Opinion - A Political Interlude Part 2: This Time, It's Personal.
I said I wasn’t going to do this again…but it appears that I have to. You see…this happened. And upon viewing it, I have to say the following:
Dear Liberals, this…is why you fail. This is why you won’t reach middle America unless you change your approach. This is why you’ll be viewed as snarky elitist snobs and this is why you lost the 2016 election.
And for Mr. Maher, I’ll lead with this: If you’re going to pretend to be an intellectual elitist snob…be damn sure to do your homework first.
Before I proceed to issue my own scathing commentary on this idiotic diatribe, I feel it necessary to again make it clear where I’m coming from politically. I inhabit a very strange place in today’s political landscape…it’s called the center. I believe in ideas claimed by both parties: I think if you’re going to do something, buy something or provide a service, you’d better be able to pay for it and not have to sink into debt to do so just as much as I believe that the government has a responsibility to take care of the people it governs, providing for health care and education for example and moving away from a system that fosters a philosophy of those who pay the most get the most out of these services to the exclusion of those who struggle to afford such services. If I do end up having to pick a side, more often than not I do fall to the Left.
And I’m fully aware that both sides have their own blow-hards: for every Sean Hannity, there’s a Rachel Maddow…and in my eyes, both are equally detestable. But in comedy, there’s an impartiality…mostly. Comedians don’t necessarily look at party…and why would they? It’s actions and statements that issue forth from anyone in power that provides more than enough ammunition to fuel any political humorists career…be they from Democrat or Republican.
Having watched some of Maher’s ‘Real Time’ on HBO, I’ve become increasingly convinced that he personifies everything that is wrong with those on the far Left and why it is those very vocal voices that threaten any hopes Democrats might have to balance the scales come 2018. Like my last political rant, I will use the themes of this website, as well as the above linked YouTube video, to make my point.
A note to my friends on the right: this should make up for my attacks on the Cheeto-in-Chief from the previous rant.
The crux of Mr. Maher’s argument in the above video is to suggest that the current wave of superhero films and TV shows have caused the American public to become complacent…waiting from a savior from without to save us all from the perils of the day. So does the Bill Maher from the 50’s think that all those popular westerns of that cinematic era were programming Americans to finish the genocide on the Indians? Or that we all should pursue careers involving cattle? And what about the Bill Maher of the 70’s? What did he think about the upswing in disaster movies or political thrillers or sci-fi dystopias? Did he think Americans back then were being programmed to be able to survive capsized boats that were on fire thanks to a massive earthquake and the resultant tsunami with at least 2 spies on board only to emerge from their ordeal to a newly minted technological autocracy where people were voluntarily killed at 30 so they could become food for everyone that’s left? 80’s Bill Maher had to be worried that we were all being conditioned to become musclebound, gun-toting he-men who were one-liner machines, right? I could go on, but I think I’ve belabored the point enough.
What many Liberals on the far Left continue to completely and epically fail at understanding is that it is not our escapism of choice that fuels our personalities…it is how we are presented INFORMATION…that which we think or believe is true…that fuels our personalities and our beliefs. This fallacy manages to rear its ugly head fairly routinely. Remember in the 80s? It was heavy metal that was influencing teenagers to become Satanists or inciting rage or violence within them. How about the 90s? Violent movies and video games were responsible for school shootings…thanks Mr. Lieberman…when every scientific study on the matter would come down conclusively that many other factors had a lot more pull on a person’s mind and disposition than a two-hour playing of Grand Theft Auto. And I cannot count how many interviews with the stars of horror movies (and to give this argument some credibility to our far Left readers, this includes one Jamie Lee Curtis) where it is commented that the fans of these sorts of movies are just the nicest and most polite people they’ve met. So, no, binge watching the entire Friday the 13th film series isn’t going to have you thrashing the neighbors with a machete any more than a night of playing the latest Assassin’s Creed game is going to have you hopping rooftops and stealthily killing passers-by. This argument continues to sound as idiotic as the first time it was brought forth and it goes back to something I heard from the godfather of this site, one Joe Bob Briggs, which I will attempt to paraphrase. Liberals are just as guilty of censorship as conservatives, sometimes over the same things, but for vastly different reasons. Conservatives will invoke God/religion or “family values” that haven’t existed since the 1950s. Liberals will argue that, sure, the intellectual elite can handle that kind of material, but you…YOU…the common person? Your tiny mind can’t handle the burden of it, so, like a good parent, we’re going to take it away from you and put it up on the shelf. Both versions of this argument piss me right the hell off: the Conservatives for being so ass backwards that the prospect of any kind of progress just outright terrifies them…hiding behind their nostalgia and their god-of-convenience and Liberals for the just the sheer amounts of condescension.
Let me get back on topic here. Superhero movies and Mr. Maher’s completely misinformed (or in this case a valid argument could be made for completely uninformed or ignorant…and this seems to be most likely the case) opinion about them. Heroic fiction has been around ever since man first gathered around the fire to tell stories…maybe it was about a thrilling hunt or perhaps a close call with nature…but there have always been stories about the exceptional either among us or created for us from the ideals of whatever tribe said story originates from. The purpose of these stories has changed over the eons…just as humanity has changed. To call superheroes a new or recent or a lowbrow entertainment, however, shows a gross lack of knowledge of literary tradition. What would you call Achilles, son of an immortal nymph and a mortal who had only one weak spot, if the character had been created now and not in antiquity? What about Beowulf? Gilgamesh? Arthur and his knights? Moses? Jesus? Mohammed? These are individuals with abilities far exceeding mortal men…yet intellectuals never ambush them. In fact, the last three on that list are guilty of the very crime Maher levies against the current wave of superhero fiction: sit and wait until the REAL help arrives.
In listening to interviews with those who write comics, there is a common ground and a common ideal at the core of most of these heroes, be it Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel and so on: One person can make a difference and that these stories, these characters, are meant to be inspirational. Though I suffer from Bat-Fatigue, even I can admit that Batman is the perfect case for this argument…so long as we overlook the metric fuck-ton of money he has. Here we have someone at the ultimate moment of weakness, his parents being gunned down in front of him by a product of a cruel, uncaring and corrupt world when he’s somewhere between 5 and 8 years old…okay, let’s say less than 10. Anyway, he’s still a child in his most formative years and those that were to form him into the person he was to be were violently ripped away from him. This is truly a person that starts from 0 (again, overlooking the Wayne money-bin). Does he go the way of many children that are the victims of trauma…losing themselves in anything that takes the pain away even momentarily? No, he pulls himself together with only one single goal in mind: What happened to me will never happen to anyone else. And it’s from this drive a single mortal man perfects his body and his mind (of course to unrealistic levels) in such a way that he is able to stand tall amongst the Parthenon of DC’s heroes and is viewed as an equal of his colleagues in the Justice League. One person, if so driven, can do ANYTHING…can change the world. Batman’s not alone in this. Superman: his entire people are wiped out, he finds himself in a strange place where no one is like him and he has to try and forge a life for himself…often observed as the story of any immigrant (provided you overlook the superpowers that emerge thanks to yellow sun radiation). Captain America: a man born frail and weak yet still wants to serve in the protection of his country volunteers for a program that has killed or maimed those that have come before. Wolverine or your X-Man of choice: born different and yet still seeks to use their unique abilities to protect those that fear and hate them only because of their difference. These origins and these stories are not an invitation to sit down, shut up and wait to be saved…they are EXACTLY the opposite. Superheroes have always nurtured the worldview that if you’re dealt something in life that you don’t like, stand up and do something about it. We’re given these heroes as EXAMPLES…not beings to be worshiped and waited for. Batman was given a shitty deal in life, but he drove himself to turn it around…so can you.
Another thing that Mr. Maher and the more elitist members of the Left will overlook is who these stories are geared toward. And nothing exemplifies this audience better than the two kids from Cleveland, Ohio that started what is the modern-age superhero: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster…the creators of Superman. At the tail end of the Great Depression, the sons of Jewish immigrants, very much of the working or middle class, were the type of boys/men that were easily overlooked and forgotten: decent students with an interest in science fiction with few friends and largely overlooked by the opposite sex due to their meek and mild natures. Essentially, nerds. But I want to focus on three other descriptors from above: overlooked, forgotten and working class. And damned if we didn’t stumble into the heart of the current political climate. Superheroes appeal to the overlooked, forgotten and the working class…those that need escapist entertainment to get through lives that show fewer and fewer signs of improvement as one political party battles another over money and power. And these are the voices that spoke up for Trump…whether we agree with them or not, whether we understand them or not and whether or not they have buyer’s remorse…and likely, they don’t. Why? Well, it goes back to that condescension. If someone tells you not to do something because they know better than you, thus you should listen, what’s your first natural inclination? I know mine is generally along the lines of “Fuck you.” And that’s not because I’ve followed the adventures of a spandex clad refugee from Krypton…it’s because I feel like I’m an overlooked, forgotten member of the middle class while this figurative voice is coming off as an elitist, condescending prick. For Democrats to return to power, these are the people they need to turn…to make understand that what they’re trying to accomplish in government is what these forgotten and overlooked masses want. In essence, Democrats and those on the Left would be wise not to criticize the superhero…but to EMBRACE them and their message. Because the ONLY way for the Left to rise out of the elitist, condescending image they’ve built for themselves is to charge each voter with the hero’s message: Things are bleak…but YOU have the power to change them. YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Bruce Wayne did. So did Clark Kent, Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, Diana Prince, Jessica Jones and on and on and on…and don’t you want to be like them? I sure do. Always have.
So please, Liberals, Democrats and other voices from the Left, look for these folks like Mr. Maher here and for the good of not just your political party but of the nation itself, tell them to sit down and shut up. They’re not helping…they’re actually serving to inflict further pain on you that you REALLY don’t need right now.
This guy though? He got it...and that's how he won.