There’s a Reason They’re Called Super Heroes

In the wake of the Aurora shootings, Peter Bogdanovich and His Amazing Neckerchief weigh in on violent movies, specifically comic book movies, and their effect on society:

Violence on the screen has increased tenfold. It’s almost pornographic. In fact, it is pornographic. Video games are violent, too. It’s all out of control. I can see where it would drive somebody crazy. 

I’m in the minority, but I don’t like comic book movies. They’re not my cup of tea. What happened to pictures like How Green Was My Valley or even From Here to Eternity? They’re not making those kind of movies anymore. They are either making tentpole pictures based on comic books or specialty pictures that you pray someone will go see. 

The fact that these tentpole movies are all violent comic book movies doesn’t speak well for our society. 

Obviously, there is violence in the world, and you have to deal with it. But there are other ways to do it without showing people getting blown up.

I know Peter Bogdanovich is a Hollywood legend and all that, but this is pretty much exactly wrong, and reads like a rant from my grandpa circa 1963.

Violence, both movie violence and real-life violence, doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It has a moral context. And the moral context of comic book movies is usually that a super hero, a good guy, is fighting against an evil villain to protect weaker, less-super people.

I think the fact that movies like these are wildly popular speaks well of our society. We like to see good triumph over evil, and we like to see evil get pounded into the ground by huge, green, gamma-irradiated monsters. There’s nothing wrong with escapist blood lust when the blood you’re talking about belongs to icons of evil, like a sinister trickster god or murderous psycho clown.

Note that the objects of our summer blockbuster affection are called super heroes. They’re not super slackers or super nihilists. It’s still heroes that get our movie dollars, and that’s a good thing. It certainly doesn’t have anything to do with a loon shooting up a movie theater.

Also, I love this part:

The other point I would make: Even with all the murders in the United States since the Kennedys were killed, very few people have experienced murder directly.

“Since the Kennedys were killed,” you say? It’s a certain kind of person that still sees the Kennedy assassinations as the pivot point for all of history. And that’s probably not the kind of person I’m going to be taking my cultural (or fashion) cues from.

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