The by now infamously stupid article from the Times has already been responded to more than adequately by at least four blog posts I've read (One by Robyn, one by Neil Gaiman, and two linked to in Gaiman's post). But I felt like adding my cents to a few things;
The question is: who gets to the money first? The answer, of course, is the comic-book geek. Why? Because the other three are figments of his imagination.
With his opening paragraph, Mr. Maher seems to borrow a bit from Chasing Amy. While it's true the Several People on a Road analogy isn't original to Chasing Amy, the context can't help but bring the movie to mind. Directed by the notorious comic book fan Kevin Smith, any pilfering of its play would be pathetic hypocrisy on Maher's part. But let's wait and see if Maher makes any other Smith allusions . . .
[Sin City] is so steeped in fetishistic adolescent imagery and casual misogyny that it overexposes the sinister appetites of its hardcore fanbase.
Are fetishism and adolescence sinister? It's true, teenagers can be annoying, but not necessarily wicked. And anyway, most of the main characters in Sin City aren't teenagers, nor do they say or do things that are normally confined to teenagers--shooting, killing, fighting, rescuing people, looking good. As for fetishism, what's wrong with really liking something specific?
Oh yeah, and casual misogyny. Maher doesn't back up this claim, so there's nothing to argue with. For the record, Sin City isn't misogynistic. What, I have to prove its innocence? You first, Maher.
(paedophilia and slut-killing are big in Sin City)
Yeah, among the villains. You'd almost think they were bad things.
and so relentless is the leering softcore depiction of prostitutes, dancers and slatternly lowlifes, that the movie unwittingly reveals the frank and masturbatory hatred of women that is fundamental to any understanding of the comic-book geek.
Never mind that these women are often shown doing intelligent and powerful things (Miho taking out a carload of bad guys, Gail running a small society of women who regularly best two societies of men). Unless I'm missing something, the women all seem to be cast in a very favourable light. The drama hinges on the audience wanting things to go well for them--Marv's quest to avenge Goldie needs us to feel sorry she died (or sympathise with him feeling sorry about it), Hartigan's quest to save Nancy needs us to feel she's worth it (which the story doesn't seem to feel it needs to try very hard to accomplish), and the Big Fat Kill is all about saving a whole bunch of women garbed in, as Maher might have it, the cloth of Satan. Masturbatory, maybe. Hateful, gods, ludicrously not. My suggestion to Maher is that he try masturbation. He might find it gives him a surprisingly positive view of imaginary women.
For most people (those who have a life and don’t actually care about the great intergalactic struggle between Marvel and DC comics) contact with comic books is generally a secondary experience. It is something filtered through the enthusiasm of publicly anointed geek figureheads, such as the director Kevin Smith . . .
We have another Smith allusion, folks. And remember, if you care about comics on more that a peripheral level, you should see a doctor.
What these men represent, with their giddy encyclopaedic knowledge of comic lore, their tired eyes, and soft, unthreatening, roly-poly demeanours, is the cosy comfortable face of a jaded industry that’s male-dominated and entirely hostile to women,
Yes, they who are entirely hostile to women are soft, unthreatening, and cosy comfortable. Oh, whatever shall women do? To compound it, the characters in Smith's movies often seem to really dig women. What cunning! What could he be plotting?!
action “heroines” with enormous breasts and great boots)
Okay, enormous breasts can look silly, but great boots? Honestly, what kicks ass better than a great boot?
Anyway, what's wrong with large breasts? If drawn properly, I think they can look pretty decent. Sure, they're not realistically useful for combat, but neither is spandex--and the guys wear plenty of that, too.
If the idea is that mass approval of large breasts lower the self-esteem of women with small breasts, I say this is a silly argument. Since Greeks have been making statues, people've been looking at beautiful, unattainable versions of humanity. Why? Because people like looking at pretty things, and it's even better if they're sexually attracted to them.
You can't make better, more mature people by dictating what physical attributes they ought to be attracted to. The realisation that a person with a great mind is a more fulfilling companion than one with a great body is not something that can be instilled with images of breasts. It's something a person works out on his or her own.
And similarly, a woman who doesn't feel she can get the man she wants without a perfect body needs to mature to the point where she realises a man with that resolute priority for his mate is not a better man for it.
In any case, let's not sacrifice our beautiful pictures for the sake of fools.
In the past, some half-hearted attempts were made to divest the industry of its porn connotations.
Yes, half-hearted non-porno series like Superman, Spider-Man, and The Incredible Hulk. Notice how Maher avoids mentioning the more well-known heroes and heroines?
Sadly, today, despite some pretty lonely websites such as Friends of Lulu (“Bringing Comics to Women!”), the fundamental law of the comic-book universe states that the geeks are male, and the breasts are large.
Yes, it's a fundamental law, as long as you ignore all the exceptions. Or refer to them as "lonely."
Not convinced, you adorable bobbin.
Listen to Knowles pontificating online about Sin City. A self-declared “friend” of the director (he nabbed a walk-on part in Rodriguez’s The Faculty), he warns his fellow fanboys that Sin City will “sate each and every perverted drooling doodle of a thought you’ve had”.
For we damned of the comic fandom hover miserably in our heathen hovels, pummelling our own feverish minds with condemnation of our perversion! Or maybe Knowles doesn't consider it a bad thing and that was meant tongue-in-cheek. Who knows? Who could interpret that fiendishly ambiguous statement of moral perspective?
He then describes the sexual experiences that he’d like to have with various Sin City babes, before summing up the movie, and the entire comic-book world view, by declaring that Sin City is ultimately about “everything that made Robert and Frank’s d***s hard . . . the culmination of dreaming the big dirty dreams about d***s and dames!” Nice. Let’s hope he spends his $100 bill in the right store.
Gee, why would someone use sexual arousal as a metaphor for joy? That's just weird. Sex is so icky.
Next, Maher makes cute lists of the characteristics females in comic books are known to sport.
Tiny waist, thunder thighs, muscular buttocks, watermelon breasts and non-existent costume.
Unlike the realistic features of comic book males.
Unlike male counterparts, female comic heroines are skilled in the mundane arts, such as gymnastics (DC’s Huntress), “online skills” (seriously! See DC’s desk-bound Oracle) and messing with the emotional centres of the brain (typical woman! See Marvel’s Malice).
Yes, for things like super-strength, one needs to seek out obscure heroines like, oh, say, Wonder-Woman. Meanwhile, men are never saddled with mundane acrobatics or computer skills (except for the little known "Batman" and a million others not worth mentioning).
Rarely privileged with central roles, comic babes are restricted to supporting parts on the villainous periphery — see Spider-Man villain White Rabbit or Batman’s voluptuous stalker, Harley Quinn.
Man, comic book geeks hate women so much, they hardly ever demonise them! What's up with that? You know, looking at the large absence of female villains in comics through history, you'd almost think these mythologies got started in the 1930s and 1940s!
“You’re right about me! I’m nothing but a selfish slut who threw away the only man she ever loved . . . I’m such a fool. Such a selfish stupid slut.” (Ava in Sin City).
I'm sure there's no context issue here, and I'm sure the character Ava speaks for everyone and is being in no way self-deprecating. And if she were, self-deprecation is a trait we only give to people we despise and don't identify with in any way. We all know how perfect we are.
Not promising. Batwoman is killed, Batgirl is paralysed, Mirage is raped, while Black Canary is tortured, made infertile, and de-powered!
How come bad things never happen to the men? It's not like Superman ever died . . .