Captain America: The Winter Soldier: grimdark is lazy, good is hard work and Jewish American superheroes
First I know nothing about Marvel comics: all my context I got from the films Thor (delightful) and Avengers Assemble (remember very little except it had good jokes and the final action scene was too long), and reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
I went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier last night because of this which I saw a few people reblog:
(okay and also all the gifsets of Sebastian Stan crying. I WAS MIS-SOLD ON THIS FOR THE RECORD, THERE IS LITTLE TO NO CRYING AND ALSO HIS HAIR IS AWFUL.)
If Kavalier and Clay taught me anything it’s
threesomes are the best solutions to love trianglesJewish-American cartoonists in the 1930s and early ’40s were all over inventing subversively American heroes to fight Hitler, and I was very unsurprised when I got home and looked it up to learn that Captain America was created by two Jewish guys too. (I know this is really basic comics history stuff and I’m sure fifty people have written dissertations on “He’s A Mensch: The Jewish Identities of Captain America and Superman” or whatever.) What really slotted everything into place was realising that Captain America was created and entered on a cover punching Hitler in the face before America had entered the war.
Basically (right?) Captain America was created by two Jewish-Americans to shame the US into properly fighting Hitler.
Like, I am Captain America, the America you say you want to be, and I challenge you to put your money where your mouth is and actually do something about it. And yes he’s over-the-top and tacky but that’s where the challenge is, right? The chest-thumping American patriotism says “We are good and spread liberty! And also freedom!” and Captain America is like “great! I am that, and I have to point out you are not actually doing that”.
AND I think this is Jewishly on purpose, and here’s why:
Judaism has this important phrase/concept/slogan/life motto from the third-century-ish text Pirkei Avot, which goes: Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor (it’s not to you to complete the work of repairing the world) v’lo atah ben chorin l’hivatel mimena (but neither may you desist from it). You won’t be able to fix the world by yourself, or in your lifetime, but that doesn’t absolve you of responsibility to work towards it.
I feel like grimdark/anti-heroes are a response to the fact that the world is neither good nor moral, like “well if the world isn’t like that, I won’t be either”. But they’re also excuses for not working towards fixing the world: I won’t bother because it’s all fucked anyway. Lo alecha and Captain America say, yes, it is fucked, but you still have to work towards fixing it. And yes, it’s hard, that’s why it’s called work.
Which is why I think saying “Oh, if Captain America represents the US he should be a dick, because the US is a dick” or “Captain America is an imperialist symbol of US superiority and is therefore bad” are both off base and a dodge of having to do that hard work.
"If Cap = America then Cap = dick because America = dick" is basically just throwing hands up and going "right but guys have you noticed that actually America is imperialist and horrible? DO YOU SEE?!” and implying “so what can you do about that, right?”. Captain America says, “Try to make it better! is what you can do!”
And about saying he’s a symbol of US imperial superiority, I mean, he is a symbol of America but aimed as a criticism at real America. He’s the American ideal cranked up to five million - for the purpose of shaming America for not living up to what it says it wants to be. And he is aimed at Americans, so I can see a criticism for him being US-centric in that metanarrative sense, but he’s yelling at America to sort their shit out and I think him yelling at non-USAmericans to sort their shit out would be much worse? But I definitely don’t think Cap is supposed to be about how great America is, he’s about pointing out exactly in what ways and how much America is failing to be great. And then saying “but, that doesn’t mean you get out of trying harder!”
Also, how great is it that his ‘weapon’ is a shield.
so um that’s what I thought about when I saw The Winter Solder last night. that and biceps.
DO NOT SUPPORT JELLY BELLY THIS EASTER
Anonymous asked: You still taking Hydrocodone Theater requests? It occurred to me today that Steve's probably never heard of the Grinch, and that Tony probably references it a lot around Christmas.
While I don’t have the chops to actually write this one, I will point out that Theodore Geisel’s career began with political cartooning, ad graphics, and humorous illustration in 1927, and by 1940 he had published several books including Horton Hatches The Egg and the semi-pornographic The Seven Lady Godivas, publishers not being as discerning about branding back then. Steve definitely owned a copy, not because of the naked ladies but because of how captivatingly weird they looked.
As a propagandist for the early war effort, Geisel met Steve when he was in New York at the height of the bond sales show. When he got to be head of a military animation department they met again so that Steve could do the voice for an animated short about Captain America’s War Effort. One day, while Steve was recording his lines, Ted snitched his notebook out of his bag and turned to a clean page, drawing a classic Seuss-style Captain America with a puffed out chest and a strange fuzzy topknot to his helmet. They got on swimmingly in the short time they had working together; Geisel was passionately anti-fascist and his cartoons about US complacency over Hitler were biting, and Steve had always read the lefty papers where his work showed up.
So the first time Steve sat down to watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas with the team, because Clint called Tony a grinch and Thor asked what a grich was, he saw his old pal Dr. Seuss’s name on the title. He felt a stab of familiarity, like a rope thrown to a drowning man, when he saw those feathery, fuzzy, awkward-limbed creatures of Ted Geisel’s imagination cavorting on the screen. And it was totally okay to cry at the end because everyone was crying, even if they were doing it because of the Grinch’s heart and he was doing it over how much he would have liked to have laughed about it with Ted.
A couple of days later, Natasha gave him a first-printing of The Sneetches for Christmas.
It’s not well known that the very small collectible first edition had a dedication reading For Steve, Who Never Gave A Toot Over Who Had A Star Upon Thars.
Oops. Guess I wrote it anyway.
HYDROCODONE MIDNIGHT THEATRE #7: THE HORRIBLE ONE.
emir-dynamite asked: 14, 9, 33
9: Talk about little things on your body that you like the most.
I have a beauty mark above the left edge of my mouth; I’ve always kind of liked it.
14: Talk about a vacation.
What immediately jumps to mind is when I visited friends in Portugal almost 10 years ago. We visited the Moorish castles, where I was jotting in my notebook the entire time; same at Cabo da Roca, though the wind made it harder. I remember staring down into a marble quarry and across a field of cork trees. We would have made it to Spain but for a kid putting diesel in the rental cars. We went to CascaiShopping at least once, and I think the crepe place there is where I accidentally sliced my thumb with a plastic fork. It was an amazing few weeks.
33: Talk about what you do when you are sad.
Bury myself in something entertaining.