I’ve mentioned quite often in posts, and in comments to posts, is that I’m quite bored by superhero movies. Somehow though I’ve never been moved to post about exactly why in detail. A few recent conversations about it made me realize it might make a good Sunday Sermons post.
The thing is that it does go beyond being just bored. There is a cultural aspect to it that’s gotten under my skin more and more. It has to do with the massive violence and destruction inherent in these movies and with a fundamental aspect of these comic book superhero stories.
They center on fighting, and I’ve never been a fan of it.
Way back in 1958, science fiction author and critic Theodore Sturgeon coined the term Sturgeon’s Revelation. Which is that “90% of film, literature, consumer goods, etc. is crap.” This became known as Sturgeon’s Law while Theodore’s actual law (from a 1956 story) — that “nothing is always absolutely so” — is forgotten. (Philosopher Daniel Dennett expanded the Law to say that 90% of everything is crap!)
I’ve always found this applies especially to science fiction TV. And in this Anno Stella Bella era, there is a lot of SF TV, so naturally there is a lot of crap. (Honestly, I don’t even pay attention to the SyFy channel anymore.)
Happily: HBO’s Westworld … not crap! In fact, it’s a gem that offers many facets worthy of (non-spoiler) thought and discussion…
One retirement project of mine involves going through lots of boxes containing work stuff, hardware and software design stuff, and decades of writing stuff. It’s kind of amazing and weird how much stuff I’ve generated in well over 40 years of active stuff creation. Among all that stuff — the bulk of which turns out to be dead weight I can eject — are a few worth saving and recording here.
The writing stuff, especially, varies from short notes to, in a few cases, short stories or scripts written long ago. Here is a note that seems as relevant today as it was when I wrote it circa late 1980s.
It’s about violence…
The thing about climbing up sand dunes is that you keep sliding downwards. If you slide downward one step for every step you take upwards, you stay in place and get nowhere. Worse, if you slide two steps down for every step up, you go backwards!
To climb a sand dune successfully, you have to take more steps upwards than you slide downwards. I’ve climbed sand dunes; it’s hard; it takes effort (or a dune buggy).
The thing about social progress is that, without real effort towards moving upwards, society tends to slide backwards. Or just stay in place.
It’s been ages since I posted any Brain Bubbles! That’s not for lack of my brain bubbling so much as various other “real world” (ha!) sharp pin bubble-popping things intruding. I thought it was high time I returned to effervescence!
There are some older bubbles queued up — they’ll surface eventually — but I was recently struck by a couple of brain bubbles recently (to the point of serious bemusement in one case and serious amusement in other).
Not feeling like a long post, so instead you get a pair of tiny bubbles!
I mentioned recently that I intended to write some “For The Record” (FTR) posts setting down — once and for all — my views on certain oft-debated topics. “Once and for all” is misleading, though. My opinions evolve over time, and no controversial topic is ever truly closed. “Here and for now” would be a better phrase.
This one will certainly draw a sand line where some will stand on my side and others — people I like and respect — will stand on the other. I’m not sure I believe there is a right answer here; it really depends on your worldview. If nothing else, this seeks to explain my rationale as well as my opinion.
So, for the record: here we go on guns!
Exhibit A: Raymell Mourice “Ray” Rice. NFL running back for the Baltimore Ravens since 2008. He was a 2012 Super Bowl Champion and has a number of other accolades: three-times to the NFL Pro Bowl all-star game, AFC Champion and the NFL Play of the Year award in 2012. He’s also the 200-pound pro football player who delivered a knockout punch to his fiancée, Janay Palmer, while they were riding in an elevator in Atlantic City this past February.
Exhibit B: Two new TV shows, Legends (TNT) and The Mysteries of Laura (NBC). There are many other examples I could pick, but these stuck out, perhaps because I’ve always liked Ali Larter and Debra Messing, who star in them. The problem I have is the way in which both shows sexualized their female stars.
Casual violence against women. Women as eye-candy sex objects. No connection?
If “we are what we eat,” then what about what we consume with our minds? If the food we eat becomes the substance of our muscles and bones, doesn’t the information we absorb become the substance of our thoughts and emotions? We understand that it’s not healthy to live on junk food alone; do we have a similar sense regarding our mental health?
I think a lot about the media content we absorb so casually day in and day out. In the last three or four decades, we seem to have come to an ugly, unfortunate place for entertainment dining. Our diet now is rich in violence and sexuality, and it’s served in a visceral emotional stew of force and conflict.
I think it’s disturbing, especially considering how few seem disturbed by it!
Was participating in a discussion about violence against women and wrote a response that’s really too long for a comment, so I thought I’d make a post of it. This is really a comment response, so you might want to read Mark’s post, and the comments there, first.
This response does stand alone and mainly consists of statistics regarding murder and forcible rape. At the end I offer some opinions on the matter. It’s a heavy, but very important, topic.
The other evening, I finally went to see the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. The punch line (and never was the term “punch” more appropriate) is that I have to give it a definite thumbs down. It is, without question, my least favorite Christopher Nolan movie, and that’s saying something, because (unlike some), I quite like Nolan’s work.
I’m a life-long comics fan and a life-long fan of the Batman. I’ve known the worlds of DC and Marvel for over 40 years. For me, Superman has a slight edge, but the Batman has always been a close second. Those two comprise a full quarter to one-third of my comics and gnovels (graphic novels) collection. Frank Miller‘s The Dark Knight Returns is one of two seminal works I hold in the highest esteem. (The other, of course, is Alan Moore‘s Watchmen.)
And, as I mentioned, I’m a fan of Nolan’s work, and I liked both his first two Batman movies. I fully expected to like his latest.