Friday, May 27, 2016

A Dialog About Firearms and Superheroes in Cinema with a British Intellectual

I sent a friend in London a link to the opening of Deadpool (2015) to show off some excellent use of 3D animation in the service of art, or at least superhero movies.

His response was less than ecstatic:

(edited slightly for formatting purposes)
Yeah pretty good i guess...
I'm just so bored with all american productions and their fixation with guns... I mean what is the attraction in watching people firing guns? And in most of the shows it is all unimportant characters that are being shot. The main cast rarely get hit. Its really boring...
I much prefer Scandinavian tv dramas which like British shows rarely have guns because basically we don't really have them... But i currently prefer the Nordic noirs because UK drama is being influenced by US ideas and although they don't have many guns (although they are succumbing to that too) they have picked up the American sentimentality with people hugging at the slightest opportunity - Where is our stiff upper lip anymore? But the Scandi's they have almost no sentimentality so i really like them...
Have you seen the original danish 20 part version of The Killing, or Borgen or The Bridge or Wallander... I really love those shows - in the whole of Borgen there wasn't one gun or one hug - sheer delight! Its like they took away the guns and hugging from madame secretary ;-)

I do not completely understand all his references here (e.g. “madame secretary”) but I do see what his point is. Here is my response:

We must make allowances for cultural diversity. When Paul Verhoeven in the 4th Man (1983) revealed that the nurse at the end was none other than the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, he was taking a bold step for a Dutch protestant to acknowledge, in a practically Papist way, the Virgin Mary.

You see where this is going?

So it is with Americans and firearms.

The American cinema and its intellectual elite has moved beyond the giant robot and turned to the comic book superhero as a medium with which to express the totality of our civilization. And yes, there is a certain number of firearms in these movies, but there is also quite a few samurai swords, as well as more European broadsword types.

In the first Thor (2011) you will find very few firearms, but rather a lot of swords, some hand to hand, and most of all Mjolnir, the mighty hammer, "for if he is worthy, let him who wields this hammer have the power of Thor". (see attached picture)

To understand America is to understand the frontier of the old west. In the classic Western, good and evil must contend and settle once and for all which will triumph, and meet at noon for the shootout. What would you have them use instead of firearms?



The 4th Man (1983) on IMDB


  1. from the british "intellectual"...
    OMG you obviously do not know your television...
    "madame secretary" is one of the best crop of american tv episodics - it is about the daily life (home and work) of the US secretary of state and her family - slightly comedic in places to help along the *drama* of her serious work - there are very few weapons in it - mostly brilliant political solutions to tricky international politics - the good guys don't always win and well i'd put it at the top of my best of US drama list...

    well if you haven't heard of "madame secretary" then i think it is more that you are a US intellectual and i'm just a plain old tv consumer ;-) You need to watch the original "the killing" or "the bridge" and most definitely "BORGEN" and as i say "madame secretary"...

  2. Its true that I am woefully ignorant of the best of television. BTW, in the US, television has often had one or two brilliant shows along with a vast wasteland of kitsch or bullshit. There is no doubt it is a part of our culture. In spite of the ending, I would have preferred to have watched Lost, for example, while it was on the air and the mystery was ongoing.

    Now as for Madame Secretary and weapons. Ahem. Excuse me. The Sect of State is the most important person (other than the President or perhaps certain members of the DOD or congress) to decide who gets to buy our expensive but well-regarded weapon systems. I mean come on, the job is all about weapons. Are they perhaps sanitizing the reality?