Captain America: Sex, War & Domination

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by doubleohfive, May 4, 2012.

  1. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

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    Jason Michelitch, a childhood friend of mine and fellow comics and cinema enthusiast, penned this very interesting analysis of Captain America: The First Avenger for SpliceToday.com.

    In it, he postulates that the film links Steve Rogers' sexuality (and sexual frustration) to his subsequent acts of violence against his enemies and suggests an unavoidable intertwining of the two (further exacerbated by Peggy Carter's presence in the film) to wind up presenting us (the audience) with possibly the most ideologically American superhero film yet.

    Full Article.

    What do you guys think?
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2012
  2. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Captain America is Captain Vanilla. Sorry, not buying it.

    I thought the movie was pretty clear about what was bugging Steve Rogers. He was a 99-lb weakling, that's his neurosis. One neurosis per character, please. It's just comic books.

    Captain America was the "most ideological" comic book movie of recent memory (maybe ever) because comic book movies are rarely ideological at all. They are summer (sometimes Xmas) popcorn movies, which mean they depend on a global audience. Rather than risk offending anyone, they all must be stripped of any interesting or distinctive idea whatsoever and become little more than empty mush.

    What I liked about Captain America is that it bucked this brainless trend and actually dared to be about something. (And the international BO was still okay, so it's not fatal for a movie to have a viewpoint.) What it was about, wasn't really very controversial, certainly not "strident." Democracy is better than fascism. Oooh, there's a daring stance. :rommie:

    Downplaying Germany's role in WWII was a nod to the global box office. They wanted some audience in Germany, after all. That is, to the extent the movie even did that - I thought it was merely being sympathetic and fair to the notion that not all Germans were Nazis. Also, to make Red Skull a "super-Nazi" is a very comic book thing to do. Reality isn't good enough, gotta amp it up.

    It does? Until this moment, I hadn't even thought of that!
     
  3. beamMe

    beamMe Commodore

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    You honestly think showing Nazi-Germany for what it was (in the context of a comic-book film) would have hurt the box-office?
    The Indiana Jones films were/are very popular around here.
     
  4. Hound of UIster

    Hound of UIster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Then why the need to play up the Red Skull's association with Hydra?
     
  5. Hartzilla2007

    Hartzilla2007 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Might have something to do with Red Skull planing to sack Hitler and take over the world himself. Not to mentioned being pissed off about being dumped in the Alps. Plus it means that the movie easier to square away with real history.
     
  6. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    This is guy is waaay over thinking this. It's a damn good movie on its own and doesn't need all this analysis.

    The film harkens back to characters we once could easily grasp, but now everyone is supposedly too "educated" and "evolved" to accept anymore. Bullshit. Captain America also showed how a good Superman film could be done.
     
  7. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

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    Why shouldn't there be the freedom to analyze a film if we so choose to? Why does a "damn good film on its own" suddenly become impervious to cultural or psychological criticism? And who ever said anything about needing to analyze the film? Has it occurred to you that perhaps the very reason films go through such critical analysis is so that they might be better understood?

    Or is it simply that the author of the article can actually back up his assertions with evidence from the film?
     
  8. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    It reads more like he worked out his "assessment" and then interpreted things in the film to support it. I strongly doubt the film's writers gave it nearly that much thought. More like they wrote it in a way they thought would be the most interesting and appealing.

    He's free to interpret it as he wishes, but I think he's full of it.
     
  9. TiberiusMaximus

    TiberiusMaximus Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Oh, there is. But that doesn't mean an analysis can't be wrong, like this one is. It's simply not what the film is about.
     
  10. Caliburn24

    Caliburn24 Commodore Commodore

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    It is an interesting article. But it does omit certain things and over-thinks other things. For example, doesn't Cap get asked why he wants to fight by Erskine? I recall Cap saying something about not liking bullies. It is that simple, at least overtly.

    I have to admit to grinning at the way the author sexualized every little detail, "phallic tanks that ejaculate fireworks" had me laughing. But more importantly is that some of the way he deconstructs scenes is highly questionable. For example, when Cap parachutes out of the plane after the misunderstanding with Stark and Peggy, I think it is laughable to consider him "sexually supercharged". I took it the way I assume the majority of the audience did, that Cap was going into a dangerous mission while emotionally compromised which makes it seem more dangerous and keeps the audience more enthralled. It was not seen as empowering Cap.

    Finally, if Cap's virginity is supposed to make him a better soldier, shouldn't there be some evidence that the other soldiers(namely Bucky) are worse soldiers because they are willing to sleep with anything that is willing and has two XX chromosomes? Bucky and the rest of the Howling Commandos seem just as violent and bloodthirsty as Cap, just without his superpowers. Which were granted him via a magic serum, not repressed sexuality. Or maybe those big phallic needles that pumped Cap up symbolized him losing his virginity?!

    Sex, sex everywhere.
     
  11. Kelthaz

    Kelthaz Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, I'm not reading that. Captain America is about an All American™ dude with a magical shield who beats up Nazis. That's all there is to it.
     
  12. beamMe

    beamMe Commodore

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    Perhaps because the "Hitler trying to take over the world with the help of the mythological and the occult" has been done to death?

    Give other maniacs a chance too.

    And I agree, this film-"analysis" reads way too much into that movie.
     
  13. DAYoung

    DAYoung Commander Red Shirt

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    Interesting argument, but I'm not persuaded.

    Red Skull is Nazism, distilled into a single character. The delusions of grandeur, the Teutonic obsession, the ruthlessness, the madness, the blind ambition - he's a comic book version of popular conceptions of Nazism. Like so many superhero stories, this takes real-world issues and makes them into memorable symbols.

    As for the sexual analysis, I think it's too specific an emphasis. He's definitely an innocent character. But in this film, sexual attention stands in for recognition more generally. He gets rejected by everyone, because he's scrawny and sickly. The toughs beat him up. The soldiers sneer at him. The ladies ignore him. It's not all about sex.

    As for the erections and ejaculations, pseudo-Freud was right: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
     
  14. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Yeah, I think that article was way reading into things to an absurd degree.

    Sex in the movie is obviously fondue. ;)
     
  15. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I took a college course on Hitchcock movies once, and on the first day, the professor laid out two ground rules: one, what the filmmakers had or have to say about this or that can be useful, but is never necessarily definitive, and two, there is never such thing as "reading too much" into a movie, for the purposes of discussion at least. Even mistakes and/or improvisations are preserved forever in the movie; ergo, everything is up for grabs in terms of constructing arguments. That said, not all arguments are justified or convincing.

    So, how does this article do?
    While the other soldiers passionately climb on top of one another to try and reach for the flag, Steve calmly undoes the pinions holding the pole up, sending it crashing to the ground. His reward for dispassionately reversing the phallic erection of the pole is to ride in a jeep with Peggy.
    Okay, now that's a funny and fun observation. :cool:

    I agree with these comments, but I also find the essay to be pretty persuasive. I recently watched an interview with Joe Johnston, in which he mentions that the movie's time frame is three years! As busy as Cap's schedule is, surely he could have found some time for R&R amidst all the fighting. The essay makes a very strong case that Peggy is against premarital sex, and Steve appears to be okay with that. Given how heroic and horny Tony Stark is portrayed as being, and how openly Jane Foster goggled at Thor's bod, this seems more of a throwback/homage to 1940s Hollywood than either the realities the time or a manifestation of contemporary prudishness.

    The final scene of the film then plays like a cruel joke on the first Avenger. Having woken up in the 21st Century, Captain America stands in Times Square, surrounded not by flags but by symbols of international corporations—LG, HSBC, Corona and McDonald's. The Red Skull was right about the shape of the future. America may have won World War II, but ultimately, Captain America wasn't fighting World War II. He was a soldier in a different conflict, one that was long ago decided against him.
    Another very powerful observation. In both Iron Man movies, Stark's primary villains were corporations. I'll be quite interested to see what, if anything, Cap makes of today's world, where nationalism is viewed with intense suspicion, and corporations all but run the show.

    A fun and thought-provoking essay; thanks for sharing it. :)
     
  16. beamMe

    beamMe Commodore

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    I provokes thoughts all right. Thought along the lines of :guffaw::guffaw::guffaw:
     
  17. DAYoung

    DAYoung Commander Red Shirt

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    I agree that Rogers' character is more conservative than others (which is consistent with the comics). He's basically a good-natured, virtuous young loner, with very little experience of popularity (with males or females). We don't see him in orgies with groupies because it wouldn't be in character. But nor do we see him palling around with male fans, being the life of the party.

    This is why I don't think the discussion of phalluses and ejaculation is convincing - it adds nothing to the argument, and is overly speculative.

    Put another way, the psycho-sexual stuff is necessary if we don't already have convincing explanations for poles, tanks, and the like. But as plot devices they're perfectly reasonable as they are. They don't stand out as sexual in any way, and only an obsessive Freudian interpretation (in which everything is touched with sexual meaning) sees otherwise.
     
  18. Gaith

    Gaith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Fair point, but there was a lot more to the piece than that. Getting hung up on those perhaps gratuitous flourishes doesn't mean there aren't solid observations elsewhere. ;)
     
  19. DAYoung

    DAYoung Commander Red Shirt

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    Yes, I agree. All in all, it's an interesting review.

    But to my mind, the piece makes two particularly noteworthy claims, i.e. the apolitical, de-Nazified conflict and the importance of Captain America's virginal purity. I'm not convinced by either, particularly the use of sexual imagery to back up the latter.

    (As a Freudian aside, I don't see his sacrifice as 'war/death' rather than 'sex/life'. Much of his behaviour is to stop destruction and death, and he's a natural leader - i.e. concerned with unity, harmony, peace. These are all quite the opposite of the death drive, Thanatos, which aims at dissolution, atomisation, strife.)
     
  20. Derishton

    Derishton Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This is a good reading, I think. It's hard to argue against the idea that splitting Hydra off from the Reich during the war fundamentally changes Captain America's conflict, and that this was probably done to ease the film's transition into non-American markets.

    The other claim is based on a well-known ubiquitous idea, known to all medieval knights and American football coaches: the link between sex, abstinence and male aggression.