What Alyssa Rosenberg Gets Wrong About Iron Man 3 (Spoilers)

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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.

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10 Responses

  1. Avatar North says:

    Ethan, the whole movie denounces the WoT. Its villains (every single one of them except for the female scientist*) are direct parasitic profiteers of the War on Terror. Continuing and intensifying said war is the main point of their big evil scheme. There’s even one point where the arch-villain flat out promises his lackies that soon they’ll control both sides of the War On Terror so that the gravy will keep on flowing. How much more of an obvious critique of the basic fundamental flaws of the WoT can you make? Heck, most of the super powered grunts are implied to be WoT veterans! Short of having Freddie parachute onto the set and denounce the entire neocon enterprise in a fifteen minute soliloquy I don’t think they could have been much more anti-war on terror than this movie without it ceasing to be a mainstream blockbuster flick.

    *tho she’s an employee at a military funded think tank so even she’s pretty entwined with the WoT.Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach says:

      I guess it comes down to whether or not you think the Iron Patriot is a good guy in the end, and whether or not most of the audience will think he’s good policy, and want to cheer him on.Report

  2. Avatar Glyph says:

    having Freddie parachute onto the set and denounce the entire neocon enterprise in a fifteen minute soliloquy

    Now this I would see, particularly if they could figure out some way to have a live combox on the theater screen when this moment occurs, so that theatergoers could use armrest-mounted keyboards to call each other “UnAmerican” in four-foot-high letters.Report

  3. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I like your title especially because I have a friend who once wrote this as a facebook update: “What X gets Wrong about Y: An Alyssa Rosenberg Reader.” And that is a rather spot on the nose target.

    I used to like her writing but now I am not so sure. I think she gives pop culture more seriousness than it deserves often because she is part of the general rebellion against highbrow culture or distinctions between high and low, literary and genre. Sometimes I get the distinct feeling that she would replace Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf with Veronica Mars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Judy Chicago and Mark Rothko with comic books and etsy if left in charge of a university education.

    She also can be a bit preachy in a bad way. She went off on the “haters”* who criticized Warner Brothers for crowd-sourcing the Veronica Mars movie but then paused when Zach Braff decided to crowd source a Garden State sequel. What did she expect would happen? The success of Veronica Mars shows that rich individuals and corporations can use it to remove risks they should be taking and fans will lap it up and attack the dissenters.**

    I am just a bit more old-school in my terms of desired cultural criticism and dislike that the youngest voice on the left (I imagine ThinkProgress is largely read by 20 and 30 somethings) seems to be all about pop culture at the expense of everything else. Plus letting Matt Y be your economics guy makes you of a suspect liberalism.

    *How I loathe this word, it seems designed to shut down valid criticism.

    **I am large naysayer on non-indie projects using crowd sourcing and I try to keep my definition of indie narrow. I’m not even a particular fan of people using it to fund for-profit projects in general including the establishment of restaurants, bakeries, bars, etc thought that is far less offensive than Warner Brothers using it to remove risk from a movie.Report

    • Avatar Murali says:

      I think she gives pop culture more seriousness than it deserves often because she is part of the general rebellion against highbrow culture or distinctions between high and low, literary and genre

      I consider myself sufficiently post-modern to actually agree with her about this and like the fact that she writes about Buffy instead of Virginia Woolf.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        This is one bit where I am a bit of a cultural “traditionalist” I would say for a lack of a better term.

        I think the most important job of a cultural and art critic is to encourage people to step out of their comfort zones and seek the estoric, possibly harder to find, new and unfamiliar.

        Alyssa seems to write mainly for what her audience already knows and is likely to seek out on their own. There is nothing wrong with this but it should be combined with the less than mainstream. A mix.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          To be fair to her (at least in theory, I don’t really follow her) this can be a hard balance to strike. Even beyond individual writers’ preferences or inclinations, the editorial direction of the publication and its commercial considerations drives a lot of this, plus “where you sit” as a reader is relative; IOW, it’s easy to blame the writers, but sometimes it’s the audience.

          There used to be a music magazine that I really liked because I thought it struck a good middle ground between esoteric stuff and more easily-found rock music. But to regular readers of say, The Wire, the stuff in “my” magazine was probably all “middlebrow/lowbrow/sellout”, not avant-garde enough. And that magazine probably struggled to make ends meet even before things got so dire for print.

          I used to LOVE the film critic at our local free weekly – good and lucid writer, incredibly knowledgeable about film history and art cinema but not snobbily-afraid of popcorn summer movies so long as they were done entertainingly well. Probably my favorite film critic out there – miles better than Ebert ever was. Of course, he got canned when the newspaper industry started its slow collapse, because why does the country need more than the same 3 widely-syndicated reviewers, reviewing the same 3 movies in wide distribution? 🙁Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            I don’t think this is exactly what New Dealer is saying. Besides reviewing the main stream Hollywood movies, many film critics also thought that it was their duty to educate the audience about the lesser known, more artisitic independent and foreign films. It was considered necessary to educate your readership on things they won’t normally see. These days, even though the audience is bigger, the desire to educate is less.Report

            • Avatar Glyph says:

              No, I get what he is saying. My point is just that it may not be a question of a critic’s desires; it is a question of what her publishers and her audience want to see.

              If she posts something on some piece of obscure, difficult art she feels passionately about, and it gets no page hits, that is not her fault; it’s her audience’s, if they are not willing to follow her and at least read the article. And she’s unlikely to post something like that again; do it too often, and she may be out of a job. It’s the way in which the instant feedback of the internet age can sometimes discourage risk-taking.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                I agree with this. The advantage that newspapers had over the internet is that the readers couldn’t them punish them instantly for not giving them what they wanted. This allowed newspapers and magazines to give a bit more medicine with the sugar when it came to cultural reporting.

                The internet allows more instant punishment, so cultural reporting has to reflect the readership’s tastes more. If the readership does not want to be exposed to high culture than so be it.

                I think another thing that changed is that in the past, cultural expectations made exposure to high culture cooler than now. At leaset thats what I gather from talking to my baby bommer parents. You saw the latest French or Sweedish films because they were good and thats what cool people did.Report