Thursday, March 05, 2009


From Tapped, a liberal blogger bemoans a New Yorker review of The Watchmen characterizing comic fans as big nerdy geeks, courtesy of Eschaton:

I'm not going to argue with Lane over the quality of a film I haven't seen, but I really find it hard to understand why comic book fans are the subject of such persistent abuse. You'd think we clubbed baby seals for a living or perhaps sold sub-prime mortgages. The unbridled contempt for people who like comic books reaches something close to the feelings people have for parking cops and tax collectors.


Whatever Lane's opinions of Watchmen's source material, comic books are the closest thing Americans have to folktales, and their content is about as close as a reflection of American cultural identity, for good or for ill, as we have. You'd think that for that reason alone, the material and its consumers would be worth at least a minimum of respect.

More here.

Okay, this guy's right in that comics are indeed American folk tales, and their creators and readers are worthy of respect. But he misses the point. The New Yorker is an elitist magazine. I mean okay, they produce some good journalism--indeed, Sy Hersh, the reporter who broke the Abu Ghraib story, consistently produces excellent in-depth articles, month after month. But the magazine's favored demographic, the readers they want to see their ads, are people who consider themselves to be a few notches above working class Americans, culturally speaking, and the New Yorker clearly plays to this vanity. That is, New Yorker writers are stuck-up elitist assholes who think we should all be attending the theater and the ballet rather than reading comics.

But isn't is so very American to thumb our noses at snobs? Isn't it wonderful when we drink beer instead of wine? Isn't it wonderful to watch football instead of polo? Eat french fries instead of fois gras? And it's not like we Americans want to somehow prove that lowbrow is better than highbrow; it's simply that this is what we love: fuck you for condemning that.

Comic books do indeed, upon occasion, rise to the level of great literature, but much much more often than not, comics are just fun to read. And when you do happen to stumble upon great comic literature, it's all the sweeter because you know that this is an experience you're sharing with only a relative few. Personally, I like it when snobs look down on comics. It makes me feel more American. And it makes me feel like I know better.

There's just no need to insist that the highbrow culture world accept comic books as being a legitimate art form. It ruins the fun. And just look what happened to jazz and theater once they achieved high art status. Everytime I hear some comic fan declaring comics to be great literature, I fear for the medium's future.

So, okay, this New Yorker reviewer is wrong and he's an asshole. But the best response isn't "respect us." The best response is "fuck you, I'm gonna read some comics, and I don't give a shit what you think." That's the American way.