Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why Do Heroes Always Seem Fascistic?

Yes, why do heroes always seem fascistic?  The answer is disarmingly simple.  Despite blather from the likes of Jonah Goldberg, fascism is a right-wing phenomenon, always in opposition to leftists.  And leftists are intrinsically unheroic.  That is why, whatever enemies they might be opposing, fictional heroes always seem like fascists because they act like fascists.  They're heroic, of course, by definition, while the closest thing we have to a leftist hero is a 'victim.'  And such heroes have principles they live by, just like fascists and other right-wingers, while leftists are into situational ethics and moral relativism.  Since fascists are defenders of the underpinnings of Western Civilization, they have a heroic attitude towards those weaker than themselves, and have an instinctive protective attitude towards women and children.  In keeping with that, they have respect for those stronger than themselves, provided they are also virtuous.  Leftists are the complete opposite, despising those weaker than themselves, and hating and envying those stronger.

All this is obvious in literature — From books to television to movies, and my own special favorite, comic books. What follows is sort of an introduction to a book by Jonathan Bowden entitled Pulp Fascism: Right-Wing Themes in Comics, Graphic Novels, and Popular Literature.

I would like to talk about something that has always interested me. The title of the talk is “Léon Degrelle and the Real Tintin,” but what I really want to talk about is the heroic in mass and in popular culture. It’s interesting to note that heroic ideas and ideals have been disprivileged by pacifism, by liberalism tending to the Left, and by feminism particularly since the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s. Yet the heroic, as an imprimatur in Western society, has gone down into the depths, into mass popular culture. Often into trashy forms of culture where the critical insight of various intellectuals doesn’t particularly gaze upon it.

One of the forms that interests me about the continuation of the heroic in Western life as an idea is the graphic novel, a despised form, particularly in Western Europe outside France and Italy and outside Japan further east. It’s regarded as a form primarily for children and for adolescents. Yet forms such as this: these are two volumes of Tintin which almost everyone has come across some time or other. These books/graphic novels/cartoons/comic books have been translated into 50 languages other than the original French. They sold 200 million copies, which is almost scarcely believable. It basically means that a significant proportion of the globe’s population has got one of these volumes somewhere.

Now, before he died, Léon Degrelle said that the character of Tintin created by Hergé was based upon his example. Other people rushed to say that this wasn’t true and that this was self-publicity by a notorious man and so on and so forth. Probably like all artistic and semi-artistic things there’s an element of truth to it. Because a character like this that’s eponymous and archetypal will be a synthesis of all sorts of things. Hergé got out of these dilemmas by saying that it was based upon a member of his family and so on. That’s probably as true as not.

The idea of the masculine and the heroic and the Homeric in modern guise sounds absurd when it’s put in tights and appears in a superhero comic and that sort of thing. But the interesting thing is because these forms of culture are so “low” they’re off the radar of that which is acceptable and therefore certain values can come back. It’s interesting to note that the pulp novels in America in the 1920s and ’30s, which preceded the so-called golden age of comics in the United States in the ’30s and ’40s and the silver age in the 1960s, dealt with quite illicit themes.

[He goes on to discuss heroism in such diverse forms as Captain America and Birth of a Nation and other unexpected versions.  Read it all HERE.]

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