Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Digging Up Sendak (Already)

    The Comics Journal is promoting an upcoming interview with Maurice Sendak conducted by editor-in-chief Gary Groth, and it is provoking quite the media tempest (more here and here) over a strategically selected excerpt that focuses in part on this particular statement:
SENDAK: Bush was president, I thought, “Be brave. Tie a bomb to your shirt. Insist on going to the White House. And I wanna have a big hug with the vice president, definitely. And his wife, and the president, and his wife, and anybody else that can fit into the love hug.”
   Meanwhile, the publisher’s Facebook page says “Maurice Sendak is causing us trouble” … um, no… Sendak is dead - what‘s questionable is the faux-sincerity of their concern of any "trouble," which is about as ethical as (barely) waiting for Sendak’s body to cool before capitalizing off this manufactured controversy. Supposedly Groth's Comics Journal "...promotes the view that comics are a fine art meriting broader cultural respect, and thus should be evaluated with higher critical standards" [emphasis added]...which I guess doesn't extend to the dubious nature of producing such exploitative and disingenuous commentary.
    Regardless of all this, I wouldn’t worry about Sendak’s legacy: more than likely it was already by his coming out, assuring a significant portion of the market will forever blacklist him and his work. Coincidentally that’s also the approximate proportion of the population that is both functionally illiterate and doesn’t read to their children anyways, so it’s probably no net loss.
   But what is a real loss are the people who will now never open one of his books because their minds have been shut. Congratulations go out to Gary Groth and The Comics Journal for a job well done furthering those ends. What a disappointment.


  1. Unquestionably the Bush administration presented a terrifying and deeply depressing vision of the future of America and the world; America because people like that could have any political traction and the world because with resource depletion, pollution and military action many Americans were clearly willing to take the rest of the planet with them on a merry jaunt to doomsday. I can see how an elderly idealist might consider trying to make his death a last service to future generations.

    While I abhor suicide murderers, we would do well to think deeply about the issues that drive them to such action. They are not all the same. A monk setting fire to himself is not the same as someone hopping on a bus full of strangers with a bomb vest, and neither of those are the same as a committed assassin who has decided his own life is worth giving to take out a target he believes needs to be neutralized. The next step beyond physically preventing such people from reaching their targets is mentally defusing them to the extent such a thing may be possible.

  2. What, examine the actual motives? That would require a degree of empathy, reason and intelligence.
    Just remember/Never Forget®™: they hate us because of our cartoons...