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Friday, June 10, 2011

Mutatis Mutandis

This morning, TNC links to Matt Yglesias' response to TNC's first column in the NY Times. Which happens to be about X-Men: First Class. I happen to agree with what I think is TNC's main point, that the film positions itself historically and, in the process, erases or ignores a major part of that history. In fact, as I wrote to a friend yesterday,

He's totally right, by the way. I was actually most annoyed by the way that it adopted the language of the civil rights movement (mutant and proud? really?!) and played up Xavier and Lehnsherr's MLK/Malcolm X resonances, but only in a way that could have been ignored/missed by people who don't already know about those resonances.

I was also unhappy with the fact that all of the brown mutants ended up on Magneto's side. I think Yglesias is correct in that Magneto is right -- homo sapiens sapiens cannot be trusted as naively as Xavier seems to. But, again, I have to side with TNC on this one. Magneto is right, but only up to a point. As TNC says in his response to Yglesias:

If Xavier's integrationist attitude is naive (and it is), I'd argue that Magneto's faith in violence and ethnic nationalism is equally so. For me, that really is the beauty of the film. I don't think it can be reduced to who is "right." As Magneto says, Xavier thinks all humans are like Moira. And as Xavier replies, Magneto thinks all humans are like Shaw. 

I cannot support Magneto's intended (at the end of this film) or actual (in the earlier films) response to that, which is not a fight for equality (violent or otherwise), but a lifelong misson of world domination (very very violent), with disregard for the lives of both "normal" human beings and mutants. And seemingly having forgotten, ironically enough, that genocide and the mass mistreatment of groups on the basis that you consider them less than you are both BAD BAD THINGS.

*This has been your a.m. geek out. Now back to regularly scheduled nerding, as I finish the last of my grading for the quarter. Expect to see a bit more activity around here, now that the school year is loosening its death grip.

ETA: Adam Serwer offers a good amendment to the Xavier/MLK vs Magneto/Malcolm X comparison.

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