Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Incredibly, it's not just me

I knew I couldn't be the only one who sensed right-wing undertones in The Incredibles. Check out this piece in the New York Observer:
The simple message that President Bush managed to dumbly repeat until it seemed true for so many can find itself illustrated in diverse places because it sticks so easily. Team America and The Incredibles are different films that arrive at the same conclusion: At some point the Evil Ones must die, and at some point a special, chosen, brave and happy few will vanquish them; it’s up to the rest of us to sit by and trust them to take care of it, without questioning their methods. In The Incredibles, Mrs. Incredible—voiced by Holly Hunter—lectures her children pointedly: These people will kill you, she says, unless you use your superpowers.

I also found this nice post at the Turk's Head Review blog.


Robin Zebrowski said...

I want to disagree and say that this is true of almost EVERY single adventure-type movie, but I'm not sure I will. (When Lord of the Rings came out, I actually considered writing up a rant about how it was merely endorsing and encouraging Bush's agenda of the few, the proud, etc.)

I'm not 100% convinced. (I think the very formula for an action hero movie relies on that very premise, as do most action films in general, especially fantasy-related ones). I'm not 100% convinced it isn't there either, but I'm not willing to attribute it to politics when I'm guessing we could look at superhero movies (or action films in general) made pre-2001 and find an identical formula.

As I said, I thought I was seeing similar things in films for awhile too (LOTR) but common sense told me Tolkien didn't write as a call to squash terrorism. (Although an argument can still be made that the timing aided its popularity, although again I'm not convinced I'd want to be the one making it).

To sum up: I can't decide where I stand on this. Is it really there? Is it just us reading politics into everything since that's the kind of people we are? Someone should do a study!

Doctor Logic said...

Hi Robin,

LOTR definitely had an agenda, but it was a philosophical one. I believe its intended message was that technology isn't progress. Both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were part of the "Inklings", the Oxford circle that wanted to undo the "damage" done by analytic philosophy and the scientific worldview, and restore Christianity to its former glory. Today's superstitious planet must be their dream come true, though I'm not sure how much 'credit' the Inklings deserve for our plight.

I think that LOTR is a much more subtle movie than the Incredibles. To me, LOTR was a story about courage and self-sacrifice (and sitting through 9 hours of Pippin & Merry requires both!).

I'm not a big superhero movie fan, but I enjoyed Superman (I & II) and the X-Men films. Neither of those came across as right-wing propaganda. Superman, if it had a message, may have been an appeal to a higher standard of morality. X-Men definitely had political messages, but the X-Men were victims of fear and bigotry, not of progressive government policy.