The Dark Knight Retards

So, Facebook suggested I friend someone.  And, in a moment of weakness, I did it.

So this guy posts about how much he likes Frank Miller's DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and BATMAN: YEAR ONE, stating that really, the only thing he didn't like about both books was how he felt Miller 'demeaned' the character of Selina Kyle by making her into a hooker.  Everything else about the stories was hunky dory, sez this fella.  But Selina Kyle as a sex worker?  Nope.  Rubbed him the wrong way.  Seemed kind of degrading for the character.

I posted a long reply stating that degrading and demeaning established characters is what Miller does, and that in my own view, Selena Kyle got off lightly... in fact, unless we presume that a woman being retconned into a prostitute who takes no shit from her male clients and who can punch the living shit out of her pimp any time she wants is somehow 'demeaning', then I'd say that Miller really didn't do Selina Kyle much harm after all.

On the other hand, Miller did take a heroic protagonist (Batman) who, at one time, had been depicted as being one of the most intelligent, compassionate, and altruistic human beings in the world, and turned him into an emotionally damaged, borderline psychotic, fetishistically sadistic facebreaker with all the intellectual capacity of a radish.   He transformed Superman into a narcissistic government yes-man, Green Arrow into a raving lunatic, and the remainder of DC's superheroic pantheon into cowards who retreated from the world at exactly the moment when it needed them most.

To my mind, Selena Kyle's transformation from a bored jet set thrillseeking kleptomaniac divorcee to a sex worker who was selling sex because that's what she wanted to do, who could in no way, shape, or form, be regarded as any sort of victim, who was doing exactly what she wanted to do until she discovered something she wanted to do more, and who upon making that discovery, punched out her pimp and proceeded to move on to the next thing, which was not only extremely difficult and dangerous but which she also excelled at... that's only 'degrading' or 'demeaning' if you're the sort of reflexive, unthinking person who automatically presumes that a woman having a sex life of her choosing is, by definition, fallen and somehow objectionable.

Selina Kyle got off lightly.  Yeah, she went from 'respectable' to 'slut/bitch', to use the particularly twisted and biased terms of the Patriarchy, but she remained competent, sane, intelligent, capable, strong, and, given that she refused to abandon young Holly when she left their mutual pimp for greener pastures, compassionate.  Bruce Wayne, on the other hand, lost three quarters of his IQ score, 90% of his areas of expertise, nearly every bit of compassion he ever possessed for anyone except, apparently, a random black street thief, an old homeless woman, and Jim Gordon's infant son... and every last bit of his sanity.  Superman and Green Arrow were similarly de-heroized and stupefied.  Again... that's what Miller DOES.  It's ALL he does.

When I pointed this out to this fellow, his response was, essentially, two fold:

(a) he didn't think Selena being a sex worker was demeaning, he thought prostitution should be legal and hookers were great and... um...  well... something else, but, anyway, in DARK KNIGHT RETURNS Miller made her old and fat!  Yeah!  So there!


(b)  he hadn't intended his post to be any kind of forum on Frank Miller's abilities as a writer.

Which, as I understand it, is essentially saying "Hey, I was just saying how much I like Frank Miller's writing on DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and BATMAN: YEAR ONE.  I didn't invite anyone to DISAGREE with me or anything!"

Well, I shan't disagree with him again.  Friending him was a mistake, but it's a mistake I have rectified.


Popular Posts