By R.C. Seely 

SINCE 2012 I’VE BEEN WRITING AND WARNING others about the corrosion of American society by it’s superfluous and insipid popular culture but I also have to give credit where it’s due. Among the Kim Kardashians a revolution has surfaced, most infamous are the TV shows South Park and the Simpsons and movies such as The Matrix, but another source has shown up. For years a common source of morality and virtue has been the comic book, which has had an extreme boast comparatively recently, in the form of cinematic adaptations from the two leading companies, DC and Marvel. As with the original stories from the written works, the dictonomies from the organizations is just as obvious, which is why I have always been a greater fan of Marvel. DC has never been strong on character development or creating a complex storyline with questions challenging the characters preconceived notions of principle, with Marvel such complexity does exist. In other words: DC offers us “ethics made easy” tales, whereas Marvel gives us a menu of “tough choices” fables, making the story more entertaining but serving a greater purpose. Bon Apetit!

    Marvel has a history of more than simply being a guide on being a good citizen, it also acts as a source for information about topics that are generally not discussed-the  X-Men and Deadpool stories go into the topic of Eugenics. It creates a dialogue in this country about whether genetic manipulation should be allowed. What many don’t seem to realize is that there is far too much truth to what these stories present. Abortion on demand has more to do with getting rid of undesirable, imperfect children and a system of control of those in poverty stricken areas than protecting the “woman’s right to choose.” The discussion about sterlization and genocide has also been part of XMen conflicts. And we have already started going down the road of Genetically Modified humans, a main theme in the most recent addition to the XMen saga Logan as well as Deadpool. There are companies that you can go to where you can “design” your future children, by having their genetic code altered so they can be perfect. If your family history includes any really horrible medical disorders it might not be a bad idea.

   It’s not only in the XMen that human experimentation is brought up, it’s in the Hulk and Captain America too.Their stories cover issues of National Security and Nationalism as well. How far should we go to make sure we are safe? What’s crossing the line for security? There were many of times the Captain gave up his shield because he disagreed with the government’s actions. Was he in the right? Not according to Salon magazine, a magazine regularly critical of the libertarian party, it called Captain America out for his actions in Civil War-the third movie in the series. Amanda Marcotte had this to say about Captain America:

“Most corporate blockbuster movies would cave into temptation to make the character some kind of generic apolitical ‘patriot’ abandoning the comic tradition that has painted him as a New Deal Democrat standing up consistently for liberal values. Instead, in both the first movie and in ‘Captain America: Winter Solider,’ we get Steve the liberal: Anti-racist, anti-sexist, valuing transparency in government and his belief that we the people should hold power instead of some unaccountable tyrants who believe might makes right.”

   

    Sounds good so far but wait.


“Which is why I was sorely disappointed that the latest installment … ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ decided that, for no reason whatsoever, Steve is now a guy who believes it’s cool to belong to a secretive paramilitary that rejects oversight and accountability to the public.

[I]t would have been so much better if they’d just cut all the stuff about the Sokovian Accords, which was unnecessary, muddled and made Steve Rogers look like the bad guy for no reason whatsoever.”


    The major difference between Marcotte’s view and mine is that she thinks that the best way to assure transparency and accountablilty of acting law enforcement-federal and local-is by making sure it’s operations are in the hands of government entities. How the Winter Solider was deemed valuable for it’s social commentary when Civil War is considered propaganda by Marcotte is the really muddled reasoning, the real change of personality in Civil War was Iron Man and for the Captain it was simply a continuation of a principled life. Considering all this, it seems Marcotte doesn’t possess any genuine comprehension of libertarianism. Salon magazine has done a few pieces critical of both Marvel and the limited government movement, so this is not much of a surprise. Every chance to bash libertarianism they will jump at.

   Whether you love comic books or hate them, it’s undeniable the impact they have on our culture, and it’s not a bad one as once previously viewed. The year of 1948 was an especially difficult one, thanks to zealots like Detroit Police Commission Harry S. Toy who stated that the comics were, “loaded with communist teachings, sex, and racial discrimination” or Dr. Fredric Wertham whose study The Seduction of the Innocent, almost created a prohibition on comic books. It got so bad that comic book burings were reported across the nation. Shortly after the hysteria, The Association of Comic Magazine Publishers was formed to protect the industry from it’s critics, by instituting guidelines of decency. Modern pyschology has a completely different view of the media and recognize it’s potential boon for society. They don’t cause violence in youth, in fact it could decrease it by making it clear there are consequences to those decisions. In SpiderMan he lost a loved one-his Uncle Ben-because he refused to assist in stopping a robbery when he had the opportunity. He didn’t do the right thing and suffered a major loss. Out of all the Marvel superhero stories none goes into the moral conundrums of youths as Peter Parker, not only does he have the weight of being the webslinging superhero, but those of the teenager. That is the brilliance of Marvel, they made it clear that the problems you face as youth happen to us all and you’re not as alone as you think. This is also why SpiderMan is so popular.

    While SpiderMan is about restraint, the Punisher and DareDevil are about justice at all costs. That in itself brings about moral questions. Was it a selfish act of revenge or does it really make the world safer? What about the vigilante? In the end that is the very question of the superhero. Does the idea of the superhero make the American society better or not? Does it make us more moral? Does it make us more violent or more self-sufficent? Are we more apt to help an old lady across the street or another innocent person being assaulted? Are more willing to be the hero or the victim? Do our comic book heroes make us want to be the best we can be? Maybe we will find out in the next issue.

R.C. Seely is the founder of the Americanus Libertae movement, he runs the blog americanuslibertae.com, Americanus Libertae Television on YouTube and has written books about Pop Culture. He most recent is Victims of White Male: How Victim Culture Victimizes Society.

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