Frank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood

From The Guardian UK:

Fans were shocked when Batman writer Frank Miller furiously attacked the Occupy movement. They shouldn’t have been, says Rick Moody – he was just voicing Hollywood’s unspoken values

Rick Moody, Thursday 24 November 2011

A sturdy corollary emerges in the wake of the graphic artist Frank Miller‘s recent diatribe against the Occupy Wall Street movement (“A pack of louts, thieves, and rapists … Wake up, pond scum, America is at war against a ruthless enemy”), available for perusal at That corollary, of which we should be reminded from time to time, is this: popular entertainment from Hollywood is – to greater or lesser extent – propaganda. And Miller has his part in that, thanks to films such as 300 and Sin City.

Perhaps you have had this thought before. Perhaps you have had it often. I can remember politics dawning on me while watching a Steven Seagal vehicle, Under Siege, in 1992. I was in my early 30s. The film was without redeeming merit – there’s no other way to put it – and it was about a “ruthless enemy” and the reimposition of the American social order through violence and rugged individualism. Why had I paid hard-earned money for it? Good question. Before Under Siege, I had a tendency to think action films were funny. I had a sort of Brechtian relationship to their awfulness. And I was amused when films themselves recognised the level to which they stooped, as Under Siege assuredly did.

The moment of revelation could have come at any time. It could have come earlier, and it did among my more astute friends. Had I watched any of the later Rocky pictures, for example, or had I watched Rambo, I might have registered that there was little depicted in these frames but feel-good, reactionary message-deployment. But there were, apparently, films too embarrassing for me to see, Rocky IV and Rambo among them. I remember thinking True Lies, the abominable 1994 James Cameron film (featuring Republican governor-to-be Arnold Schwarzenegger), with its big, concluding nuclear blast – the nuclear blast we were meant to want to see – was, well, more than suspect. (I could never again watch a Cameron film without disgust. And that includes the racist, New Age blather of Avatar.) Or what about the expensive and aesthetically pretentious Gladiator (2000), which I still contend is an allegory about George W Bush’s candidacy for president, despite the fact that director and principal actor were not US citizens. Is it possible to think of a film such as Gladiator outside of its political subtext? Are Ridley Scott’s falling petals, which he seems to like so much that he puts them in his films over and over again, anything more than a way to gussy up the triumph of oligarchy, corporate capital and globalisation?

The types of men (almost always men) who have historically favoured the action film genre, it’s safe to say, are often, if not always, politically conservative: Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Mel Gibson, even Clint Eastwood (former Republican mayor of Carmel, California), all proud defenders of a conservative agenda, and/or justifiers of vigilantism. With some of these celebrities, the kneejerk qualities of their politics are self-evident, and in other cases (Eastwood), the reactionary part of their world view is more nuanced. But the brand of politics is the same.

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9 Responses to “Frank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood”

  1. dentedbluemercedes Says:

    Frank Miller is hardly indicative of Hollywood — but then, like any community, there will be plenty of discordant opinions in Hollywood. Miller’s very much an Ayn Rand disciple, raised on male power fantasy, and not afraid to declare it. This actually doesn’t surprise me, but does change how I feel about his works overall, which are more skilled than his films would indicate. Miller’s still one of the 99%, but one for whom the American Dream actually worked… and so he believes it should be as easy as that for any and everybody else. The dip$#!t.

    • Suzan Says:

      The myth of Hollywood being liberal and left wing is identical to the myth of the press being liberal and left wing.

      It is right wing propaganda as it is corporate propaganda and big money always supports the elite.

      Hollywood over the years has white washed the Confederacy making it into the lost noble cause while casting the Yankees, who were the real Americans rather than the treasonous Southerners as the villains.

      They white washed the genocide of the native Americans by making them into vicious savages rather than people trying to defend their land from the invading white settlers.

      Hollywood has stereotyped and belittle ever single non-white minority it has come in contact with. It has consistently belittled LGB/T folks.

      It is misogynistic to the core, generally extremely anti working class as well as anti poor.

      Starting with Dirty Harry it commenced a program of glorifying police brutality, the renegade cop.

      It has glamorized war and violence. It consistently pushed ultra violent psychopathic behavior as though it were heroic.

      It perpetuates both ignorance and superstition.

  2. Andrea B. Says:

    Interestingly sexist article.

    Contrary to the author’s views which fit directly with Blanchard, Zucker and Co. some women do like action movies. My neighbour is actually a fan of Schwarzenegger and has all his films. She also thinks he is gorgeous, which does worry me a bit.

    • Suzan Says:

      Kind of irrelevant to the topic. These action movies tend to be selling a version of the Nietzschian/Rand superman brand of fascism where might is right and the suffering the weilding of that power causes is irrelevant. Mostly though they sell the idea of powerlessness in the face of a police state.

      They are also propagandizing us to accept a police state.

  3. Andrea B. Says:

    Personally I not that interested in those films.

    Honestly I think you are reading to much into them. They are just mindless escapism for people bored out of there brains.

    I am looking forward to the release of Iron Sky in April, as I want to watch some nazi arse get kicked. Apart from that I will stick with my Sci-Fi, documentaries, Family Guy, American Dad and my Terry Pratchett books:)

    Seriously there is a lot of films out there that are not made in the USA. Ie, there is more to them than someone having issues, a man kissing a very beautiful women and then some massive explosions. Although i did like Avatar unlike the person who wrote the article, as having my own dragon would appeal to me:)

  4. Andrea B. Says:

    A suggestion. Check out these films:

    Red Cliff Bluray extended version.
    StarWreck (In the Perkinning: scifi film) Imprerial edition DVD
    TrollHunter Bluray+DVD
    Space Battleship Yamato. Bluray+DVD

    You won’t find anything even resembling corporate there.

    Starwreck was actually made by a bunch of Finnish Star Trek fans for next to nothing.

    Have fun:)

    • Suzan Says:

      I’ve seen Red Cliff. I’m not a fan of most Sci-Fi. I like Game of Thrones. I was speaking more of the renegade cop, lone avenger sort.

      Mostly though being aware that it is propaganda helps. Looking at stuff through an Ad Busters, Situationist filter helps sort out the message from the advertising that accompanies it.

      When I was a kid there were these movies with these unsettling queer stereotypes in them who always met a major downfall in the end. The real message was that gay people were tragic monsters.

      They do the same with most movies featuring trans characters. Hence my liking “The Crying Game” because the TS/TG character shoots the person who would have murdered her rather than the other way around and the boyfriend taks the rap rather than the other way around too.

  5. Andrea B. Says:

    I forgot. If you want to see a real dig at xmas and santa claus watch Rare Exports. You will never think of Santa Claus in the same way again:)

  6. Andrea B. Says:

    The product placement in US films has gotten nuts recently. It is the same with music videos.

    Troll Hunter and Rare Exports take the piss out of a lot of other films. Starwreck takes the piss out of Sci-Fi and makes a complete mockery of product placement in other films.

    Wasn’t to fussed on the Crying Game to be honest.

    One US film I did like recently, Repomen. A possible future for US medical care or lack of it.

    The Men Who Stare At Goats was a good film.

    You might like the films, The International and Secrets of State.

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