And that all art has to be trying to say something ‘valuable’. Can’t think of anything worse.
Yeah I wouldn’t have gone in as two footed tbf, but what’s life without shabs
Agreed. Successfully getting Julie Delpy off that train with him was a superpower all its own
It is quite worrying that more and more stuff is repackaging and retelling stories with the same characters, remaking the same games, movies etc, digital ABBA concerts. Isn’t this just consolidating more money and cultural power in the hands of older generations and the estates of those who have passed away?
Scorsese’s comments always came off as a bit weird imo, he made some good films but a lot of their success was due to people glorifying criminals and violence.
I think the idea that the theme of media or art defines it’s quality is a bit antiquated.
Most superhero films are terrible but I had a stronger emotional response to Guardians of the Galaxy than any other film I’ve seen in the last 6 months or so. The Across The Spider verse films are as visually innovative as any animated film has been in a good while.
But for some folk, superhero films ARE their cowboy films.
Not my bag, but I won’t sneer at them.
It’s conservative to use the argument that it’s shit because it’s ‘for kids’ rather than because you don’t like it or indeed that it’s shit because it fails to live up to some intellectual idea of the validity of stories handed down from over a century ago.
I think a lot of you have read the word ‘valuable’ and inferred a meaning from it that wasn’t given. A valuable kids story could be something about the power of teamwork or whatever, or something that inspires imagination or awe at what storytelling can be in a way that’s designed for the mind of a child. Which is not to say that adults couldn’t enjoy it but broadly should understand it (or be encouraged to) as being For Kids. I think an expectation that the cultural space shouldn’t be flattened so that kids media and adults media is the same is an extremely legitimate position to take, while acknowledging that of course some media can cross boundaries.
And yeah, I still very much maintain that stories should be ‘about’ something instead of just providing mindless brain fodder, otherwise you might as well just shoot up heroin and be done with it.
IMHO it’s fine to enjoy super hero films, but they are fundamentally very simplistically conservative in their worldview, because they can’t not be so.
Even with Black Panther, which I really enjoyed, it gets almost to the point of acknowledging Killmonger as being pretty much right in his analysis, but can’t quite do so, because it is fundamentally impossible for an MCU movie to adopt an anti-colonialist position, so KM still has to be “the baddie”.
In a world where it was possible for MCU films to be anything but fundamentally conservative, KM could be portrayed as the hero of that film, or at least as a somewhat inspiring anti-hero. Instead, it can approach that view, but can’t ever endorse it. Because of course it can’t.
I’m pretty drunk so apologies, and tbh this article is much better than my post, so:
This is a strong point.
In the context of MCU films being squarely aimed at adults, I find the amount of Marvel/superhero merchandise that’s squarely aimed at kids to be quite jarring.
It’s not the boundary-crossing that’s jarring. Things can defo be cross-generational. What’s jarring is a kid-centric thing being made adult, then sold back to kids (via their adult parents, of course). But even that’s not the full story.
Frankly, the whole MCU explosion in popularity and success is suss. It’s not a triumph of an awkward/interesting nerd/geek subculture becoming embraced as an accepted part of the mainstream. It’s nerd/geek subculture being plucked, reshaped, and marketed to .
MCU films are the plastic lawns of the mind.
I’m not fussed about stories or narrative or even ‘cultural worth’. I’m happy with mindlessness and/or vibe instead. But the specific popularity of Marvel is a thing that needs a more exact explanation than simply defending them by saying ‘culture doesn’t need to be highbrow, simple fun things are valid entertainment options’.
Compare Marvel with: Sonic (and Mario, too, I suppose). Similarly everywhere. But Sonic was always just a fun videogame. Yes, videogames were a more marginal thing back then, but only in a generational sense. EVERY kid played on consoles back then. And Sonic is a product being punted in every which way as a fun non-cerebral thing. And it’s fine and not in any way as weird as the Marvel thing. Next to no kids were into comics and superheroes 30 years ago.
It’s very very odd indeed how there’s this kinda almost revisionism where we’re all supposed to pretend that, if you rewind 20 years, anyone gave the slightest shit about the finer points of superheroes and their backstories etc.
Compare Marvel with: Star Wars. Legit very popular when it first came out. And it’s endured. Throw in Star Trek, too, if you want. Neither are my bag, but they’ve inevitably been very consistently popular throughout the last four decades or so. Whereas, and I’ll say it again, next to no-one was into comics and superheroes 30 years ago. Not having it. It was well niche.
So, yeah, this whole set of industries that’s been constructed around the Marvel IP has always seemed suss as fuck to me. Hearing the angle about inherent conservatism begins to explain A LOT of things and confirms A LOT of suspicions…
Yeah, totally this. I’ve not at all interacted with any of the Marvel/DC industrial movie complex because it’s never been my thing. No shade to anyone who loves that universe, that’s fine, but I have always been a little baffled about where this cultural phenomenon and deep seated love came from, cos yeah, back in the 80s and 90s, at least as far as my childhood was concerned, it simply didn’t exist. Felt like superheroes and comics were historical artefacts
Your statement is not entirely true (I deffo agree with the quality bit) - if you and I do recommend ALL have time and interest to do so mind) this is evidenced by this rather persuasive, well researched (imo) video essay
Yeah of course, this is part of why BP is one of the best MCU but I think the fact you can write all that is evidence alone that ‘cultural infantilisation’ is glib and not very good way of criticising an entire genre.
Even here you’re opening by saying superhero films can’t not he simplistic and conservative and yet your example is really: mainstream blockbuster films can’t not be. Not even blockbuster TBH, not sure there are many examples of mainstream Hollywood that actually critiques capitalism etc. at least without trying to blunt it with a layer of satire.
But equally, regardless of the (controversial, because yes, “Kilmonger was right,” etc was discussed a lot at the time) ending and fate of Kilmonger, here is still a big, populist Hollywood film that did ask questions like, “are our museums full of stolen things?” of an audience that hadn’t come there to consider these things.
A more serious film would ask those questions better but it would also more likely have an audience that came already asking them.
Broadly I don’t disagree with this but I still take issue with your “one size fits all” views of the minds kids and adults: it is rigid and conservative.
You see films like the MCU as ‘for kids’ but that’s a huge broad spectrum and I know because I’ve watched my kid and others watch these films as they’ve grown up and most of the storytelling goes over their heads until they are out of primary school. There are a lot of concepts we take for granted that we’ve built up over years of stories that aren’t obvious.
I also think all stories are about something because that is the nature of a story, but you seem to want them to be be about specific things you deem worthwhile which are subjective to you (and agreed with by many others, of course) but which you treat as objectively more worthwhile.
It is this blocking of things that I see as conservative. It is no different from me sneering at pop bands in the 90s because they weren’t real bands playing real instruments and writing their own songs.
And even your ‘shoot up heroin’ line is effectively damning ‘enjoyment’. People have different lives, different stresses, and they want to unwind in different ways, in fact they need to.
The fact that this sort of particular type of film has taken over Hollywood says a lot more about how expensive it is to go to a cinema to watch a big screen vs how comparable the same experience is at home via a stream. Of course big flashy films do better in that environment, particularly with TV shows at the production level they are. 15 years ago being into The Wire made you a slightly unusual person but now people are consuming TV like that a lot.
The controversial opinion thread is thatta way, Theo.
I regret everything