DC Comics Gets Political with “The Movement”

Avatar

Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, gamingvulture.tumblr.com. And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

Related Post Roulette

33 Responses

  1. Avatar NewDealer says:

    “(Katharsis beats one of the corrupt officers to a bone shattering pulp)”

    I see what they did there. Someone really wants to take advantage of having read the Poetics at one time?

    I also think if we are to move beyond violence we need to work hard to break this kind of response. Yes there are corrupt cops who do these things but while beating them up is a nice thought. Beating someone to a bone shattering pulp only increases the cycle. Why do we consider being badass in a violent way to be a virtue? Why is Buffy a role model because she can use kung-fu?

    Is this stuff really taking on the establishment or getting political? Or is it just Capitalism once again proving that it is endlessly adaptable and will create a product wherever it sniffs out buck or two? This kind of stuff seems like pure Alyssa Rosenberg bait (hint: I’m not a fan).

    Stuff like this never seems very political or deep to me. Rather it seems “deep”.

    Though one of my big beefs with the Internet is how it seemingly destroyed high-culture reporting and exposure in favor of GIFs and the stuff of 10-year olds. It is no longer possible to talk about the small film coming to the local arthouse that people should really see. The Internet audience is national if not global so one needs to always talk about things with the most access and most common denominator. Out with Eric Rohmer retrospectives, in with DC and videogames!

    Perhaps this is just shows that I am a center-left wet but one of the reasons I never fully developed support for Occupy or Anonymous is that they have a utopian-streak that I fear defies reality. I am not an anarchist, nor shall I ever be one. Anarchy does not scale and I don’t think it even works very well in small and homogeneous settings. This is not to say our government institutions are perfect. They are far from perfect. However, anarchy breaks down always and will only result in war lords and misery like Somalia or Afghanistan.

    The inherent part of Occupy and Anonymous is that they are anarchist-utopians. They believe that govenrment is inherently evil with the same degree of force as right-wing Republicans. And that life without government will soon become shiny happy land. This is not true. It has never been true and never will be true. Anarchy is misery. We need good institutions and good government to ensure as much safety and liberty as possible.

    Wow this post inspired a rather lengthy rant from me.Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to NewDealer says:

      Definitely need to digest this for a bit.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to NewDealer says:

      As a non-utopian, non-anarchist myself, I have to agree with you. Smashing it all down and starting again, but right this time, sounds romantic and all, but it has a really poor track record.

      I can believe that there is a point as which anarchy might be better than the status quo (think North Korea), but I doubt even at its worst there’s any US government that qualifies.

      The only issue I’d take with your comment is that the Republicans only hate government when they’re not in charge of it.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to NewDealer says:

      “I also think if we are to move beyond violence we need to work hard to break this kind of response.”

      The State is violence, or at least the threat of violence. Even in support of justice

      We’ll be able to move beyond violence when human beings go beyond violence – which will be when we hit the proverbial singularity or any other ethereal incorporeal form.Report

    • Avatar Kimsie in reply to NewDealer says:

      #Libya or #Egypt was not about getting to Anarchy. If anything, it’s citizen empowerment.
      I don’t doubt if you actually sat down and talked with the folks in charge of Occupy or Anonymous, you’d find some very interesting people. Not utopians in the slightest, nor anarchists.Report

    • Avatar Kimsie in reply to NewDealer says:

      Okie Dokie. Newdealer wants reviews of things that no one has ever heard of.
      I think I can take that challenge.Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to NewDealer says:

      “Why do we consider being badass in a violent way to be a virtue? Why is Buffy a role model because she can use kung-fu?”

      I personally don’t, and this is one of the things I hope the comic addresses. Violence in superhero comics is first and foremost a convention, and I’m curious to see if Simone is willing to call that convention into question, or subvert it, rather than gratuitously abuse it like 99% of other comics do.

      “Is this stuff really taking on the establishment or getting political?”

      I think those are two very different things. Anti-establishment? Probably not–thus far it seems pretty inside the mainstream of common political discourse. But its definitely political (though whether those politics are illuminative or engaging, rather than predictable, is also still an open question).

      The comic poses, or at least opens up space for certain political questions which are rarely addressed straight-on. As only the first issue, all I can say is it’s too early to tell.

      “Perhaps this is just shows that I am a center-left wet but one of the reasons I never fully developed support for Occupy or Anonymous is that they have a utopian-streak that I fear defies reality.”

      I agree, but I think that kind of utopianism works fine in a fictional work that is predicated on even deeper forms of utopianism (a giant satellite in the sky staffed with superheros who are inherently good and always willing to sacrifice themselves for the strangers living down below).

      In that regard, it’ll be much more interesting to see people with natural power at their dispossal lock-horns with social institutions–what would Zuccotti park have been like if the people camped their had superpowers? What do you do with society’s outcasts, impoverished, and marginalized when they can’t be ignored or turned away any longer?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Ethan Gach says:

        “I personally don’t, and this is one of the things I hope the comic addresses. Violence in superhero comics is first and foremost a convention, and I’m curious to see if Simone is willing to call that convention into question, or subvert it, rather than gratuitously abuse it like 99% of other comics do.”

        I think one of the reasons I drifted away from fandom and most pieces of fan culture is that gratuitous and false equation of kick ass=strength and cool. There is a Joss Whedon quote that my friends seem to love. He was asked “Why do you keep making strong female characters?” His answer was “Because I keep getting asked that question.” It seems to be that people think of his female characters as strong because they are more or less action heroes with slightly better dialogue. We need to stop making this equation of ability to use violence=strength.Report

    • Avatar b-psycho in reply to NewDealer says:

      “anarchy doesn’t scale”

      Considering how frequently alleged “representative” government serves itself & the elites aligned with its members, to the detriment of the public, regardless of what reforms are tried… Maybe the lesson is that scale is not our strong suit? Perhaps we construct giant institutions doomed to collapse, only to bicker about the paint job.

      I don’t think of a stateless society as a utopia. We’re humans, we’re flawed creatures. My issue is how exactly handing a few assholes authority over the masses is supposed to stop assholery. It doesn’t compute.Report

  2. Avatar king Piye says:

    The Occupy movement doesn’t think government is inherently evil, they just want the government to work for everyone. Not just the 1% The tea party movement and conservatives think government is inherently evil which is why they say they want to shrink government to the size of a bathtub, or whatever it is that they say. At least that’s what they say until they step into power and increase the size and role of government.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to king Piye says:

      “Not just the 1% The tea party movement and conservatives think government is inherently evil which is why they say they want to shrink government to the size of a bathtub, or whatever it is that they say. At least that’s what they say until they step into power and increase the size and role of government.”

      They both looooooooooooooooooooove the government and the power; they just want the government to help them and harm others. As for the tea party, that’s just a bunch of Republicans without the basic honesty to call themselves that. They were in power during the Bush II debacle, and happy as clams with Big Guvmint.Report

      • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Barry says:

        Don’t misread. Koch wasn’t in power during Bush II, that was the Neocons.
        Measuring insurrection in the right is a good idea, don’t simply say “it’s all rightwing!” as you’re missing most of the interesting stuff!Report

  3. Avatar T. Greer says:

    “Out with Eric Rohmer retrospectives, in with DC and videogames!”

    This may be true, but these are probably not the best examples – top DC Comic lines get about 200,000 copies in circulation, at most. That is a very small slice of American pop culture. Might even be smaller than the Indie documentaries.Report

  4. Avatar Damon says:

    “The Occupy movement doesn’t think government is inherently evil, they just want the government to work for everyone. Not just the 1% The tea party movement and conservatives think government is inherently evil which is why they say they want to shrink government to the size of a bathtub, or whatever it is that they say. At least that’s what they say until they step into power and increase the size and role of government.”

    The reasons why both sides are wrong is that gov’t doesn’t work for anyone but itself. And no one who gains power wants to give it up, which is one of the reasons gov’t IS evil, since all it’s actions are backed by, at a minimum, the threat of violence against those who do not submit.

    The only way these guys can truly become legit is to support their community by serving them and complying with the residents wishes.Report

  5. Avatar Tim H says:

    I liked NewDealer’s comments. The Movement (Gail’s first issue) confused me, but I hope it carries that ambiguity to its natural conclusion. For instance, we know (but not the kids) that the Police Captain is a decent guy. But the kids’ disgust with the entire police force is rational, considering they have no insight that most of the cops are decent people doing their best. However, the business with Gail showing Office Yee as having an affair with the Captain’s wife struck me as muddying and overly bleak and distopian. Gail’s book gave me a lot of mixed singles. If she stays true to it (that the kids themselves aren’t always acting like heroes) it could be a really interesting book. Otherwise, it struck me as a lot of bleakness, bleaker than reality in general.Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach in reply to Tim H says:

      “If she stays true to it (that the kids themselves aren’t always acting like heroes) it could be a really interesting book.”

      I’m hoping she fosters different points of view among the kids, as opposed to having them all be singularly malcontented and of one mind politically.Report

  6. Avatar Just Me says:

    Don’t forget that this Saturday is Free Comic Book Day !Report

  7. This is mostly off-topic, but I’m sticking it here because it involves comic books. I’m looking up a lot of public domain superheroes for a potential project. Most of them are from the Golden Age heroes.

    It’s amazing how many of them derived their powers through… chemistry. I knew about Hourman and a couple others. But apparently it was something of a norm.

    It’s kind of funny when you think of the average classic superhero as being essentially drug-dependent.Report

  8. Avatar trizzlor says:

    So what’s your hope for the trajectory? I guess the cliche would be some kind of “power corrupts” story where someone in the squad gets overzealous with power and causes collateral damage. If they really want to play it safe, the corrupted member can even be secretly collaborating with the crooked cops that they’re supposed to be fighting.

    If it’s meant to be accurate, though, I guess the squad would have a few initial successes, then get co-opted by the media political machine which would sanitize their message so it’s entertaining but ultimately meaningless. The upside is that this brings in popular support, but as with any bubble, when their 15 minutes runs out and the movement seems to have accomplished very little they’ll get bogged down with petty in-fighting and academic theory about “raising awareness” and “creating spaces”; slowly marching into irrelevance. A few of the sharper heroes will hook up with main-stream politics which – of course – brings us right back to the “power corrupts” storyline.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *