levels and also enjoy seeing it fantastically reflected in fantasy, sf and superheroes. I would like to see Superman addressing real world issues like war, corruption and pollution. Starting from an arbitrary year date, his history would soon diverge from ours, as happens in Watchmen and Marvelman.

(iv) Is Grant Morrison as bad as Alan Moore says? I don't know. I doubt that anyone can be that bad! I enjoyed Zenith, Animal Man and Supergods, although I felt that The Invisibles became incoherent. I have not kept up with Grant's DC continuity stuff because I have not kept up with DC continuity.


  1. Particularly in regards to rape, I think he dodged the actual issue at hand. Yes, portraying rape in itself might be fair, but there's no consideration of what that portrayal means for society or women today. With power, privilege and publication comes responsibility.

    I personally wouldn't be offended by his Golliwog, because I think he is trying to liberate it from its racialised history (although that in itself might be problematic, but I basically like Alan so give him the benefit of the doubt).

  2. Adam,
    Thank you. I need more comments on here. I would be interested in what you think a more considered portrayal might be like and why you think that Alan's portrayals are not considered.

  3. Hi Paul,

    Of course. In that case, I'd point out that the stories we tell and the stories we read shape ideologies and consciousness. So if we see stories of women being raped regularly, it normalises that occurrence so that we see it as something 'realistic'.

    I would also ask what, in an Act of Faith, the viewer is meant to infer from her death, coming immediately after donning a sexualised outfit and preparing herself for S&M sex. When reading films, these kinds of juxtapositions usually infer a cause and effect. This is mostly true of all popular culture, and even fairytales. E.g., theorists say that the bride in Bluebeard is punished for her curiosity (looking in Bluebeard's bloody chamber) with death. Her curiosity is coded is sublimated sexual precocity. Compare this with, say, Death Proof, an exploitation film in a similar vein to the short film Act of Faith. The girls who have sex, talk openly about sex, and are sexually forward get murdered--gruesomely. The second group of women, who talk about how they aren't sluts, and want to wait for sex, and who behave in a more 'lady-like' fashion, survive. The contrast is stark, and typical of representations of women in film, TV, comics and books: if the woman is a 'whore', she is punished; if she is a 'virgin' or a 'wife', she survives. (See slasher movies for the most extreme example, where the only girl to survive is the one who doesn't have sex. Or Alien 3, where Ripley finally dies, after finally having sex.)

    In perpetuating this idea (that whores need to be punished), even if it's not a conscious idea or probably one that the author intended, it continues to feed a culture of misogyny.

    I think Alan Moore is very considered. However, I think his considerations are different: he's very politically minded, when it comes to liberty and socialism. I just don't think he considers feminism or the repercussions for women of some elements of what he writes. But I don't expect any writer to be perfect in this regard, and some of my favourite writers, directors, etc, do just the same (e.g., Tarantino) or focus on one ideological framework over another (e.g., feminism at the expense of negative portrayals of black people).

  4. Wow, thanks. I have not seen Act of Faith yet though I have read Alan Moore's synopsis in that interview. Maybe we are not meant to infer too much immediately because the film is part of a series, serial or longer work? I thought that the "hang on" which had to be amended sounded a bit gruesome. It could be seen as humor, which I would not appreciate while watching a woman hanging.

  5. Having not seen Act of Faith, i obviously can't comment on it. But if i'm going to think about Alan Moore's view on rape and the treatment of women in his fiction...

    First of all, before reading this interview i'd never, ever, even considered that it could be thought of as controversial. Seriously, the only reason i'm using my time to think on this is because i'm not being able to sleep; this whole debate is pointless. Granted that no one will, or should, take my word for it, but seriously though. It IS so obviously pointless.

    Nevertheless, now that i'm already caught up, i'd better look for a point, and i choose to point out Lost Girls, which can be viewed as Alan Moore's kind of a sexual grimmoire, in the "list" sense of what a grimmoire is. For all the colourful variety of kinky sex that's inside that three tomes, you'll see that rape is one of the few things that is condemned. Wendy, for Fnord's sake, fantasizes with being raped, and even this, a woman's rape fantasy, is not condemned, but rape in itself clearly is.

    The reward Wendy gets for having the spine to masturbate to whatever she fucking fancies, even if it involves being raped by a pedophilic sexual maniac, is having the personal power to shoo his would-be assaulter away by looking him in the eye and scolding him down, and it's apparent that she has this willpower because she realises that she has the birthright to do with her sexuality what she will, and to reject what she will. I think this illustrates (though in a kind of simplistic fashion, admittedly, but i think it's clear enough) what's Alan Moore's take on women being sexually assaulted, and being morally punished for their sexual choices.

    Incidentally, i don't see how the first group of women in Death Proof is more sexual than the second, except in image. SPOILER ALERT. Also, i don't think anyone (but the assaulter) is being punished or rewarded. The first group are unlucky, they don't have a chance, and even if they had it, they're drunk and distracted. The second group are lucky to have a slim chance to survive, and they manage to do so by their physical prowess. They also choose to hunt the killer down, and beat the hell out of him.

    Short conclusion: of course writers aren't perfect, but i fail to see how either Alan Moore or Quentin Tarantino could be used as examples of a lack of consideration for feminine characters in any way.

  6. Cush,
    Thank you for a lot of clarity. I agree that Alan is sound. The depth that he has brought to comics is shown by the amount of discussion generated.