Thursday, July 12, 2012

You're a Satanist, Harry - Alan Moore on Potter

You're a Satanist, Harry - Alan Moore on Potter

This being the first day of comic con, I guess I should do a sort of comic book related story. How about this sucker of a tidbit where Alan Moore to write a book where Harry Potter as the devil!
Legions of Potter fans are also likely to be incensed by the book's suggestion that Potter has been sent up as the Devil.

Though the words "Harry Potter" are never mentioned, the allusions are unmistakable. One section features a magical train hidden between platforms at King's Cross station which leads to a magical school. The Antichrist character has a hidden scar and a mentor named Riddle. (Lord Voldemort, born Tom Riddle, is Harry Potter's arch enemy in the Potter series.) Characters resembling both Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger also appear and, at one point, the Potter character kills someone with a lightning bolt from his flaccid penis.
Now perhaps we should talk about Alan Moore... I mean, between Before Watchmen and his increasingly vitriolic statements against modern popular culture, this bearded old Magus has been in the news a fair amount lately.

Some people think he's a has-been and a hypocrite who brazenly steals other people's characters while whining about his own, and pretentious blog mavens emphasizing DC's abhorrent treatment of Moore and their blatantly financial motives for publishing Before Watchmen.

But hey, this article gives me the ability to post this picture that I've always wanted excuses to post;

Screenshot from an interview he did with the BBC.

Anyhow, Alan Moore has a lot of strange things about his personality but there's a couple of things that you could dislike him for. For 1, he's really creepy.
Geekism is the modern mind being especially modern and especially useless. The mental skills that can make or break a life as lived today — structuring and understanding systems, absorbing and analyzing information, registering detail — have their purpose turned inside out and become a replacement for reality... A geek in his or her geekiest aspect would be someone who knows a great deal about a science-fiction or fantasy entertainment franchise, someone who worships it, buys it and, most of all, studies it, reading or watching the same episodes or books or comics over and over with the sort of attention that might normally go to national emergency-room statistics.

That's Tom Crippen at the old Comics Journal website. We're all familiar with this sort of behavior: messing around in the intricacies of fictional universes, world-building, ranking superpowers, devising complicated rules and systems for fictional characters. If you're here, I assume you understand the appeal. Hell, I do too. It's fun as a hobby. But there's a point at which indulging these mental gymnastics in fiction can be a detriment to the coherence of the art.

Check out these traits that show up in things like Watchmen.
In Watchmen we have the geek triumphant. The weaknesses operate as secondary strengths, and the primary strengths function at a level that’s astonishing. Moore took an entire genre and reimagined it, and he engineered the most powerful structure ever seen in a mainstream American comic. At the same time, he wrote about feelings and lives, about people close up, and they are better imagined, better defined people than you’ll find in any other superhero comic. The problem is that’s not saying much. Moore is way ahead of the pack just because he can tell us something about a woman who hate-loves her mother, about a man who has lost direction, about somebody who hates the world but still wants to do good. With Rorschach, at least, it’s possible to dip into psychological speculation; with Laurie Juspeczyk or Dan Dreiberg, theoretically possible but not so interesting — most people have parent issues that are more particular than those of Laurie and Dan. But that’s all right. Basically, all the heroes in Watchmen are there to make a point, which is that superheroes are human too...

So the human side of the business is present only as support. The show is the structure and the ideas, including the idea of adult superheroes and (Moore’s announced favorite) the idea of simultaneous perception... Reading Watchmen, the brain is pulled in and in and in, down into the depths of each panel, and down into the connections between panels and pages and chapters. The sensation is a dream amplification, a beautiful spinoff, of our lifelong experience of sitting at a desk and trying to make sense of a mass of material.

The argument, essentially, is that Moore sacrifices storytelling and character for cleverness. You can argue to what extent but I think there's some validity to that complaint. In all due respect, Alan Moore is pretty much the crotchety old man who yells at you for walking on his lawn.
The major subtext of Century is right there in the name: We are looking at 100 years in the continuity in our world of fiction. We’re not looking at the real world, but rather our dreams, what was on our minds during those periods. Which is an interestingly close reflection of real events, at least as Kevin and I are pitching it.

And I think that one of the things that is going to be most noticeable, when all three chapters can be continuously read straight through, is the extraordinary impact of change upon our fictional world, and by extension the real world that produces those fictions.

You can most noticeably see … well, I want to be careful how I phrase this, because I don’t want to be needlessly critical of all modern culture. But in terms of its flamboyance, its freedom, its expressiveness, it’s difficult not to note a decline.
And another interview with the Guardian UK:
When we start out in 1910 we have a fairly rich background to draw from – we've got Brecht's Threepenny Opera which was set around that time, we've got all of those wonderful occult characters that were being created around then. By the time we get to 1969 we've got some equally interesting characters but they're a kind of different category. They're more often drawn from popular culture, because of course popular culture has expanded incredibly in the 50 years since 1910 when culture was still largely the preserve of an educated elite. But changes in society over the first 50 years of the century meant that by the middle years culture had changed. Certainly by 1969 where pop culture was predominant and previous culture was perhaps in danger of becoming increasingly marginalised. And by the time we return to the League story in 2009, it's a much bleaker cultural landscape still.

So I suppose inevitably you're going to find in this book that there are contrasts that are going to arise between the different eras. And there's also a marked sense that culture is possibly contracting in certain areas. There is the thing of the richness of the Victorian or the Edwardian era. That the range of characters and ideas to draw upon have nowhere near the same breadth that they seem to back in the day.

It seems that Moore dismisses contemporary culture and fiction while praising the fiction of the Victorian era, which reads a little strangely - there's plenty of trash aound then too, it's just that the twilights of the era haven't been preserved. Stuff like this reads to me as reactionary, "everything was better in the old days" nostalgia.

Then there's the creepy factor. It seems that Moore's Lost Girls should be brought up as a pretty big damning piece of evidence on this whole matter. It's his infamous pornographic fan fiction of Wendy, Dorothy and Alice all getting lesbian for three hardcovers worth of text. But hey, I guess it's not Harry Potter killing someone with his dick;
[A]t one point, the Potter character kills someone with a lightning bolt from his flaccid penis.
If you don't agree that this is dumb, I don't know what to tell you. It's just beyond silly to even think of writing something like that. And while I think BEFORE WATCHMEN was probably the biggest shittiest thing that DC could have done to Moore, I think that Alan does a lot of stupid pointless writing for himself. Though, I guess it's not Moore's Necromicon. It was a four issue story about -- well, I can't tell you cause it was so bad I never finished.

Or maybe this whole thing is just Moore intentionally sabotaging other people's characters in order to show them how he feels about his own character's treatments. It's just that he's turning into an actual super villain in his own way.

If there's anyone who can take the reigns from him, it's Grant Morrison, but I guess that's more of a jab at the comic book industry as a whole. You can't honestly tell me that Bendis and Johns really are the best that the companies can do. I once loved Geoff Johns, but I really can't stand his work anymore.

Back to Moore and potentially trolling everyone with this, I wonder what it was about Harry Potter that really pissed him off. Maybe it's just that something he didn't write was popular and just wants those kids simply off his lawn. Or perhaps he just believe that most literature past 1940 is total trash. There's a reason why LOEG James Bond is a rapist traitorous bastard, Emma Peel is easily led female and they are easily tricked by the real heroes.

I guess it's just difficult to accept, but should be accepted that Moore does have some legitimate criticisms of modern popular culture and its relationship with capitalism, as seen here:
I think our mistake has been thinking, in the 20th and 21st century, of the big cultural providers, like television or Hollywood, as culture. They’re not. They’re commercial entities which may occasionally or accidentally produce culture. But, they’re not culture. We are culture. Just ordinary people, what they do. You’ve only got to look at all sorts of areas around the world at present to see people taking things into their own hands. That seems to be the trend politically and I think it’s a very good one.

Which, to be honest, is something I can get behind.

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