Was Grant Morrison A Bit Unfair?

Posted by djotaku (415 posts) - - Show Bio

A recent rolling stone interview had Grant Morrison saying the following:
 
"Kids understand that real crabs don't sing like the ones in The Little Mermaid. But you give an adult fiction, and the adult starts asking really f-ing dumb questions like 'How does Superman fly? How do those eyebeams work? Who pumps the Batmobile's tires?' It's a f-ing made-up story, you idiot! Nobody pumps the tires!" 
 
On the one hand, I think this is accurate. Many, if not most, of us have gotten hung up on a detail within the fiction at some point in our comic reading lifetimes.  Some of us do it with every issue.  Some of us only do it when it's egregious.  Others of us do it for fun - picking apart tropes like wondering who pays for all the collateral damage that heroes cause.  And sometimes that ends up in the comics (Marvel's Civil War explains what happens when you look at Super Heroes through realistic eyes if you're the government)
 
But is it fair for Morrison to be so disparaging?  (Ignoring that fact that he was probably just flaming)  While I think we need to remember that it's just a work of fiction when we get too worked up about these issues, I think the fact that we want consistency in our works of fiction show our investment in the world.  It's a compliment that we care enough about the characters and the world that the writers have created that we want to know how things work.  While we're imagining the concept of a billionaire who runs around fighting crime in a bat costume we'd also like to stretch out minds to fill in the rest of the details in how a world like this would work.  For example, where would Batman stop to put gas in his car?  And how would he pay for it?  How does he always have what he needs in his utility belt and so on. 
 
I think it's fair to say that we wouldn't have the highly profitable expanded universe of official and fan-made stories that surround our fictional franchises if we didn't care about the characters.  I think it's human to want to know more and more details of the story.  Maybe it's the same thing in our head that makes us want to share gossip/news stories?  Who knows, but I don't think it's as bad a thing as Morrison makes it out to be.  I can see how, when you get the stereotypical comic nerd (does he even exist or is he just an exaggeration) who needs an explanation for every retcon or other inconsistency or detail of the universe criticizing you that it could sour you as a writer on the way some fans experience the books.  But it's all in the numbers.  While comic reading is at a low, I think the numbers are relatively consistent month to month.  And that shows that we will just go on the Internet and gripe feel like we've been heard and then go back to reading the series.  And if they jump the shark too much or too often, then we stop reading and they get the message and either fix things or can the book temporarily.  
 
So, I see his point, but I still think it's pretty harsh.  (And, as I said above, maybe he was just being controversial and trying to start flame wars to get his name out there in everyone's consciousness ahead of the new Action Comics)

#1 Posted by fodigg (6136 posts) - - Show Bio

He's basically just repeating the mst3k mantra. If you think that's too "harsh," I'm not sure what to tell you. Fiction is for fun.

#2 Posted by SC (13409 posts) - - Show Bio

Well it depends. This was covered a little in a thread last week. Majority of people agreed with his sentiments, but would those same people go into Battles Boards and just ask what's the point? Is the Fan Fiction and Artist Show Off sections of Comic Vine the biggest? In most of any thread on Comic Vine, do answers to questions address the narrative or do they address the creative aspects of writing aware that characters aren't real, power is relative, defining traits vary and depend, and time in comics is artificial thus flawed and a slave to the individual writers wishes. 
 
I agree with Morrison but also realize and understand that people have the absolute freedom of preference. That means people will care for things I don't care for and for many that might mean knowing such things as who pumps Batman tires? Who am I to judge? I know guys who care that Hulk is the strongest and that Cyclops is the best leader and that Jean is the Phoenix, and that Superman should inspire everyone? None of them are real, and for the story Grant Morrison would/could ignore, deconstruct and piss all over such traits as his power as the writer. The difference with the fan interested in who pumps Batman's tires is that there aren't many other fans interested in that and so financially there is no incentive to explore it and creatively well its up to the writers discretion. Morrison gets a lot of freedom I would think at DC and Marvel, but probably not as much his own creator work, and so we are aware that he say knows the difference between writing a character like Batman vs a Unknown character so he knows that people aren't out for good stories. People tend to, even though he is not real, prefer Batman titles. There are many reasons for this, good and bad, and similarly such good and bad reasons can exist for other people and other preferences (caring about what may be considered the mundane like who pumps Batman's tires)  
 
I think Morrison was just frustrated. Comic fans ability to discern story from reality and or to actually know there preferences and how they differ can be... odd. 

Moderator
#3 Posted by iLLituracy (13494 posts) - - Show Bio

There should be some sense when it comes to details, but when it comes down to it--you can't get caught up on the details too much. 

#4 Posted by The_Tree (7990 posts) - - Show Bio
@fodigg said:
He's basically just repeating the mst3k mantra. If you think that's too "harsh," I'm not sure what to tell you. Fiction is for fun.
Agreed.
Lol, I'm reading superhero comics for fun, not realism.
#5 Posted by djotaku (415 posts) - - Show Bio
@SC: Sorry about the double-post.  I just read the article on the web this week, so I thought it was new.  But I think you make great points about different people wanting different things out of comics.  
 
@The_Tree@fodigg: Of course I am not looking for absolute realism or I'd read a different kind of comic.  However, you need things to be grounded in some sort of realism or you end up with Looney Tunes.  I'm just saying that it's OK for people to think about those things and he was harsh in his criticism of those people.  For me, I usually only think about that stuff as a party game.  But as long as people don't get nasty about it with the writers, I don't think they should be disparaged.  Or, in other words, what @iLLituracy: said
#6 Posted by aztek_the_lost (28224 posts) - - Show Bio

Regardless of whether he was being unfair or not...I would like to say I don't think he was

@djotaku said:

(And, as I said above, maybe he was just being controversial and trying to start flame wars to get his name out there in everyone's consciousness ahead of the new Action Comics)

I don't think Grant Morrison needs to say anything just for attention, people have been worshiping him for over two decades now, he can say whatever he actually thinks and I believe he was legitimately voicing his thoughts...although if I were him I'd be frustrated too when I try and do something new and fresh with Batman and everyone starts crying about it because it doesn't make sense and these characters wouldn't do that, etc. It's a story, meant to be read, whatever you do beyond that is your personal business but you can't complain to him about it, if you read it, he did his job.

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#7 Edited by fodigg (6136 posts) - - Show Bio
@djotaku said:


@The_Tree@fodigg: Of course I am not looking for absolute realism or I'd read a different kind of comic.  However, you need things to be grounded in some sort of realism or you end up with Looney Tunes.  I'm just saying that it's OK for people to think about those things and he was harsh in his criticism of those people.  For me, I usually only think about that stuff as a party game.  But as long as people don't get nasty about it with the writers, I don't think they should be disparaged.  Or, in other words, what @iLLituracy: said

I don't think he was harsh at all. Just dismissive. And that's really the difference between you and him. You're asking him to take people seriously who (whom?) he thinks take comics too seriously. By the very nature of his position he wouldn't do that.
#8 Posted by dondasch (921 posts) - - Show Bio

Grant Morrison has certainly earned his reputation as a fine writer over the decades, and, for the most part, I have no issue with him.  To me, it's fun to think about details of a character's life, but I try to do so only after I've read the story because if I don't, then it all becomes muddled and I just end up frustrating myself because I'll try balancing the details versus the story in front of me.
 
The key part is the story and whether you enjoy it or not.  Maybe Morrison was frustrated, though how you can be frustrated with his level of success is a bit staggering.

#9 Posted by entropy_aegis (15479 posts) - - Show Bio

I hate realism.

#10 Posted by Billy Batson (58383 posts) - - Show Bio

He wasn't unfair. 

@SC said:
Well it depends. This was covered a little in a thread last week. Majority of people agreed with his sentiments, but would those same people go into Battles Boards and just ask what's the point?   

LOL, this was on my mind to go on the battles boards and say something like this just for the fun of it. 

BB

#11 Posted by djotaku (415 posts) - - Show Bio
@dondasch: you make a good point in that sometimes people complain about something in issue 2 that will be resolved by issue 5. 
#12 Posted by Jnr6Lil (7889 posts) - - Show Bio

He has a point.

#13 Posted by fenixREVOLUTION (888 posts) - - Show Bio

I actually agree with him, I don't find myself asking questions. Superman flies because he's Superman, Batman obviously fills tires up when he isn't on a panel, obvious answers, yet you get threads of people bickering on forums over things like that, among other comic related things. I read comics because I like over the top things that I won't see on the news, when I want the details, I turn on my Kindle and read a novel.

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