Tag Archives: pet-peeves

The Welcome Death of Marvel Comics

 

Red_Skull

The Red Skull providing a politically conservative take on the “Refugee Crisis”

It’s a comfort to know that comic books no longer hold the mass appeal that they did in an earlier age. For the most-part, you need to travel to a specialist shop as they are no longer available off the rack at the local drug store. Sales are dropping and I think the reasons are pretty obvious.

Trite plot-lines and themes taken out of a politically left agenda tend to alienate the majority of readers. My love for Marvel’s universe stemmed from first rate characterization and originality that birthed and denoted what we now call the Silver-age of comics. All that has taken a backseat to gimmicky, paper-thin, politically driven pap that fails to inspire and ignite the imagination.

None of this is new of course. On some level, Marvel and its chief rival Brand Echhh … er., DC Comics have always addressed some measure of social justice and related causes… drug addiction, racism, and alienation were tackled as long ago as 1963 when the Fantastic Four defeated “The Hate Monger” an evil despot who turned out to be Adolf Hitler! Oops! forgot to add in the spoiler alert 😉 Later in the decade it was Peter Parker’s pal, Harry Osborn getting hooked on pills and the Green Arrow’s side-kick, “Speedy” getting hooked on heroin.

In an effort to bow before the twin idols of tolerance and diversity Marvel has been tweaking and reinventing familiar characters. Basically the formula has been to highlight a character’s sexual orientation or identity, change their sex (more often than not symbolically rather than literally i.e., have a female don the costume and mantle) and to change their ethnicity so that they are no longer Caucasian but a visible minority of one stripe or the other. All this is rather predictable as the movie representations merge with their comic book counterparts.

One particularly egregious example stems from a new series called  “Captain America: Steve Rogers”. In the first issue  Cap’s longtime enemy the WW2 Nazi super criminal Red Skull appears reciting the standard politically conservative opposition to unchecked immigration.

The problems with the above depiction are numerous to say the least. Simply put, it is erroneous to equate legitimate concerns Westerners have with regards to large-scale Muslim immigration and the Nazis of WW2.

As a conservative minded Westerner it’s a bit disconcerting to have the Red Skull become Marvel’s representative for people like myself. It’s beyond twisted of course but that’s the result when Marvel hires a former politician to pen a comic book. Nick Spencer is the mind behind this disposable trash and yes you can “Google” him.

By the way, and this is a spoiler…..

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

ALERT

oh what the hell….

It turns out Steve Rogers has been a servant of Hydra for years and that he has internalized conservative values i.e., Nazi values. So I guess I can take some solace in the fact that the personification of America’s fighting spirit is as guilty and fundamentally evil as I am.

I honestly debated even writing this article. I mean what’s the point… it’s pretty much pissing into the wind. But it’s a slow moving Friday….

I am obviously not alone in my criticism of Marvel’s PC branding. Here’s a few choice quotes from other industry observers:

bigbang

On the sorry state of the industry

From Comic Book creator, Matt Battaglia:

Back in the desert, a group of presumably illegal immigrants are crossing the border, and the Sons of the Serpent arrive [ a 1960s created Avengers villain organization fueled by racist ideology] .

Some lines from the Serpents: “By invading this sovereign land, you defy the laws of God, nature, and the United States Constitution… until the mighty wall is built, you come here for employment that is rightfully ours! And if denied it, you seek welfare paid for by our tax dollars! … look who it is, y’all! Captain Socialism … apologizing for our country’s greatness that you have time to come down here and flout still more of our laws…”

Seriously, this is what the villains are espousing. It’s a lot of conservative buzzwords given a murderous edge, and that’s that. Together with the overall tone and narration of the issue, conservatives have every right to be angry.

Going back to Captain America’s earlier observation that “this country is a divided as it’s ever been,” we agree. Mainly because one side of the argument unilaterally paints the other side as racist, murderous monsters who are “spouting intolerance and fear” and “drowning out common sense.” 

See: http://thefederalist.com/2015/10/21/its-true-captain-america-is-now-captain-leftist/

And the headline says it all from an article by Douglas Ernst of the Washington Times:

‘Captain America’ comic likens critics of Syrian refugee programs to Nazis

See: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/23/captain-america-comic-likens-critics-of-syrian-ref/

And finally the aptly titled: “Why Comic Books Suck” blog (love the title)

See: http://whycomicbookssuck.blogspot.ca/

It’s comforting to know that the sinking ship called Marvel Comics may finally go the way of the dinosaur. The fact that both DC and Marvel have tried to reboot their anemic franchises every few years is tacit admission that their relevance is lost and they are culturally moribund.

My advice? Collect Marvel Masterworks… the company’s brilliant Silver-age output and remember what was.

 

 

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Beware of Chimps That Drive: Tales from the Monkeysphere

The other day I decided that in the interest of my overall health and emotional well-being I should undertake a 90 minute walk. I am used to the lovely oceanic vistas provided by the municipality of Oak Bay but having recently moved to Central Saanich I felt it was about time I take in the rustic ambiance of this delightful rural district.

I walked a fair distance basically from about where the local “Thrifty’s” grocery store is located to the Panorama Recreation Centre and back again (a distance of about 5k). Things had progressed comfortably enough and I built up a light sweat as I pushed my pace.

However, about half-way home on the return trek I ran afoul of a local motorist.  He was turning left across my intended path but was hindered in his efforts  by the flow of traffic moving  from the opposite direction. The traffic had cleared and he would have been able to make the turn but for my unfortunate presence.

Suddenly, despite the fact I was halfway across the street he decided to make his move. To my shock and immediate discomfort he abruptly jerked the wheel and accelerated the red pick-up, slamming on his brakes with his bumper  mere inches from my leg! The lady in the car behind him stared open mouthed as I raised my arms in the universally understood sign for WTF!? For his part my would-be assailant merely glared at me and drove off.

I was angered and part of me wanted to retaliate with a shout or maybe a rude gesture but I maintained my ladylike composure and sought refuge in the thought that this was all due to a violation of the poor misanthropic primate’s “Monkeysphere”. At that unfortunate moment when I inhibited the frustrated pick-up driver’s effort to make a left-hand turn I had ceased to become a person to him but in fact had simply become “that annoying thing that won’t let me turn!

How else could one rationalize his behavior? Would he think twice about running his truck towards his mother? His sweetheart? His daughter? He would never dream of doing such a thing. But because I exist outside his Monkeysphere he had no compunction about simulating Death Race 2012 on my ass.

I take no credit for the Monkeysphere and learned of its existence only recently courtesy of David Wong (nom de plume of Jason Pargin, Senior Editor of Cracked.com).  In short, its a term borrowed from Anthopologists; notably Robin Dunbar who saw a correlation between the size of a primate’s neocortex and its social group. For us human types, the number is around 150 people. Anyone outside that number exists outside one’s “Monkeysphere” and is in essence dehumanized, reified and relegated to the status of concept or thing.

Wong’s article is must reading and I’ve dropped “Monkeysphere” consciousness into my philosopher’s bag in order to further understand the nature of the world I live in.

You can find the article in question here: http://www.cracked.com/article_14990_what-monkeysphere.html.

So the next time some stranger accosts you or is rude or otherwise treats you as something less than human rest easy in the knowledge that you simply exist outside the poor primate’s “Monkeysphere”

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“Sorry Wrong Number”

stanwyck

Sometimes you don’t have to look far for something to “Blog” about. In fact, sometimes an interesting topic pretty much drops itself right in your lap. Such was the case last night when through a series of unfortunate events I managed to stumble upon a woman who seemed to have channeled Barbara Stanwyck at her frenzied, panic-stricken, melodramatic best (or worst, as the case may be).

Sue and I had settled down to bed around 9 o’clock last night where Sue quickly went to sleep and I lay contentedly reading Libba Bray’s “Beauty Queens” (about half-way through now) whilst enjoying the soothing therapeutic touch of my Dr Ho’s® Pain Therapy System.

Well poor Sue is in the throes of a Peri-menopausal struggle; one where loud-ish noises, bright lights, late nights, and pretty much anything else generally considered innocuous can take on the characteristics of an emotional landslide. So with dear Sue’s mid-life proclivities firmly in mind I decided to take advantage of my brand new iPhone 4s’ amazing versatility.

A great “app” simply called “Flashlight” allows my iPhone to act just like a flashlight by means of its powerful built-in camera flash. My reading had concluded and the nightstand table lamp had been turned off, but my Dr. Ho continued with its gentle ministrations easing the tension out of sore aching muscles. Now with the room completely dark except for the faint glow emitted by the LEDs of my Dr. Ho I decided to turn the unit off and join Sue in a blissful night’s sleep.

Well, the Dr. Ho can be a bit tricky to turn off insomuch as it incorporates a “wheel” that if turned the wrong way can increase the unit’s massage power to a rather disquieting degree. So on went my phone and with the slightest touch of the “Flashlight” icon I was able to illuminate the area immediately surrounding the on-off wheel. I gently removed the adhesive pads stuck to my shoulders and managed to find the transparent plastic veneers that prevent the massage pads from attracting unwanted hair, dust and grit particles. All was quiet; Sue was fast asleep undisturbed by all the activity going on next to her as my Dr. Ho, book, and iPhone/flashlight prepared to be put away until morning.

And then it happened…

Somehow, in the darkness I had inadvertently turned my ersatz “flashlight” back into a phone and it started dialing!

It rang once but I quickly found the “end call” button and stopped it from ringing any further; hopefully circumventing any harm that might have occurred by disturbing some innocent party on the receiving end.

All was perfectly quiet when after a minute or so my phone began ringing. Without really thinking, I answered it and was rudely introduced to my Barbara Stanwyck doppleganger.

“Who are you? Why do you keep calling here?”

“Oh I am so sorry I…”

“This has been going on for 2 months! You call, let it ring once and hang up!”

“Oh I am so sorry, I just bought this phone and have never called you before. It must have…”

“I warn you this better stop or I am going to the Police with this.”

She was yelling into the phone by this time. Of course all the effort made to avoid disturbing Sue came to naught as she was awakened by my efforts to calm “Barbara” on the other end of what had become a rather unsettling phone call.

There was no reasoning with her. I tried explaining again that my phone was brand new and that there is no way I could have been phoning her nightly for the past 2 months. But my pleadings and sincere efforts to quell her anger fell on deaf ears. She abruptly hung up leaving Sue and myself absolutely nonplussed at the vehement torrent of heated emotion that had broken the serene environment so carefully cultivated over the previous couple of hours.

Needless to say sleep did not come easy to either of us after that and I got up to research ways in which to prevent my cell phone from calling that particular number ever again. Although some options are available opinions vary as to their ultimate effectiveness. I ended up calling Rogers Communications (my phone provider) and asked if there was anything that could be done from their end.

A case-file was opened and I was instructed to follow-up on it after a few business days have passed. I also “googled” the number I had inadvertently called. Apparently it belongs to West Coast Home Theatres. Their phone number is (250) 338-SHOW(7469). If you decide to call them I recommend you let it ring more than once. “Ms. Stanwyck” gets upset if you call just once and hang up.

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