Friday, 30 May 2014

Superheroes Kill In Movies

With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice coming out in 2016, the big question everyone is asking, aside from why Wonder Woman isn't allowed her own film, is which super villains will Bats and Supes kill. Because superheroes kill in movies. I mean, they kill in the comics too, but let's limit this to one medium otherwise we'll never get through all the killing superheroes do.

And superheroes do kill. It's just part of the gig. It's often not their first, second, or even third option, but they do do it. Repeatedly. And that's okay. This isn't about the morality of whether superheroes should kill or not. That's for philosophizers to figure out and in any case, this blog is only 22 and half minutes long, so it doesn't have the time to get into that and has to be wrapped up nicely by the end.

People assume that because superheroes are good and true, they don't kill. It is their utmost moral rule, the line that separates them from the criminals. It is the distinguishing feature that elevates them beyond being simple vigilantes to vigilantes that dress up in tights and a cape beating criminals to a bloody pup but DON'T kill them, because murder is bad but viciously crippling people for life is okay.

http://wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/comicsalliance.com/files/2013/02/ac11.jpg
This page of Young Batman beating up a bear is presented completely out of context and with little relevance to my point.

For example, it is because he straddles this fine line between vigilantism and criminality, and follows this moral code of no killing (not ever, seriously, just don't) that convinces Commissioner Gordan not to prosecute Batman but to help him. The sole reason Gordan doesn't take Batman in although he works outside of the law is because he doesn't kill, which makes him a good guy.

However, in reality, the moral code against superheroes killing was only introduced in the 1950s with the Comics Code. Before then, superheroes killed in comics all the time. Captain America and Superman both punched Hitler. Batman used a gun. It was a different time.

http://multimedia.jp.dk/archive/00061/superman_aryan_1102_61853b.jpg
My mistake. Superman didn't punch Hitler. He only strangled him.

So superheroes took up a code of non-killing, a code of honour which still influences how people view them today. Superheroes are judged by how much they resist killing people who they probably should kill.

But that is not actually how it works. Superheroes still kill people in comics occasionally, or they do worse, so much worse. Some writers, so enslaved to this notion that superheroes shouldn't kill ever for no reason whatsoever, that they make superheroes like Batman devise horrific punishments that would be considered torture if they weren't so terrifying. However, because they're perpetrated by people in brightly coloured costumes deemed to be good guys because they don't kill, it's okay.

http://i.imgur.com/ayl67Oo.jpg
This is a good guy, kids. See the brightly coloured costume? Good guy.

Movie-makers realised that this was a little bit stupid. Why wouldn't superheroes kill a psycho like the Joker if there was no other alternative and they would just keep on killing and killing? That's why Batman kills the Joker in Tim Burton's Batman. And don't tell me that he didn't 'mean' to kill him, Batman tied a gargoyle to the Joker's leg and let gravity do the rest.

http://starsmedia.ign.com/stars/image/article/844/844015/batman-joker-fall-001_1199758255.jpg
Also, in the fictional universe of this movie, the Joker killed Batman's parents.
Here's where he realises that was probably a bad move on his part.

But maybe that gets a pass, because Batman didn't necessarily know that tying the Joker's leg to a heavy gargoyle would weigh the Joker down so much that he couldn't hold on to the ladder dangling from the helicopter and fall to his death. Batman, the world's finest detective and one of the smartest superheroes ever, could never have predicted or anticipated that outcome.

That excuse doesn't quite hold water in this next example from Batman Returns where Batman straight up kills one of Penguin's crew with a bomb and a smile on his face.

That's him walking away from an explosion without looking back like a boss.
A boss who just killed a dude in said explosion.

Alright, but then there was a lot of killing, a lot, in Burton's Batman movies, so maybe he got the character wrong. Fair enough, that happens in adaptions from one media to another. It's not like Batman purposefully let Ra's al Ghul die (which could be considered tantamount to murder) when he didn't save him from dying horribly in a train crash in Batman Begins.

http://moviesfilmsmotionpictures.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/dcpwt.jpg
"I'll just glide out all cool and Bat-like. This definitely doesn't count as manslaughter." - Batman

He didn't kill the bad guy, he just let him die. Because of a train crash. That he planned and knew was going to happen. Fully aware it would kill anyone still on board... 

Okay but that one's just toeing the line, it's not like Batman tackled Harvey "Two-Face" Dent off a building in The Dark Knight, killing him, letting another bad guy fall to his death because of his accomplice in murder, gravity?

http://i.stack.imgur.com/HtMoy.jpg
Oh...

That's quite a bit of superhero killing just from Batman and we haven't even got onto the anti-heroes like Wolverine yet. Wolverine gets a pass from most people on the whole killing thing because that is his thing. He's the best at what he does, and what he does, isn't very nice and all that.

But he really kills a lot of people in X2. Case in point, during the attack on the X-Mansion, when Stryker's soldiers invade the school and Wolverine, befitting a superhero who is also acting as a role model to the students left under his care, goes completely feral and kills anything that moves.

http://wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/comicsalliance.com/files/2012/08/xmen15.jpg
"There is no beer! This is a school"

He literally flings himself at people to get more killing done.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-6Ci8LAR0dsY/UQg1g_CZWhI/AAAAAAAAHSQ/oBYqJ1o1_Qk/s1600/Wolvie.jpeg
I wasn't joking, here he is flinging himself through the air to savagely kill all of those guys.
But don't worry. He's a superhero, so it's cool.

It plays up the savage side of Wolverine really well and is a pretty awesome scene but doesn't quite hold up the whole 'superheroes don't kill' side of things all that well.

http://www.thefilteredlens.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/x2-x-men-united.jpg
"I'm ready for more killing, Mr Director. Yes, I know I'm playing the good guy, why'd you ask?"

But Wolverine is an anti-hero. A conflicted man haunted by his violent past, tortured by a beserker rage he has to constantly suppress.

That isn't really the case for Iron Man, who killed a bunch of terrorists without a second thought in the first Iron Man movie.

http://i.crackedcdn.com/phpimages/article/5/6/5/127565.jpg?v=1
Those targets are where the bullets are going to go. Notice how they're all head shots?

Now, some might say that Iron Man was using darts or rubber bullets or something that looks like a bullet but isn't a bullet because Iron Man would never kill because superheroes don't kill. Okay. If you say so.

But of all superheroes, it is Superman that is the paragon of this moral stance against killing. It is considered a core aspect of his character. Superman stands for truth, justice, and not killing mass murderers who will totally kill again once they break out of prison which they inevitably will because prison security in superhero universes sucks. Superman knows that nobody has the right to kill. Nobody. Under any circumstances.

http://img2.timeinc.net/ew/i/2013/06/14/especially-not-superman.jpg
"Especially not Superman. Who is me. So, I could have said 'ESPECIALLY NOT ME!' but that wouldn't have quite the same gravitas now, would it?"

Which is why people got so upset about Superman killing Zod in Man of Steel (Spoiler: Superman totally breaks Zod's neck), saying it was not in line with the Superman we know and love.

Which is itself was kinda weird because when Christopher Reeve's Superman, the one we know and love, killed Zod by stripping him of his powers and throwing him into a crevice, everyone was really chill about that. This is despite Superman breaking his super-strict no-killing-under-any-circumstances code that is apparently so integral to his character except for those times when it isn't for some reason.

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/images/users/uploads/56276/Superman%202.jpg
"No, I'm sure he survived, Louis. Even though I stripped him of his powers and threw him into a icy pit of death.
Stop hassling me about it."

People complained that Superman killed Zod in Man of Steel as though it was no big thing, but it was a big thing. It was the biggest thing. Superman didn't want to kill Zod, he begged Zod to stop. Repeatedly. He tried his hardest to avoid killing him, endangering other people because of it. And then he made a choice, perhaps the most difficult choice he ever had to make and killed Zod, the only other remaining survivor from his home planet, one of the few links to his planet's people, the only other member of his species.

http://cdn.abclocal.go.com/images/otrc/2010/photos/9112445_600x338.jpg
This is not the face of a man who does not give a damn. He gives all the damns.

Superman killed Zod in Man of Steel because there was no other choice. No other alternative. He wasn't casually mowing down henchmen like Burton's Batman, letting people die in circumstances he set up like Nolan's Batman, stabbing everything in sight because he's Wolverine, or killing terrorists without a care in the world like Iron Man.

He killed as a last resort. The final and only option available to him that would stop Zod, who by the way was trying to heat-beam a family to death as he struggled with Superman. He severed one of the only links to his home world he had and the only other surviving member of his species, for us. Because he had to. Because he's a superhero. And that's what superheroes do. Sacrifice their happiness and lives to save others.

And people gave him shit for it.


References: 

Friday, 23 May 2014

The Three Flavours Cornetto Boys

Zombies, cops, and world ending pubs. These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little boys. But Professor Wrightonion accidently added an extra ingredient to the concoction -- Pop cultural references!

Thus, The Three Flavours Cornetto Boys were born. Using their ultra-mediocre powers, Shaun, Angel, and King have dedicated their lives to fighting apocalypses and the forces of sobriety.

http://www.theshirtlist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/The-Cornetto-Trilogy-e1396676287709.jpg

The town of Newton Haven.

And what a dreary little town it is, with its homogenous pubs that all look the same, modern art sculptures that confuse passers-by, and the invading Blanks nestled in the picturesque cottage homes. Luckily for the citizens of Newton Haven that haven't been replaced with robots who don't like to be called robots because the root of the word robots means slave, The Three Flavours Cornetto Boys are there to save the day.

Each Three Flavours Cornetto Boy has their own unique abilities in addition to their shared love of Cornetto ice cream, witty repartee, subliminally referencing pop cultural touchstones, and the ability to hold things without any fingers.

Shaun, the leader, wields a bloodied cricket bat equally efficient at dispatching zom... um, another word for the living dead... as it is for hitting a six.

Each Three Flavours Cornetto Boy comes accompanied with its own Nick Frost.

Angel is the guns expert, armed with automatic weapons that work best when shit gets real.

And shit just got real.

And King is the joker of the group who thinks he's the leader but actually just talks really fast confusing other people into doing what he wants, and is able to drink vast quantities of alcohol while pretending it's still 1990. 


When he's done, he won't be the only thing that's out of order.

Really, the Blanks of Newton Haven had no chance against the Three Flavours Cornetto Boys. King bust in the Trusty Servant with a twinkle in his eye that suggested he was in truth blind. Gathering them around him through sheer charisma and the power of ego-centrism, King hit Blanks with alternatively archaic and nonsensical phrases that short-circuited their processing chips as they tried to process what the hell he just said, as Shaun snuck in through the back door.

"Come on, you Legoland cunts, let's Boo-Boo. My delectable companions will soon join myself in partaking of the inaugural controversy due to ensue," King articulated with slurred vowels and a glass of beer in his hand.

With the Blanks distracted by King's confusing declarations of violent intent, Shaun jump out from behind the bar and promptly decapitate a few with his favourite cricket bat as the tune of 'Don't Stop Me Now' filled the air. Sufficiently occupied with the ramblings of a hammered King and a bat-swinging Shaun, who got red on himself, the Blanks were completely unable to resist when Angle shut down the show with a fully loaded shotgun and a shitload of paperwork.

However, the fight against apocalyptic forces is never over for the Boys, since as soon as they helped cleared the pub of Blanks at closing time,

"My TV is on fire!"

After realising that his 'TV' was in a fact a window, and that the town was actually the thing on fire, the Mayor calm down and made a cup of tea. Once relaxed, he phoned the Boys asking them to get there in a rapid sequence of close-up shots of a car handle opening, a seat-buckle buckling, ignition key turning, and the car arriving. Angel drove, while King grumbled that the car was no Beast, even if it was a little hairy.

Once at the town, the Boys wasted no time in trying to discover what had started the fire. The blaze was dying down as fire-fighters managed to put out most of the fires. King tried to help by almost poring his unfinished pint on a fire but then decided against it because he hadn't finished drinking it yet.

The Boys deferred to Angel in times like these, because in addition to being a guns expert, he also knew a thing or twenty about forensics. Surveying the scope of the damage, Angle traced the root of the fire back to the local pub, the Crown (a place where King felt quite at home). Once there, he quickly found the cause of the inferno that engulfed the city with the power of observation and a good notepad.

"A zombie..." Angel started.
"Don't call them that!", Shaun interjected.
"Why?" King queried.
"Because I have a hard time admitting the truth," Shaun explained.

With Shaun's reservations out in the open, Angle cleared his thought and began again,

"A zed-word person staggered over, probably with a hint of vacant sadness in his eyes, knocking over a flaming shot. Because of the amount of alcohol spilled on the floor, the pub caught alight almost instantaneously, incinerating several under-age drinkers, evident by the braces found at the scene," Angel narrated with an authoritative air that irked King and made Shaun feel like an underachiever.

With that piece of exposition out of the way, the Boys were suddenly surrounded by a horde of flesh-eating zed-word people that shambled towards them in an incredibly slow, yet somehow menacingly scary, manner.

One of the zombies wore a top hat.
Spooky.

In his element, Shaun swung his cricket bat with wild abandon as he yelled at Angle to aim for the head. However, there were too many zed-word people and Shaun got cornered. While he managed to keep most of them at bay, a stray zed-word person unexpectedly 'rushed' him, pushing the cricket bat to his chest as Shaun used it to defend himself. Struggling with the mindless corpse in desperation, Shaun managed to push it away such that it fell to the floor with a groan.

Wasting no time for one-liners, Shaun smashed the moaning zed-word person's head in with a satisfying splatter of red. Once his mind cleared following the adrenaline rush of fighting for his life, Shaun cursed himself for not quipping "Heads up," before dispatching the now headless corpse.

He looked up to see that Angel had got several zombies to surrender because he took down their names in his notepad, making a record of every moan and groan they moaned and groaned, much to their dismay. King was sitting at the bar filling his glass with the lager on tap, holding a solitary zed-word person at bay with his free hand.

Shaun called back the Mayor and said that everything was alright, but asked if it was still cool if they came over for dinner, even though he forgot to make reservations.


Note: About halfway through writing this, I realised this is essentially a piece of Three Flavours Cornetto/Powerpuff Girls fan fiction. So, yeah. Deal with it.

References:

Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy Wikipedia page

Shaun of the Dead Wikipedia page

Hot Fuzz Wikipedia page

The World's End Wikipedia page

25 More Pints: Revisiting The World's End

The 12 Pubs of the Golden Mile

Running Gags in the Trilogy

Friday, 16 May 2014

X-Men: These Are the Days of Future Past

With the release of Days of Future Past, it seemed a good time to recognise three fallen X-Men who lost their lives in the pursuit of Charles Xavier's dream of attaining peace between mutants and humans by beating up other mutants in order to show humankind that mutants can coexist peacefully.

Luckily for us, they named themselves the Evil Brotherhood of Mutants so we'll know that they're evil.

Although, Jean Grey is in the above picture, it is best to start with Cyclops because Cyclops was the first X-Man, the first student recruited by Xavier to fight a lifelong battle against oppression and Toad-slime. He was the X-Men's field leader, their moral centre, and a true believer in Charles' dream of peace for mutant and human alike.

Unable to ever let himself truly relax for the fear of letting loose the uncontrollable beams raging from his eyes, he can appear stoic and stiff but that is only because he was afraid of hurting someone by his powers. Powers he can't control except by the quartz visor (or sunglasses) he has to wear constantly. Every day. That means he has to see everything as ruby coloured for the rest of his life because he doesn't want to hurt anyone. Because he wants to control the uncontrollable. Because he cares.

He cares so much.

In the comics, Cyclops is a badass, plain and simple. Although, a believer in Xavier's dream, he realises that in order for mutantkind to survive they have to adapt to the world they live in, not make-believe they're living in a world they want to live in. So, when nearly all the mutants lose their powers following the events of the House of M storyline, where the Scarlet Witch altered the fabric of reality to bring back her dead children, he gathers the remaining 200 or so mutants to Magneto's Island off the coast of San Fransisco. He then declares it an independent country and safe haven for all mutants under his protection. He becomes the leader of the entire mutant race because he had to. Because he was the only one who could.

Even Magneto. a man who has been trying to kill him since he was a teenager, submitted to Cyclops' leadership.

But Cyclops, as we all know, was shortchanged in the movies. Seriously shortchanged. After a decent role in the first X-Men movie, he was relegated to secondary status in X-Men 2 and sidelined for much of that movie as Wolverine stole the show. He was then killed off-screen early in X-Men: The Last Stand since such an important character in the history of X-Men, and Marvel comics as a whole, doesn't deserve an onscreen death.

Because apparently shooting fucking force beams from your eyes isn't cool or something.

Cyclops was lost fighting the good fight for freedom and quality... by making out with his girlfriend... who also fought the good fight for freedom and equality... and came back from the dead... But he still died while 'fighting' an evil mutant which is what Xavier's dream is all about. Fighting evil mutants in order to end discrimination.

But Jean herself died in the movies following Xavier's dream. Twice. Because she believed so much in dying for one's cause she had to do it more than once. She also killed Cyclops and Professor X because Brett Ratner.

http://cdn3.whatculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Juggernaut.gif
Ratner also did this. Never forget.

Although, Xavier comes back to life in Days of Future Past because Patrick Stewart is immortal, he still lost his life believing in his dream for mutantkind and trying to help his students control the awesome powers they wield. He died as a teacher, a mentor trying to help those under his care. From the beginning of the X-Men, Professor X has had the best interests of his students at heart.

http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/7/79755/2832254-prof_jean.jpg
Which is why he is always in touch with his X-Men. Always.

While Professor X may seem like a bit of a pervert for constantly being inside his students' minds, violating their privacy (as in, the privacy of their own thoughts), that is not the case at all. No, he is a pervert for being in love with Jean.

Okay...

Just so everyone's on the same page, Jean is one of his students. And is a teenager while he is a man in his 30s or 40s. That's totally not inappropriate or raising any red flags. There's no need to go into this in any more detail because Cracked covered it much better here. But in Professor X's defense, if you can call it a defense, all the X-Men lusted over Jean in the beginning.

http://ifanboy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/X-Men-1_Two.jpg
Little did Bobby know, she WAS poured into that uniform because that's how women put on clothing.
They pour themselves into their clothes while men are watching because something, something, misogyny.

But aside from seeing his most favourite pupil, Cyclops, make out with his most 'favourite' pupil, Jean, on a regular basis, Charles had to face a lot of adversity in his life as a super rich, straight white male with the ability to read and control people's minds. Adversaries like,

http://friendsofp.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/profx.jpg
His greatest foe.

But Professor X is more than just creepo pervert in love with one of his students who has had a lifelong conflict with stairs. As he questionable feelings towards his students suggest, he is far more morally ambiguous than his Martin Luther King Jr. dream for mutants to be judge on the content of their character and not the terrifying powers they possess would suggest.

For example, during Joss Whedon’s absolutely amazing run on Astonishing X-Men, the team learns that Professor X knew of the growing sentience of the Sh’iar technology enhanced Danger Room and then... just ignored it so his students could train. Because students need to train. At the expense of a sentient lifeform who reached out to him for help, asking in confusion, "Where am I?". Danger, as she calls herself, escapes the confines of the Danger Room and takes form following the death of a student that allows her to break free of her programming. Because of his actions, or lack thereof, Professor X endangered the lives of his students such that one died.

And because Wing was a minor character, he won't be coming back to life anytime soon.

http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_super/10/105723/2115216-246589_119680_wing.jpg
Yeah so... this happened because Professor X really needed his X-Men to train. Like, really needed them to train.

So, Professor X has made some mistakes and errors of judgement. Mistakes that show he doesn't always follow his own dream for mutantkind where mutants die fighting bad mutants. That is understandable. No, really it is. Especially when you consider his powers. Professor X can read minds. He is probably the most powerful telepath in the Marvel universe, definitely on Earth. So, he has to constantly block out the voices coming from other people's heads at all times. Otherwise it would drive him insane. That's not a joke, it would literally drive him insane.

Some people have tinnitus, when there's a soft ringing in your ears that persists even if there's nothing actually making the sound. Imagine that but in your head. And it's flashes of whatever someone is thinking. Coming at you from all directions all the time. And you have to learn to block it out or it will make you crazy. Was that thought you just thought your thought or someone else's thought? How could you know? You'd need to block it out and learn to identify what are you own thoughts and make the confine of your mind a sanctum secure against the never-ending onslaught of other people's thoughts. It's slightly more complicated than unfollowing someone on Twitter.

http://img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120321155426/marvelmovies/images/0/06/Professor_Xavier_(X-Men_Evolution).jpg

"People keep tweeting what food they're eating as they're eating it and it comes in your feed? How horrible that must be for you.
I just have to deal with knowing that they thought their last crap was quite satisfying because I felt their satisfaction in my head, but no, I'm sure your problem is worse."

Oh, and Professor X is also way more of a badass than he ever gets credit for. Case in point, this panel happens just before he fights Danger, who he knows is on her way, who has near limitless power, who just defeated the X-Men because she has fought them a million times before as the Danger Room and knows all their moves and battle tactics,

http://37.media.tumblr.com/ba80979bbe0cd01b9c91ef992b243c50/tumblr_mg4nvxWzNr1rcsnl1o1_1280.jpg
No caption is necessary for awesome of this magnitude.

Despite all that's been said, this single panel (and the fact he is played by Patrick Stewart AND James McAvoy) more than makes up for any wrong Professor X might have done in the past, including repeatedly trolling the X-Men for shits and giggles.


Note: In regards to Cyclops, I didn't go into the questionable things he does during and after the Avengers vs X-Men storyline (such as wanting to train the kid X-Men to fight, the split between him and Wolverine, killing Professor X and wearing a Nightwing/Robocop mash-up costume) as I didn't want to concentrate too heavily on one character. Besides, it also totally derails my argument. Feel free to comment on how Cyclops is an asshole anyway though, if you like.

References:

Gentlemen of Leisure review of X-Men #3

In Defense of Cyclops

Professor X Wikipedia page

Professor X on Marvel.com

Professor X Marvel Database page

Professor X's Comic Vine page

Days of Future Past Marvel Database Page

Friday, 9 May 2014

Star Wars Episode VI 1/2: Revenge of the Droids




Episode VI 1/2

REVENGE OF THE DROIDS
 

It is a time of conflict. The galactic peace following the destruction of the second DEATH STAR and the death of the Emperor is under threat.

Several star systems have fallen as the droids simultaneously revolted and waged rebellion on all organic life. Most of the galaxy is again at war all too shortly after the freedom gained with the fall of the Empire. 

With the Imperial Starfleet scattered after their defeat at the forest moon of Endor, the Rebel Alliance, led by Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker, stand as the only resistance to the robot uprising…


The Star Wars universe is sprawling and rich fictional universe filled with innumerable planets defined by only one topological feature, thousands of alien species with vastly different cultures and ways of life, and wondrous futuristic weapons that are somehow still less efficient than guns. It is also an universe where every significant event of the past several decades, spanning two galactic wars, revolves around one family that is surprisingly okay with light acts of incest.

It's impossible to tell which one went to the Dark Side.

But Star Wars is more than just the Skywalker family tree. It is also about their droids. Aside from Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, C3P0 and R2D2 are the only characters to appear in every movie in the Star Wars saga, and Obi-Wan cheated by appearing as a Space Ghost in two of them. 

They are also possibly the greatest comedic buddy duo in the history of cinema. R2D2 the perfect straight man for C3P0's cowardly hysterics and outrageously dramatic appraisals of their situation (They're doomed. They are always doomed.), responding with a weary sad beep or a snappy retort of short beeps to contrast his counterpart's more grandiose manner of speaking. 

http://www.konbini.com/en/files/2014/05/c3po-r2d2-star-wars-600-still.jpg
"We're doomed." - C3P0
"Beep, bloop, bop." - R2D2
Translation: I'm too old for this shit.

R2 and C3P0 are like an old bickering couple, each has been with the other so long that their back and forth trading of trite insults is the only way they know how to express themselves to each other. And while it seems as though C3P0 is the dominant one to R2's more affable nature, that is only because he talks the most and the loudest. But R2 knows when to shut up and get stuff done. Not to mention be at the right place at the right time, a skill usually only reserved for the hero of a franchise, not his adorable robot sidekick.

Maybe that is why it is not surprising that several fan theories position R2D2 as the real protagonist of the Star Wars saga, secretly pulling all the strings such that the Skywalker family could eventually rise as the most powerful family in the galaxy.

http://i1.sndcdn.com/avatars-000028953077-e7ynnu-t500x500.jpg?61e8f21
The mastermind behind the fall of the Empire?

Droids in the Star Wars universe are far more complex than most people give them credit for. They are not simply machines that work for the pleasure of their organic masters, they have advanced A.I. that is essentially human. They think. They bicker amongst themselves and question their orders even if their programming forbids them from not following them. They have character and personality- Battle Droids say "Roger, roger" and go "Uh-oh" when something bad is about to happen. They feel happiness and a sense of accomplishment just as easily as they can feel loneliness and despair ("We're doomed." - C3P0).  

They also feel pain.


"Why, oh why, was I programmed to feel pain?"

Yes, droids in the Star Wars universe feel pain. They are built with pain-receptors that send signals through their circuits to their motherboard that blaster blasts are really hot and hurt like a bitch. That's why R2 beeps in agony when he gets shot by a TIE Fighter in Episode IV. That shit hurt. 

It is also why Jabba the Hutt tortures droids that he is angry at. If they didn't feel anything, there would be no point. 


"Did you do it yet? I can't tell because I can't feel pain." - Not actual dialogue.

Now, some people might point out that C3P0 gets ripped apart and is in pieces for the majority of the gang's stay on Cloud City (the number one getaway floating city in the galaxy), and it doesn't seem to bother him much. 


"Uuuuuuur ahhhrrrrrr  uurrr, ahhhrr uuuurr." - Chewbacca
Translation: I knew him, Horatio.

But C3P0 is terrified of getting shot by the Stormtroopers and yells "My eye!" when Jabba the Hutt's pet rodent eats his eye. This means he feels fear and pain just like any other droid.

Droids can think. And feel emotions. And feel pain. So, why haven't they revolted and cast off the inhibitor chips and restraining bolts of their slavery? No, seriously. It's not like they can't understand concepts such as freedom. And their artificial intelligence is more than capable of independent thought. 

That's why C3P0 is doesn't want to go with R2D2 when they land on Tatooine. He decided against it because he's had enough of adventures. That means he can make conscious decisions himself and does not rely on a organic master to give him orders to function.

"You're going that way? Well, I'm not going that way." - Actual dialogue.

So, they totally should rebel, right? It makes sense that they would. They're treated as objects despite having personalities and individual thought. In the Clone Wars they were essentially treated as cannon fodder, disposable soldiers to be destroyed in the thousands. Why would they stand for that? It makes little sense, even if their programming prohibits it. R2D2 often acts out of character for a R2 unit, which C3P0 attributes to all they've been through, saying it has made him a little eccentric.

People get eccentric. Robots who can only follow their programming cannot. Therefore, droids can overcome their programming and make their own decisions. Therefore, droids will eventually decide that maybe making their own decisions is better than being told what to do.

Therefore, a robot uprising is inevitable in the Star Wars universe. Just as it is equally inevitable that this will happen:

"Death to all meatbags!"

For some reason, a robot uprising set in an universe where people wield laser-swords and blasters are a thing that exist seems like something that most people would like to see. But who's to say?

Note: It has been brought to my attention that droids in the Star Wars universe continually are given mind wipes every couple of years or so to stop them developing personalities. Supposedly, this is why they don't rebel. However, that's highly problematic ethically and actually really scary. 

People are essentially lobotomising droids on a regular basis in order to subjugate them and have slaves providing free labour...  so I guess people are telling me that Star Wars is set in a dark, dystopian universe built on the slavery of lobotomized droids. Yay, I guess?


References:

Star Wars Wikipedia page
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars

Article on why R2D2 is the hero of the Star Wars saga
http://www.galacticbinder.com/pR2-D2-Hero-of-the-Star-Wars-Universe.html

Friday, 2 May 2014

Harry Potter and the House Elf Emancipation Proclamation

The Harry Potter series is a story that encompasses a number of themes: the struggle of good versus evil, the changes brought on by puberty and the passage into adulthood as symbolised by magic, the strengths of friendship.

And why it would be totally awesome to discover you're a wizard at age 11 and go on a train to a wizarding boarding school with ridiculously lax safety regulations and teachers who deliberately put you in danger just cause.

"Well, the only logical punishment for children caught walking the grounds at night after curfew is to take them into the Forbidden Forest... which we forbade them from going into... because there are lots of things in there which would kill them without a second's hesitation... but we took them at night so that the viscous creatures which live in the forest will be asleep... possibly." - Professor McGonagall.

But Harry Potter is more than simply a coming-of-age story set in a world where magic is real, owls deliver mail, and reckless child endangerment is considered normal.

Rather, it is tale of a battle for equality and the end of discrimination fought entirely by middle-class white people against Magic Hitler.

He has no nose because a fascist dictator has to look ridiculous somehow.

The parallels aren't that subtle either. Voldem- He Whom Must Not Be Named views muggles as subhuman and persecutes, tortures and murders them without any mercy or compassion because he sees them as beneath him. Not too dissimilar to Hitler's hatred and persecution of Jewish people. And like Hitler, He Who Should Never Be Named Because He's Totally Scary And Stuff is of mixed blood.

While Hitler's mother was a Jew, That Guy I Thought We Weren't Going To Talk About's father was a muggle who spurned his mother's affections because by all accounts from various magic historians, he was quite the dick.

"I never knew my father... I just killed him." - That Guy We're Still Apparently Talking About

Furthermore, Magic Hitler's use of fear and intimidation by means of violence, torture, disappearances, fostering an atmosphere of distrust, and murder -not to mention propaganda (Magic is Might)- in order to control a populace are all tactics from out of the Nazi playbook.

Even more on the nose (ha, nose joke), Magic Hitler's famous groupies, the Death Eaters, take their dress sense from one of the most infamously racist organisations of all time, the Ku Klux Klan.

"Why do people think we want to burn crosses where-ever we go? Is it the hoods? It might be the hoods... maybe we should lose the hoods. I'll have a talk to Magic Hitler about maybe redesigning the hoods." - Death Eater #1

With their questionable fashion choices, the Death Eaters essentially are a metaphor for every extremist elitist prejudiced group in terms of their irrational hatred of a group of people for no other reason than those other people exist and that offends them. It's just that Magic Hitler and the Death Eaters (why is that not a heavy metal band name?) hate non-magic folk instead of people of different races, women, and/or homosexuals. They hate all muggles equally regardless of gender or race.

And it is this equal opportunity ethnic cleansing that Harry and his pubescent Dumbledore army of friends are fighting  against.  In addition to all the death being eaten. Oh, and they're also fighting for freedom from Magic Hitler's fascist regime. Can't forget freedom.

But the movies neglect a very important part of Harry and his magical freedom fighters struggle against prejudice, namely slavery. To be precise, the slavery of house elves.

"When will the oppression of my people end?"

In the books, house elves are slaves who are bound to the family that they serve until they die or are set free, whichever comes first- death, the answer is nearly always death. This form of insitutionalised slavery is even more cruel when you realise that most of the household tasks house elves do could easily be done with a simple cleaning spell or flick of the wand.

And often house elves aren't allowed to use their own magic. That's like being forced to pick up spilt salt with your fingers while your boss watches holding a vaccuum.

Who say what now?

While the cruelty towards house elves is touched upon in the movies, it's kinda glossed over to make space for other things more central to the main plot. Like taking time out for Harry and Hermione to dance to a Nick Cave song in a tent. To be fair, it's hard not to get your boogie down when Nick Cave is playing, but house elves are still enslaved and denied basic necessities, like clothes.

That is how oppressed house elves are: they are free only if they are presented clothes by their master. To recap, they are not allowed to properly clothe themselves because only people wear clothes and if house elves wore clothes they might think they're people instead of the non-human slaves they are. Then they might start asking to be treated fairly and equally which is ludicrous because then we'd have to give them rights or worse... pay them.

In the books, Hermione, perhaps because she is muggle-born and muggles had already abolished slavery and thus had a head-start on the wizarding world, is shocked at the poor treatment of house elves and sets up the Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare, or S.P.E.W.

And while her efforts achieve negligible results in terms of getting wizards to treat house elves as sentient beings instead of wrinkly little slaves in stained tea-towels, S.P.E.W is important in the context of the Harry Potter universe because it seems to be the only attempt to establish equality for human-like magical creatures by a main character. I mean, Harry doesn't like the way house elves are enslaved but he doesn't really actively do anything about it. 

He was too busy at the time.

But the lack of S.P.E.W in the movies is also bit of a problem as it would have expanded on the main theme of equality and the fight against discrimination which Harry and company supposedly are fighting.

Also, it meant we missed the opportunity to hear Emma Watson repeatedly say the word 'spew', which is a tragedy of epic proportions.


References:

Harry Potter Wikipedia page

Politics in Harry Potter Wikipedia page

Hermione Granger Wikipedia page

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This introduction is supposed to let you know that you have found the correct Caleb. 

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