Iron Man

Disturbing on several levels. The overall message is definitely pro-weaponry, pro-violence to solve the worlds problems - not surprising for a comic book story, and something I've overlooked in the past. There is also a very strong misogynistic and anti-Arab message throughout the film: women are shown as (willing) sexual objects, or uncritical doormats. Arabs are shown as barely human, violent, cowardly aggressors who end up getting beaten not by Iron Man, but by an ordinary corporate villain, played by Jeff Bridges. (Iron Man kills a few Arabs early on, but only as a training exercise. His real challenge only comes against white people.)

Needless to say, I'm sorry to see Hollywood regress to near Amos 'n' Andy levels of insensitivity and fear/hate/violence mongering. That said, my inner child enjoyed the movie at face value - it was fast paced, the CGI was flawless, and there were tons of cool toys all over the place. But as an adult I cannot ignore or condone the poisonous messages that I see lurking just below the surface.

Kind of a bummer because as movies go, this one was actually really well made.

The cars were great (I can even over look the in-your-face product placement by Audi for that), the powered armor was quite impressive. But the device that stole the show was Jarvis, Stark's house computer assistant. Now *that* was not only impressive, but totally doable and it doesn't kill people - it just makes their lives a little better.

A plot nit: Stark Industries really could have stopped selling weapons and remained successful if they had started to sell those portable arc reactors that Stark developed in his cave. Those devices could have helped billions, and worth trillions. Uh, hello, solving the worlds energy problems in one blow? Was it just me, or did Jeff Bridges look so much like William Hurt that it was hard to remember who was playing the bad guy?

Overall I'm extremely disappointed that entertainment value trumps wisdom here. Our popular lore is filled with tales of heroes with much physical power but merely human wisdom. I think this is very insightful - there are men with superpower in this world, they are the ones that control the fates of thousands, millions, or billions. They don't have the ability to personally fly or do battle, but they command vast armies and/or vast sums of money. And here's the thing: they are just as likely to be the hero as a villain, and indeed may switch from time to time. This state of affairs is very new: for most of human history the planet has supported perhaps 10 million of us, and we hunted and gathered our food and lived quite insular lives. Relatively recently (within the last 10k years) we learned to farm, and our population densities have increased, and opportunities for concentrated power has steadily grown. What is the superhero genre about if not this rather stark fact that faces us all? Of course, my personal feeling is that so much power cannot safely be given to *anyone*, and this denies the vast majority of superhero lore that says, unequivocally, that we NEED superheros and are lucky to have them.

Superheros are kind of like a first guess at solving the problem of suffering - it seems ok at first but doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Superheros are great in certain kinds of emergencies - preventing a plane crash, or rescuing people from a burning building - but they can do nothing to change the course of humanity as a whole, because that requires individual effort from everyone, on a continuous basis. Inspiration to change for the better is, in the end, the only superpower that matters. And we are lucky to live in a world where we have not one but several superheros that wield such a power.

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