Friday, February 22, 2013

Toon-arama: Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)

Usually, tryanmax does the Toon-arama articles around here, but this one needed to be done. . . grrr. If you’re like me, and I know I am, then you enjoy a good Superhero cartoon now and then. Justice League: The New Frontier is NOT such a cartoon. To the contrary, it’s vile leftist crap flung from the bowels of a fetid monkey. Do not see this film. Do not let your kids see this film.

Justice League: The New Frontier tells the story of how rotten the racist police-state known as America is. It is the story of the various well-known superheroes and how they struggle against the oppressive American state in the 1950s. For example. . .
● The film begins with a tirade against humanity and nuclear weapons.

● We are told that the Korean War was not worth fighting.

● We arrive in Indochina, where we learn that Superman and Wonder Woman were made to sign “loyalty oaths,” because they are suspect.

● The police are omnipresent and spy on average citizens. The government also rounds people up and makes them disappear to keep them quiet.
● There is a lot of talk about McCarthy and we’re told that the country “needs a leader” to set us free. . . a very leftist way of thinking: only an all-powerful leader can free us from the oppressive all-powerful state.

● We are shown a television news broadcast which informs us that a black vigilante had kept “white supremacists at bay” until he was “caught by a mob and killed,” because no doubt mobs of whites get incensed when blacks defend themselves against white supremacists. Naturally, the cops “have no suspects,” because no doubt white cops would look the other way. The Flash then uses this news broadcast as a backdrop to tell us that the world needs more vigilantes like the dead guy and that he’s quitting being a superhero because the government is hunting him like a criminal and he doesn’t want to see his family hurt. Funny, I don’t recall our government ever rounding up family members of criminals.

● In the most obnoxious moment in the film, Wonder Woman returns to her homeland and is asked by one of her people “tell us about America.” To this, Wonder Woman responds, “It’s changed since the war. Back then, we were in the right. They still say they are in the right, but they don’t always act that way.” Uh huh, like when they make lying cartoons like this perhaps?
● Frank Sinatra is presented as a coward.

● Our government decides they want to commit genocide against Mars because the Martians might be dangerous.

● And obnoxiously, after the good guys defeat the evil creature which wants to wipe out humanity, the film ends with Kennedy’s New Frontier speech and we’re all supposed to cheer because America has found a leader who would stop the mass arrests, would never send US troops to somewhere like Indochina, would never support an invasion of Cuba, would never threaten the world with nuclear annihilation, and would never be seen with shallow posers like Frank Sinatra. Yep.... that Kennedy.
*ssholes.

Even beyond this, this cartoon is despicably cynical and it’s definitely not for children. The film begins with a rather graphic suicide as the narrator shoots himself. It then moves to the end of the Korean War where Hal Jordan (aka the Green Lantern) is forced to kill a North Korean soldier in hand to hand combat. After he shoots the soldier in the head, you see blood splatter all over Jordan’s face. The introduction of Wonder Woman a minute or two later involves her discussing what sounds like mass rapes in Vietnam and how she disarmed the Vietcong rapists and then let the women of the village “extract justice.” Batman at one point tells us that he has a piece of Kryptonite so he can kill Superman, just in case, and he threatens to kill another ally by setting his house on fire. He must be fun at parties. It goes on like that.
This cartoon stinks.

This is evidence of why you can’t just assume that cartoons are safe for children. It also shows you the bizarro world in which liberals live. Indeed, focus on the key moments of hypocrisy here. The film tells you that the all-power government is evil because it uses violence and terror to control its people (something which never happened). They even add fake ideas like the government rounding up family members and making people “who know too much” disappear. . . whoever that is. Yet, the solution, offered is to find “a strong leader” who will bring vigilante justice, i.e. violence and terror. Does that seem sick to anyone?
Think about this. You constantly get beat over the head with this idea that violence is evil. BUT at the same time, we’re told that violence is great when it’s done for a reason the leftist writer believes is appropriate. That’s called the ends justify the means. And don’t forget, these same hypocrites who are decrying violence are exploiting violence by creating a very violent cartoon to milk your wallet.

This cartoon really highlights the unprincipled nature of liberalism. Everything they decry is only bad so long as the wrong people do it, but once the right people do it for the right reasons, suddenly it becomes a good thing. In essence, this belief system is a form of the ends justifies the means, combined with a caveat that people we like are presumed to have good ends.

The left is sick.

76 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

Bonus points if you can tell me who said, "If you're like me, and I know I am..."

BIG MO said...

I've not seen this DC film, and your review makes me determined to never see it -- and I'm a huge DC fan. Seems inevitable that they'd have some lamebrained stinkers amid their mostly great run of animated films, the best ones being Batman: Under the Red Hood and Batman: Year One. The latter (and its source graphic novel) is actually quite conservative in many ways, such as its treatment of marriage and family, honorable vs. corrupt cops, the right to defend yourself, and not making excuses for crime at any level of society. There is no "America is evil" crud here -- just the evil that lies in the hearts of men.

One thing though: Batman keeping kryptonite in case Superman goes rogue is smart thinking, because who could stop him otherwise. He keeps similar secret contingency plans on other Justice League members (which is a key plot point in a more recent DC film, Justice League: Doom.

K said...

Whoa. Check out the bazongas on Wonderwoman in Vietnam pic. Holy sexual objectification Batman!

Anonymous said...

Andrew said: "Bonus points if you can tell me who said, "If you're like me, and I know I am..."

Well, the earliest use of that phrase I can find (for the moment) would be one of the most famous prisoners of the Satellite of Love, Joel Robinson, doing an invetion exchange with the Mads. As proof, I offer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J13kfIHyltQ
(MST3K episode 212, Godzilla vs. Megalon)

-Rustbelt

Anonymous said...

As for this movie, this news really stinks.

DC cartoons were an important part of my childhood, with several episodes being written for adults as well as children. (I will admit that, like the 'Real Ghostbusters,' there were a few that crossed the line for varying reasons.)

The first episode of 'Batman' I ever saw, instead of having one of the usual 'rogue's gallery,' showed Batman trying to convince an aging crime boss to retire by revealing the dangers his drug trafficking was doing to Gotham- and to his own son, who'd become an addict. An edgy episode, to be sure. But the only politics involved seemed to be that crime and drugs do nothing but destroy, regardless of where they come from.

It also showed family as something worth having, protecting, and even redeeming. For at the end of the show, after years of trying, the crime boss' brother- a priest- finally convinces him to go to the cops and right his wrongs. (A positive portrayal of a Catholic priest? Somebody, call the press!) Sadly, the collpase of quality storytelling for DC cartoons isn't all that surprising, given what I've heard of the quality collapse regarding the actual comics.

Anyway, this only confirms that my decision not to follow the latest versions of the DC cartoons was a good one. By the way, what's next? Bugs Bunny furthering the gun control lobby by portraying gun owners as out-of-control Elmer Fudds? I guess we gotta be verwee verwee careful...

-Rustbelt

K said...

DC is owned by Warner - which is a politically left oriented media company way too big to be bothered by the protests of mere parents.

Another reason to support a media tax. The media companies are like dinosaurs, they need a 2x4 up side the head to get the message.

Anthony said...

I disagree on most counts.

For starters, I don't know why you felt a need to point out that a PG-13 movie which begins with a suicide and is filled with bloody death isn't for kids. Seriously, why would the fact something is a cartoon convince people to ignore the rating on the box? If parents won't take two seconds to look at a rating or to watch a film (as you note in the review, the opening tells you its not for kids) before their kids do, then no act of government short of taking their kids away is going to save them.

The difference between conservatives and liberals often isn't the size or power of government, but who should be free and who should be restricted.

Moving on to this movie, it starts off fast and ominous, builds up quickly, and ends with a surprisingly crazy (in terms of design) villian which while an interesting fight, is more than a little bizarre because its methods when it decides to unveil itself are so different than its methods when it was playing with pawns.

I could rattle off a string of objections to Andrew's review, but I'll restict myself to three.

First, the notion that local police wouldn't be sympathetic to a black vigilante who fought the Klan in the pre-Civil Right era doesn't strike me as a stretch.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_F._Williams

Second, I don't think it makes much sense to conflate the voice of the villian whose monologue opens the film with the voice of the director. One would think if the director wanted to make nuclear weapons look bad, he would make them part of the villian's plans to destroy humanity. While they pop up in the middle of the movie, they aren't portrayed as evil (indeed, the movie casts both the guy who helps the program and the guy with his finger on the button in a heroic light).

Third, Batman being a good man but also an obsessive who tends to alienate and mistrust people who are less obsessed than him and who keeps kryptonite in reserve in case Superman goes AWOL is kind of cannon. Its popped up a lot of times in the comics (most notably in Frank Miller's classic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns) so I don't see why it offends you here.

Don't get me wrong, the film is left wing (nods towards its heroic portrayal of the pacifict Green Lantern and the fact it ends on a Kennedy speech about American greatness) so anyone who cares about the politics of a film more than its quality should avoid it, but its a quality movie filled with interesting characters and good fight scenes.

BIG MO said...

I may have been too absolute in my first post this morning; I'll still see New Frontier and have a look for myself.

rustbelt - don't give up on DC animated films just yet. The following films from the last two decades are superb:
Batman: Mast of the Phantasm
Subzero
Under the Red Hood
Batman: Year One
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
Green Lantern: First Flight
Justice League: Doom
The Dark Knight Returns pt 1
The Dark Knight Returns pt 2

All are based either on iconic graphic novels or comic story arcs, and they're all very good to superb -- and aren't necessarily infused with politics of any kind.

Plus we have the superior string of DC animated series starting with the early '90s Batman: The Animated Series through the late 2000s Justice League: Unlimited.

(The Batman episode you refer to is "It's Never Too Late," which is one of my absolute favorite B:TAS episodes for pretty much the same reasons you give.)

Anthony said...

An interesting analog to Its Never Too Late is the Justice League Unlimited's Hereafter, a two parter which features an old (very, very, very, very old in this case) villian who repents and seeks salvation.

AndrewPrice said...

Big MO, I usually enjoy the super hero cartoons, but this one was a problem. This one really was different than all the others I've seen.

On other ones I really like, I really enjoyed the last animated Batman series. I thought everything worked in that one.

tryanmax said...

Cartoons aren't only for kids anymore, so that doesn't trouble me. I haven't seen this one, but I have watched a lot of the animated superhero stuff available on Netflix. Red Hood, Doom, and Year One have been mentioned here, and none of those are kid friendly.

Besides that, I can appreciate some of the other disagreements with the review, but I think they mostly talk past one another. I get the overwhelming sense that Andrew's major criticism of New Frontier is how it revises history to reframe America's mistakes as acts of deliberate malice.

I probably will make an attempt to watch this despite the warning. Given the release date, it almost strikes me as a dry-run for Watchmen.

AndrewPrice said...

K, I wouldn't say this cartoon was super sexualized, but that is a common feature these days of cartoons.

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, Exactly! It was Joel! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, From what I'm seeing, and I admittedly don't follow the comic book world closely, is that they are trying to find ways to become "edgy." And that means they're trying to excite and annoy their core audience which seems to be 30 year old males. So they're coming with things like making characters gay because they know that upsets that audience.

AndrewPrice said...

K, I like the idea of a media tax because that might teach them to stop pimping for taxes on the rest of us.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I don't know why you felt a need to point out that a PG-13 movie which begins with a suicide and is filled with bloody death isn't for kids.

For the simple reason that (1) most people assume a superhero cartoon is aimed at children and (2) a PG-13 rating still sounds like it's aimed at kids. If this movie had been live action, it would have been a R rating easily. I can't imagine that most parents would think that if their kid said they wanted to see a PG-13 cartoon that parents would expect suicides, people covered in blood splatters, suggestions of mass rapes, etc.

As for the rest, you can look at anything in isolation and say it's not a big deal, but when you combine element after element in the same ideological way throughout a film, then it sends a clear message. And the politics of this film are obnoxious.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, I'll be curious to hear your take on this one. It struck me as an excuse to spew politics more than anything else.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I haven't seen that one.

djskit said...

This one sounds so bad I have to see it for the sheer spectacle.

May I commend a counter to this dreck?

My kids and I are thoroughly enjoying "The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heros" via Netflix.

This was done in 2010 and shown on Disney XD. Much of the view of good vs. evil is srtaight out of Dirty Harry.

There is one character (Ant Man) who tends to mouth left-wing cliches about "bad guys need to be understood and talked to", but he is contantly shown as wrong in his assertions.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Interesting point, in a way this does feel a lot like Watchmen.

Yes, that is my point. You can say that each of these things happened somewhere. I'm sure there were rapes and vigilantes and corrupt cops and the such. BUT America was never what this story makes it out to be. This is pure revisionism. This is focusing on things done by a handful of people and treated them as generalized traits. This ignores the fact that millions upon millions of Americans changed the things they complain about, not JFK.

Let me put it this way. If I did a film in which every ___ (black, democrat, etc.) character was a rapist and their "communities" were shown accepting this until Ronald Regan came along and stopped it, every ___ (black, democrat, etc.) would be outraged. Would you think it's a valid defense to say, "Well, this did happen sometimes."

The point here is that this film distorts America and focuses obsessively on the bad in a truly paranoid way and presents that as America until JFK changed it.

AndrewPrice said...

djskit, As superhero films go, this one wasn't horrible, but it was rather dull. But what bothered me were the constant messages. This is a deeply paranoid and unprincipled leftist film.

I haven't seen The Avengers film you mention. I need to catch up on my cartooning!

Tennessee Jed said...

The reality for me is that I didn't even know this film existed, and would probably never see it, regardless. With my youngest soon being married and the potential for a new round of grand kids, probably a good thing for me to remain vigilant. It looks like the little turd who wrote this is name Stan Berkowitz. He sounds would probably benefit from a good "tazing."

I see Dave Boreanaz did the voice over for green lantern. He grew up in my neighborhood in suburban Philly, and his Dad (using the Anglicized surname Roberts) was for many years the local meteorologist on WPVI channel 6 in Philly. Although actors are known to take work where they can get it, sorry to see he ws involved in what appears to be a totally dreadful bit of propaganda.

Anthony said...

Andrew,

Its not a matter of looking at things in isolation, its a matter of looking at the whole. For example, the notion that communist sympathizers took over a village and killed the men and raped the women isn't exactly history according to Zinn.

SPOILER ALERT

Also, contrary to your claim, there is no implication in the film that the military wanted to commit genocide on Mars.

The military found a dead scientist and evidence a martian had been there when he died. Unable to find the alien and uncertain of his purpose, they decided to head to Mars in order to determine why the alien was here and go there loaded for bear.

If the plan was to take over the Earth, the astronauts had the tools needed to wipe out Mars, but there's no indication that that was their plan. Remember, Colonel Flagg ultimately sacrifices himself rather than risk innocent (granted, human) life and Agent Farraday upon capture of the martian (the Martian Manhunter) they were so worried about, doesn't put a bullet in him or torture him or what have you, but talks to him to try to figure out his purpose.

The key people in the nuclear program came across as hard but fair men willing to do what it took to protect the country, not genocidal psychopaths.

END SPOILER

Last but not least, the notion that even basically decent normal people would fear superheroes and that the state acting on their behalf would oppress superheroes isn't necessarily a liberal one (no one accuses The Incredible, which took the same perspective, of being a liberal movie).

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I would definitely recommend screening films before you let kids watch them. Don't trust that a PG-13 labels means PG. It's a lot closer to what used to be R.

On Boreanaz, this film (like all other modern cartoons) is packed with famous people. That seems to be the only way they do it these days.

T-Rav said...

Well, I guess it's a good thing I don't watch superhero cartoons then.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, It is a matter of looking at the pieces in isolation. You're looking at each piece and saying, "well, this could have happened, hence the film isn't distorting anything" and your ignoring the larger context. The presentation in this film as a whole is of America as a racist, paranoid police state, and a message is that vigilante justice is needed to stop the people the film considers evil.

Let me repeat my analogy. If I looked for every example of a truly nasty crime committed by a ___ (fill in the ethnicity/religion/race/etc.) person and then I jammed them into a film and present those as "(ethnic/race/religious America" by having my heroes lament that those "___ ethnic/race/religious people need to change," would you be so willing to say, "well, those things did happen so there must not be an intent to smear the bigger community"? Of course you wouldn't because the big picture is obvious.

This film cherry picks the worst moments of the 1950s/1960s and through the way the superheros talk, it presents those as "the way America was." But this view is total revisionism. This is not how America was, this is how a small group of people acted. And the American public changed it. The American public opposed the things this film talks about and it, through protest marches and demands for legislation and finally the actions of its legislators changed those things.

Moreover, JFK wasn't the guy. Desegregation began under Truman in the 1940s and Ike in the 1950s. Civil rights laws began long before JFK. The Supreme Court started forcing change long before JFK. So the "history" of the film is entirely distorted.

Spoilers

No, the film doesn't say "genocide," but that's the implication. When they go up in the rocket, what do they take with them? Nerve gas, chemical weapons and nuclear weapons. What would be the point of going to Mars with those things if the plan wasn't to wipe out the Martians? Basically, the idea is to see who the Martians are and if they are deemed a threat, then to kill them. I think one of the characters even sort-of says that. Not to mention, it makes no sense for them to take those things to Mars unless they intend to use them. And it makes no sense to use them unless they are planning to wipe out as many Martians as possible. Basically, this is the same nonsense Hollywood always uses about the military being ready to kill anything they don't understand.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, There are some good ones.

K said...

Andrew:I wouldn't say this cartoon was super sexualized, but that is a common feature these days of cartoons.

One of the more risible aspects of preachy left mainstream superhero comics is the common juxtaposition of gender feminist dogma and female superheros with enormous you know whats. From your desciption of the plot I assumed it was dripping with lots of self righteous goodness on that score.

AndrewPrice said...

K, There's actually very little sex in this one, it's mainly just paranoia.

That said, I agree with you. There's real irony in the fact that Hollywood preaches feminism in their films (especially superhero films) but then presented the women in superhero movies as hyper-sexualized male fantasies.

AndrewPrice said...

As an aside, the mention of The Incredibles, spurs a thought. In may ways, this film really is a version of The Incredibles, it just lacks all of the conservative messages of The Incredibles and it replaces those with paranoia. This film is what happens if you mix The Watchmen with The Incredibles.

Anthony said...

Andrew said:

The presentation in this film as a whole is of America as a racist, paranoid police state, and a message is that vigilante justice is needed to stop the people the film considers evil.
-----

Aside from the one mention of the guy getting killed by the racist mob and the government's inaction, I didn't catch any other references to race in the movie.

The need for vigilante justice is pretty much what defines superhero movies. Very rarely is the hero a superfluous addition, handling problems that bureacracy of the state is perfectly capable of dealing with. The only act of hardcore vigilantism (as opposed to just stopping bad guys and letting the police handle them) in the movie was Wonder Woman letting the woman in North Korea kill their rapists, and I just don't see how that makes the US look bad.

With the notable exception of the Spiderman films (in light of 9/11, the first was modified to make ordinary New Yorkers heroic and the rest followed in its footsteps) I don't think people who watch superhero movies usually comes away saying 'Wow, that movie made X city look really good!'.

Last but not least, we seem to be on the same page about the mission to Mars in that we both agree that genocide was a contingency plan. If we were facing war with another planet and could only get a rocket or two there, when faced with a plan to conquer us, we wouldn't surgically strike their leaders, we would wipe them all out. Anyone would.

*Shakes head* This discussion is getting unusually abstract and nerdy, even for me :).

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, Noting wrong with a little nerdism now and then. :)

On the Vietcong thing, I connect it to the US because of the presence of the two most obvious American heroes -- Superman and Wonder Woman -- the talk about the loyalty oaths, and the fact that Superman is upholding the American ideal and Wonder Woman is basically mocking him.

You're right that the racism issue is just the one instance, but to me, this is all just the standard liberal litany of complaints against "America." I see the film as a laundry list of standard liberal complaints.

As for Mars, yeah, I would probably be prepared to blow them up too. I'm just saying that again, this fits with the idea of the American military being murderous, especially because Hal and his girlfriend (who runs the company) somehow knew nothing about what was on the rocket and objected to the morality of it the moment they found out. So the implication is again that this is something evil the military has done against the wishes of the people who know better.

I suspect, by the way, that if you sat down for an interview with the writers, you would find that the film wasn't about the 1960s at all, but was meant as an allegory for today with JFK being Obama and the "evil" in the country being an attack on the Bush years.

Koshcat said...

Not surprised. I watched one episode of a new superfriends. I think I complained about it on this blog a couple of years ago. Basically made Aquaman into a whiny bitch who was crying because he couldn't save some whales. Superman had to give him a hug or something. Kind of homoerotic-not that there's anything wrong with that.

I guess I never really felt a overly strong liberal bias in The Watchman. I don't think I would have used Dr. Manhattan in Vietnam. It was purposeful revisionist history sort of asking if we would have outright won the war, would we had been a better or worse country? Having Nixon continue to be president would be bad because we wouldn't have had Reagan. The primary theme was Ozymandias killing millions to end nuclear war (the ends justify the means). It definitely has an anti-establishment and the writer states he was anti-Reagan, but we all could take the advice of "who watches the watchman".

Most of the psycho-liberals are blind to the fact that their leaders are generally even worse when they get into power. But conservatives have their blind spots as well.

Besides, wasn't JFK followed by Johnson who really ramped up Vietnam? This film seems like it could have been ironic with having JFK be the hero. Most likely it was written by someone who has been brainwashed by public schools and Zinn-afied.

Commander Max said...

Yea, I remember this one. My reaction was what kind of crap are these people pushing. It didn't even make sense, it looked like it was written by a kid who was born and grew up after the cold war.

Totally clueless, and was a bad cartoon to boot.

Koshcat said...

Anthony -

There are no such thing as coincidences in movies. Those scenes were put in for a purpose and were chosen specifically. You could just as easily had a man mugged and beaten because he was a white-man in Harlem. Why not a Jew beaten by a black mob led by Sharpton? This scene was chosen on purpose because it fit their bias. Although there was a lot of racism in the 50's and 60's, in some respects blacks are worse off today as a community.

Anthony said...

I saw that nuke payload reveal scene as an example of idealistic, dithering civilians (Hal didn't care about the threat he was just focused on getting into space like he always wanted to and the woman never explained her reasons for participating) vs pragmatic, take charge military men rather than the moral vs the immoral.

Remember, Hal was willing to risk millions of lives on the chance that he could safely land the damaged rocket loaded with deadly weapons while Colonel Flagg wanted to detonate their vehicle in orbit to avoid the possibility of anyone else being hurt. Of course, in the end Flagg hits the (violently resisting) Hal's eject button and detonates the rocket, killing himself but probably saving a lot of lives. At the end of the movie Flagg's son is writing an essay about how his father is a hero.

wahsatchmo said...

I happened to watch this a few years back, and boy, did it piss me off. At first, I thought, "cool, adult themes in a cartoon, I might like this." But then the overt re-envisioning of American history as one shameful act after another took over. I turned it off about 30 minutes in and never looked back.

I'm sorry you reminded me that this film existed.

I don't mind a Watchmen-style alternate universe America (that happens to be one of my favorite graphic novels; the movie was meh), but this felt like more or less a re-interpretation of American history by a self-hating liberal arts college professor.

It's too bad, because I liked the art style and it had glimpses of potential. Ultimately, it was potential wasted.

I watch a lot of anime, and even from a peaceful, disarmed country like Japan it's tough to find a show that's as blatantly America-hating as this. I don't mind self-introspection, but this was so clunkily "guns-bad, war-bad, we're racist!", that there was no self-introspection; there was only accusation.

Anthony said...

Koshcat,

Its not a scene in the movie, its just something which is referenced by one of the principles (probably Superman during a conversation he has with Lois Lane).

*Shrugs* If you think blacks are worse off today, you are entitled to your opinon, but I don't think that is the case across the board.

Its probably worse to live in say, Detroit now than it was then, but America being free of discimination makes life for the black middle and upper class quite comfortable and makes social mobility easier than what it was. Not having rights impacts everything, including property rights (without property rights, advancement is tough).

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Anthony pretty much beat me to it with what I was going to say:

a.) in a vacuum, there's nothing inherently wrong with any one of these ideas (i.e. they're worth exploring in fiction)...

b.) yeah, most of these movies are aimed at my age group (my friends watch them - I don't follow comics so they're not on my radar)

Nothing new to add - move along. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, What are you? A commie?

Just kidding. As I've said many times before, you can't look at anything in isolation, but this film went well beyond a couple isolated moments.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I got a sense of ideological confusion from Watchmen. It was a film with a lot of anger, but no real direction for the anger IMO.

I agree about leftists. They don't get the connection between power and evil. They seem to think that power is great so long as the right people have it. Then, whatever they do is for the greater and good and that's fine by them.

And yes, conservatives definitely have their own blindspots.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, In terms of the cartoon itself, I have to say that I didn't care much for the style. It lacked the richness these cartoons normally have and it felt very two dimensional to me. There were a couple of nice moments, but most of it was very angular and didn't feel whole to me.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I agree that things are chosen on purpose in films. And I think that often, things that appear ideological aren't -- they are just chosen for storytelling reasons. But in this case, I really felt the choices were ideological. It had a definite feel of someone trying to make a point.

On blacks being worse off today, I think that statistically you are right. Though in terms of minority rights and any sort of conflict between blacks and other races, blacks are much better off. Where they have problems is in the destruction of black families and black incomes and everything that springs from that.

As Anthony says, middle class blacks are probably better off today than at any point in history, but the rest are in bad shape.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I can see your take on the nuclear issue, but I tend to go with the theory that the lessons to be learned from a film generally are the things the heroes promote. And in this case, the heroes were pretty upset to discover there were weapons on board. You could be right that the scene is meant to show that the civilians are foolish, but I took it differently.

AndrewPrice said...

wahsatchmo, That was my reaction too. I was pretty excited to see a Justice League cartoon as I've been a fan for years, but the more I watched this the more it pissed me off. As you say, I have no problem with introspection or even legitimate criticism, but this felt to me like a laundry list of distorted liberal smears against the country, which were not presented at all in a thoughtful or accurate manner.

Koshcat said...

I'm not trying to start a fight and yes blacks have more rights today than 60 years ago. But even before then there were many successful black people who owned property, went to school, and had successful careers. It wasn't easy but with hard work many did well.

A young black man from a large city has a very limited future with skyhigh unemployment, very poor education, and surrounded by violence. The most dangerous person to a young black man today is another young black man. For many of them it getting out is a lottery whether getting selected to go to a good school or being a gifted athlete.

From a purely economic aspect, a young black slave 150 years ago was worth more than a young, uneducated, inner city black man today. Slavery hasn't ended; it just changed masters (liberal government programs).

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

You just reminded me of Woody Allen's line in Annie Hall:

"Don't you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers?"

And to that, I say, "I'm not a homosexual!" :-D

In all seriousness, what I meant was that each of these subplots could make for an interesting story on its own, divorced from superheroes and the DC universe.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I think that if you look at the black middle class, there is no doubt they are better off today. They aren't oppressed by the government and they are much safer than they were under Jim Crow. But if you look at the inner cities, then you are right. Inner city blacks live in shocking conditions with murder rates that are worse than war-torn areas, wide-spread drug use, almost 100% single parents, massive unemployment, no education, etc. etc. Essentially, their futures are (1) prison, (2) killed by other blacks, or (3) a live of poverty followed by early death. So it depends on who you are looking at.

And I do think that the best way to put it is that while it was beyond wrong to use blacks as slaves or to discriminate against them, the programs put in place by people like Johnson made things worse for the most vulnerable among them. Because of that, a real change of course is needed.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, True. You could easily have dealt with each of these issues as a separate film. And I think they can all be brought together in a single film too, but there needs to be balance. If they had at least pointed out that the majority of the public opposed these things they talk about, that would have helped.

On your Woodie Allen quote, my favorite is actually: "I'd call him a sadistic, hippophilic necrophile, but that would be beating a dead horse."

Anonymous said...

BIG MO, thanks for finding the title of that episode! I'd forgotten what it was.

I've seen 'Phantasm' and 'Subzero,' both of which are of terrific quality. In fact, if memory serves me right, (an Iron Chef reference? Let this thread's nerdgasm continue!), there was a video circulating around the net that used scenes from 'Phantasm' in a music video set to Metallica's 'Unforgiven.' Perfectly summed up Batman's personality. Unfortunately, since it also violated more than a handful of copyright laws, it's hard to find before it's quickly taken down.

And I haven't forgotten all the great DC cartoon series. It was a shame when Justice League Unlimited came an end, as all the series were expertly tied together. I guess what I meant was that sometime in the last decade, the producers took a hard left turn and things weren't the same. Still, I'll take your advice and check those out as soon as I can.

-Rustbelt

Anonymous said...

Andrew, funny how the Satellite of Love is often at the center of the entertainment universe, isn't it?

Anyway, building on your earlier comments, I think what I meant by 'Batman the Animated Series' being edgy was that the villains were shown engaging in real life crimes- armed robbery, drug trafficking, etc. (Not trying to take over the world with death rays or giant robots.) However, these crimes were never politicized in those early shows. I think that's the point I was trying to make.

As for modern edgy, I think you've hit the bullseye. I only follow comic book info when it ties into a movie or series I like. (I'm definitely not a comic book nerd.) But I think it mostly has to do with the progressive nature of liberals who love to shove their views down the readers' throats and tell them to like it. As a business model, it's both attractive and foolish.

This actually reminds me of pro wrestling, (bear with me here), where gimmicks like killing characters, gay characters, political references, celebrity appearances, etc., are used to get mainstream coverage which- they think- will get more people to pay attention. (This week, for instance, the WWE unveiled a racist tea party character. But then again, this is the same outfit who made Sgt. Slaughter an Iraqi sympathizer during the Gulf War, so I'm hardly surprised.)

The problem is that the media attention is fleeting and those people (media and viewers alike) who take a quick glance quickly look away again. The core audience is also angered and shrinks a little more. So, it's actually harmful in the long run. This has happened in both industries time and again and neither seems to learn from those mistakes. But hey, at least the lefties get to feel superior about themselves.

BTW, did you see the ire Orson Scott Card is taking since DC asked him to write stories for Superman? Here's the BH article:
http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Hollywood/2013/02/19/liberals-superman-comics-writer

-Rustbelt

AndrewPrice said...

Rustbelt, Joel and the bots and the SOL were very influential on my sense of humor and my vocabulary! As hard as this may be to believe, I can still quote large chunks of most of the films they did and I and my friends use their quotes all the time.

Iron Chef... now that was a great show! (At least the Japanese version.)

I think you're right about the idea of being edgy. Some people do it because they want to ram their ideology down other people's throats (leftists in particular) but mostly it's done just to get the mainstream media to pay attention for a while. Look at how the MSM fawns over the latest "shocker" -- gay characters, dead characters, renouncing citizenship, etc. etc.

But the trap with that stuff is that the buzz wears off so quickly that you don't get anything out of it (except a damaged reputation) and then you find yourself needing to keep doing it because people come to expect that you will do it. And there are only so many envelopes to push before people start laughing at your attempts to be edgy.

Anthony said...

Koshcat said:

From a purely economic aspect, a young black slave 150 years ago was worth more than a young, uneducated, inner city black man today. Slavery hasn't ended; it just changed masters (liberal government programs).
----
I'll take your word on it, but its worth keeping in mind that people don't view themselves from purely economic aspects. A guy who wasn't getting paid and was routinely being tortured probably wasn't consoling himself with the knowledge that he was making his owner lots of money :).

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I know some partners a big law firms who would disagree with that... at least with regard to their employees. ;P

Anthony said...

AndrewPrice said...
Koshcat, I think that if you look at the black middle class, there is no doubt they are better off today. They aren't oppressed by the government and they are much safer than they were under Jim Crow. But if you look at the inner cities, then you are right. Inner city blacks live in shocking conditions with murder rates that are worse than war-torn areas, wide-spread drug use, almost 100% single parents, massive unemployment, no education, etc. etc. Essentially, their futures are (1) prison, (2) killed by other blacks, or (3) a live of poverty followed by early death. So it depends on who you are looking at.

And I do think that the best way to put it is that while it was beyond wrong to use blacks as slaves or to discriminate against them, the programs put in place by people like Johnson made things worse for the most vulnerable among them. Because of that, a real change of course is needed.
--------

Hyperbole is fun, but let's not go overboard.
A murder rate of roughly one per day is pretty far from that of war torn areas or even some of the rougher cities.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_by_murder_rate

I'd also say blaming just Lyndon Johnson's Great Society on the problems of the black community is stretching it. For example, life has gotten much tougher for the less educated in the West because of increased trade and immigration. Companies seek the lowest priced labour (reason # 2,214 why minimum wage laws are pointless) and many of them are willing and able to country hop to do so.

The big problem black Americans have isn't the system it is the choices too many people are making (as Dr. Sowell has noted, culture plays a large role). If the problem were the system, it would impact everyone equally, but poor immigrants (of any color, including black) tend to climb past poor Americans (of all colors, but especially black Americans) quickly.

Anthony said...

Rustbelt said:

And I haven't forgotten all the great DC cartoon series. It was a shame when Justice League Unlimited came an end, as all the series were expertly tied together. I guess what I meant was that sometime in the last decade, the producers took a hard left turn and things weren't the same. Still, I'll take your advice and check those out as soon as I can.
---------
DCAU is still remarkable. Batman the Brave and the Bold was awesome. Like a lot of geeks I was uneasy about a comedic take on Batman, but clever writing, fun characters, good fight scenes and some truly insane cameos (Batman at one point teamed up with a WW2 tank animated by the spirit of a Confederate general) made it very entertaining.

Teen Titans was a good show for young kids (not a label I would apply to a lot of the DCAU) which my daughters loved. If you want to see why DCAU rocks and comic books are shunned by kids in general and females in particular, look at the depiction of Starfire. In the show (which a lot of girls liked to watch) she was a powerful (but slender) character who had a sweet, awkward, almost chaste relationship with Robin (more characteristic of preteens than American teens). In the modern comic books she is statuesque and believes that the human custom of talking to people before one has sex with them is bizarre (of course, she has sex with everyone).

Young Justice (a series who cancellation was recently announced) boasts some great plotting (think JLU season 2), good characters and incredible scenes (both fighting scenes and non-fighting scenes).

Both DCAU and superhero movies are more interesting (and popular and influential) than modern comic books. Sometimes they are liberal, sometimes they are conservative (many of the DCAU movies Big Mo has named as favorites postdate The New Frontier) so even if one is the sort of person who values idealogy over quality skipping them makes little sense, but suit yourself.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I've never said it was just Johnson. LBJ started the ball of dependence rolling. The Civil Rights Movement did the rest. And since then, I would say that most black politicians have made things worse by screaming "racism" every time they get in trouble, by pushing ideas like black separatism (either formally or informally like when they obsess about how evil and unfair America is and they claim the government "owes" blacks), and white journalists and white politicians have aided and abetted this mindset.

Beyond that, I think the parents and the preachers and the teachers deserve further blame for teaching the ideas that breed dependence, such as downplaying the benefits of work and education and not teach black kids early on that they need to take care of themselves rather than look to the government.

I see a direct connection between the welfare mentality and the destruction of these people's lives -- it's the same mentality which is now besetting low-class whites here and in Britain. They've all followed the identical path: get hooked on government money, stop working and start milking the system. This is followed by the destruction of the work ethic, destruction of the idea of self-improvement and motivation, unemployment, crime, drug use, and out of wedlock births to create the next generation in the same lifestyle.

PikeBishop said...

Hmmm, I hate it when a reviewer is too subtle and obfuscates his true feelings. I am really having a hard time figuring out what he really, really thinks about the overall quality of this work. (Scratches head)

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I'm all about subtlety. :)

PikeBishop said...

Andrew: Now in seriousness. two points:

Check out John McWhorter's "Winning the Race" where he details just how much damage the Great Society did to middle and working class blacks. Remember that in just about every major city, even places like Jackson MS and Montgomery AL, there was a thriving black middle class with their own businesses, banks and associations. Most of those inner cities were crime ridden ghettoes by 1975. McWhorter argues that all the Great Society did was "teach middle class blacks how to sign up for welfare."

2. Its not just poor blacks that have been affected by the new economy. Its hit the poor whites equally as hard, especially in small towns, when the one decent paying operation moved to Mexico or India a few years ago. Go to cracked.com and check out their article at the end of last year about how "Honey Boo Boo" was one of the most important shows of the year (not good, just important) It argues quite effectively that the popularity of this show is just getting us ready for the eventual Medicaid and budget cuts as the HOney Boo Boos, and the urban blacks get left further and further behind in an economy where there is a shrinking place for the high school (barely) educated.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I wish I could say you are wrong, but I can't. I saw it with my own eyes in places like Wheeling (which looks a lot like inner city Baltimore, only done with whites). They disdained education, they disdained anyone who tries to make it outside of being on welfare or disability... they bragged about "the crazy check" where they all faked being bipolar. They took drugs, sold drugs, stole anything that wasn't nailed down and then wrecked the things that were burned down. They stages slip and falls and fake car wrecks. They were openly racist about blacks "stealing our benefits." Most had been in and out of the criminal justice system for domestic charges, thefts, battery, and robbery. Most had multiple children with multiple mothers/fathers and taught them the same values. And everything they did was basically designed to make them less and less competitive for the future. They did, however, know how to use computers because they played internet poker.

Koshcat said...

Andrew,

You might find the documtary The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. Very similar issue as Wheeling. My favorite part was when one of the members was going through the graveyard talking about this or that member died usually somehow related to drugs and he says " maybe our family is unlucky." : p

Koshcat said...

*find = like

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, I've seen it and that is very much what you will find in that area. It's honestly hard to believe most of the "people" I met were real, but they were. And not one of them ever understood that they are causing their own problems... it was always somebody else's fault.

Anthony said...

Andrew,

Blacks' sense of community was hammered in for a couple hundred years. Its not going to go away overnight. Also, I suspect the values of much of the community rather than its existence is the problem (nobody sane suggests Asians or Jews whose values have translated into a high degree of success, need to lose their sense of community).

Quite a few conservatives complain about black separatism since Obama's election but that argument has always puzzled me a bit. Blacks have voted religiously for Democrats since the CRA. Color doesn't seem to enter into the equation (got 4% more of the black vote than Kerry).

Also, the black middle class has been very determined to integrate (which they see as essential to climbing the economic ladder) going to white schools (post CRA there was a large move away from black schools to white schools), moving into white neighborhoods and working for white businesses (though the biggest employer is the government) rather than setting up their own (the big exceptions tend to be in the entertainment field). Less risk, but also less reward.

I don't think the problem is black kids being taught the wrong values by preachers and teachers (parents are sometimes the problem). My sense is that the demise of the black family is what is negatively impacting education performance. Having one parent (a phenomena which doesn't merely impact the poor, but a substantial number of the black middle class) means a kid gets a lot less supervision and preassure at home to do the right thing. That doesn't automatically translate into failure, but it makes it more likely.

My take on the matter is blacks won freedom in 1964. At that point in time failure or success was in the hands of the individual. The US doesn't have quite the level of social mobility a lot of people believe it does, so I don't subscribe to the notion that all of the poor are the deserving poor but clearly quite a few people are poor due to their choices in life. In addition to the facts you cited, I'd like to add that only half of black males are graduating high school at a time when most employers expect college.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I don't connect black separatism to Obama, I connect it back to Malcolm X. I also don't take it seriously except as an attitude. And the attitude is an "us versus them" attitude that is very attractive to people who have failed as a way to explain their failure. This is why the Hitlers of the world become so popular, because they give people comfort that their failures weren't their faults.

With regard to this attitude, the problem is that I've seen it exploited my entire life when black leaders (political, cultural, religious) get into trouble. They scream racism and try to claim that they should be protected from whites and their crimes are the result of whites. This reinforces the ideas that keep the races separated and allow a great many blacks to avoid self-reflection because they can blame white racism or whatever for their problems. That keeps people from honestly addressing the problems of the black underclass.

In terms of the black middle class, I agree. But I don't think that is where the problem is. I think the problem is in the black underclass, and the leaders (cultural and political) in the black community who play to them. That would be the same thing as if white politicians pandered to white trash.

I agree that the primary problem is the disintegration of the black family. That is the thing from which so much else flows.

I don't agree about the lack of mobility. Mobility is much more than people realize in this country, BUT you have to be willing to take the risk. 90% of people won't ever take a risk. Those 90% are stuck on the same path they start and won't move up unless they get lucky.

You are totally right about the lack of high school graduates, and that's one reason I get so upset about conservatives who denigrate education -- something we even hear at the blog at times. Education is vital, there is no other way... not in the modern world.

Anthony said...

Andrew,

I don't think its fair to blame a guy who is long dead and who lived in a completely different time for modern separatism.

I cannot honestly say where I would stand if I grew up in the days of institutionalized racism. Would I say 'F*ck white people, the next time someone tries to treat me or any other black person like we are second class citizens, I'm greeting them with both barrells!' or would I say 'We are all Christians, and I will nonviolently resist oppression until the evil of racism is recognized by everyone!' or would I just do what most did, try to live within the system? I don't know. I honestly can't imagine being in that position.

My father taught me to respect both sides, stating back when he was growing up under Jim Crow, both schools of argument (that racism could be violent deterred or that the better nature of America could be appealed to) seemed insanely optimistic from the perspective of those who had experienced generations of institutionalized, often violent racism.

Also, it should be kept in mind that before the NoI killed him, Malcolm left that nutty cult and disavowed racial separatism.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I don't blame Malcolm X so much as attribute the idea's rise as a serious idea to him and his group. Clearly, what he advocated never came to pass. Instead, it morphed into this idea of separate but together with large doses of dependence rather than separate and independent. Personally, I don't get the feeling he would have been happy to see where things went after his death.

As for growing up under institutionalize racism, I can tell you that I would be pretty furious. Would I still be angry 60 years later after most of those people are dead and their kids ended the practice and their grandkids show a lot of contempt for the practice? I can't answer that.

PikeBishop said...

Andrew, as to the "us versus them" argument allowing people to blame their failures on others is so true.

I look at the militant blacks and the racist white skinheads on the other side of the coin and all I can think of is,

"Dude, even if your "people" were in charge you WOULD STILL be the guy cleaning the toilets!"

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, Isn't that the truth! That's the delusion though. These groups are made up of loser who want to believe that somehow if they could turn the world upside down and get their way, then they would be worshiped as heroes. The truth is, as you say, that they would still be cleaning toilets.

Alex said...

As someone who used to read a lot of comics--underground stuff as well as the standard super-hero fare--I can safely say that the left has ruined comics. There was always a strain of leftism (see Watchmen, which, upon re-reading a few years ago after seeing the movie, I realized I hate. I can admit it's well-done, but I hate, hate, HATE the overarching theme and the ending).

No longer can superheros fight evil and be good. No, they have to inject leftist politics into the stories now. I've long thought that comic book writers are writers who couldn't really write and couldn't make it anywhere else, and most comic book writers absolutely bear out my theorem. It's the same way that most rock "lyricists" really know nothing about poetry or structure.

Anyway, given my experience falling out of love with the comic book genre--sad, really, since I used to want to work in it--I am not surprised at all about the political content in this movie. Leftists ruin everything eventually.

Alex said...

Andrew and Anthony,

Interesting that you call out conservatives who denigrate education. I myself, having been to undergraduate school, graduate school, and law school, can tell you that the concept of education in and of itself is very important to a functioning society, vital, even. The problem that I, at least, have with it, is its execution. I agree wholeheartedly with Frank Zappa in that the main goal of the American education system is to create barely functioning morons who know just enough to get a job and become another cog in the system, while weeding out anyone who dares think outside of the box or question what's in the government-approved curriculum.

As far as higher education goes, well, do I have stories...

Anyway, rant over, tangent over, back to talking about comic book super heroes (I knew all of that education would come in handy!).

AndrewPrice said...

Alex, I don't doubt that leftists have ruined comic books, it certainly seems it from the outside.

In terms of education, I couldn't agree more on all points. (1) I do think our system's real goal is to create employees, not educated people, and (2) I think education is absolutely vital for success. And it really angers me how often I hear conservatives denigrate education and go with this idea that someone getting educated is a bad thing. Conservatives are shooting themselves in the foot with that approach.

Alex said...

Andrew,

A lot of the stuff in comics ranges from minor (injecting political "commentary" and "jokes"--always denigrating conservatives and conservatism, of course) to overt (having the Tea Party be racist villians fought by Captain America, having Capitan American fight terrorists who took over a Midwestern town, but finding out that--surprise!--the U.S. government funded and trained said terrorists). Another Cap story was kind of intersting, the one where the Super Soldier serum was originally tested on blacks in experiments similar to the Tuskegee syphillis study, but it was kind of like, why? Why add that to the Captain America mythos?

Other stuff is just so in-your-face and hackneyed, it could also be mistaken for just plain bad writing. Examples include: Gay superhero! (original Green Lantern). New Spider-Man who is a half-black, half-Latino! (nothing wrong with that, quite honestly, it's just like, another "dead" superhero? Why not create a new half-black, half-Latino character and, you know, be creative?), the government forcing superheros to be registered and Iron Man leading a faction of right-wing (!) characters in support of this (again: the right-wingers are supportive of this?!), a French-Algerian Muslim Batman! (again, why not create a new Muslim superhero? Side-note, Christian comic characters are either evil, or played for laughs).

I stand by my assertion that comic writers are writers who couldn't hack it in other mediums.

Alex said...

Addendum: Of course there are exceptions, a massive one being Neil Gaiman. Very talented writer. Personally, though, I find the Alan Moores, the Garth Ennises, the Marc Millars, and yes, even the Frank Millers, of the world incredibly over-rated.

AndrewPrice said...

Alex, I've noticed. It seems that every time I see anything from the comic book world, they've made conservatives the bad guys (and usually often attributed liberalism to the conservatives).

I agree with you that it's ridiculous to turn a white hero into a minority character rather than creating a new super hero. It really shows a lack of creativity and it's totally a statement of political correctness rather than artistic merit.

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