To celebrate my recently completing Preacher and being excited about The Boys, I bring you…Fun with Fallacies!…inspired by the things that I am sick to death of hearing when I bring Garth Ennis up in polite company.
“Garth Ennis is a misogynist pig who HATES and OBJECTIFIES WOMEN!”
Garth Ennis hates people. Garth Ennis hates everything. As Jamie says, he’s an equal-opportunity hater. He even hates inappropriate quotation marks:
Garth Ennis writes complex, three-dimensional characters, some of whom (like Herr Starr, above) happen to be misogynists, either knowingly or unconsciously. The reason you might feel uncomfortable is because he’s really good at making sympathetic characters out of the worst people in the world. Some people like their antagonists all-bad and their protagonists nothing less than fine upstanding individuals. Garth Ennis has a habit of mixing it up.
Ennis writes plenty of realistic, strong, sympathetic female characters, and he also writes characters who are parodies of misogynist female stereotypes. He writes horrible, perverted, violent people who somehow manage to inspire some–extremely uncomfortable–sort of sympathy in the reader. He also writes plenty of sympathetic male characters who have serious, potentially deal-breaking character flaws. Ennis may fill his comics with repugnant individuals, but how are you supposed to recognize the good in characters without some real horribleness to provide contrast? If you want your comics black and white, go read some Golden Age Superman.
“The Boys is unnecessarily crude and homophobic!”
The Boys is using extremely crude imagery and storylines to shove your own feelings about homo and heterosexuality in your face. Garth Ennis is trying to make a point about homosexuality and sexual deviancy being two very different things. He’s acknowledging that homophobia has many faces, and sexual deviancy comes in all forms. He’s not dumbing it down for you. He’s also not afraid to make his protagonists huge jerks, and he’s not afraid to use disgusting imagery and behavior to provoke a visceral reaction in his readers…reactions that he often uses to flip some shit over on you when you least expect it. Which brings me to…
“If you love Cassidy as a character, YOU are a failure as a woman and you are perpetuating fucked up mysogbleah bleah bleah…”
Cassidy is a wonderful character. He is wonderful because he is seriously flawed and completely lets you down…REPEATEDLY. Anything else would be totally disingenuous. You know that book Twilight? That’s what Cassidy would be if Garth Ennis was a misogynist pig. Unlike Stefanie Meyer and her spank-bank-born sparkly vampire, Garth Ennis is not endorsing or justifying Cassidy’s behavior. He’s simply putting it out there for you to process, just like Jesse Custer is asked to process it.
As the story progresses, you as the reader expend an enormous amount of energy hoping Cassidy will DO THE RIGHT THING and you are repeatedly disappointed. You come out of the story either satisfied or angry, depending on whether you decided you could still see the good in this seriously fucked up dude. When it’s all said and done, you aren’t really sure the characters in Preacher deserve to come out on top. But you can’t help feeling happy that they do.
“Garth Ennis swears too much!”
Garth Ennis swears just enough.
Next Week…Fun with Fallacies: Bruce Springsteen…
“Bruce Springsteen sings about cars and ladies and has nothing worthwhile to say!!. . . . .”