Politics has reared its ugly head again on the blogs. I just wish people would save it for the dinner table instead of spilling it out onto Facebook and onto the crime fiction blogs, where it doesn’t belong. I wrote about this over a year ago, and here it is again. I guess this will be an annual post of mine.

I’ve been following the “People vs Frank Miller” inquisition with interest. I have to admit I’ve never read anything by either Miller or Alan Moore. I saw the movie of SIN CITY years ago, and I didn’t particularly care for it, but that’s as close as I’ve come to any familiarity with either writer.

Having said that, I think it’s ridiculous to trash a fellow author and his work on the basis of his politics, which is exactly what this is all about. Miller made a few comments about the occupiers (which should have been confined to his dinner table) that were unpopular. Okay, you disagree. Maybe I do, too. But in the wake of these comments has come a torrent of rage and piling on that’s out of control and totally unjustified. About the only reaction I haven’t seen is demanding the death penalty for Miller, although they’ve certainly demanded it for his work.

I routinely buy books by authors whose politics are not in line with mine. All I care about is what’s on the page, and does it make me want to find out what’s on the next page. I don’t give a shit how the author feels about the trade deficit or the capital gains tax.

A lot of creative people in the past have espoused unpopular points of view. Artists are by nature contrarian. What else is new?

Who among us can say that we conform perfectly to the opinions of our times?

Who among us can say that someone with “forbidden” political views is unwelcome in the world of crime fiction?

Who among us can say we will ONLY read the work of those whose politics we agree with?

I loved Chinatown. I loved the Thriller album. I still do, even after learning that Roman Polanski and Michael Jackson were probably child rapists.

Cutting oneself off from artists who think differently is never a good idea. Because who knows where that kind of thinking might lead?

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  1. I agree Mike. I don’t want to know about the author. I want to know about the story. One thing I have figured out since learning more and more about the writing industry, is the story, not the author.

  2. Mike Dennis

    Exactly right, Teresa. It’s the writing, not the author’s political opinion. There are plenty of websites for dropping all that shit around, and that’s where political opinion belongs, not on Facebook or the crime fiction blogs.

  3. Political views don’t influence me when choosing writers, unless the political perspective so infuses the book I can’t ignore it. This applies to both sides of the spectrum. I’m quite liberal myself, but the political interjections in Dennis Lehane’s MOONLIGHT MILE soured much of the book for me, and I agreed with him.

    When I feel the need to vent politically–which is fairly often–I have a separate blog for just that sort of thing. Writing–as well as writers’ blogs and communities–are for the writing. I’m happy to engage in philosophical discussions about writing there, but that’s what they are for: writing.

  4. Lazlo Toth

    Oh, for god’s sake, don’t play Frank Miller off as some kind of victim or martyr. The tone of his blog post, to which Moore was responding, was absolutely rude and dismissive and deserved a response. The unpleasant and crude tone of his rant has been reflected in his comics for some time, and that’s what I think Moore is responding to as well as his objective position on the political spectrum.

    You yourself admit you don’t know either author nor their work, so how does it make sense that you’re equally quick to judge, here? I’m sure you’re a good guy and your intentions are good, but speaking as someone who knows both authors’ work intimately, I can’t help feeling you’re going off half-cocked here. Moore’s objections to Miller are as much an aesthetic and critical assault as a political jab, and as a fellow comic writer he has EVERY right to make such critiques.

    I think Miller’s work has genuinely suffered from his political experiences — not because being a conservative is inherently bad nor makes your work somehow taboo. I don’t think Moore is such a shallow man that he would reject art purely because it doesn’t come from his band of the political spectrum, and I think you do him a serious disservice by implying he would while admitting you know nothing about him. I really don’t think you realize just how ugly and brutal Miller’s work can get — and I say that as someone who has enjoyed a big chunk of it despite finding its author exceptionally unpleasant as a human being.

    You are right to speak up against people rejecting good fiction just because it’s full of eee-vil alien ideas. You are a good person for wanting to support this worthy cause and I praise you for it. But I really don’t think you’ve found a deserving target in this case.

  5. Mike Dennis

    Lazlo–Who says Moore has no right to make such critiques? Not I. So let’s get that out of the way right now.

    How does it make sense that I’m equally quick to judge? You imply I’m “judging”, picking the right and the wrong sides. I’m not. I’m only saying this kind of talk belongs on political blogs, of which there are many.

    Miller’s rant was crude, as I said, it belonged at his dinner table, or on political blogs, and not on Facebook or crime fiction blogs. You say the tone of his rant has been reflected in his work for some time. I’ll take your word for it, since, as I said, I’m not that familiar with his writing. But you know, I never heard one unkind word said about him or his work on either Facebook or the crime fiction blogs until he made the unpopular comments about the occupiers. That set everyone off. And THAT’S my beef.

    I’m not saying Miller writes good stuff. I don’t know enough about him. But the minute he spouts off about the occupiers, everyone piles on as though he’d just written a book about how to commit child abuse.

    Now, anyone who wants to incorporate their political views into their writing is free to do so. Of course, they risk alienating a good chunk of the reading public, but that’s the author’s call. If Miller’s writing gets preachy, well, that’s the risk he takes, because just as he has the right to write it, the reader has the right not to buy it precisely because of the political content.

    Moore is obviously very familiar with Miller and his work. So why haven’t I read any Moore critiques of Miller before now, before Miller made the political comments? If his work is “ugly and brutal” and if his politics infect his writing, why haven’t I heard about it? From where I sit, it looks like Miller hates the occupiers, said so, Moore loves the occupiers, and responded.

    You see where I’m coming from here? You want to talk politics, fine. Just don’t do it on Facebook (where it REALLY gets tedious) or on the crime fiction blogs (where it’s totally out of place). You want to critique another writer’s work, go for it. The crime fiction blogs (and other appropriate sites) are the place to do it. Just don’t wait until he makes an unrelated rant.

  6. Patti Abbott

    I used to talk some politics on my blog. But no more. You are right, the two don’t mix. Although I will give a thumbs up with messages I agree with. Just not on my blog.

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