ROTTEN MILK, MAN
I may owe an apology to Marc Singer
, because The Milkman just begs to be tagged as middlebrow
Now, admittedly, my scorn is based on Newsarama's description of the series
. Hey, maybe they've got the wrong take on things. But then again, Joe Casey describes his book thusly:
"I take things that are quintessentially 'American' and turn them on their head....this time I'm talking on the notion of the nuclear family, the white-picket fence, the two-car garage and the achievement of the so-called 'American dream'....I know firsthand about things that look calm and peaceful on the surface actually masking something very disturbing underneath. It was a goal to project an image to the world that, 'Everything is a-okay.' I think it's become obvious that behind every door of every house on every American suburban street, there's some dark shit happening that doesn't quite fit with the image of domestic bliss that America has always tried to market to itself."
Well. This is an original take on the suburbs; not at all a stroll down a path worn down by fifty years of lazy radicals and wannabe beatniks. Luckily we have a brave and hardy soul like Joe Casey to tear the veil from our eyes, forever shattering our foundation myth that nothing bad can happen so long as a family is protected by a white picket fence. God bless him, speaking truth to power.
I'll be honest. This sort of "shocking" expose on middle America simply infuriates me. The amount of condescension that allows someone to make a statement like this makes me want to stick my finger in a light socket:
"Barbara is your typical American housewife, which it seems is a dying breed in the 21st Century. She's an amalgamation of all my friends' moms that I'd see growing up. Painfully optimistic and all too eager to live in denial of the areas in her life that didn't work out the way she intended. She'd like nothing more than to be the kind of family she watches on old Leave It to Mother re-runs. Unfortunately, real life just doesn't operate in that antiseptic, wearing-pearls-in-the-kitchen, wrap-up-your-problems-in-22-minutes kind of way."
Leaving aside the fact that this doesn't even make sense--the typical housewife is a dying breed? Then it's not very damn typical in relation to the rest of the population, is it?--the above just screams superiority. Oh, those poor fools, deluded by the Great Electronic Teat. Only I, I and those of my urban hipster cohort know the truth; that the lives of suburbanites are a facade, their ideals a sham. We the enlightened ones see the truth that Middle American denies to itself.
What a load of shit.
I grew up in a small city. It pretty much defined Red State America. And I've since lead a fairly cosmopolitan life. I've met lots of other people who grew up in the suburbs, or who now aspire to suburban life. And I think that qualifies me to make a fairly broad generalization: people who live in the suburbs aren't fools. They by and large know the consequences of the choices they make, and they by and large know that things aren't perfect. The aspire to something better all the while knowing that the tools they have to build that better future are often insufficient. They try, hard, knowing that often trying is not enough. The idea that Red State America isn't perfect is not going to much surprise Red State Americans. Hell, it's a notion peddled on 7th freaking Heaven for crying out loud.
And the reality of suburban life could be the stuff of great fiction: the trade-offs suburbanites negotiate as they try and build a better life for themselves. See, for example, Kalesniko's Mail-Order Bride, which is heartwrenching precisly because you can watch how good faith and honest choices can lead to tragedy. But of course, to do more works like that would require that more creators take seriously the aspirations of Middle America; that some respect is extended, to them and their values. This is evidently too hard. Instead we get things like The Postman, or Holed-Up, or worse, the utter dreck of American Beauty. Works that aim to shock with half century old revelations, to kick around the corpse of a myth that has been dead longer than I've been alive. Good show, brave sirs, good show.
On the upshot, the Steve Parkhouse art sure looks pretty. And, for the record, I very much enjoyed W.I.L.D.Cats, and own a complete run of Automatic Kafka.