Amoeblog

Masked Vengeance: Super (2011)

Posted by Charles Reece, April 17, 2011 08:22pm | Post a Comment
super poster boltie

In Dan Clowes' Death-Ray, the titular hero doesn't discover a greater sense of responsibility with his newfound powers (à la Peter Parker), only a fascistic resolve in settling petty grievances. James Gunn uses a similar approach in critiquing the superhero costume in Super. His heroes, The Crimson Bolt and Boltie, aren't super-powered, just a couple of individuals who wear masks and deliver vigilante justice -- in a word, sociopaths. Just like Batman, the mask is used to disguise a personal revenge motive: a drug dealer has wooed away The Bolt's wife not through some mind-control apparatus, but because the dealer is better looking and his life more enticing than the hero's secret identity as a fry cook. The film takes every right turn, mixing pathos and humor, demented fantasy and realistic violence, convention and critique into one of the best dark comedies about the depressing nature of fanboy fetishism we're likely to get. Much better than Suckerpunch.

Paranoia, They Destroy Ya: Death Sentence vs. The Brave One, or Jodie Foster's Continuing Relevance to the Presidency

Posted by Charles Reece, February 8, 2008 12:50pm | Post a Comment
Given Hillary Clinton’s history of backing neo-liberal economic policies and war-making by the United States and its allies, her advocacy of women’s rights overseas within what is widely seen outside this country as an imperialist context could actually set back indigenous feminist movements in the same a way that the Bush administration’s “democracy-promotion” agenda has been a serious setback to popular struggles for freedom and democracy.  -- Stephen Zunes, Sexism, the Women’s Vote and Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy
These promises of morality, protection, and recognition of harm are false promises. The criminal justice apparatus is about order and its reproduction, and about maintaining the existing hierarchy of status and privilege, and only incidentally about crime or morality or the safety of individual citizens and their communities. It operates most effectively at
the level of the symbolic, by naming individual offenders as morally defective, and using them as scapegoats, and only incidentally as a useful tool for community security, although at times it is the only and the most appropriate social institution available. -- Diane L. Martin, Retributivism Revisited: A Reconsideration of Feminist Criminal Law Reform Strategies

At a time when Spider-Man still had some aesthetic worth, being drawn by the great Steve Ditko, New York was on its way to becoming a dangerous city, giving the super-powered vigilante something to do, presumedly on a daily basis.  However, looking at the crime stats for NYC in 1965, one finds that only 3% of its inhabitants experienced any sort of crime for that year.  With a population of 18 million, it's no wonder that there was rarely a cop around as the Vulture was flying off with his ill-gotten loot.  Now, if you're one lone webslinger, even with the aid of your trusty spider-sense, it ain't very likely that you'll be fortunate enough to come across a crime as it's occurring even on a monthly basis, much less a daily one.  Thus, we have one of the central absurd conceits of the vigilante sub-genre (with radiated powers or merely a stock of ammo): always being in the right place at the right time.

Continue reading...