Tag Archives: wikileaks

Julian Assange and Man of Steel: Why the Hero We Need is More Important than the Hero We Deserve

Guest commentary post from Troy-Jeffrey Allen. You can listen his radio show at www.wearemoka.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter.

We_Steal_Secrets_-_The_Story_of_WikiLeaksIn the documentary We Steal Secrets, Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, is depicted as an aging cyberpunk whose ego ultimately corrupted his ethics. Nothing hits that point home more than a clip of The Guardian’s Nick Davies. Davies gives a personal recounting of Assange placing his own hubris over national security, the life of his informant (Bradley Manning), and the young men and women on the ground defending the United States. It’s a questionable bit that pits one man’s word against another. However, the interview brings up an important point that — oddly enough — cuts to the heart of what is wrong with the recent Warner Brothers release, Man of Steel.

At this point, it’s no big **SPOILER** that in the film, Superman (played by Henry Cavill) snaps the neck of his adversary. For moviegoers, it has turned out to be a divisive moment in the film, made even more awkwardly complex moments later when Superman gives a lecture to military personnel about the collateral damage of drone strikes. The point is meant to re-establish order after the chaos of the aforementioned scene, but it’s a hollow point, largely because we don’t see the Man of Steel do anything to save the people of Metropolis until he’s done with his overly-intimate slugfest that seemingly wipes the fictional city off the face of the earth. It’s a bizarre (albeit, deliberate) gray-area, one that previous summer blockbusters such as Independence Day, Marvel’s the Avengers, and hell…Transformers: Dark of the Moon managed to avoid.

What is the difference between the violence in Man of Steel compared to those other blockbusters?

The answer is simple: It’s Superman.

The oldest and shiniest of superheroes is uncharacteristically playing judge, jury, and executioner.man.of.steel.poster

However, the answer also goes far beyond that. At the base of this is the fact that Man of Steel’s director, Zack Snyder, along with screenwriters David Goyer and Christopher Nolan, desperately try to subvert the genre of superhero films instead of letting the superhero genre subvert their own cynicism.

The idea that the filmmakers force Superman’s back against a wall of violence and then have him react lethally instead of saving the day brings up what Nick Davies was scratching at with Julian Assange: He who has the power makes the rules. Superman had the power to kill (and, according to the plot, cause Kryptonian genocide), so he did just that.

In Assange’s case, the ball was in his court to minimize the potential for collateral damage and he allegedly opted not to. Initially, he sought out to expose the government’s disregard for life. He then turned around and shrugged his shoulders when given the opportunity to show compassion for his fellow man.

Should Superman function in a similar way just because our world does?

I say no. If for no other reason than because he is a children’s hero who is carelessly being used here as a conduit for adult misanthropy – perspectives that the film’s running time seems ill-prepared to properly comment on. Not too shortly after Superman climatically snaps another man’s neck, the film ends.

Regardless of whether or not Man of Steel gets a sequel in order to elaborate, the movie has already lost the argument it was trying to make. In writing a finale in which Superman is given no choice but to kill his enemy, they are exclusively targeting world-weary adults instead of bending the ear of children to show them that in the face of adversity – as corny as it sounds – heroes will always find a compassionate option. Instead, Snyder, Nolan, and Goyer are just preaching to the choir, the working-class stiffs who already see the harshness of reality for what it is.

If we are to believe what Nick Davies says in We Steal Secrets, then Julian Assange was so swept up in “crushing bastards” that he didn’t truly consider the larger ramifications of his actions. He had the power, so he wielded it like a gun.

If we are to believe the filmmakers of Man of Steel, then Superman is the gun. And despite Pa Kent’s insistence that he shouldn’t let anything force his hand, he still isn’t idealistic enough to do so.

What is the lesson here? Why is it that misanthropic subtext is being thrust onto Superman? Why is it that we are inundated with questionable amounts of PG-13 violence that – in terms of hopelessness — mirrors images of that Apache helicopter assault or 9/11?

It would appear that Zack Snyder and company are too self-aware, to the point that their noble reflections on real life atrocities are as disconnected as the soldiers in those leaked airstrike videos.

Some may think that comparing the two films sounds preposterous. But if Man of Steel wishes to violate its already beleaguered viewers with harsh political subtext then maybe I’m just following through on its goal.

Around the Tubes

Tomorrow is new comic book day, what’s everyone picking up?

Around the Blogs:

Mashable – Julian Assange Records The Simpsons Guest Spot While Under House Arrest – A nice middle finger to the U.S.

CBLDF – Comics Should Be Good: Why Joining the CBLDF Matters – Support this organization!

IGN – Gaiman/McFarlane Lawsuit SettledPhew, cause I wasn’t sure if I could go another year.

CBLDF – CBLDF Joins National Organizations in Condemning Arizona School Censorship – Damn the man!

CBLDF – Cartoonist Susie Cagle Arrested, Released During Weekend Occupy Oakland Protests – I think that’s arrest number two.

Kotaku – 4Chan Used to Promote a Japanese Manga (Well, Sorta) – Pretty interesting.


Around the Tubes Reviews:

Examiner – Aquaman #5

CBR – Transformers: Robots in Disguise #1

MTV Geek – Something Old, Something New: Advance Reviews of Image’s Savage Dragon, Invincible, and Alpha Girl

Newsarama – Best Shots Comic Reviews: AQUAMAN, X-MEN: LEGACY, More

Around the Tubes

It’s the day before new comic book day, what’s every getting?  While you deliberate, here’s the news you might have missed.

Around the Blogs:

Nerdage – OU professor writes business graphic novels – With this, maybe I’d of paid more attention in class?

Techcrunch – With Wikileaks Embargo, Payment Institutions Choose The Devil They Don’t KnowFor those who call for the prosecution of comic book pirates, you’d do well to read this article.

Ahram Online – New wave of comic books flourishes in EgyptGreat to see the art and story telling form taking off in the liberated country.

Kotaku – Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s Changes, Through the Eyes of a Pro – Another comic book video game tie-in is on the horizon, find out the changes in this one.

Con Coverage:

CBR – NYCC: Vertigo Gets Scary

CBR – NYCC: Robert Kirkman Spotlight

CBR – EXCLUSIVE: Kapow! Con Returns For Year Two

The Beat – Retailer files complaint against Wizard AND posts dramatic video on YouTube

MTV Geek – From Batman To “The Fixer” – Frank Miller Talks “Holy Terror” And His Respect For Batman

Around the Tubes Reviews:

IGN – The Incredible Hulk #1

CBR – Supergirl #2

Entertainment Weekly – Comic Book Reviews: Latest issues of ‘Batman’ and ‘Uncanny X-Men’; the outstanding graphic novel ‘Daybreak’

Alan Moore Speaks Out About Bradley Manning

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Bradley Manning is currently being held in regards to Wikileaks and has yet to see trial.  The politics and the case itself isn’t the point on this article.  Comic book writer Alan Moore has come out in support of Manning.

With any legitimate trial of whistleblower Bradley Manning still being at an unspecified date in the future, it would seem that what is presently on trial here is Western culture itself. When the persecution of an individual who has exposed an evil is pursued so ruthlessly and yet the evil itself is studiedly ignored, all of us know that there is something very wrong with the way that our society is conducting itself. And if we do not protest in the strongest terms about what is being done in our name, then we become complicit.

There is no third option. Bradley Manning and others like him everywhere are vital to our continued moral health and well-being as a people, and unless we offer them our full support in their often dire and isolated circumstances, it is we, as a people, who will end up the losers.

Moore is best known for his works Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell and Swamp Thing.

Around the Tubes

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The world continued to comment on Action Comics and Superman yesterday.  We’re not going to cover the coverage much anymore, but expect actual commentary as to the politics of what Superman did.  Check out below the rest of the news you might have missed, since I’m sure your day was spent watching the Royal wedding.

Around the Blogs:

Kotaku – Captain America Weighs in on WikileaksI haven’t read the issue yet, I’m sure I’ll have some opinions and coverage.

Wired – Prolific Comic Writer Bendis Tackles Marvel Universe MMOThis is an MMO I can get into.

Kotaku – Dark Horse Digital Comics Debuts with Dungeon Siege IIIWhatever happened to their press list I was on?  I swear I was at one point….

Kotaku – The Murderous Math of The Darkness II’s “Quad Wielding” – Some details of the upcoming video game.

Around the Tubes Reviews:

Seattle PI – Action Comics #900

Comic Book Resources – Batman Incorporated #5

Comic Book Resources – Detective Comics #876

The Herts Advertiser – New Ultimates: Thor Reborn

Scifi Mafia – Project London

IGN – Scalped #48

Seattle PI – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Paste Magazine – Comic Book & Graphic Novel Round-Up (4/27/11)

Twitter Tuesday

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It’s been quite a while but we’re bringing back Twitter Tuesday.  Below is a highlight of some of the past week’s more politically oriented Twitter posts from those in the comic book industry showing it’s not just geek stuff they discuss.