Embrace Your Inner Pig, by Mike Gold
Are you a pig, or are you a sheep? I’m a pig, myself.
Contrary to popular opinion – particularly these past couple weeks – pigs are clean, intelligent, productive, and necessary to our eco-system. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and while I must admit pigs do nothing for me, I’m not here to pass judgment on animal lovers.
Sheep are useful. I haven’t checked out their SAT scores, and they seem pleasant enough. While I understand they are more appealing than pigs in certain farmland circles (including at least one semi-famous 1960s comics artist who bragged about it) and lanolin is comforting stuff, they, too, evade my wandering eye.
As colloquial phrases, neither one is held in very high regard. Being a pig has come to mean being ugly (totally unfair), being stubborn (probably fair), and/or being a miscreant police officer (tacky). Being a sheep has come to mean being totally passive, one who follows the sheppard’s demands mindlessly, even to one’s own detriment.
Ergo, I’d rather be a pig than a sheep. But I’d rather be a sheep than an idiot.
Last Friday, Michael Davis commented about the Palin-the-Phony-Pig non-scandal, and he did so with his typical charm, wit, and aplomb. I have no intention of repeating his argument.
Actually, the whole thing sickens me.
Not the fact that McCain would seize upon a comment of Obama’s that had nothing to do with Palin and turn it into such. That’s campaigning for you, and one of the ways we can determine the make of person running is the way he or she conducts his or her campaign. McCain’s a scumbag who, according to his campaign “doesn’t speak for the campaign" (to quote McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds). Fine. We know McCain, and by now we know Palin, her ethics, her family values, and her supporters’ stand on hypocrisy and blatant lying. I’m good to go here.
I’m not sickened by the media’s coverage of the issue. The media is there to make money. OK, fine. So is ComicMix. The media does so by appealing to the lowest common denominator, or, more politely, by giving the people what they want. If Sarah Palin had breast implant surgery, it would be all over the news.
The media is owned by the likes of Disney, Murdoch, General Electric, and Redstone. Look at their fellow travelers: Joe Califano’s on CBS’s board. Bob Bork has done legal work for Time Warner. It’s not that I expect these people to pursue a political agenda – aside from Murdoch, I expect them to act in their self-interest. And, given who they are, they share a virtual monopoly because all these people have nearly the same self-interest.
No, what sickens me is how we lap it all up. Because we feed at their trough, they rightfully believe we like the slop we’re given. There’s no market research better than a look at the bottom line.
Case in point: at a comic book retailer’s meeting back in 1984, Marvel’s Carol Kalish announced the scheduling of a new mini-series, Secret Wars II. She, or rather her announcement, was roundly and profoundly booed and jeered. Her response was – and I paraphrase – “Why are you booing? You sold the hell out of the first Secret Wars mini-series. If your customers bought it throughout the length of the year-long mini-series, why shouldn’t we believe they liked it and want more of that sort of thing?”
Carol was one of the most brilliant people ever to walk the halls of Marvel Comics, and she was absolutely right. So right, in fact, that Marvel and DC have continued to run the exact same stunt into the ground ever since. There are plenty of first-rate high-minded comics out there that, collectively, didn’t sell whatSecret Wars II did. What should Marvel have done?
So… If we’re going to wax on about pigs and lipstick, the media will give us pigs and lipstick. And low-life campaigners like McCain and Palin will make pigs and lipstick an issue.
To quote Edward R. Morrow quoting Shakespeare, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
Mike Gold is editor-in-chief of ComicMix.