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Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Unbearable Lightness of Heroes

Hollywood just doesn’t get it! Recognizing this fact has forced me into deciding not to spend my money on Superhero movies anymore. I’m just not that desperate to see these characters on the big screen if they are not in fact the characters I want to see.

If the majority of comic book fans were honest with themselves and others, they would have to admit down deep they don’t like these films and TV shows either. What the comic book fan has been reduced to is accepting what they give us in the movies because we want to see our heroes in live action.

Take a film like Iron Man 3—I don’t know a single comics fan that liked what they did to the Mandarin—Not one person! What the producers of Iron Man 3 pretty much said was: “What you’ve liked in the decades since the Mandarin was introduced was silly, so we will remake him to suit our tastes.

I’m not certain whether it was laziness, cheapness or utter contempt for the genre that lead them to realize Iron Man’s most important villain in the fashion they chose—but it well and truly sucked. That I am sure of!

The producers robbed the audience of the opportunity to see something a great deal more interesting and fun. Instead of giving us a battle between old’ Shellhead and a multi-effect, ring wielding Mandarin—Impact blasts, electric blasts… We were treated to the Mandarin as a powerless, washed up actor/dupe.

Imagine the Mandarin using his black light ring to blind Iron Man, then bombarding him with flame rays alternating with cold waves making the armor brittle—as Stark activates night vision, the Mandarin starts giving him Karate chops, shattering pieces of Iron Man’s suit. Iron Man is much stronger than the Mandarin, but the Mandarin has greater hand-to-hand fighting skill using leverage and speed against the Golden Avenger.

That would be a lot more interesting visually and thematically to watch than a bunch of exploding “Molten Man” rejects who can somehow, (inexplicably) immobilize armor by merely touching it. How many sets of Mandarin rings do you think Toys “R” Us and Wal-Mart would have sold?

Conversely, if they had put Jeremy Renner in a mask playing Hawkeye and had the Black Widow taking out aliens with her golden (not flat black) Widow’s Bite bracelets instead of a pair of mundane Glock 26s. They aren’t even cool looking guns, serviceable weapons, but lame. Or if the Widow used her widow's line and the ability she has to climb walls like Spiderman, a lot more little girls would want to be her and a lot more boys would want to be Hawkeye on Halloween.

Thematically the Avengers sucked! I liked the movie because it happened to have enough comedy, shield slinging, hammer pounding, repulsor ray blasting and Hulk smashing action to transform me back into a little boy while watching it. But it would have been a hundred times better for me if they had simply stuck to a truer interpretation of the characters.

Most of the changes they make are so silly, but each one makes the true fan wince a little—Cap’s shield is just Vibranium in the movies and not a mixture of Adamantium and Vibranium as created in the comics, the product of a unique and non-duplicatable accident. Anyone with access to Vibranium can have a shield like Cap's in the Marvel movie universe.

Why is a Viking warrior not wearing his helmet in battle? Why would you put Dr. Doom on the ship with the Fantastic Four and make his armor organic? Why imply Stark’s repulsor technology was stolen from the soviets? Why not call the “Cosmic Cube the Cosmic Cube?”

Why make the Joker a guy wearing white makeup with a bad green die job? Why make Jarvis a computer? Why make Speedy Oliver Queen’s nickname for his non-existent sister instead of Roy Harper? Why make Hal Jordan fearful?

Why is the Black Canary someone other than Dinah Lance? Why make Nick Fury black so he can’t be Sgt. Fury and the leader of the Howling Commandos on film? Why does Gwen Stacy have to be a scientist too? Why is it only one Agent of Shield on the TV show wears the Shield uniform?

None of these changes make the stories more interesting nor do they advance the narrative in any appreciably improved way, they are changes for the sake of change and useful for cutting corners. For example, putting Doom on the ship with the FF eliminates the need to give Victor Von Doom an origin story. I would rather you simply have Doom appear whole without an origin—no one needed to know what happened in Hans Gruber’s past leading to his attempted robbery of the Nakatomi Plaza.

We saw the introduction of Sebastian Blood and the Bronze Tiger in the second episode of the new season of Arrow. They made the same mistake the Agents of Shield TV show is making—they are taking the fun out of the genre and what you are left with may as well be a rerun of Knight Rider or the A Team, any 70s-80s adventure TV show.

It would have been way cooler to have the Bronze Tiger wearing a CGI Tiger mask—much more dramatic and visually interesting than Michael Jai White in a brown leather jacket wielding cestus. He could have gotten some face time talking to China White between confrontations. Why doesn’t China White wear white?

What would be more fun to see, this? 

Or this?

I can hear the Tinsel-Town besotted and bewitched fan boys saying in unison: “That would be great for the fans, but not for regular people who don’t know the characters—It’s not realistic enough.” To that I say: Stuff and nonsense!

People have no problem with talking werewolves or walking dead—No one ever complains it’s not realistic when someone crushes the skull of a zombie whose body should have atrophied to a point of immobility months earlier due to a dead metabolism. Why do comic book fans accept the Hollywood meme that people will cluck their tongues at a guy fighting crime in something other than Kevlar reinforced plate armor?

This article is not meant for regular people, it is written to the true comics fan in an attempt to detox us from the alluring Kool-Aid served up by the Hollywood elite who look down on us to begin with. They always have. And they resent the power Comicon has grown into.

The Hollywood types fall into two categories when it comes to these films—you have the pseudo fans like the Whedons who think their version of the Marvel Universe is superior and are driven by their overstuffed egos. You then have the types who do these films and make changes because they don’t like the source material. These sorts make the films because they make money and are also driven by their overstuffed egos.

Most of the changes they make in the name of realism are anything but realistic, at least no more realistic than what is already presented in the comics. Batman’s cinematic armor would be a disaster in real life. The comic’s explanation that he wears the yellow insignia to allure criminal gunfire to his center mass where he does wear protection makes much more sense.

Meanwhile a true fighter has to be able to move freely—There has not been one person in the movie armor that moves like he could defend himself in a real fight. Most of the people Batman faces are run of the mill gunsels. We see Jason Bourne or James Bond take out scores of gun and knife wielding villains while wearing street clothes.

How about the “Arrow” smearing green makeup over his eyes instead of wearing a domino mask? Which would be easier to remove if you have to make a quick change between identities? My true feelings on the subject of “Realism” in these films and shows is realism be damned! Superheroes by their very nature are not real. If you want realism go see The Hurt Locker or The Butler!

Iron Man 3 was the last of these films I will pay to see. I’ll watch them, but I won’t pay to see them. Not as long as they exhibit contempt for the genre and heroes I have always loved. The days of signaling my approval by mindlessly walking like Frankenstein’s Monster to the movie theatre and the store to buy these films the day they come out on video are over!

It may seem like I’m being petty, but each one of those insoluble changes diminishes the memories of that little boy I used to be. I’d rather pay to see a film like Pacific Rim that pays homage to monster movies in a new way, or even a bad film like Hancock, with it’s version of a superman than to see a bastardized version of well-established favorites.

Digital Publius

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Journalists, or Obama's Lickspittles?

Almost exactly five years ago in the early days of Digital Publius I wrote an article called “An American Troika (тройка).”  Wherein I gave the etymology of the Soviet term “Troika:”
Russian troĭka, from troe three; akin to Old English thrīe threea group of three; especially: an administrative or ruling body of three – Webster’s

Troika (triumvirate) of judges or political leaders. – Wikipedia

I draw the parallel between this Soviet concept and the prospect of having the left in complete law-making control through Pelosi, Reid and Obama--I asked: Is this really what you want to do America? Are you certain you are so fatigued by the Bush presidency you’re willing to bet the farm on what will be the most powerful far left leaning government in the history of our nation? We are talking about an unrestrained--extreme liberal--completely unchecked-- House of Representatives, Senate and Executive branch. If so, then (fairness) that word Senator Obama is so found of using so often will disappear from the American Lexicon.

The atrocious Affordable Care Act, the specter of which we are now beginning to see made manifest would be the most pronounced example of the results reaped through America’s bafflingly poor judgment in 2008. Tragically, a couple of the things I said near the end of the article have proven to be the most dire prophecies in that because they have come to pass—it insures too many in our nation are too unaware of the facts to realize how unfortunate the results of the 2008 election have proven to be.

I wrote about the appalling treatment the media subjected Joe the Plumber to for having the temerity to ask difficult questions of then Senator Obama during his campaign:
Joe was not some political pundit who has an agenda; he was just a citizen in front of his home. This earned him the contempt of the hard left and the leftist presses full intrusion in Joe’s personal affairs. He was smeared across the collective liberal media, the kind of smear campaign only brought to bear on someone who has really struck a sore liberal nerve.

It brings to mind all those old cold war era movies, where the secret police agent menacingly says to the cowering worker. “You ask a lot of questions comrade, a lot of dangerous questions.” Think about it. We have been told that Joe owes taxes and he is not a bonded plumber yet. We have been told he does not make anywhere near 250K. But, how many headlines in the last two years have you seen showing that Obama, as a State Senator violated Illinois state tax laws and accepted payments for speaking engagements totaling around 100K? The press is uninterested in such things, when it involves their own.

I had no idea then how spot on I would be proven to be—one merely has to think of this in light of the revelations of the IRA’s unprecedented persecution of those espousing a view in conflict with the current administration. Further, the equally shocking overreach of the National Security Agency, which have come to light.

I continued: We are heading for real state controlled media, not in the form of some Orwellian totalitarian regime, complete with graphic, art deco posters, depicting bulging forearms wielding hammers--bullhorns blaring, work is better than sleep. Not that kind, rather what we will see, is an unchallenged media. A media that is already so far in the bag for Obama, that they are doing everything possible to hide the truth and suppress information about this guy.

Once we have a completely liberal government and no Republicans to blame everything on, we will never hear of governmental screw ups, because the “One” is the “One” and Democrats don’t make mistakes. What we need to think about is, what will happen when YOU ask the wrong question under the ultra fair American Troika?

A few weeks later I wrote a follow up piece: American Troika Hits the Ground Running, where my prescience concerning the rapid implementation of the left’s agenda and the media’s roll in the endeavor were already coming to fruition:

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Program we had this exchange: 

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Yeah, well, you know what? I want to do everything I can to make this thing work, this new presidency work, and I think that --

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Is that your job? You just talked about being a journalist!

MATTHEWS: Yeah, it is my job. My job is to help this country.

SCARBOROUGH: Your job is to make this presidency work?

MATTHEWS: To make this work successfully. This country needs a successful presidency.

Chris Matthews shocked even Joe Scarborough with that revelation. We knew Obama gave him a thrill, but he’s acting like he wants to start picking out curtains with the Obamas. It certainly wasn’t Chris Matthew’s position to help the previous presidency work.

The majority of the media are not going to be so obvious...Wait, what am I talking about; how much more obvious could the media have been in their boundless devotion to Obama. The Obama sycophants just thought it was normal.

 Mind-boggling how spot on I was back then! The Media Research Center just posted an article revealing the selective reportage marking 21st century style American Journalism. It seems the mainstream media was positively giddy when reporting a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll showing the public place most of the blame for the government shut down on the Republicans rather than the President’s policies and the Democrats.

Yet, the media was completely silent regarding the same poll stating that 51% of those responding to the poll said President Obama: …is putting his own political agenda ahead of what's good for the country.  

As the MRC put it: I guess the majority of the nation feeling the President is putting his political agenda ahead of what's good for the country wasn't considered newsworthy by American so-called "journalists.

This becomes even more interesting when one learns the aforementioned poll neglected to give those responding to the poll an option to pick the Democrats! Positively stunning! Particularly when you consider there were no fewer than 11 bills offered by the Republicans to avoid the shut down. Not to mention the Republican controlled House passed a bill to keep government running only to be rejected by the Democrat controlled Senate.

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. Psalm 118:8

So long as the media works hand in glove to further the left’s agenda, it will be virtually impossible for an unengaged, apathetic and spiritually dead American public to be well informed enough to counter the death spiral we are being forced into.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Get your relationship with Christ in order before concerning yourself with what the enemy is doing—That’s my strategy, what’s yours?

Digital Publius

Thursday, October 10, 2013

In Serving One Another, We Become Free

By Digital Publius contributor, Christopher Harris

According to folklore and medieval history, the legendary King Arthur was a leader in Great Britain who lived between the 5th and early 6th centuries. As to the veracity of the stories or even the actual existence of a King Arthur...that is a discussion for another time. However, there are many things about his story that have been extremely influential to western culture from the time his story was first written, to the present. One of the most fabled aspects of the story is his knights, and most importantly, their “Round Table”.

These men were reported to be among the most noble and greatest warriors in the land. They came together and sat around a special table in the castle of Camelot. They chose a round table, instead of a regular square or rectangular shaped table, because this was to be a sign that everyone who sat at the table was seen as an equal. They took a pledge that has now become famous, which was, “In Serving One Another, We Become Free”.

It was, and still is a beautiful principle to live by, and it is in fact, rooted and grounded in Judeo-Christian morality. It is also an idea that was influential in the hearts and minds of the Founding Fathers as they wrote our foundational documents forming this nation. Unfortunately, like many of Christ’s teachings contained in scripture, and the words of our Founding Fathers, this maxim has also been misconstrued, misinterpreted and outright twisted.

In the book of Galatians, Chapter 5 (NKJV), it speaks of “Christian Liberty”, explains how “Love Fulfills the Law”, and promotes “Walking in the Spirit”. Specifically speaking, in verse 1, it says “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” And in verse 13, it says “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

As I study American history, I see that same Judeo-Christian vein of philosophy and morality in the words of the Founding Fathers of our nation. I’m struck by the similarity between the sentiment and principles espoused by the Knights of the Round Table, and men like Patrick Henry. In his March 23, 1775 speech to the Virginia Delegates of the Provincial Congress at St. John's church in Richmond, VA, which has been called his “Liberty or Death” speech, he said, "If we wish to be free, if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending, if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!” He went on to say, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!” and of course, he famously ended his speech by saying, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Shortly thereafter, on April 19, 1775, the American Revolutionary War, also known as the “War for Independence” began with the Battle of Lexington and Concord, in the province of Massachusetts, near the city of Boston. Almost a year and a half later, in the summer of 1776 after enduring more trials and tribulations, and suffering through more tyranny from a ruler who thought himself to be a god with absolute power, a group of men got together as the Second Continental Congress in the city of Philadelphia. They met in the building that was commissioned by the Pennsylvania Colonial Legislature, which was opened in 1753, and has since been renamed as Independence Hall.

During their meeting and deliberations, they came to the conclusion it was time to make an official declaration of their independence, and as honorable, rational men, they decided it was necessary to draft a document to fully explain their decision. So on June 11, 1776, they appointed a "Committee of Five", which consisted of such august men as Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, John Adams of Massachusetts, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut, who was the only man to sign all four of the great foundational papers of what was to become the United States of America: the Continental Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.

They penned and approved words which have stood the test of time, and also fall right in line with the principles of the Knights who sat at the "Round Table", and their aforementioned maxim. They famously stated: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." And those words have reverberated in the hearts of men and women throughout the world ever since.

Once again showing the influence of Judeo-Christian philosophy and morality, and providing an interesting parallel with the Knights of the Round Table, the 56 signers of this document finished their ‘Declaration of Independence” by saying. “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

In this day and age, especially with the rise of Socialism under its noms de guerre, like Progressivism and Modern-Liberalism, the beautiful and Christ-like philosophy of “In Serving One Another, We Become Free" has become bastardize, subverted and perverted almost beyond recognition. Instead, particularly here in the United States of America, what you have is a nation conceived, gestated and birthed under the principles of “Christian Liberty”, where 237 years later, a sizable number of Americans actually believe the Godless Marxist idea of "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." is not only similar to “Christian Liberty”, but that they are one in the same.

It is a sad testimony to the lack of education, knowledge and wisdom of the average American today not only of the foundation of our nation, but the historical and Biblical ideals which inspired our Founding Fathers. Just as the Knights of the Round Table were valiant warriors and mighty (but imperfect) men willing to lay down their lives in support and defense of “Christian Liberty”, the Founding Fathers were also honorable (but imperfect) men, who understood the words of the Apostle Matthew, who quoted Christ in chapter 20, verse 28 (NKJV)  in the book bearing his name: “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Likewise, the Apostle Mark documented the actions and words of Christ in chapter 9, verse 35 (NKJV) in the book bearing his name, that, “And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

This belief in Divine Providence also meant they understood the words of 1 Peter 4:10 (NKJV) that said, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” They recognized they had been given a gift from their creator, the gift of “Christian Liberty”. They recognized it was a gift that also carried with it a great responsibility to serve others, a responsibility the Knights of the Round Table espoused in their maxim, “In Serving One Another, We Become Free”. And when the Founding Fathers of this nation signed their names to what was essentially a death warrant (and many of them did lose their earthly lives as a result), they finished their grand document for “Christian Liberty” by saying “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” 

The Founders did this, because they understood and believed in the words the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the churches in southern Galatia when he said, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” and “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

© C.L. Harris