Monday, June 12, 2017

Week of 06/12/2017

The Hero-Hate Continues
There is nothing more infuriating for me, as a long time comic book fan and as a self-published comic book creator, than to hear people trash heroes.  Two years ago, I spoke out in defense of comic book movies, which were getting mercilessly trashed by the Hollywood elite even though they were bringing in billions to the studios.
Sadly, the hypocrisy continues to this day, and, if anything, the hero-hate is getting nastier and more despicable.
It should be noted that this column is being published just two days following the death of Adam West; an actor that was forever known for playing the family-friendly campy-serious Batman.  Even though he would play several roles through his long career (including one after-midnight production for the grown-ups), he was always remembered as Batman.  Even up to his last roles, both on-screen and off, he embraced his connection to the superhero that was forged more than fifty years ago.
While Adam West entertained generations with his strong connection to Batman, both liberals and conservatives have been busy slamming superheroes.
HBO comedian Bill Maher whined about superheroes supposedly causing people to embrace Donald Trump as their president.  He even went so far as to declare Trump to be a superhero called “Orange Sphincter”.  I’m sorry, but for this comic book fan and comic book creator, for him to claim that Trump is a superhero is *my* “n-word”.  And, unlike Ice Cube, I can’t go on Maher’s show to school him about how abso-*bleeping*-loutely wrong he was about that.
On the conservative side, the shameless propaganda mill known as Fox News actually questioned whether or not Wonder Woman, an ambassador from another country, was “American enough” in the recently-released and very successful Warner Brothers movie. Yes, they actually went there!  The movie takes place in Europe during World War I, which America was not as invested in as it would be for its sequel, and at no point did Wonder Woman visit America during the movie, so to have a propaganda mill owned by an Australian and run through Great Britain decide to question whether or not the character was “American enough” is nothing short of sheer jingoistic lunacy.
Meanwhile, the “elite” are back to bashing hero movies in general.  When the DC-hating Rotten Tomatoes refused to torch “Wonder Woman” in favor of Marvel movies, other critics stepped up their own hate simply because this was a DC character.  Someone questioned whether director Patty Jenkins should have even had the job, given how her previous work was the Oscar-winning drama “Monster”.  Wonder Woman’s attire was a frequent target of hate, especially the supposed skimpiness of it.  I mean, my god, you could actually see her bare shoulders and parts of the thighs!  The horrors!
Seriously, people, what is your damage about superheroes and superhero movies?
I understand why some of you would think that superheroes are “childish” and naïve.  It’s simplistic to think that someone can just step in with a catchy name and save the day, never mind doing so in a symbolic outfit, be it a female Grecian warrior or a cape-and-cowl vigilante.  We have problems that we simply can’t “punch” our way out of.  In fact, doing so would only make things worse.
And I also understand that many a film critic is obligated to review a kind of movie they don’t really like.  That’s how they get paid.  Not every film they can go to is a tear-jerking “chick flick” or juvenile comedy romp or a dramatic tour-de-force that screams “Best Picture”.  As a movie-goer, I have the pleasure of saying “no”.  The critic cannot, because that is their job.  But that still doesn’t justify or validate the biased hatred of the genre.
Let’s get brutally honest here... the true power of the hero, especially in the context of a superhero movie, isn’t what they can do but what they can inspire.  For all my complaints about the “Because Batman” meme and the glorification of Batman into being something more than what he really is, which is a crime victim with a control fetish, the idea of Batman is more than just a rich man in a costume.  It’s an idea that people should not cower to criminals.  Superman inspires hope; the idea that everyone has the potential to be something better than they currently are.  Wonder Woman shows that everyone, men and women alike, can be better than our base instincts.  Spider-Man shows that having power comes with responsibility.  Captain America... well, let’s just stop there.
And with all of the things going on in the world today, between terrorists and narcissistic leaders throwing temper tantrums and big corporations actively screwing over the masses and the continued economic decline, we need a little bit of hope and inspiration in our lives.  We need some reassurance that things are going to be okay, even if that reassurance is through a fictional representation.
So when you are bashing hero movies in general in your selfish attempt to “purify” the movie industry of a genre that you consider to be “beneath you”, you are really bashing hope.  You’re bashing the idea that we are better than our brutal natures and our base instincts and the crime and misery going on today.  You’re saying that we’re not better than all this, that we can’t rise above it, and that we can’t be better people.  This is it.  This is what we’re stuck with.
Speaking for myself, I refuse to accept that kind of condemnation.
Stories of heroes, from the gods and demigods of Greece, to the Norse Gods of Asgard, to the Arabian adventurers, to the warrior monks in Asia, and even the heroes of South America, were more than just fairy tales told to children.  They were ways to express the idea that humanity is more than what it is at the time.  That there will always be champions, and those champions transcend the limitations of time.  I know this because we still remember those old stories from centuries ago and comic creators like myself and movie companies like Warner Brothers and Marvel Studios still bring them back to life for a new generation to be inspired.
Adam West may have never won an Oscar for his works, but he did something that would have a far-lasting impact on society.  He helped tell a modern-day story of heroism for a generation that was hungry for hope and a better tomorrow.  And that’s something that will outlast any snooty critic or Fox News propagandist.

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