In Catwoman and Cleopatra: Inkblots of an Age, I touched briefly on Frank Miller’s take on Catwoman and what it said about his—and the culture that accepts his portrayal’s—view of women. I didn’t touch on the rest of the story: his portrayal of heroes and what that says about him (and us if we play along). I had written on that previously, for they are very much connected in my mind, but with The Dark Knight Rises in production, my focus for “Inkblots” was entirely on Catwoman.
I’ve been regretting that all day.
Like a lot of Americans, I stayed up a little later Sunday night after President Obama’s address announcing that Osama bin Laden had at last been found and killed. The morning has brought some… very interesting moments.
Moment 1: Facebook
Norm Breyfogle, one of the true agents provocateurs of the comics world, wrote very simply in his Facebook status: “Oh. So?” I think it struck me because it came only a few days after the royal wedding which had a lot of Facebook action of the “Why do you care?” “What’s it to you?” variety. It’s a good question, because unlike William and Catherine, the gravitas of the event is self-evident. The man personified an ideology of hate and violence that holds no regard for human life or human dignity. He orchestrated the murder of 3,000 Americans on 9-11, and thousands more in bombings in Tanzania and Kenya, attacks in Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Istanbul, and the U.S.S. Cole. There is no question in anyone’s mind why this is the headline on every newspaper in the country today. But “Oh. So?” isn’t asking why it’s a headline, it is asking what that headline means to you. Any time an event has captured everyone’s attention and is the focus of so many people’s thoughts at the same time, it’s a good idea to ask why. It’s not belittling them for their interest; it’s pausing for thought and examining why is this news is important to me.
Moment 2: Cable News
So this morning I got up and turned on the television still tuned to MSNBC from the night before. I saw Joe Scarborough coaching some Wall Street commentator on an appropriate human response to the news. The guy had been going on about how oil and gold were down, and he didn’t know if that news would be any different if bin Laden hadn’t been killed. “Wall Street is about money,” you see, and “bin Laden didn’t have a big effect on that.” I was reminded of a Law & Order: Criminal Intent with Detective Goren describing a sociopath who had no actual human emotions so he was always “flipping through an emotional Rolodex, searching for the socially appropriate response” to simulate. Scarborough painted a nice picture for this guy, reminding him that those working on Wall Street lived and worked very close to Ground Zero, many lost friends and colleagues in the attacks, and that this event had great significance for those aspects of the human experience that are, oh you know, not tied to the price of gold.
It was, frankly, a pretty disturbing snapshot of the utter social, economic, and political dysfunction that has crippled this country for the last decade. I’m not saying we were Shangri-La on September 10, but anyone who pretends that the polarization, irrationality, and batshit insanity of the last 10 years is business as usual for the USA—or that it’s strictly a function of cable news and social media and has absolutely nothing to do with that September morning that brought such hate into the forefront of our consciousness—I’m sorry, those people are firmly stuck in Stage One Denial. I know it’s bad form to rush anyone through their coping process, but I’m sorry, after 10 years, it is way past time to move on and face the reality: America has been hurting. For a long time now. 9-11 hurt us, and pain finds avenues of expression… and a lot of them aren’t good. We’ve been losing our f-ing minds for nearly 10 years now, to the point where a guy on a national news program needs to be coached through an appropriate human reaction to the fact that Osama bin Laden is dead.