All entries for Sunday 29 August 2004

August 29, 2004

Superhero politics

Title:
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

A friend of mine, Kaoru, recently voiced her concerns about the political messages behind Hollywood movies:

I went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 this weekend. Remember when I went to see Bowling for Columbine I felt really uncomfortable and I didn't really like it? I tried to explain to you why I didn't like it but I myself didn't really know what exactly the reason is. Now, I know.

I hated the idea of having political thing behind a movie. And when I was watching F911, in the beginning I felt the same way. But in the end I noticed that Michael Moore is just straight out in making his movies.

I noticed that all the rest of the Hollywood movies are just the same. They are all political propaganda. I went to see Spiderman 2 last month and I really enjoyed it. But now, when I come to think about it, Spiderman's red and blue costume just reminds me of the American flag. The villain who looks a lot like Iraqi gives a great terror to the city of Manhattan. And the final message that the audience gets from the movie is "It hurts to become a hero but you need to sacrifice something for the world." Doesn't that sound a lot like somebody that we know??

And I'm really frightened when I imagine small children watching that movie without knowing this message being imprinted in them. It is exactly the same technique Hitler and the Japanese government used during the WW II.

Tell me I'm wrong cause I really hope so.

Hmmm. I felt she was definitely on to something, so I did some research:

The Rhethoric of Superheroes lecture notes

  • The superhero, by virtue of might and intelligence, is in many ways above the law. He or she cooperates with the law because he or she chooses to, not because he or she is compelled to.
  • Superheroes fight supervillains and stop natural disasters, but they rarely if ever involve themselves in political struggles. Superheroes usually follow a moral or physical authority without question.
  • Their moral world (with some important exceptions) rarely allows for ambiguity.
  • Problems are resolved not through dialogue but through battle or warfare.

Religious angle

Lots of voices

"With great power comes great responsibility."

"I believe there is a hero in all of us: gives us strength, makes us noble, eventhough sometimes we have to give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams."

"No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try: it's the ones I love who will always be the ones who pay."

Peter Parker wants "life of my own". He "is Spider-Man no more".

Doc Ock: dangers of technology. Dürenmatt, Die Physiker!

"Why loylaty to Spider-Man and not your best friend?"

"There are bigger things happening here than me and you."

All things considered, I'm too lazy to properly congeal everything into a well-shaped argument, so I shall content myself with an image of the relationship between Hollywood – and indeed media in general – and government similar to that of research at MIT and the Pentagon.

Apart from the larger issues, Spiderman 2 was thoroughly entertaining.


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