Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The X-Men as a Politically Correct Morality Tale

And now for something completely different. Many years ago, I read a book called Children of the Atom, by Wilmar H. Shiras, which was about a group of unrelated kids who, one way or the other, were offspring of people who'd been exposed to radiation. So they were mutants. Not super-power mutants, just very, very intelligent. And as such, they had problems with coping with other people, and the book is the story of how they manage. Sort of a typical SF theme of the 1950's, but very well executed, and I remember it fondly, though I haven't read it for fifty years. And when I first became aware of the X-Men comic book, I figured Shiras' book must have been in part an inspiration for it.

Well, since then, X-Men has become a much bigger deal, leading to a whole series of movies that try very hard not to be for teens and pre-teens only, and are at least partly successful. Since superheroes have burst out of the comics ghetto, beginning with the early Superman and Batman movies, they can't be ignored as an enormous influence on pop culture and culture in general.

For better or for worse, the superheroes have become politicized, and have unfortunately been mostly called into the service of the Zeitgeist, spreading PC propaganda to old and young. Especially the young. There was always an element of this, but it's getting worse, if anything. And the X-Men, in particular, seem to be all about the God of Diversity. You be the judge. Irmin Vinson gives us a detailed history of the X-Men franchise, from its comparatively non-political genesis to its current preachy PC message.

A Different Kind of Holocaust Commemoration

Over the thirty or so years since his internment in Auschwitz, where he served as a Sonderkommando, Lehnsherr’s rage at humankind has at various stages in his career fueled apparently incompatible goals: Mutants (“Homo superior”), those like him blessed with unusual abilities not vouchsafed normal men, will either subjugate humans (“Homo sapiens”), with Lehnsherr himself becoming our messianic dictator, or else they will found their own homeland, a Zion apart from the intolerance that had destroyed his family and put him in a concentration camp. “Mutants,” he pledges, “will not go meekly into the gas chambers. We will fight” (Uncanny X-Men #161).
His nom de guerre is Magneto, the mighty master of magnetism in Marvel’s X-Men comics, and he made his first appearance in the United States in 1963 (X-Men #1) during the civil-rights era. Although his creator, the genial Stan Lee, was unaware of his Auschwitz lineage, unaware of his name, and even unaware that he was a Jew, in recent years he has claimed a racial motive behind the juvenile tales of battling supermutants in which Magneto would figure so prominently: “The only point that I was trying to make in the X-Men was that we shouldn’t hate or fear people because they’re different. So beneath the surface it was an anti-bigotry story. I didn’t think anybody would notice.” On this reading, which is popular among some fans today, the bigots of the early X-Universe were Euro-Americans, and the principal real-world referent of human intolerance for mutants in the comic was White intolerance for Blacks in the United States. The travails of mutants, Lee now claims, provided “a good metaphor for what was happening with the civil rights movement in the country at that time.”
Mutants are creatures of the atomic age, most of them having acquired their powers through some contact with radiation. Their numbers are growing, and many of them are evil. Conscious of the danger to humanity that evil mutants threaten, Charles Xavier, himself a mutant, gathers together a small force of teenagers endowed with “ex-tra powers” (hence “X-Men”) and trains them to harness their mutated abilities for the welfare of the human race. Some mutants hate humans, Xavier explains, and “some feel that the mutants should be the real rulers of the earth.” Notable among these is Magneto, the most powerful of the evil mutants, who vows “to make homo sapiens bow to homo superior” (X-Men #1). It is not an idle threat, for a mutant is an abnormal but genuinely superior version of a human. He knows more than us; he is stronger than us; he is smarter than us; he has powers we can scarcely imagine. Difference and superiority are conterminous: if you have one, you have the other.
(Read the rest HERE.)
Quibcag: This is possibly the greatest superhero of all A-Ko, daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman (we've all wondered about that possibility, and Japan has made it a reality) of Project A-ko (プロジェクトA子 Purojekuto Eeko). You can see a short film of her at the end of THIS POST.

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