Sunday, January 13, 2013

X-Men, Children's Films, & the Gospel of Normalization

After seeing X-Men: First Class, a pretty well-made movie, I heard a teen exclaiming about how much she liked the Mystique character and supported her decision to be a terrorist (she didn't use quite these words) in light of the terrible anti-mutant oppression she endured.  This passion and the similarity of this feeling to the pervasive "enlightened" moral relativism view of the terrorist/freedomfighter distinction brought something to mind:

There was a moment in a previous movie, X2, in which the director couldn't remain content with people drawing their own parallels to gay normalization without a nice big push.  A young mutant teen "comes out" to his parents about how he's a mutant.  The reaction of one of his parents is to ask whether he's "tried not being a mutant."  I might have missed the implication had that made a lick of sense; it didn't fit at all.  It didn't work in the scene.  So it was a ham-handed, eye-rolling political message shoehorned into an otherwise interesting movie.  But I'm sure it has nothing to do with the director actually being homosexual.

I had a moment watching X-Men: The Last Stand in which I wondered whether the "cure" for mutation motif was a kind of dystopian 1984-esque commentary on the ex-gay movement.  If you haven't heard of this movement, outside of the California governor's (Jerry "No Plan and Proud of It" Brown) attack on it, it's because the Left has absolutley no interest in hearing from the people who believe that "conversion" therapy has worked for them and made their lives better.  No, the Democrats support your decision to change your genitals if they don't suit you, but not your orientation.  After all, your orientation is something you were born with.  In the end, one of the X-Men vies for the "cure" because her mutation keeps her from having normal relationships.

It would seem that we are supposed to get the impression that "normal" humans are being a little ridiculous at being afraid of human beings that are able to do things like bypass any home security, control someone's mind at will, impersonate any living soul,  kill someone with a thought, etc.  Just because ever growing numbers of people can do these things, it doesn't mean that the general population is less safe.  No, this concern is an absurd idea to the people that think the average citizen can't be trusted with guns because God knows what could happen.

If you think I am reading too much into this you should read the many quotes in Michael Brown's post about the intended parallels in X-Men.  In addition to the insider comments on the film, Brown quotes one reviewer as saying, “As I watched the film, the connections and similarities were startling. You could have made the X-Men gay and the script would have worked perfectly.”  Whatever the writer and director intended, I have a hard time fitting the intended gay rights narrative to many scenes in the film, not to mention many fundamental aspects of the story.  However, society's rejection of gifted individuals through misperceiving their difference as a defect is a narrative that in broad terms naturally appeals to the gay community.  The attempts to connect the basic story to the political movement to make society recognize LGBTQ as normal and worthy of celebration through laws/jurisprudence (i.e., political coercion) comes across as forced and superficial through some ungainly humor (the awkward "mutant and proud" dialogue, for example).

Chad Thompson, an ex-gay writer, has written in "More Than Mutants" that he sees some definite agenda in the writing of the movies.  Of special interest though, he points out the third movie's plot points (likely unintended) support for ex-gay therapy.  (Here in California, the state is anti-choice with regard to conversion therapy.)  But one of the most interesting things in his article, to me, is his quote of gay actor Ian McKellan, “As a gay man, some people think that it ought to be cured and made normal again, and I find it as offensive as someone saying that they have a cure for the color of their skin.”  Do you find it as offensive as saying that they have a cure for having the wrong reproductive organs, Sir Ian?  After all, aren't we told that gender and race are equivalent class-based social constructions?  This is a tenet of the liberal creed, near as I can tell.

A left-leaning friend once opined some contempt for Michael Jackson's "Don't Matter If You're Black or White" message since it appeared to be hypocritical given that Jackson apparently didn't feel comfortable with dark skin.  I've wondered since if that friend still feels that way, and if he would think someone who got a sex change would be hypocritical for saying that it doesn't matter if you're male or female.  Which arguably is a message in Cloud Atlas, one of the directors of which recently was surgically given female parts.  (The Wachowski Brothers are now the Wachowski Siblings, if you catch my drift.)

Michael L. Brown has also highlighted this apparently bizarre inconsistency of the new orthodoxy in his article "Glee Celebrates the 'T'."  He rhetorically asks whether it would be socially acceptable for the Glee character who is a "woman in a man's body" to come out as a Caucasian in a black person's body.  Perhaps Unique would be uniquely more comfortable in his body if he had different skin.  You can actually feel liberals across America rankling at this idea.  In the 2005 movie that sought to normalize transsexuality, the protagonist says "After my operation, not even a gynecologist will be able to detect anything out of the ordinary about my body. I will be a woman. Don't you find it odd that plastic surgery can cure a mental disorder?"  You won't have a disorder in which you mind can't accept your body once you change your body to fit what it can accept.  Maybe Jerry Brown can outlaw any non-surgical therapies that address this issue.  (Michael Jackson had a mental disorder which made him hate his skin, and physical skin treatments cured him.  Don't you find that odd?)

If you don't think of X-Men as primarily targeted for minors, then consider this.  In the animated feature Para-Norman, Norman has a unique gift.  He is isolated because he is different and people, because they don't understand him, think he's weird and repulsive.  [SPOILER ALERT] The paranormal entity that threatens his town was once a child with a similar gift, mercilessly oppressed and killed by intolerant Puritans in God-fearing Pilgrim garb. (Think of Dan Savage's recent and public anti-Bible rants.) Not content with the idea that this is something to which lots of geeky kids might relate, the filmmakers work in their own specific plug for the New Normal.  The big dumb jock who you might assume is too dumb (or simply put off) to notice that a pretty girl is throwing herself at him, mentions at the end of the movie that he has a boyfriend.  Some boys talk to ghosts and some make out with other boys.  Different is okay.  Group hug, everyone!

It's only a matter of time before Disney works little messages like this into their films, being humbled by the low turnout for their films with more explicit political innuendo (Pocahontas and Hunchback come to mind), offering a little remedial morality adjustment to the children of social conservatives.

No comments:

Post a Comment