Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Corrigan Revision

                In Jimmy Corrigan, author Chris Ware makes an argument about masculine identity. Throughout the book, Ware makes it clear that he takes a firm stance against misogyny and sexual inequality. Ware spends a lot of time in the story showing men talking in vulgar, disrespectful ways towards women who really did not do anything to the said men in the first place. Obviously, Ware is not claiming that all men act this way towards women, but the men who do act this way are definitely out there. Ware believes that exposing men who act like this in a book will be a step in the right direction of change that will lead to the better treatment of women. This masculine identity that Ware explores and writes about is that men like this are insecure beings who need to speak about women in derogatory ways to make themselves feel more secure and more complete about themselves.
                In the very beginning of the book, Jimmy Corrigan is sitting in the break room of his office eating his lunch. A coworker of Jimmy’s approaches him and begins talking to him. The man assumes that Jimmy is glum by his facial expression and jumps to the conclusion that Jimmy is having problems with his love life. The man begins a rant about how Jimmy shouldn’t let a “bitch” get him down and how his “personal rule” is to “not tell any chick I like her until I’ve fucked her at least six times.” I believe that this man, who isn’t given a name by Ware, is a symbol for men all over the world who consider females inferior to males. Ware believes that men like this perpetuate rape culture and make the world a less than ideal place for women. We see another example of this when Jimmy is at the diner with his father eating burgers. His father begins talking about the “little teenage bitch” who works there because she put ketchup on his order even though he asked for “no ketchup.” He talks about her breasts in a crude manner as she is feeding her baby behind the counter. Jimmy’s father is unreasonably rude when talking about this young woman and judges her completely based off of a simple mistake with his burger.
                The preceding examples are but two of the many talked about in Jimmy Corrigan. What Ware is trying to argue is as simple as this type of behavior needs to end because it is unacceptable in today’s society. Responding to his argument, I have several questions and ideas about what Ware is trying to accomplish and argue with Jimmy Corrigan.
To begin with, plainly, simply, and honestly, I am really not sure how Jimmy Corrigan was so widely renowned and the recipient of so many honors and awards. I am not an expert on books or graphic novels, but this story had no discernable plot and failed to keep me interested as I was reading it. Ware did a good job of showing how the United States and most of the western world was focusing on improving and celebrating all of the wrong things with the postcard page and how there are a considerable amount of men who disrespect women and do not give them the credit they deserve. However, if I was able to sit down with Ware and respond to his arguments, I would let him know that the methods he used could have been improved. I would suggest that he write a book strictly about one of the men in Jimmy Corrigan who disrespect women and talk about them in a derogatory manner, but then throughout the story realize the error of their ways and change the way the way they act and live their life. Trying to accomplish the task of exposing the nature of the masculine identity of insecure men through the eyes of Jimmy Corrigan isn’t an effective way of spreading the message that Ware is trying to get out. Ware is definitely a great author and artist with excellent ideas, but he could have accomplished a lot more by taking a different approach to this book.

Chris Ware wrote Jimmy Corrigan in order to spread his message that there are a great deal of men out there who do not show enough respect for women as a whole. Ware’s book was widely praised and renowned, but I think his argument could have been put in the book in a more effective way. Ware could have written the book from someone else’s perspective or even from the perspective of a narrator who wasn’t even part of the story. Jimmy Corrigan was an excellent read in the eyes of many, but it definitely could have been a lot better if Ware took a different approach to making his arguments.

1 comment:

  1. There is an argument here, but it is radically abbreviated. You argue that the book is fundamentally concerned with sexism, then give two perfectly good examples from the beginning of the book. But rather than developing the claim that it is fundamentally about sexism (for instance, by exploring the role of Amy’s character, or by delving into the significance of the Chicago section, with the grandfather’s relationship with the red-haired girl being possibly pivotal) you just abandon the argument for the claim that the book is flawed and/or incomprehensible. It’s a hard book, and certainly not everyone should write about it. If you find it that difficult, why didn’t you revise on a different topic? You aren’t proving that the book is fundamentally about sexism - you give a couple very early examples, ignore the rest of the relevant material, and then complain that the whole thing isn’t clearly more about sexism, when it was your job in the first place to make that argument.

    Note also that this is very short, with no research.