A while back I wrote an article discussing the opinions of critics of comics, superhero stories, and the like. This was prompted in particular by comments from the director of Birdman, Alejandro Inarritu, a director who has now won best director for a film which has now won best picture at the Oscars. So he’s earned some level of us paying attention to him.
So when my original source, We Minored in Film, wrote another piece regarding film industry comments against comic book and superhero films, it got me thinking again. Well, combined with other things I have been thinking about. Other things happening in the world.
In short, my question is, what should we be turning our attention to instead, if not the superhero movies, if not to comics and, because there are more critics out there, how about all of speculative fiction? We need to be paying attention to and worrying about the real world, right? Alright. Let’s do that.
Re-staging World War II
For one thing, I am a student of history, which is to say I have a bachelor’s in history. Which means I am incredibly disturbed by what is happening in the Ukraine. The invasion of the Crimea, and the appeasement by the rest of the world, resembles the beginnings of World War II in really frightening ways. I am just waiting for the next place they invade. One way of looking at the history of Russia is as a quest for warm-water ports: keep your eyes peeled.
Going Back Further
Of course, that’s not the only thing going on in the world right now. There’s that whole ISIS group. Nation. Thing. Learned rather a lot tonight actually reading this article in The Atlantic. Even if you take all of it with a grain of salt, some of it is bound to be true, even if some of the conclusions aren’t. Even if the assumptions about the motives of the followers. Even if the broad, sweeping statements about Islam are wrong. It still does seem like we have a group in the world working on actively creating a society that would look right in the middle of the middle ages.
Speaking of the Middle Ages…
Of course, their vision of the apocalypse might not even have a chance to happen if the climate keeps being crazy. This sure has been a strange winter in the United States! We’ve had a couple of small snow storms here in Alaska. They’re diverting the annual dog-sled race because there’s not enough snow to actual mush on. Or, ya know, any. Meanwhile, snow in Texas. New England. All over.
I don’t want to get into a debate on whether any particular thing is happening to the climate. Why? Because if it is, as far as I can tell our best option to divert it would be to go back to living like the middle ages. Farmers. Organic food. None of this modern civilization anything. And for that to come together? A lot of people are going to have to die. Starvation and famine and plague.
Speaking of Plague…
Of course, thanks to people against vaccination, we’ve gotten a jump on plague. It wasn’t bad enough for Ebola to be breaking out worse than ever before in the world. No, we had to top that by reintroducing Measles to the United States, a disease once believed to be eradicated in this country. So that’s awesome.
I also think this means we’re going to be running into a conflict in the role of government. On the one hand, an increasing move to government involvement in health care and health coverage. For that to work best, things like everyone possible being vaccinated is important. On the other hand, you have personal choice and personal freedom. In the long run, only one of these two public goods can win out: I wonder which it will be?
Oh, and Speaking of Freedom…
Oh, and Net Neutrality is being decided tomorrow. It sounds like the idea of the ISP’s being treated as a common carrier or a public utility might actually win out. Perhaps, the chairman of the FCC is in fact, not a dingo. Maybe the Internet, the shining beacon of the 21st Century, of communication and the freedom of information and ideas, can win out. And not be utterly crushed by corporations.
Hey, Don’t They Talk About Freedom in the MCU?
Why yes, rhetorical question from myself, they do talk about freedom a lot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The villains, in particular. They’re thoroughly against freedom, seeing it as the thing that people need to lose. Loki, Hydra, it’s all over the place, and the main thing they have in common.
And Captain America: Winter Soldier? Which movie last year did a better job of exploring government surveillance? Of taking this Orwellian nightmare and tearing it down? Tell me if there is one, I probably haven’t seen it… But was Winter Soldier even up for any Oscars? Or did they give those all to Guardians of the Galaxy?
My point is, oh wait, maybe these stories can be incredibly relevant. Maybe their struggles aren’t completely irrelevant in our world. Maybe the story of people fighting against injustice, against people working on undermining society, isn’t a bad thing. Maybe watching people choose right and good is a hopeful thing.
I Hope for the Future
If you’ve been following us for a while, you know I like to deal with today’s problems by thinking about what they can look like in the future, which could even be the near future if we could just change a little bit. If you’re new here, I would recommend this post.
Because I do. I hope for the future. I look at something like a Marvel movie – or better yet, something like Interstellar – and I don’t see the dystopia that I feel forming all around me. I feel hope in a world that otherwise looks pretty bleak in the news.
And I see a lot of news! At the library I am in charge of receiving our new journals and magazines and newspapers. All the headlines go past me. I’m watching the world go by. It doesn’t look pretty. And I’m not sure how much influence I can exert over much of any of it. Am I escaping in my comic book stories? Am I hoping for superheroes to come save us? No. But it would be nice to.
As we’ve mentioned, we’re bringing a child into this world. Now, of all times. I know. Seems kind of crazy. So I need to – I need to hope. I need to keep thinking that there are people who won’t choose greed, or war, or invasion, or junk science, over what is right. I know there are. I bet you are, too. After all, you’re here on my geeky blog. Geeks are good people.
Hello, friend. Let’s build a better future.