Seattle Suicide Watch
by Saab Lofton
“I’m distributed by studios that are owned by large corporate entities. Now, why would they put me out there when I am opposed to everything that they stand for … it’s because they don’t believe in anything. They put me on there because they know that there’s millions of people that want to see my film or watch the TV show, and so they’re gonna make money. And I’ve been able to get my stuff out there because I’m driving my truck through this incredible flaw in capitalism, the greed flaw. The thing that says that the rich man will sell you the rope to hang himself with if he thinks he make a buck off it.”
–Michael Moore, The Corporation (2003)
Never thought I’d say this, but Michael Moore is wrong. If anything, I’m living proof of how wrong he is …
I recently went to the Emerald City ComiCon at the Washington State Convention Center. There I met Wil Wheaton (Ensign Crusher from Star Trek) and cartoonist Peter Bagge (who unfortunately turned out to be just as gratuitously snide as his character Buddy Bradley). Like most comic conventions, this well-attended event was a source of stimulating conversation and beautiful women dressed in superheroic spandex. I was especially pleased the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund had a table. A most worthy cause, the CBLDF was founded in 1986 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization and is essentially the ACLU of the comic industry.
Within the few hours I was at the Emerald City ComiCon, I sold over forty copies of my comic book, Rufus the black cat (that’s a dozen copies per hour — let Peter Bagge beat that). Over the past several years, I’ve consistently sold hundreds — if not thousands — of copies of Rufus in record time. In addition, both the second and third printings of my second novel sold in the span of a single calendar year (and half of the first printing of my first novel sold during the first year of its release). So if Michael Moore’s quote from The Corporation was correct, some capitalist would’ve invested in me and a nationwide book tour would’ve been paid for by now.
Moore claimed that capitalists, “don’t believe in anything.” This simply isn’t true. Most of those who’re in a position to heavily invest in the arts are white, and since I make Rev. Jeremiah Wright look like Steppin Fetchit*, their subliminal belief in the supposed necessity of white dominance alone will keep them from funding my work.
For the record, it’d have been one thing if Rev. Wright went off about how lizard men from Atlantis built a giant laser with the intent of knocking the moon out of orbit, but that obviously wasn’t the case. In fact, NOTHING Wright said was wrong: YES, America “supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans.” YES, America “got more black men in prison than there are in college.” These things are only controversial to someone whose sole concern is feeling comfortable; white suburbia needs to learn once and for all that just because something keeps you from being able to save face does NOT mean it’s inaccurate.
Author Flannery O’Connor phrased it best: “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”
Just as an activist engaged in a hunger strike will put his/her life at risk, I too am involved in something similar: When I won awards taking on the rich/powerful (the right-wing) via my column in The Las Vegas CityLife, I was happily killing two birds with one stone: Paying the bills BY making a difference. All too many, however, are content with working an evil day job so long as they can survive — it doesn’t matter to them what adverse effect their place of business has on the future (this inconsiderate attitude is culturally reinforced by songs like TLC’s No Scrubs).
After my column was censored in Las Vegas, I had to move in with my mom, but now I finally found someplace where the rent is cheap enough for me to subsist (albeit barely) off of what I was meant for (radical storytelling*). Like Jimmy Stewart’s character George Bailey from Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, my spirituality is entirely hinged on how much of a difference I’ve made. In case the pen ain’t mightier than the sword, I need to spend every waking moment doing my part; I can’t save the world if I’m flipping burgers full time, and all one has to do is read today’s Orwellian headlines to see that the world does need saving.
This commentary is entitled “Seattle Suicide Watch” for a reason. Either I’ll be able to survive doing nothing other than what I was born to do or I’ll die of starvation, period. Death before dishonor. This isn’t arrogance, this is about justice. How dare anyone ask me to work a day job when I’ve proven myself time and time again? When Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly or Ann Coulter (to my knowledge, none of those fascists can draw and/or write fiction) start burger flipping, let me know.