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How do the dominant cultural narratives in art and mass media affect our politics?

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CrimsonZephyr Would that it were so simple. from Massachusetts Relationship Status: It's complicated
Would that it were so simple.
Aug 10th 2018 at 5:53:19 AM

Mystery cults were all the rage in Rome, the fuck are you talking about? The senatus consultum in 186 BC against the Bacchic rites is recognizable as a 2nd Century BC version of a moralist right-wing movement, but the actual cult, and the Bacchinalia festival continued well into the imperial era, albeit as The Moral Substitute. I never said that the rites and beliefs continued into Roman society unchanged, but unless you expressly refused to worship the Princeps or acknowledge the Capitoline Triad, you were mostly fine and could build up devoted followings within Roman society. The Roman army, in particular, loved weird cults. The legionaries worshiped Mithras, famously, but there was such a strong following among Roman cavalrymen for the Celtic goddess Epona/Epane, that there was a shrine to her in Rome on the Lateran. Late Republican Rome and early Imperial Rome were crowded with that sort of thing.

As for Druidism and the Punic pantheon, both featured human sacrifice prominently, which was going to be a bridge too far for 1st Century Rome.

Edited by CrimsonZephyr on Aug 10th 2018 at 8:59:07 AM

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."
Aug 10th 2018 at 6:08:58 AM

[up] And while forcing people to accept their gods is a form of religious persecution to exclusive monotheists, like Christians and Jews, the fact is that those were aberrations in their time (even the Tanakh 'acknowledges' the existence of other gods, it just includes a proscription against worshipping them over the god of the covenant).

For the most part the religions of the time had no religious issues adding new gods to their pantheon, only political ones (since adding a foreign religion's gods to your pantheon was a political concession).

TobiasDrake Always watching, never seen from Colorado, USA Relationship Status: She's holding a very large knife
Always watching, never seen
Aug 10th 2018 at 6:22:12 AM

Which is usually the best way to go about things, but this game is pretty much stated to be anti-facist propaganda in its very own description, so making the facist side even remotely cool is counter-intuitive to its agenda.

Quite.

Making the bad guys look too cool is a problem that a lot of works have, and it tends to go hand in hand with what I like to call Assumed Protagonist Sympathy. The idea is that the audience will, 100% guaranteed, agree that the hero is right. Therefore, there is no reason to actually spend time talking about his side of the conflict or giving the audience reasons to support him.

Instead, all that time is spent building and developing other people so that he'll look cooler when he triumphs over them. Or even sabotaging his own message to try and make the conflict look more gray, forgetting that if you just talk about why your hero sucks and never talk about why he's right, then he just looks like someone who sucks.

Marvel's Netflix shows, particularly DareDevil and Iron Fist, both have this problem. DD has a strict moral code about killing people that never actually results in any positive outcome for anybody, never helps or improves anyone's life, and sometimes even causes more harm than good. He's a White Hat Good Guy and the show constantly punishes him and everyone around him for it.

Iron Fist, meanwhile, is an extremely unlikable douchebag who you're meant to root for because he's the protagonist, even while he commits various crimes, stalks a woman, and flies off in the occasional rant about how righteous he is. The assumption is made that because he's the hero, you already support him and thus don't need to be given any actual reason to.

This can, at time, utterly sabotage works. Marvel's original Civil War comic event was, according to the author, meant to depict Iron Man as the hero and moral victor by the end of the event. Given that the event is widely seen as "Iron Fuhrer descends into fascism", that might sound insane. And it is.

Author Mark Millar was so utterly convinced that the audience would instantly agree that Iron Man was 100% right and that Captain America's side was completely indefensible, that he decided he needed to blur the lines by having Iron Man spend the whole event kicking puppies left and right. The assumed protagonist sympathy was with Iron Man, and so his efforts to even the playing field just wound up off-centering it in Captain America's favor by a wide margin.

The only thing you protest when you don't vote is your own ability to affect policy. If you can't vote for perfect, then vote for better.
CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Aug 10th 2018 at 6:34:22 AM

Given it was the time of Dubya and a huge number of Marvel writers were anti-establishment types by nature, I'm not entirely sure Mark Miller wasn't taking the piss when he said that explanation.

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
Fourthspartan56 Technocratic Progressive from Georgia, US Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
Technocratic Progressive
Aug 10th 2018 at 6:37:12 AM

I've always found the traditional opposition of superperson registry in superhero media to be ridiculous, when you have people who very likely can kill you with their mind or have other kinds of powerful anomalous abilities it's basic logic to regulate them so they don't abuse those powers at the expense of the common good.

It's like if people were allowed to carry around automatic weaponry or explosives and it was treated like tyranny to reign that in.

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies. -Robert Kennedy
CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Aug 10th 2018 at 6:41:07 AM

Romans didn't outlaw ALL mystery cults but they regularly stamped out specific ones.

Romans actually didn't accept other gods as part of their pantheon, which is part of the inclusiveness myth. They often stated that YOUR gods were just another name for their gods and allowed religious freedom but they regularly as well as routinely co-opted local religion to justify themselves or harden their position. Romans didn't start worshiping Ra or acknowledging he existed—he was just another name for Jupiter.

And the "not religious but political" argument fails once it hits the fact the two are innately entwined. As we see with the Jews, Druids, and Carthagians—they were very much about their religion and it was viewed as a threat to Roman power. There's also a huge number of cultures where their religion was considered part and parcel of why they were enemies of Rome. The Parthians (Iranians) did the same thing and, unlike Rome, had no problem with Christians and Zoroastrians in their territory.

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Aug 10th 2018 at 6:42:25 AM

[up][up]Registry of superhumans is fine if the government isn't planning a genocide.

Notably, Professor X's use of Cerebro is so an inherent registration by itself.

It's just that he's a mutant and can be depended on not to murder them all.

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
Fourthspartan56 Technocratic Progressive from Georgia, US Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
Technocratic Progressive
Aug 10th 2018 at 6:48:07 AM

[up]And they're always planning a genocide because Comic books need the government as cartoonishly evil as possible to avoid their legitimate criticism looking even slightly reasonable.

Like the idea that the US government would kill all superpeople when they could instead recruit them is beyond belief, especially when we're talking about Cold War US Government. They would've dropped superhero commandos into Cuba in a second flat if they could've.

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies. -Robert Kennedy
CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Aug 10th 2018 at 6:51:58 AM

The genocide thing is a result of Flanderization actually as the government becoming Sentinel Happy was a Bad Future meant to show the world completely off. Generally, most Sentinels were created by extremists or the equivalent of the KKK or lone actors who somehow could afford their own robot army.

The thing is, the "recruiting Mutants" thing is bad by itself.

Weapon X uses them as Brainwashed and Crazy soldiers.

Genosha used them as slave labor.

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
Fourthspartan56 Technocratic Progressive from Georgia, US Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
Technocratic Progressive
Aug 10th 2018 at 6:54:19 AM

When I say recruiting mutants I mean recruiting them the same way the US government recruits anyone else, by offering pay and benefits.

I'm not saying that abuse is impossible just that the government should be all about mutants or anyone else with superpowers. Which I suppose goes back into the problem that the comics want to provide a narrative of a persecuted minority, which doesn't work with how superpowered people are as a group.

Edited by Fourthspartan56 on Aug 10th 2018 at 9:54:01 AM

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies. -Robert Kennedy
TobiasDrake Always watching, never seen from Colorado, USA Relationship Status: She's holding a very large knife
Always watching, never seen
Aug 10th 2018 at 7:07:23 AM

Given it was the time of Dubya and a huge number of Marvel writers were anti-establishment types by nature, I'm not entirely sure Mark Miller wasn't taking the piss when he said that explanation.

I don't think he was. His core event ends with Captain America suffering a Heel Realization and surrendering to face trial for his crimes, and then Iron Man is promoted to Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. for his awesomeness and flies off into the sunset on a Helicarrier talking about his great plans for the future.

The core event's conclusion pretty firmly corroborates that Millar meant for Iron Man to be the hero. It's utterly and hilariously tone-deaf about the story's actual audience reception.

It's true that it was the time of Dubya. Indeed, Millar seemed pretty firmly swept up in the 9/11 fervor. Not only does the event open with what is basically Superhero 9/11, but it concludes with Cap being made to realize how wrong he is when the First Responders from Marvel's 9/11 tribute comic show up to fight him. The whole event is pretty clearly inspired by 9/11 and dedicated to the importance of standing with our government and supporting America and shit.

This is the same guy who wrote the first Ultimates event, including the infamous Captain America line, "Surrender?! You think this A on my forehead stands for FRANCE?!" The ultra-nationalism is strong with him.

It's like if people were allowed to carry around automatic weaponry or explosives and it was treated like tyranny to reign that in.

So, the U.S., then?

Like the idea that the US government would kill all superpeople when they could instead recruit them is beyond belief, especially when we're talking about Cold War US Government. They would've dropped superhero commandos into Cuba in a second flat if they could've.

Notably, it's usually just mutants that they hate and want to force to register and maybe commit genocide against. The government's typically fine with other super people. Civil War was unusual in that it applied the Registration Act as a blanket registration to all supers instead of having it just be for mutants.

Civil War sequel series "The Initiative" lampshades this. A U.S. Army officer in Iraq comments on the recent mutant Decimation reducing their numbers from millions to just over a hundred, saying that now we're down to aliens, sorcerers, and "good old-fashioned lab accidents just like God intended."

The hatred of mutants has never been rational. They don't hate mutants for having powers, they hate mutants out of irrational tribalism. That this hatred and fear does not extend to other supers and is focused exclusively on mutants is a feature, not a bug.

Edited by TobiasDrake on Aug 10th 2018 at 8:08:16 AM

The only thing you protest when you don't vote is your own ability to affect policy. If you can't vote for perfect, then vote for better.
Protagonist506 from 'MURICA Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Aug 10th 2018 at 7:17:40 AM

[up]For the record, automatic weapons actually are very tightly regulated in the US.

"Any campaign world where an orc samurai can leap off a landcruiser to fight a herd of Bulbasaurs will always have my vote of confidence"
Aug 10th 2018 at 7:20:46 AM

There's also the fact that most Mutants don't have 'superpowers', just benign and unusual mutations.

The ones we follow do, (because a comic about a regular woman who just happens to have bright golden fur and a short non-prehensile tail trying to go about her life, while potentially interesting, isn't exactly on-brand for Marvel,) but most don't.

Aug 10th 2018 at 7:22:55 AM

Millar seemed to be the only writer that tried to make the pro-reg side look somewhat reasonable while everyone else seemed to be competing to see who could make Tony's faction look like the most fascist puppy-kickers ever put on paper.

Let's look at how one element in the story was written by two different writers - the Negative Zone prison.

In the main book as written by Millar, the N-Zone prison was a temporary holding facility until a more secure prison could be found on Earth. Not the most ideal situation but it was understandable given the circumstances.

But under the pen of J. Michael "Over there needs to take care of itself" Straczynski, it was the opposite. Not only was Tony portrayed as having no intention of sending the prisoner anywhere but the Negative Zone but he even went as far as threatening to send Peter there if he didn't cooperate.

Basically, all but one writer was hellbent on making the SHRA the worst option. Didn't help that Marvel refused to say what the act entailed.

CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Aug 10th 2018 at 7:25:11 AM

In my home RPG games (and later my superhero books), I state that people hate mutants for two reasons.

  • The government hates them because mutation is completely uncontrollable and a person who is part of a radical or poor community is capable of potentially overthrowing the US government. A poor black kid with the powers of Magneto is a nightmare scenario for the corrupt hicks in power (and the basis for a lot of the X-men's appeal). They destabilize the military supremacy of the United States and attempts to build their own teams have failed repeatedly.
  • The public hates them because in-universe propaganda shows mutants as a bunch of ugly degenerate weirdos. There's an organized campaign to make people forget that anyone's kid can be a mutant but THOSE people are just evil degenerates you need to throw out of your home. (cough gay people cough). Rich people also resent mutants for having powers they will never be able to get and control.

I also add Magneto has poisoned the well for a lot of people as he was so paranoid about the idea of the government turning against mutants, he's actually a major reason why so many people started building giant robots as the only way to deal with them.

Edited by CharlesPhipps on Aug 10th 2018 at 7:46:10 AM

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
TobiasDrake Always watching, never seen from Colorado, USA Relationship Status: She's holding a very large knife
Always watching, never seen
Aug 10th 2018 at 7:34:45 AM

[up] I think you're overthinking bigotry, to be honest. It's an emotional reaction; there is no rational explanation for it and never has been. Hate is not logical.

Indeed, one of the biggest reasons for why prejudice has been able to go unseen in so many different corners of America is the widespread myth that people need a reason to be prejudiced. That the default state of people is Not Prejudiced, and they have to be convinced by something or another to start hating a group of people.

Basically, all but one writer was hellbent on making the SHRA the worst option. Didn't help that Marvel refused to say what the act entailed.

There were a couple of other writers that were on the Pro-Reg side. Some of them were definitely not helping Millar's case, like that one writer who declared both that Tony Stark was war profiteering on the conflict and that it was actually acceptable for him to do that. The arc ends with the journalists who uncover his profiteering agreeing to hide the truth from the world, because Stark is a great man doing great things and they don't want it to get in his way or some shit.

And then they read Captain America a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about how he doesn't represent TRUE AMERICA because he doesn't watch NASCAR or have a MySpace page.

Edited by TobiasDrake on Aug 10th 2018 at 8:38:10 AM

The only thing you protest when you don't vote is your own ability to affect policy. If you can't vote for perfect, then vote for better.
Fourthspartan56 Technocratic Progressive from Georgia, US Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
Technocratic Progressive
Aug 10th 2018 at 7:36:36 AM

I think you're overthinking bigotry, to be honest. It's an emotional response; there is no rational explanation for it and never has been. Hate is not logical.

While you're right about the motivations there are always causes, in the South bigotry against blacks helped maintain the racial hierarchy which smoothed over economic inequality.

I think the fact they thought through what would cause such bigotry is simply good world building and makes it much easier to swallow (this coming from someone who generally dislikes stories having anti-superpower/mutant bigotry).

Edited by Fourthspartan56 on Aug 10th 2018 at 10:36:54 AM

Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies. -Robert Kennedy
CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Aug 10th 2018 at 7:42:13 AM

I inserted this into my superhero books as the anti-authoritarian vibe benefited from, "The government hates superpowers because superpowers remove power from the government and give it to the people."

Mind you, the public's reason just means they're ignorant and biased assholes.

Edited by CharlesPhipps on Aug 10th 2018 at 7:45:35 AM

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
Aug 10th 2018 at 7:45:12 AM

[up][up] Except the writers keep giving humans reasons to hate and fear mutants. Either by turning them into living WM Ds or making so many mutant villains. Even the X-Men, the mutants we are supposed to root for, have been written as following Magneto's rhetoric that mutants will overtake humanity. And don't get me started on the X-Men's habit of letting villains join their ranks. For crying out loud, one of their members, Dr Nemisis was a Nazi!

CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Aug 10th 2018 at 7:49:11 AM

[up]"Mutants will overtake humanity."

This is something that I actually had to address in one of the books.

Citizen: "Mutants will replace us!"

Merciless the Supervillain without Mercy: "Dipshit, duh, because humans are becoming mutants and passing their powers down to their children. It's called genetics."

And to be fair to Doctor Nemsis, he's spent the past 80 years hunting Nazis as apparently the only guy other than Silver Sable's team to think "You know, we really shouldn't have let Hydra and other groups form."

Edited by CharlesPhipps on Aug 10th 2018 at 7:53:00 AM

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
Aug 10th 2018 at 7:50:30 AM

As for that speech from Sally Floyd people like to focus on the NASCAR part but ignore the overall message and the rest of the conversation between Sally and Steve - that for all Steve's crying about being "for the people" he never actually cared of the SHRA was what the people wanted.

CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Aug 10th 2018 at 7:52:41 AM

As for that speech from Sally Floyd people like to focus on the NASCAR part but ignore the overall message and the rest of the conversation between Sally and Steve - that for all Steve's crying about being "for the people" he never actually cared of the SHRA was what the people wanted.

Sally got owned by Nazi Steve when he pointed out the exact same thing, that America had voluntarily embraced Nazism/Hydraism.

So where was her support now?

Oh right, she should go complain about it on Twitter.

I was very conflicted whether to be happy about that or not.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Marvel/comments/6d674f/10_years_for_the_sickest_burn_ever_captain/?st=jko42jui&sh=4c3cb394

FYI - Fuck Marvel America for embracing Nazism and mutant/Inhuman genocide.

Edited by CharlesPhipps on Aug 10th 2018 at 7:53:08 AM

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
Aug 10th 2018 at 8:04:49 AM

False equivalency. Asking for vigilantes to be held accountable for their actions is not the same as embracing Nazism (of course according to Marvel, Hydra aren't Nazis). Sally siding with the SHRA doesn't make her a hypocrite for being against Hydra.

And you know how white supremacists are afraid that "x racial group will replace us"? Well that's literally the case with Mutants and humans meaning Marvel is unintentionally justifying bigotry.

CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Aug 10th 2018 at 8:08:15 AM

Eh, there's a good social satire that the government and bad people often make one argument in order to enshrine laws for something else.

In the case of the SHRA, the law says, "Stop vigilantism and make sure all superheroes are legally trained and deputized."

In reality, the law is, "Draft all superpowered people into being our eternal slaves."

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.
CharlesPhipps Author from Ashland, Ky Relationship Status: Lovey-Dovey
Author
Aug 10th 2018 at 8:09:08 AM

And you know how white supremacists are afraid that "x racial group will replace us"? Well that's literally the case with Mutants and humans meaning Marvel is unintentionally justifying bigotry.

No, it's saying that your children will replace you.

It is, however, saying that intermixing races is a good thing, though. Which I can get behind.

Author of The Supervillainy Saga, Cthulhu Armageddon, The United States of Monsters, and Lucifer's Star.

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