Making the rounds on twitter last night and today are links to Mark Millar’s interview with The New Republic where the Scottish born writer is quoted as saying, about rape in comics, that he doesn’t “really think it matters” likening it to decapitation and dismissing it as nothing more than a bad guy doing bad things.
We can go into a whole discussion about how Millar’s use of rape is usually there just to upset a different, male, character. There are pages upon pages to be written about how rape “matters” and how one act of molestation can ruin a life. Hell, we here at The Outhouse even toyed with the idea of trying to make this into a Carlin-esque routine while making it clear that Millar was talking out of his ass (we realized none of us were funny enough to pull that off.) But, instead, can we all just agree that Millar just isn’t all that interesting anymore.
Looking back, I’m not all that sure he was ever interesting.
“Shock jocks” are the teen-age boys of any industry. Their job, their goal, their existence is all predicated on the idea of “oh, yea, I went there.” Content is not as important as connotation, plot details are as unimportant as character development as long as the reader/listener/viewer says to themselves “I can’t believe he/she just said that!” From Logan almost raping Phoenix, to the bad guy in Nemesis forcing a brother to rape a sister, to Kick-Ass 2’s gang rape of a teenager, to the implied rape of Betty Ross in Ultimate Hulk, to ….
Holy crap, how many times has Millar had a character raped?
Here’s the thing, after a while shock jocks become boring and repetitive, and that’s where Millar is. Readers can set a clock by when rape will happen in his stories just by the introduction of a female character. Just like we know that there is a 50/50 chance any infant we meet will be dead by the end of the next page, we know that no female is safe from the “evil dick.” It’s not shocking anymore, it’s boring.
Millar has traded substance for increasingly desperate attempts to be interesting, and his continued and un-evolved attitude towards rape shows that. Sure his books sell well, but take out the rape and the ultra-violence and you are stuck with very basic plots and themes that cannot stand on their own.
You might be saying to yourself: aren't The Outhousers the "shock jocks" of the comic book media? And that's a valid point, because we do say things that are "outrageous" in some of our articles, but we try to shock for a purpose, saying ridiculous things to shed light on how ridiculous the comic book industry can be. Millar's shock serves no purpose other than to mask the limp storytelling behind it. I am not saying that rape has no place in story-telling, just that it shouldn’t be so commonplace, so predictable, so….hum drum. An industry should not have a “rape guy” We should not have been able to start telling “You Might Be A Mark Millar Comic If…” jokes no one in the writers room would share with their wives.
In other words, Millar acts as if the dialogue available on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack is enough to understand the story as a whole. He acts as if quoting “Bring out the gimp” is more important than the entirety of the product, and that is because, for Millar, “Bring out the gimp” is the point of the movie.