Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Episode 13 Part 2: History Boner

The Geeks bitch about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice... and then bitch some more.

I Wupped Batman's Ass by Wesley Willis © Alternative Tentacles | Superman III score by John Williams © Warner Music Group | Batman: Arkham City score by Nick Arundel & Ron Fish © WaterTower Music

3 comments:

  1. This is the only episode in which I have not commented. I was too busy moping around all Summer being depressed and not doing issues of Ostraka, just running down my page buffer. I am now on vacation and so it is time to rectify this problem. It is times like these that make me feel happy I take notes while listening. I take my responsibility to comment very seriously.

    I think Batman v. Superman would be better if it focused on the characters while they were in elementary school. It would be Superman's first day at a new school. He introduces himself and explains that he is a Kryptonian. Then the other kids make fun of Superman because aliens aren't real. Batman, being a snobby rich kid, constantly bullies Superman until they agree to have a fight atop the jungle gym. Lex Luthor would be that crazy kid who comes to school in camo pants and looks at gun magazines all day. He believes that Superman is an alien and thinks that Superman is here to take part in the Krypton-Earth slave trade.

    Another idea I have is that Batman and Superman are taken to court for causing so much collateral damage. They are forced by court order to move in with Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman then teaches them how to tap into their sensitive side and to help them understand that retail chains are surprisingly not run by supervillains and thus also understand it is not ok to wreck said store while shopping.

    I also think it might be cool if Superman let Zod live in Man of Steel, then Batman v. Superman is about Zod preparing to return with an army or something. Superman wonders if he did the right thing, while Argus begins monitoring Metahumans and putting together the Suicide Squad to combat the threat. Batman works with Argus and fights Superman, with Argus having deemed Superman a threat. At the end of the first act, however, Batman saves Superman just as Superman is cornered. Batman reveals that working for Argus was just a ruse to destroy Argus's Metahuman files.

    Batman disagrees with Argus's reasoning for the Suicide Squad, that they need a team of psychopaths to fight Zod. Batman thinks instead that they need a team of humanity's finest, the most moral Metahumans to fight Zod. The movie would then consist of Batman and Superman putting together the Justice League while fighting off the Suicide Squad. I also had an idea that Batman designed his plan so that Superman could win, but Superman held back, proof of Superman's nobility. Also Batman figured out who Superman was and didn't tell Argus.

    The sequel would involve the Justice League fighting off Zod and debating whether or not to actually kill him this time. Ultimately they decide against it, because the Justice League is the best of humanity, they always do the right thing. Whereas the governments of the world, Argus, and other police forces sometimes do shady things, the Justice League never does. That is their virtue and what sets them apart from the rest of the world's defenders, it is why they are needed. That's what I would do if I were DC.

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  2. I think the History Boner comes from the fact that our world influence is declining, and the United States has fallen upon hard times. In times like these, it is easy to look back on past and feel nostalgic. People like to look back to the 1930s and 40s as a time of unbridled patriotism, a more innocent time. I would guess that if someone was living through it, they'd see it differently. If I were starving, and my family was starving, and I had someone tell me it was all ok because it made me love America more, I would tell them to get the fuck out of my face. That would make them an asshole.

    Its like all the terrible experiences we have as children which we later tell as jokes. It is funny in retrospect because we survived and overcome, but it is foolish to think it would be as humorous if we actually relieved that moment. We can look back on WWII as the time the Allies made the world safe for Democracy, because we know how it ends. I think at the time it was considered a much less noble pursuit. I think the average soldier was less about protecting freedom and more about putting a bullet in the head of the bastard who just dropped a bomb on his house. If you think the xenophobia after 9/11 was disgusting, look at WWII. Truman outright threatened to destroy Japan with atomic bombs if they did not surrender. A third of Americans supported exterminating the Japanese race. He out cowboyed George Bush. The conflict was much more gray than we'd ever acknowledge.

    The reason it was a just war was more about the Nazis being so cartoonishly crazy and evil more than it was about our own morality. The United States was just as racist towards blacks, we denied them their rights, carried out extra-judicial killings, but at the end of the day, we didn't throw anyone into an oven, so we were unequivocally good. We also forget that our buddy Stalin wanted to conquer Europe, or our buddy Churchill wanted his colonies. The United States and Great Britain fought most of WWII in Africa over those imperial assets.

    I agree that the darkness is overdone. I think the problem is that we've forgotten the key to writing a good antihero. A well written antihero should be presented in such a way that the audience should be unsure of whether or not his actions are justified. I liked the V for Vendetta movie, but I can see why Alan Moore hated it. V should not be made into a simple action hero. Doing that made the torture subplot seem weird. In the graphic novel, V is presented as a psychopath. He's ruthless, and so it makes more sense.

    The major comic companies have assumed that people read the works of Alan Moore and Frank Miller because of the darkness rather than just the fact that they were well written. If those two are like gourmet chefs, then what DC and Marvel are churning out now are like TV diners based upon their signature dishes. Of course it won't taste the same.

    Comic books and movies are just disposable entertainment. Most of them aren't set up as hard hitting dramas. We are supposed to root for the hero without question and take it on faith that the villain is evil. Much like the newspaper serials which transcended their medium and became our classic literature, there are a few works that break out of this mold by being brilliant. These works function as high drama, presenting moral complexity and having characters that are neither fully good nor fully evil. If an artist has the talent to pull that off, they should feel free to be as dark and complex as they want. If not, they should stick to making it a simple adventure tale.

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  3. I've been watching 1960s Batman lately, and it amazes me how much is it is the same as the darker Batman. I can see the roots that the 1960s series planted. The series codified many things about the modern Batman. It seems like the main difference is that the 1960s Batman knew what it was and could have fun. The same thing with Showa Godzilla and Heisei Godzilla. Heisei Godzilla wasn't taking Godzilla back to it's roots. It was doing the Showa Godzilla while pretending that the spirit of a giant monster possessing a robot made from his bones is high drama to be taken with with utmost degree of seriousness.

    I think the darkness comes from where we are as culture right now, where torture as seen as something necessary by many people. Plus superheroes exist in a strange place where they try to be entertainment for both children and adults. They try to be gritty and realistic while still retaining this simplistic moral code.

    It really bothers me that superheroes get all high and mighty about not killing anyone but torture is ok. A superhero can cripple someone for life, but it is ok just as long as they don't kill them. It makes morality too simple for something aiming to be complex and philosophical. The same thing with Batman v Superman. Wouldn't it be more applicable to a child's life to learn to resolve their differences with friends without resorting to violence than learning not to kill others? I just wish superheroes would either take their morality seriously, or drop it altogether. They should just admit that is has become a crime drama where everyone is tainted.

    The no kill rule is treated like a joke in story. Like the hero is just being stubborn and old fashioned. Every villain in every superhero movie is treated as too dangerous to be kept alive. I find that ironic considering that Saddam Hussein wasn't too dangerous to be taken alive, neither was Ted Bundy or Charles Manson, BTK, Al Capone, most of the Nazi high command was put on trial. It turns out that it checks out. You don't necessarily always have to kill your enemies to stop them, no matter how terrible they are. War by assassination is banned under the Geneva Conventions and psychologically putting a criminal on trial helps the families of victims to heal better than simply having the perpetrator killed.

    I think I could honestly write a whole book about this topic. I have a lot of thoughts on it.

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