Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

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Hipster Thor
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Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Hipster Thor » Thu Jul 16, 2020 12:29 am

How well is a character like Tony Stark/Iron Man going to age in 20 years I wonder. Currently we are living in a time where it seems like America is getting angrier and angrier about class disparities in wealth. I have frequently seen thr notion that all billionaires are sociopaths or bastards; that being a billionaire shouldn't be legal. Its hard to disagree with these notions. But then you have the otherside which is fine with the system as is, and I kind of blame Iron Man? And if not him, then characters and ideas like him.

People seem to overlook, or forget that Iron Man 1 in 2008 was an intensely political movie with heavy themes of American exceptionalism and "might making right". Seven years after 9/11 and its still fresh on everyones' heads. Out of nowhere comes this motion picture about a billionaire who builds weapons for the government, who uses his capital and genius to take the law into his own hands and y to the middle east and murder brown terrorists. Its the ultimate ignorant post 9/11 fantasy. If I were to describe the movie in the way I just did in a vaccuum, this plot might sound disturbing and wrong. But within Iron Man and the subsequent films in the MCU we *know* that Tony Stark is correct. Nearly *all* of his potentially controversial decisions are proven correct in the long run. He can go to congress and tell our elected officials why he is allowed to harbor weapons of mass destruction in his garage and operate with zero accountability and thr audience loves it because he's so funny and charming! Its like a magic trick. We are told about his amazing philanthropic efforts. He stopped making wsapons for other people. He pays for college kids research projects. He provides clean energy. He pays for the destruction he and his friends cause. Meanwhile he has a drone network in orbit capable of launching swarms of dangerous robots anywhere in the world at anytime. And then he heroically dies for all of us.

I have to wonder if this popular image of a billionaire is why people today still find their kind acceptable. They give Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos a pass because hugr companies can do so much good for us all when they chose to do so. But they don't and never will.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by DaMU » Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:03 am

Yeah, good points; I don't know how much movies influence audiences' opinions versus how much they reflect the current social mood (I don't think Elon Musk would get a cameo now, while he did for Iron Man 2).

In general, I wrestle with how seriously we should take the politics of these movies. Those concepts often feel slippery, less like dialectics or meaningful themes and more like lip service that nods to current contexts. A billionaire in these movies is by necessity a sort of idealized cartoon billionaire. There are no Jeffrey Epsteins or Clintons or Trumps for them to pal around with. No scenes of them discussing how to dodge tax loopholes by putting their money overseas. The "real world" of these movies is a caricature, so I think anyone who takes them too seriously or has Stark (or Bruce Wayne for that matter) informing their idea of a billionaire is... not stupid, but certainly too quick to conflate superhero thrills with the real world.

That said, these movies do have an influence. Movies and TV do influence our social understandings. The classic example I think of is that the TV show 24 had a meaningful impact on popular and governmental support for torture, because torture on that show always worked. (Torture works on most other films and TV shows too; it's kind of horrible how often torture works. PUNCH. Gimme a name! PUNCH! Gimme a name! PUNCH! Okay, okay, okay, fine, Ghislaine Maxwell.)

So there's a meaningful percentage of viewers who do get impacted by media ideas.

And so I don't know if you're right or wrong.

[I will say that I don't think the idea of Tony Stark helps anybody. He's fun in pieces (as you say, charming! fun! quippy! aww, he's trying to do the right thing!) but problematic in the aggregate (this mercurial fuckup should be nowhere in proximity to all of his wealth and toys). The absolute best way to take him is as mythic archetype, a metaphor for our own internal tension between the flippant selfish and the sincere selfless. That gets harder when he gives politically loaded lines like "I have privatized world peace."]

My gut-check is that billionaires are most likely venerated not because of Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark, but because the national identity of the USA was started as "you have a chance at a fair life here" and slowly perverted into "you have a chance at being a millionaire here." And infused by a conservative wing raised on Ayn Rand and free market economics and burnished by wealthy aw-shucks dynasties like the Bushes and the Trumps, the heroic rich boy of the people is sort of a logical conclusion of those ideas. To accept that billionaires are more problematic than they are helpful... you have to recognize that the USA prioritizes the wrong things. Basically, that the person people are projecting their hopes onto is actually the person they need to recognize as the problem. And that 180 is fucking tough.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Evil » Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:05 am

Let's not forget about TDK justifying the surveillance state either while we're at it.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by The Nameless Two » Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:06 am

The Elon Musk "worship" is what really gets me about the internet nerds out there. Haha relatable billionaire posts memes and dates our collective favorite musician, Grimes! Soooo cooool

Now let's focus on all of the absolute rampant death cult Covid bullshit he's dolled up over the past six months (Christ, what is time anymore?). Jeff Bezos too, though I don't find as much in the way for admiration on his front, especially in how eager he is to sell cheap shit from China (I hope I'm not coming off as racist here, just tying the facts in with the political air in America). I'm pretty sure there is a makeshift guillotine parked out on his front lawn Link Here. Marvel films fascinated me to all ends as a Canadian, it is basically what kept me up with what's all really going down in America. It's hard to gauge their self awareness, Iron Man 2008 being a strong example. Shane Black did a decent job at taking the piss out of his idea, but then you have Captain Marvel near the end of the run and it's right back to American jingoism

Disney has a lot of blood on their hands right now, and I'm kinda shocked by it all given how "liberal" the company is. Are the parks run by a separate entity? I hope you are staying safe out there in wake of the reopening feeding frenzy.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by The Nameless Two » Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:09 am

Evil wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:05 am
Let's not forget about TDK justifying the surveillance state either while we're at it.
You can go as far back as Alan Moore's comic run of V for Vendetta for this idea which he believes accidentally sparked the move towards "cameras on the streets". Difference was that is a straight up fascist society being worked out of. In wake of Covid, I'm not sure where I stand on all of this surveillance. Blessing and a curse, worth discussing further
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by DaMU » Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:12 am

Evil wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:05 am
Let's not forget about TDK justifying the surveillance state either while we're at it.
The Dark Knight Rises is kind of politically hilarious now, with its pro-cop defeat of a Trumpian faux-populist playing class warfare politics toward his own brute-force fascism. IRL those two factions would love each other.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by DaMU » Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:17 am

The Nameless Two wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:06 am
Disney has a lot of blood on their hands right now, and I'm kinda shocked by it all given how "liberal" the company is.
"Liberal" politics in Hollywood are largely performative. I think that no matter where you are, the more wealth you get, the more likely you are to become conservative due to your desire to retain your money and the psychology you have to build around that accrual to not feel terrible (I'm a millionaire because I earned it; if I didn't earn it, how did I get it?).
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by The Nameless Two » Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:07 am

DaMU wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:17 am
"Liberal" politics in Hollywood are largely performative. I think that no matter where you are, the more wealth you get, the more likely you are to become conservative due to your desire to retain your money and the psychology you have to build around that accrual to not feel terrible (I'm a millionaire because I earned it; if I didn't earn it, how did I get it?).
If there is anywhere which makes me think of the "man behind the curtain" it's the states. It all feels like performance art at this point, the whole system is conservative in it's wealth where liberals just get tricked into feeding the machine. Alan Moore worships a sock puppet of a snake god named Glycon. Funny
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Hipster Thor » Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:23 am

I knew Bruce Wayne would be brought up, I should gave commented on it in the OP. What modern media has done to Bruce Wayne is just awful. Growing up, my more classical take on Bruce Wayne, and this aspect is still relevant today, is that *Batman* is the ego. Bruce Wayne is the mask. His identity is not a billionaire. There are not posters with his cowl off. Not really a hot take. But for Tony Stark his identity and ego are the billionaire, the entrepreneur, the futurist. Iron Man is the mask. The entirety of Iron Man 3 is pretty much about just that.

Where I do not like modern Bruce Wayne is that they put more emphasis on his finances. He is now the big Wallstreet Capitalist of nebulous global conglomerate that makes simultaneously everything and nothing. This is kind of crazy to me because never growing up did I think Wayne needed to be a billionaire to be Batman. I thought he was just rich, owned a nice mansion and invented all of his ingenius gadgets himself with the help of his two friends. He didn't need to be Rupert Murdoch, he just needed like 10 or 20 million dollars. Its not like classic versions of the Batman mobile are insane high tech tanks, they are just eccentric cars. By putting so much emphasis in the modern era on Wayne's personal wealth just seems....strange, and I dont like it.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Hipster Thor » Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:29 am

Also DAMU, your point about idealized billionaires being on disay in film is interesting, because isn't the very notion of an idealized billionaire harmful? Even worse the trope of the virtuous billionaire (Stark, Wayne) fighting the billionaore who has been corrupted and evil (AIM, Lex Luthor) ?
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by DaMU » Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:50 am

Hipster Thor wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 4:29 am
Also DAMU, your point about idealized billionaires being on disay in film is interesting, because isn't the very notion of an idealized billionaire harmful? Even worse the trope of the virtuous billionaire (Stark, Wayne) fighting the billionaore who has been corrupted and evil (AIM, Lex Luthor) ?
I'd think so, yeah, it's inherently bad, and yeah, the latter example (rich boy defeats bad rich boy) is even worse, because (whether intentional or not), it's sort of uncomfortably propagandic. Conceptually, it's a little like the recent issue of cops who were taking knees with protesters. "See?!" the neoliberal insists triumphantly, "The problem isn't systemic and institutional, it's just bad apples! Look at all these good sweet police boys!"
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Stu » Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:59 am

A lot of good points have been made in here, and I think the thread’s initial concept ties into the tendency of Superhero movies, even the ones that are somewhat subversive politically, to ultimately reinforce the status quo, as they’re fundamentally still mass-market blockbusters in the end, and are afraid to completely tip over the social boat that they’re rocking as a result. I mean, even in Black Panther, a movie that I liked a lot, and one that, as a major Marvel movie, was very refreshing in its vision of African exceptionalism with the land of Wakanda, its tacit criticism of American-lead warmongering in Killmonger’s special-ops background, and its acknowledgement of discriminatory policing in the States with N’Jobu’s rant, still felt the need to shoehorn one of the Tolkien white guys in as one of the “good guys” in the end, and refused to seriously address the CIA’s long history of foreign meddling, even though that character obviously works for the agency (the most we got was the joking remark about him being a “colonizer”, which can be interpreted as just a generic reference to the fact that he’s one of the only two white people in the country), and in fact, the film uses him to help stop the villian's own CIA-style intervention by performing the Wakandan salute, basically having him save the day through an act of cultural appropriation. So, yeah, still a good movie on the whole, but it definitely sent some mixed messages politically, and regardless of your thoughts on the movie on the whole, I’d like to see a big Superhero movie be as consistently challenging as the big monologue in The Dictator, of all things.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:09 am

Stu, I'm not a particularly big fan of Black Panther, but they made a point that Killmonger was a former CIA operative that was used to topple governments and that he employed the same tactics in order to infiltrate and seize control of Wakanda.

I think that's about as much of a reckoning with the CIA history as one can expect from summer blockbuster, which isn't much, but more than you're giving it credit for.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Hipster Thor » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:18 am

To leap off Stu's point about keeping the status quo, you will notice that post Disney acquisition depictions of Iron Man have been far less political. By which I mean Stark no longer burns middle-eastern people alive. Probably because the studio execs had the foresight to realize that such heavy handedness could create criticism towards the status quo. So now Iron Man fights robots, super powered monster people, and aliens so he can keep being the fun billionaire without making the audience think too hard about the implications.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Stu » Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:41 pm

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:09 am
Stu, I'm not a particularly big fan of Black Panther, but they made a point that Killmonger was a former CIA operative that was used to topple governments and that he employed the same tactics in order to infiltrate and seize control of Wakanda.

I think that's about as much of a reckoning with the CIA history as one can expect from summer blockbuster, which isn't much, but more than you're giving it credit for.
Eh, I gave Black Panther credit in every area where I thought it deserved it, but I don't think it deserves credit for that moment because it's ultimately another mixed message that the film's sending; for one, that exposition was delivered in a rather neutral manner by a fellow CIA operative (who, again, firmly joins the side of the "good guys" in the end), and while you could say the criticism of American imperialism is implicit in the fact that we see the bad guy using those tactics, that's contradicted by the fact there's absolutely no eureka moment from Agent Ross, where he realizes "Hey! Doing these things are bad!" when he sees someone else doing them firsthand, and he never even quits the CIA, so after his little adventure in Africa, he's obviously going to go back to work for them,, and continue doing the same things to other countries that the bad guy he helped defeat just did to Wakanda. In that case, the message conveyed isn't that these tactics are inherently bad because we see the bad guy using them, it's that they're only bad when the bad guys use them, but it's no problem when the CIA does the same things, because it's Americans doing them in that case, which is the main problem with the mindset behind American imperialism in the first place, and it's putting the blame on individuals instead of the system that created them. I'm not expecting the film to have him go into a big On Deadly Ground-style sermon about the evils of the CIA (because holy crap, even in the edited-down version in the final film that crap was tedious), but the implicit message is still a mixed bag, and tiny bit more self-reflection on that aspect would've helped a lot.

But hey, I accidentally got you to say something nice about Black Panther, so hurray! :D
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by The Nameless Two » Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:12 pm

Hipster Thor wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:18 am
To leap off Stu's point about keeping the status quo, you will notice that post Disney acquisition depictions of Iron Man have been far less political. By which I mean Stark no longer burns middle-eastern people alive.
I would argue that, despite the absence of middle-eastern people being burnt alive, they made his character far more political, especially in wake of Civil War which was an interesting mashup of Red and Blue ideologies. I quite liked that one for it's open, gray handling on American politics. The Russo brothers got away with a lot of subversion of the "formula", painting an interesting tapestry through Captain America regarding what exactly is going on behind the scenes of it all. I also think it is worth to note that Tony Stark is constantly at war with himself, they never really dove into his alcoholism in the films but they did tackle the self loathing. He tries to play the Christ character a few times before finalizing his sacrifice, and that's where the line is drawn between him, the fiction, and the reality of the Bezos and Musks of the world. I think the idea of Iron Man is far more developed than these realities
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:23 pm

Stu wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 6:41 pm
Eh, I gave Black Panther credit in every area where I thought it deserved it, but I don't think it deserves credit for that moment because it's ultimately another mixed message that the film's sending; for one, that exposition was delivered in a rather neutral manner by a fellow CIA operative (who, again, firmly joins the side of the "good guys" in the end), and while you could say the criticism of American imperialism is implicit in the fact that we see the bad guy using those tactics, that's contradicted by the fact there's absolutely no eureka moment from Agent Ross, where he realizes "Hey! Doing these things are bad!" when he sees someone else doing them firsthand, and he never even quits the CIA, so after his little adventure in Africa, he's obviously going to go back to work for them,, and continue doing the same things to other countries that the bad guy he helped defeat just did to Wakanda. In that case, the message conveyed isn't that these tactics are inherently bad because we see the bad guy using them, it's that they're only bad when the bad guys use them, but it's no problem when the CIA does the same things, because it's Americans doing them in that case, which is the main problem with the mindset behind American imperialism in the first place, and it's putting the blame on individuals instead of the system that created them. I'm not expecting the film to have him go into a big On Deadly Ground-style sermon about the evils of the CIA (because holy crap, even in the edited-down version in the final film that crap was tedious), but the implicit message is still a mixed bag, and tiny bit more self-reflection on that aspect would've helped a lot.

But hey, I accidentally got you to say something nice about Black Panther, so hurray! :D
The entire film is a mixed message (part of why I'm not a particularly big fan of it) but I do think Killmonger being a creation of American policy mistakes holds more water than you're giving it credit for. They're very clear that without racist policies, mass imprisonment and imperialist policies that both radicalized and trained Killmonger, there would be no Killmonger. .

While Ross being there is problematic, I'd say it's minimized by his reason for being there is less as CIA operative and more that he's been thrown into this situation with needing to have his life saved by Wakandan technology.

I don't hate Black Panther, I just think that it's propped up due to the dearth of representation in the genre, but accidentally contradicts itself by distinctly being a pro-American movie rather than pro-African because there's not a single authentic, non-monolithic conception of Africa present in the film.

I'll chalk your lack of complete rejection of CIA tactics with Ross as another element of that flawed perspective. Regards to Patrice Lumumba.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by DaMU » Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:59 pm

Yeah, a bolder (but harder to pitch) idea would've been Klaue operating within the CIA still. If we're gonna get wild with the anti-imperialist messaging, let's fuckin' get wild.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:18 am

DaMU wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:59 pm
Yeah, a bolder (but harder to pitch) idea would've been Klaue operating within the CIA still. If we're gonna get wild with the anti-imperialist messaging, let's fuckin' get wild.
Indeed. It’s especially quaint following Iron Man 3, which supposed the military industrial complex uses Orientalist constructs as boogeymen to perpetuate their business, and Winter Soldier, which demonstrates that the surveillance state in America is being perpetuated by white supremacists that have infiltrated all our institutions.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Hipster Thor » Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:39 am

Thor Ragnarok and Black Panther are extremely similar movies. Hm.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by DaMU » Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:49 am

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:18 am
Indeed. It’s especially quaint following Iron Man 3, which supposed the military industrial complex uses Orientalist constructs as boogeymen to perpetuate their business, and Winter Soldier, which demonstrates that the surveillance state in America is being perpetuated by white supremacists that have infiltrated all our institutions.
Honestly, I thought it was (mildly) interesting how the foreign direct adversary in all three Iron Man movies was getting funded and supervised by privatized American interests. The charitable view is that it's intentional commentary. I could also very easily believe that those are tactical choices to avoid having actual geopolitical subtexts (because it's really just about rich guys who want money or have personal reasons). But what's there is there and interpretable.

Winter Soldier, I'm a bit iffier on, if only because I think it's a little bit the coward's way out to so easily segment out the Hydra and Shield forces at the end. I think the tougher but more meaningful choice would've been that Shield from top to bottom had absorbed much of Hydra's philosophy. (The idea that white supremacists have infiltrated our institutions, IMO, misses the harder truth that our institutions don't need the help to function toward white supremacy. (Not that such infiltration isn't happening, just that Klan members quietly joining police forces, for example, is like that old line about putting a hat on top of a hat.))
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by DaMU » Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:54 am

Hipster Thor wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:39 am
Thor Ragnarok and Black Panther are extremely similar movies. Hm.
I honestly think Ragnarok handles its subtext the best of most of these examples, because it really commits to the idea of Asgardians as a people rooted in imperialist expansion that left other societies ruined, and the only way they can survive is to literally and figuratively abandon that legacy-- and, in process, become exactly the kind of people they once exterminated. That felt coherent and clear and consistent to me.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Hipster Thor » Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:06 am

DaMU wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:54 am
I honestly think Ragnarok handles its subtext the best of most of these examples, because it really commits to the idea of Asgardians as a people rooted in imperialist expansion that left other societies ruined, and the only way they can survive is to literally and figuratively abandon that legacy-- and, in process, become exactly the kind of people they once exterminated. That felt coherent and clear and consistent to me.
Well I also think its rather poignant that they are not just people but literal Gods brought low. Gods commonly associated with white identity as well. And there are interesting ways Ragnarok mirrors the source mythology. For example like his father Odin, Thor loses an eye in exchange for wisdom.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by DaMU » Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:42 am

Hipster Thor wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:06 am
Well I also think its rather poignant that they are not just people but literal Gods brought low. Gods commonly associated with white identity as well. And there are interesting ways Ragnarok mirrors the source mythology. For example like his father Odin, Thor loses an eye in exchange for wisdom.
:fresh:

Definitely! (I was happy to see Fenrir but was kinda wishing Jormungandr would stop by.)
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:33 am

DaMU wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:49 am
Honestly, I thought it was (mildly) interesting how the foreign direct adversary in all three Iron Man movies was getting funded and supervised by privatized American interests. The charitable view is that it's intentional commentary. I could also very easily believe that those are tactical choices to avoid having actual geopolitical subtexts (because it's really just about rich guys who want money or have personal reasons). But what's there is there and interpretable.

Winter Soldier, I'm a bit iffier on, if only because I think it's a little bit the coward's way out to so easily segment out the Hydra and Shield forces at the end. I think the tougher but more meaningful choice would've been that Shield from top to bottom had absorbed much of Hydra's philosophy. (The idea that white supremacists have infiltrated our institutions, IMO, misses the harder truth that our institutions don't need the help to function toward white supremacy. (Not that such infiltration isn't happening, just that Klan members quietly joining police forces, for example, is like that old line about putting a hat on top of a hat.))
I wouldn’t say that WS takes the coward’s way out as it essentially carries this plot thread to the abolishment of SHIELD, due to the metastasis of HYDRA within, since it’s inception. I think, and the show I stopped watching complicates this so I’m going to ignore it like the films seem to, had they maintained SHIELD and been like “well, I’m glad we kicked those baddies out!” it would be more in line with taking an easy path.

The film even reveals that the support for a surveillance state was fairly unanimous even among non-Hydra members, which echoes some very real issues of enabling those “bad apples.”

At the end of the day, I think both films hit a level of subtext that’s both rare for the genre and all at once counter to the maintaining of the status quo that most super hero films represented.

I think to demand more from them would reach a point of demonstrably changing the DNA of what kind of film it is and while “The Wire with super heroes” is an interesting prospect, sometimes the ultimate goal of entertaining with spectacle and action is a necessary escape and catharsis.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Hipster Thor » Fri Jul 17, 2020 11:16 am

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:33 am
I think to demand more from them would reach a point of demonstrably changing the DNA of what kind of film it is and while “The Wire with super heroes” is an interesting prospect, sometimes the ultimate goal of entertaining with spectacle and action is a necessary escape and catharsis.
Please expand more on this notion of "The Wire with superheroes". Watchmen has been around for a while and has just seen a huge resurgence thanks to the HBO show. We have The Boys from Amazon (too cynical for my tastes). In the hit program My Hero Academia there is an entire arc devoted the conciling that the Number One Hero in the world, protecting us all from an existential threat, is a domestic abuser. Is there something about The Wire you think would be interesting to explore in a Suoerhero context beyond its seriousness?
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by MrCarmady » Fri Jul 17, 2020 11:37 am

The Wire with super-heroes is a non-sequitur, the whole point of The Wire, even as the stakes escalate and it becomes slightly more ridiculous in later seasons, is to immerse you in the real world of Baltimore, there's no super-hero equivalent to a real city with real history, it could be highly entertaining but completely lacking in context and grasping at air. Something like Jessica Jones is an example of how you can use a super-hero setting to talk about something real and serious, like domestic abuse and PTSD, while keeping it entertaining, but it doesn't come close to the social context of The Wire.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by The Nameless Two » Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:50 pm

If you want "The Wire with Superheroes" read Alan Moore's Top 10 and pray to the gods someone adapts it. The idea is how do we enforce a world where EVERYONE has a super power?
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Hipster Thor » Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:33 pm

That is literally what My Hero Academia is though. There is even a top 10 ranking that is integral to the world building.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by DaMU » Fri Jul 17, 2020 2:39 pm

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:33 am
I think to demand more from them would reach a point of demonstrably changing the DNA of what kind of film it is and while “The Wire with super heroes” is an interesting prospect, sometimes the ultimate goal of entertaining with spectacle and action is a necessary escape and catharsis.
I agree, and this is a part of why I tend to not take these things too seriously. But I do wonder if some of these movies would be better off tacking in the other direction and becoming more absurdist / fantastical / mythic. It's hard to criticize the monarchial endorsement of Aquaman what with all the krakens and octopus drummers and crab people (crab people). Then again, maybe that's the most insidious propaganda of them all!
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by The Nameless Two » Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:27 pm

My Hero Academia is not my particular bag of anime (can't handle shounen unless it's a riff on the genre a la Kill La Kill) but it's reputation leans me towards watching it, along with Hunter X Hunter

Aquaman has alluded me. I'm all for absurdist / fantastical / mythic, and there are several opines who I respect which offer it praise, but I need a real powerful sell. Krakens and octopus drummers and crab people is one thing but I need a weight to the story - there is a thin balance between that and pure spectacle which Aquaman strikes me as. I need that grounding drama to the proceedings as opposed to a CGI shitshow of imagination, so correct me if I'm wrong in my assumptions here please
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by DaMU » Fri Jul 17, 2020 5:45 pm

The film is rooted in a question of heritage and mixed-race identity. Aquaman doesn't feel comfortable in either sphere because his parents are a land Maori and aquatic white queen. His brother is a blonde-haired blue-eyed platonic ideal of Aryanism. James Wan cites Lovecraft twice* not just to give context to late-film miscegenated monsters and abyssal beasts; he also does it toward what's eventually a repudiation of Lovecraft's anxiety over mongrels. Aquaman eventually claims his place as emergent King of the Waters, but only after reconciliation with his origins.

Spoilers for the climactic action and resolution:
Damn it all, I got misty at two parts. One, when he triumphantly rides the Karathen into battle, a complete inversion of pulp fiction-- the nonwhite mongrel now the hero instead of the enemy, the tentacled terror now a noble steed instead of an abyssal threat-- that still retains its wild imagination. Two, when his mother and father reunite after decades of separation, and Aquaman voice-overs that "their love saved the world." (The movie should've ended there but can't resist a final hero shot.)
I won't for a second pretend the film doesn't have problems (Heard is not an engaging presence), but I think there's a solid core and an eventual groove it hits and rides all the way to its lunatic final water battles and character conclusions.

*: "The Dunwich Horror" appears as a paperback at the lighthouse keeper's home. Irony. "The Dunwich Horror" is about two children born of an unholy god-man union, one more human than the other. Aquaman is about the tension between two children, one born of a god-man union, who ultimately is the hero instead of a monstrosity. Later on, Manta quotes "The Call of Cthulhu": loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men. Again, irony. Maybe double irony, since a black man is quoting a racist about the dangers of the deep to a mixed-race man in the process of saving the deep.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Stu » Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:17 pm

ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:23 pm
The entire film is a mixed message (part of why I'm not a particularly big fan of it) but I do think Killmonger being a creation of American policy mistakes holds more water than you're giving it credit for. They're very clear that without racist policies, mass imprisonment and imperialist policies that both radicalized and trained Killmonger, there would be no Killmonger.

While Ross being there is problematic, I'd say it's minimized by his reason for being there is less as CIA operative and more that he's been thrown into this situation with needing to have his life saved by Wakandan technology.
I've given the film credit for its implicit criticisms regarding how the American military's training enabled Killmonger, and other things I didn't mention as well (for example, you gotta love the scene where Killmonger points out how all the African artifacts in the British museum were stolen by them from that continent in the first place), but giving the film credit for what it did right doesn't mean that I should give it a free pass for the opportunities that it missed, and the characterization of Ross is a big one; the realization of the immoral nature of the system he's been complicit in upon witnessing it from the perspective of the invaded faction is so obvious (obvious in the good way, that is) and clearly teed up by the film that it practically writes itself, but it didn't, and that's a shame, because not only would it have been more consistent with the film's previous viewpoint, but it would've given him a real arc as a character. Instead, it feels like the film was trying to balance out having its main antagonist be a bad American asset with a token "good" one in the form of his character, which is undeniably disappointing, despite how much I liked the film otherwise.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Charles » Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:28 pm

On that topic, how do you guys feel about companies like Disney producing quote unquote socially aware movies like Zootopia, Iron Man, etc? Do you think the origin of the movie dilutes the themes, that they're only cashing in on social currents, or do you think these movies are a social good despite that?

Most of what I've seen elsewhere shows a large amount of cynicism when it comes to that type of media message. Not entirely dissimilar to the response to fast food companies changing twitter icons.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by DaMU » Fri Jul 17, 2020 8:28 pm

My take on Zootopia is that it's racist tripe (Kipling-esque plotting with separate-but-equal unintentional messaging), so I'm not best qualified to address that specific one.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by The Nameless Two » Fri Jul 17, 2020 8:37 pm

Charles wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:28 pm
On that topic, how do you guys feel about companies like Disney producing quote unquote socially aware movies like Zootopia, Iron Man, etc? Do you think the origin of the movie dilutes the themes, that they're only cashing in on social currents, or do you think these movies are a social good despite that?

Most of what I've seen elsewhere shows a large amount of cynicism when it comes to that type of media message. Not entirely dissimilar to the response to fast food companies changing twitter icons.
I think when it comes to Disney it lands more on the side of cynical pandering than anything I would consider progressive. They have produced several great, yet very late beginner's guides to progressive concepts but I worry when adult children put them on a pedestal higher than that due to their own late exposure. Like, sure, Dr. Strange could get you interested in esoteric practice but it's like the Lego version of a fully functioning car, it takes more than a numbered manual to assemble and utilize. This logic applies to their other work extending from Disney to Marvel to Star Wars (I would argue that Pixar is the only Disney owned studio which has manged to be ahead of it's time at times)

The big problem is the tokenism for sale, this leads to said cynicism. Why wasn't Black Panther a mainstay from near the beginning, did we really need to condition society for such a ''bold" concept as a black superhero who has been in comics since the 60s? How long did it take for Captain Marvel to get her spotlight? Why was Cpt. Marvel some big advertisement for the Air Force? Disney was, by all relative means, late to the scene - reactive politics are not as strong as predictive politics, and both of these are nothing compared to the horrors of jingoistic politics which weren't driven out after Marvel and Star Wars' acquisitions despite holding off on the middle-eastern slaughter. It's really hard to get past this idea that they were selling progression as opposed to directly supporting it, Disney's business tactics are quite the thing. Maybe it's a symptom of what America is at heart

The good is that some people do go further than the beginner's guide and start learning how to communicate these matters seriously. The sum of both the good and bad in this equation has been informative in my development. I hate Disney with all of my fiber right about now given the Covid stuff but you can't deny that even as cynical as they get, they opened the world of Hollywood up (even though Hollywood is dead, RIP). They convinced Hollywood that progressive is the answer until Covid came and fucked everything up, sometimes it feels like squeezing blood out of a rock but we're getting there step by step! I wonder how Avatar 2 is coming along lol. Maybe in 40 years Marvel will release their first trans superhero movie :roll:

Yeah, I'm 50/50 on this one
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by DaMU » Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:07 pm

Blade having an entire blaxploitation-derived superhero trilogy two decades before Black Panther is a good reminder that actual progressive politics almost invariably arrive first in horror contexts, because those creators operate with fewer restrictions due to lower budgets.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by The Nameless Two » Fri Jul 17, 2020 10:22 pm

DaMU wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 9:07 pm
Blade having an entire blaxploitation-derived superhero trilogy two decades before Black Panther is a good reminder that actual progressive politics almost invariably arrive first in horror contexts, because those creators operate with fewer restrictions due to lower budgets.
I think, in general, some people would be surprised as to how far back progressive examples of cinema were formulated. Dating Blade by a year is Spawn. I have a soft spot for that movie's fever dream late 90s cgi madness. The comics and HBO cartoon were awesome for the time. All hail Todd McFarlane
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Stu » Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:44 am

Stu wrote:
Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:17 pm
I've given the film credit for its implicit criticisms regarding how the American military's training enabled Killmonger, and other things I didn't mention as well (for example, you gotta love the scene where Killmonger points out how all the African artifacts in the British museum were stolen by them from that continent in the first place), but giving the film credit for what it did right doesn't mean that I should give it a free pass for the opportunities that it missed, and the characterization of Ross is a big one; the realization of the immoral nature of the system he's been complicit in upon witnessing it from the perspective of the invaded faction is so obvious (obvious in the good way, that is) and clearly teed up by the film that it practically writes itself, but it didn't, and that's a shame, because not only would it have been more consistent with the film's previous viewpoint, but it would've given him a real arc as a character. Instead, it feels like the film was trying to balance out having its main antagonist be a bad American asset with a token "good" one in the form of his character, which is undeniably disappointing, despite how much I liked the film otherwise.
All of that being said, however, I still don't think it was as big of a missed opportunity as that moment in Wonder Woman where, after Diana has
killed Ludendorff, and she's crestfallen when she sees the German troops are still preparing to fight even though she's just killed "Ares", Steve says something to the effect that the world isn't as black-and-white as she thinks it is, making it seems as though the movie is explicitly rejecting a simplistic, old-school comic book mentality that chalks up all the world's evils to a few bad guys, and if you defeat just them, then the day is saved... only for the film to then fully embrace that viewpoint when it reveals that Professor Lupin was the puppetmaster the entire time, which would've been a silly reveal no matter what, but was especially disappointing when it resulting in the film rejecting the more challenging, morally ambiguous message that it had been setting up in the first place.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by ThatDarnMKS » Mon Jul 20, 2020 7:46 am

Stu wrote:
Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:44 am
All of that being said, however, I still don't think it was as big of a missed opportunity as that moment in Wonder Woman where, after Diana has
killed Ludendorff, and she's crestfallen when she sees the German troops are still preparing to fight even though she's just killed "Ares", Steve says something to the effect that the world isn't as black-and-white as she thinks it is, making it seems as though the movie is explicitly rejecting a simplistic, old-school comic book mentality that chalks up all the world's evils to a few bad guys, and if you defeat just them, then the day is saved... only for the film to then fully embrace that viewpoint when it reveals that Professor Lupin was the puppetmaster the entire time, which would've been a silly reveal no matter what, but was especially disappointing when it resulting in the film rejecting the more challenging, morally ambiguous message that it had been setting up in the first place.
That, my friend, is because Wonder Woman is a deeply stupid film that’s sexist and contradictory more often than not.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Melvin Butterworth » Thu Aug 06, 2020 2:17 am

Hipster Thor wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 12:29 am
How well is a character like Tony Stark/Iron Man going to age in 20 years I wonder. Currently we are living in a time where it seems like America is getting angrier and angrier about class disparities in wealth. I have frequently seen thr notion that all billionaires are sociopaths or bastards; that being a billionaire shouldn't be legal. Its hard to disagree with these notions. But then you have the otherside which is fine with the system as is, and I kind of blame Iron Man? And if not him, then characters and ideas like him.

People seem to overlook, or forget that Iron Man 1 in 2008 was an intensely political movie with heavy themes of American exceptionalism and "might making right". Seven years after 9/11 and its still fresh on everyones' heads. Out of nowhere comes this motion picture about a billionaire who builds weapons for the government, who uses his capital and genius to take the law into his own hands and y to the middle east and murder brown terrorists. Its the ultimate ignorant post 9/11 fantasy. If I were to describe the movie in the way I just did in a vaccuum, this plot might sound disturbing and wrong. But within Iron Man and the subsequent films in the MCU we *know* that Tony Stark is correct. Nearly *all* of his potentially controversial decisions are proven correct in the long run. He can go to congress and tell our elected officials why he is allowed to harbor weapons of mass destruction in his garage and operate with zero accountability and thr audience loves it because he's so funny and charming! Its like a magic trick. We are told about his amazing philanthropic efforts. He stopped making wsapons for other people. He pays for college kids research projects. He provides clean energy. He pays for the destruction he and his friends cause. Meanwhile he has a drone network in orbit capable of launching swarms of dangerous robots anywhere in the world at anytime. And then he heroically dies for all of us.

I have to wonder if this popular image of a billionaire is why people today still find their kind acceptable. They give Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos a pass because hugr companies can do so much good for us all when they chose to do so. But they don't and never will.
No.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by The Nameless Two » Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:11 am

Melvin Butterworth wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 2:17 am
No.
Why in the world would you bump this thread 16 days after the fact with this profound response? Every reply to YARN from here on out should be "No."
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by Melvin Butterworth » Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:25 am

The Nameless Two wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:11 am
Why in the world would you bump this thread 16 days after the fact with this profound response? Every reply to YARN from here on out should be "No."
No.
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Re: Has Tony Stark perverted image of Billionares in the United States?

Post by The Nameless Two » Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:32 am

Melvin Butterworth wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 3:25 am
No.
No.
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