Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Broken Beck

It is said that a broken clock is right twice a day.  Apparently, that also applies to cuckoo clocks.

Glenn Beck recently panned Batman vs Superman, sight unseen. Of course, most reviews on Rotten Tomatoes claim that the movie is a testosterone-stuffed turkey garnished with ham-handed CGI-effects, but that is not Beck’s objection. No, he is turned off because he thinks that Batman and Superman “would never fight.” He sees this as liberal Hollywood’s attempt to destroy our faith in heroes.

It is true that Zack Snyder’s vision is quite a bit darker than many fans like. However, the notion that these heroes would never fight proves that Glenn Beck has never read a comic book. Heroes punching each other is a tread-worn trope in comics and similar media. It may be the result of a plot or they may have a rivalry. Maybe somebody is mind-controlled - that one is used quite a bit. Whatever. The majority of cross-over covers show the two heroes fighting because that sells copies.* Of course, in this familiar formula, the two heroes ultimately cooperate to defeat the villain after their initial conflict – as they do in the movie – but said initial conflict is practically mandatory. Comic book geeks are notorious for arguing over “Who would win?” in a bout between two noble heroes. It’s our version of fantasy football. The comic book industry has always gratuitously catered to that dynamic. Seriously, how many times has Thor fought the Hulk to see who's stronger? The point is that superheroes hit things – frequently each other. If you don’t know that, you don’t know comics.

The idea that Supes and the Bat would never fight is particularly ridiculous since the contrast between their styles has been explored for decades. They have gotten along fitfully, at best. My first exposure to this friction was Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986), in which Batman donned powered armor – as he does in the movie – so that he can stand toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel. Incidentally, it's also a bit late to lament darkness in comics. Check the freshness date, above. That ship has sailed, come back, and left again.

And, given Glenn Beck's penchant for apocalyptic pessimism, I am quite surprised to see him decry dark depictions. Ironically, Frank Miller’s fascist version of Batman would probably appeal to Glenn Beck. The two authors also share identical ideas of Islam. Perhaps they should collaborate on something. I would read the shit out of whatever they created together. The unintentional entertainment value of that spectacular train wreck would be truly epic.

I am fascinated by this chronic problem of conservatives hopelessly garbling everything they claim to love. As I’ve written about twice before, their fandom mirrors their patriotism. Conservatives loathe most of the things America is supposed to stand for. Liberty, equality, and democracy are the big three, but the ripples affect a range of related issues from their hostility to the separation of church and state to their contempt for protecting the rights of the accused. They like the righteous feeling associated with noble ideals. Actually championing them is another matter. Conservatives don't oppose dumb slugfests: They just don't like them being dark because it saps the sanctimoniousness out of it.

After all, enjoying pious violence is the whole point.

Stan Lee frequently called Marvel readers "true believers." He meant it facetiously, But those who similarly describe themselves this way earnestly, without irony often do not have the foggiest idea what they are talking about. But that does not stop them from opining how "the people in Hollywood do not understand America at all." - An odd call from the guy who gets his history from David Barton.


* Likewise, the shock-value of showing Superman behaving ignobly has been exploited from days of yore. There is actually a website entitled “Superdickery” facetiously arguing the theory that Superman is a dick by showing old covers of him tormenting Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Of course, there was always a logical explanation inside: It was an object lesson in not judging a book by its cover. The point is that trading on such shock is old school.

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