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Movie Musings – Changing Visions of Heroism - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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November 19th, 2010

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01:34 pm - Movie Musings – Changing Visions of Heroism
I was cautiously optimistic when I saw the first trailer for the Green Lantern movie six months ago. However, upon seeing this recent trailer, I was sorely disappointed. While it looks like the people making the film are actually have some sense of the space supers coolness that is Green Lantern, their characterization is far too typical. In it, you have yet another modern young male hero – someone who is a macho rebel and a jerk who seems both remarkably unsympathetic and impressively annoying. One of the various serious problems with the 2009 Star Trek film was that Chris Pine player James T. Kirk as exactly the same sort of annoying character.

While this hasn't spread nearly as much to US TV, in movies, we seem to have gone from strong-jawed heroes who are committed to doing go, to anti-heroes with an equal commitment to doing good, but a willingness to do so by any means necessary, to mouthy jerks who rebel against authority simply because they can't be bothered to stop acting like an obnoxious frat boy.

I suspect that part of the reason we see such an image of heroism is that the general focus on individual rather than collective action and the knee-jerk assumption that all organizations are inherently corrupt means that if you have a hero like Hal Jordan or James Kirk, who explicitly works for a large and powerful organization, then they can't just be smart, independent, and willing to defy authority when circumstances demanded (which was very much the older model for heroism among such characters), but are also inherently rebellious and disrespectful, because in the modern day, such heroes need to continuously prove that they aren't pawns of "The Man".

It's also clear that screenwriters and directors think that one of the best ways to signal that a hero is this particular sort of rebellious bad-boy is to also throw in some gratuitous misogyny, and I'm especially tired of that. US TV now contains a spectrum of shows from ones that I find horrifyingly reactionary to ones that are highly progressive, but Hollywood movies seem to have become increasingly appalling.
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:November 19th, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
It's interesting that, in the current comics, the Green Lanterns are generally portrayed as being all about the collective of the GL Corps. However, there's still the "guys on the front lines" (the rank and file Lanterns) knowing the real score while the big bosses (the Guardians of the Universe) are often oblivious to the needs of the Lanterns, or just plain clueless on occasion.

I'm wondering how much of the esprit de (Lantern) corps will filter down, or will we just get a short training montage before it's back to Earth and long lingering shots of Ryan Reynold's abs.
[User Picture]
Date:November 20th, 2010 01:19 am (UTC)
"Rebellious Jerk who gets wish fulfillment" is the 10s version of the 70s antisocial antihero.

I vote for B, obviously. I think part of the emphasis on rebellious types is down to plain bad writing (the dialogue sounded atrocious). It looks like they're trying to base Hal Jordon on the version from New Frontier, but they missed conveying either the charisma or decency of that Hal Jordon.

Whatever, I'll stick with the Timm Justice League.
[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
but are also inherently rebellious and disrespectful, because in the modern day, such heroes need to continuously prove that they aren't pawns of "The Man".

Especially when such heroes are products of the modern consumerism Mammon, especially especially when the canonical backstory of such heroes is that they work for the US military. The more atrocious that entrenched power gets, the more of these characters we'll see. </surlykitty>
[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
That works for the movie version of Hal Jordan, but even in the latest movie Star Fleet seemed to be a fairly benign organization - OTOH, it looks enough like the military that most people likely can't tell the difference :(
[User Picture]
Date:November 21st, 2010 04:08 am (UTC)
Starfleet is pretty benign, but it's a military organization - or at the very least, a militarized organization.
[User Picture]
Date:December 3rd, 2010 12:31 am (UTC)
The first trailer you linked to isn't a real trailer -- it's a fan-made trailer for a fictional GL movie. The second one is the real trailer. So it's not surprising they seem to be about somewhat different movies. :-)

My favorite visualization of Green Lantern is the parody character in "The Pro," who seemingly had a bad imagination, and so when he hit people with a giant green fist or hand or whatever, the giant glowing green thing would be very crudely rendered, as if it were drawn by a ten year old.

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