Friday, December 27, 2013

Philosophy dressed up in capes and Spandex

This is on my blog

Dec. 24: Here is the counter argument to Jay Stone’s article “Hollywood hooked on a teenage fantasy” about all these superhero movies.  On the same Edmonton Journal page, Katherine Monk has an article about the importance of superhero movies.

Philosophy dressed up in capes and Spandex

Comic-book adventures dissect life on an extra-large scale

Katherine Monk, Postmedia News

Published: Friday, May 04 2012
Snooki. Paris. Kim. We live in a culture that currently celebrates ordinary, untalented mortals who flex their muscles and have emotional meltdowns - for no good reason other than empty entertainment.
No wonder I crave super-heroes. At least they "live large" in a way that attempts genuine meaning.
Superheroes ponder the heavy questions, from the dimensions of responsibility that go along with great powers, to the mental exhaustion of saving the planet.

While Paris Hilton and the Kardashians are contemplating the dollar value of amateur porn, Spider-Man, Batman and Wonder Woman are hard at work trying to ennoble the impoverished soul of man.
Forever trapped in the time-less battle between good and evil, superheroes allow mere moviegoing mortals a chance to dissect the human condition on an extra-large scale.

Just as every new comic-book villain gives us an exaggerated look at our own flaws, every superhero offers a chance at redemption.

So what if a short man with a waddle and a goofy laugh wants to freeze the oceans, or erase every metropolis with a laser beam? So what if he blackmails the leaders of the western world to hand over the contents of Fort Knox to impress his fluffy white kitty, or his impossibly long-legged girlfriend?
When we see Penguin or any other masked marauder attempting to undo the past two millennia of civilization, we can see our own petty in-securities through a funhouse mirror. The same is true for all the good things about us: Superheroes animate the human ability to love, and to sacrifice ourselves for the common good.

Before the age of secularism ushered in the modern Super-man with the pen and ink of Jerry Siegel and Canadian artist Joe Shuster with the publication of Action Comics #1 in 1938, we had scripture to guide us through the moral labyrinth of actions.

The fun part of superheroes is that they're like gods, only with human sensibilities.
Whether it's Hulk's bad temper or Spider-Man's latent selfloathing, the superhero isn't one-dimensional and goodygoody dull. They are like us - only gifted with talents we could only dream of.
The Spandex set is essentially the modern version of pagan deities: larger-than-life immortals who fight with each other, struggle with the same ego needs as us, but eventually transcend all things petty to become shining examples of the human potential.

One hundred years before the comic-book Superman redefined our relationship with the cosmos, there was another embodiment of the Superman who accomplished very much the same thing. Friedrich Nietzsche's Superman, or "Übermensch," sought to release man from the chains of blind belief in a higher power. In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche killed the old god because he felt it was limiting the human capacity for creation. Nietzsche believed humans were too beautiful and too gifted to be eclipsed by an inanimate monolith of omnipotence, so he destroyed the old belief system to let us live in the bright light of human truth, where we could take charge of our own destiny.

These ideas were not lost on Siegel or Shuster, who took certain Nietzschean ideas and translated them into what appeared to be non-threatening, two-dimensional kids' stuff.
Yet, nearly a century later, these heathen concepts have sunk into the sedimentary layers of our society - where they are now played out on the big screen every summer.

Whether it's watching Thor argue about the worth of humanity with his brother Loki, or Superman's big decision to abandon superheroism for human love, the superhero movie allows us to explore the most profound questions in metaphysics through a candy-coloured lens of fun.

Every time you walk out of a superhero movie, chances are good you appreciate being human a little bit more.

It's not superpowers that make the superhero. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Unlimited power defines the villain, while the human capacity to love, to show compassion, and to embrace our own flaws, are what truly make a hero.

Dec. 27 My opinion: It’s a good article.  I will have to moderate how much superhero movies I watch.  On Showcase, for the past couple of weeks I saw that Iron Man 2, Thor, and The Green Lantern were playing.  I thought about it and I wasn’t really interested in watching it.

Blog to book: I was reading the Globe and Mail on Dec. 7, 2013.  It mentioned Maddie on Things by Theron Humprey.  It’s a website at first where Theron takes pictures of his dog standing on things like a skateboard.

Here’s the website:

Meetup: There is an Edmonton Film Makers Group.  There is also an Edmonton Film Makers Group #2.  I then get an email saying #2 is closing down unless someone wants to become the new Organizer.  Well no one did and it closed down.

Sex comedy: You know it’s interesting.  I like the TV show The Sausage Factory about 4 teenage guys and they have these sex jokes.  However, I don’t like sex comedy movies like:

American Pie (saw on TV.)
American Wedding (saw for free, got a movie pass.)
Van Wilder (went to a friend’s house and saw it.)
Road Trip (saw it on a band trip on the bus).
Sorority Boys (saw it on TV.)

Intentionally bad writing: I was thinking about those Syfy TV movies and how they are often intentionally bad like Dinoshark.  Just watching the trailer you can tell it’s terrible.  The TV show MADtv does bad writing to make the sketch fun to watch.  I wrote about this before, about the 1970s sex ed tape with Avril Lavigne guest- starring in it.  There is all this misinformation about sex, but you do laugh at this line.  

I’m forewarning you right now that you will be offended by it.  The dad says: “Don’t you know birth control is the woman’s responsibility?”

Film Festivals: There is the Toronto International Film Festival or TIFF.  There is the Edmonton International Film Festival.  I didn’t go to the Edmonton one.

Syd Field: On Nov. 23, 2013, I cut out this Edmonton Journal article about the “Author literally wrote the book on screenplays.”  He lived from 1935-2013.  His book is called: “Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting has been required reading in Hollywood since it was published in 1979.  It has been translated into 23 languages and used in universities around the world.”

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