Politics and Pop Culture

Hat tip to Arclightzero at Pro Patria for binging this bit of “genius” to my attention.  Read the article here: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a9d5f5ee-b3ff-11dc-a6df-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1  It seems that the self indulgent and self important powers that be at Marvel Comics/Marvel Entertainment have opted to for go any semblence of non-partisanship or political neutrality in favor of actively engaging in supprting what can only be described as “propaganda.”  This “partnership” between Marvel and the United Nations is about more than politics though, as I’m quite sure that Marvel will gets its liscensing fees from the UN (paid for in part by our tax dollars).

To be honest, I find this turn of events unsurprising.  This has been building for some time in Marvel.  The writers have run amok, and Joe Quesada (Marvel “Editor” in Chief), has done nothing to bring any semblence of order to what goes on at Marvel.  Clearly obvious political statements are being made in various Marvel titles, with some very over arching ideological themes that can serve no purpose other than to influence young(er) readers, show off the political ideals of the self important writers (I’m talking about you Straczynski!), and advance an agenda that has essentially been endorsed by those with the power. 

This bothers me a great deal honestly.  “Back in the day,” when it was the likes of Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Steve Ditko, Chris Claremont, and others running things and doing the writing, it was never so blatant as it is now.  Thos greats had a style and skill that allowed them to be “subversive” in their creative outputs, with layers of meaning for various types of readers.  But today it’s all in your face, and as subtle as a sledgehammer.  And only in very rare situations was an agenda ever promoted, political and social diversity was cherished among the writers (and reflected in the characters).  Today?  It’s all about ideological hegemony among those that work at Marvel. 

 Where as it used to be that you’d have discourse played out between characters, there was never a resolution.  That was left up to the readers.  Comics were at one time a forum for presenting the debates, not resolving them.  To anyone who has followed Marvel in recent years will know that this is just not the case anymore.  One ideological side is prevailing, one either endorsed by the powers that be, or one against which they are railing (showing it to be “evil” or “malicious”). 

This brings me back to the UN partnership.  The UN has become a moribund entity, one on the verge of collapsing under its own weight.  What was once thought to be step towards world peace has become an institution lacking leadership, legitimacy, and authority.  Where once decisive action could be taken, the UN is now little more than an assembly of ranting demagogues of all stripes.  A Security Council resolution?  Great.  Super.  Try and enforce it.  A resolution form the General Assembly?  Worth less than the paper it was printed on. 

This downward trend began in the 1970’s when the UN, under ex-Nazi Kurt Waldheim, turned its back on Cambodia, and allowed the Khmer Rouge to set up shop.  They’re still digging up the bodies from that bit of “diplomacy.”  Since that time, it’s been one PR muck up after another.  They can’t enforce anything, even with the support of a super power or two. 

Recent scandals, from the disaster at Srbenica, to the Oil for Food scam, to Khofi Anan’s involvement (as UN Secretary General) have brought the instiution of the UN to an all time low.  It’s reputation and “authority” (which is rather nebulous to begin with) is so low, it would take a superhero to save it.  So up steps Marvel and it’s second most iconic figure, Spider-Man to save the day.

The concept is simple.  Make up a comic book, using one of the most recognizable superhero figures, showing him supporting the UN and its “efforts.”  Give it to kids for free, and reap the rewards.  Rewards?  Sure, first off, it’s targeted towards pre-teens, kids in elementary school.  Get them to associate the hero with the UN, and have them annoy their parents until they change thier minds.  Meanwhile, Marvel gets to generate some new readers for its product, on top of the liscensing fees they will accrue.

But this is nothing new.  In WW2 and Korea, the comics industry stepped up to support the war efforts.  Ads featuring icons like Captain America and Superman were used to sell War Bonds, encourage metal recycling, gas rationing, as well as providing a bit of easily portable entertainment for the men and women in the services.  Later on, they took on issues such as racism (The X-Men were all about civil rights), and drug abuse (issues of Spider-Man and Green Arrow/Green Lantern went out with out the CCA Approval).  But these were the exceptions to the usual, where as now it’s the norm at Marvel rather than the exception.

I can call this as nothing more than a crass propaganda effort aimed at children who don’t have the experience or knowledge to properly judge what is being presented to them.  This is dangerous on so many levels.  I find it no different than the White Supremacists, or Communist agitators who have done, and are doing the same thing, though not with so powerful a corporate ally.  So parents be warned, and be prepared to deal with this as it comes to you!


5 thoughts on “Politics and Pop Culture

  1. Pingback: Politics » Politics and Pop Culture

  2. Pingback: Bookmarks Tagged Subversive

  3. It really bothers me that there isn’t any media`that’s above the fray.

    While I liked the idea of comics being used in WW2 as pro-allied nations propaganda, promoting war bonds and building patriotism during the “darker” years, I think it has gone too far (like so many other things that had noble beginnings).

    I guess I can’t figure out why entertainment outlets can’t stick to entertainment and feel that they have to lower themselves to things like this. Many elements of pop culture have been horribly politicized lately, and while it’s certainly nothing new, it seems to have gotten worse and more insidious in nature.

  4. It’s about the self importance, and egos of the “creators.” They get it into their head that they know what’s best for everyone. Look at Phil Donohue or Brian de Palma in movies, or Oprah and her book club. It’s a facet of the “star effect” which is where a celebrity or entertainment figure thinks it’s his/her God given right to tell everyone else how to live thier lives, ala Alec Baldwin (still waiting for him to move to France).

  5. Yeah, you’re right, but it still disappoints me to no end. it’s the same old thing… What credentials do these people have that they think that they can try to influence things like international politics? It’s ego of the worst kind.

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