Monday, May 19, 2008

Iron Man Not So Critical

Ezra Klein is right on the money in labeling Iron Man "less [criticism] than absolution" in its commentary on the evils of US foreign policy. It's the old Captain Planet dilemma: in order to convey the seriousness of hurting the environment or arming terrorists, you portray an evil supervillain doing those things; but then since the people in the real world who do the most environmental damage and prop up the most brutal dictators are not mustachioed villains, but just regular politicians and businesspeople doing what they do in a fairly aboveboard (if not extremely well publicized) manner, they're let off the hook.

The (only slightly less comic book-y) Lord of War sort of got at the underlying issue a little better. Though (spoiler warning) if I recall, even in that film it was government figures working in the shadows behind the scenes who were driving the US's role as a state sponsor of terrorism. It's a little more critical of a portrayal, since at least the "bad guys" are clearly acting out of political rather than financial motivations, but there's still the idea that surely nobody could get away with such wickedness were it out in the open, whereas in reality they do even when it is.

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