Summary: We can learn about ourselves from our art, even from mass market movies. Sometimes they reveal unspeakable insights about ourselves. Here Loki speaks of our unwillingness to bear the responsibility and effort of self-government.
It is the glory and good of Art, that Art remains the one way possible of speaking truth …
— Robert Browning, The Ring and the Book (1868)
A valuable function of artists comes from their ability as outsiders to see into the soul of a society, and so reveal hidden truths. Often revealing things we hide from ourselves, refusing to see unless shown as entertainment. Much as the medieval Court Fools could commit lèse-majesté and keep their heads.
Today Americans carry an unspeakable truth: we have grown weary of the burden of self-government. Our passive acceptance of our government’s actions since 9-11 make this plain to see. The government’s lies about Iraq and Afghanistan, the expansion of government power, the conversion of police into para-military security agencies, the bank bailouts (our economic policy in service to the plutocracy) — all these and more accepted passively.
Our politics since 9-11 has been a series of comedy acts to minimize the cognitive dissonance created by the contrast between our self image as Americans and our actions. Only Hollywood can show us these truths in a form we can accept. As Loki does in The Avengers:
Many people find this scene inspiring, especially the futile suicidal actions of the elderly man, hopelessly defying Loki — only to provide an example to deter the rest of us. Fantasy has always been the favorite entertainment of peasants.
We need not be like this. We have the example of our forefathers, and need only work the Republic’s political machinery which we inherited. America will be what we choose it to be. What we choose to make it by our actions.
It’s not too late to get angry. To organize. To change the nation’s course.
“All peoples have the government that suits them.” “Every country has the government it deserves”
— Joseph-Marie, comte de Maistre. From Étude sur la souveraineté (1794) and Lettres et Opuscules (1811)
This is a follow-up to We can see our true selves in the propaganda used against us.
For More Information
For all posts about this see the FM Reference Page America – how can we stop the quiet coup now in progress?
Posts about the evolution of the American spirit:
- America’s Most Dangerous Enemy, 1 March 2006
- Americans, now a subservient people (listen to the Founders sigh in disappointment), 20 July 2008
- de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile, 21 July 2008
- The American spirit speaks: “Baa, Baa, Baa”, 5 August 2008
- We’re Americans, hear us yell: “baa, baa, baa”, 6 August 2008
- The intelligentsia takes easy steps to abandoning America, 19 August 2008
- This crisis will prove that Americans are not sheep (unless we are), 8 January 2008
- About security theater, a daily demonstration that Americans are sheep, 25 January 2009
- So many Americans approve of torture; what does this tell us about America?, 30 April 2009
- Are we citizens? Or peasants?, 21 May 2009
- Know thyself, America, 2 March 2010
- Matt Taibbi helps us see ourselves, and the leaders we elect to run America, 29 May 2010
- A Washington Insider looks at America, but does not understand what he sees, 7 September 2011 — Will the American people revolt?
- Hear the cattle bellowing in the chutes. Will they revolt?, 8 September 2011
- Surgery now underway to transform citizens into subjects, 4 April 2012
8 thoughts on “Loki helps us to see our true selves”
Reblogged this on misentopop.
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FM, I have noticed your critique of the superhero genre before in reference to the American fantasy where a lone hero comes out of nowhere and makes things right, thus soothing our need for justice and pushing it forward into the future where the messiah never really comes.
While this is indeed a strong critique, I think that the ideal of heroism is something we need to emphasize more, not try and shun. Whether they should be or not, superheroes are our modern myths, myths that are archetypal in nature and go far beyond the last century where the comic book medium began.
The hero is a figure that brings balance and inspires a society to change itself. The hero is not supposed to do it all himself, but we can not deny that a catalyst is sometimes needed. The continental army needed a Washington to focus their energies and fight for independence.
We must be weary of the cult of personality and washing away our responsibility waiting for a savior, but I think we need to inspire youth to courage, leadership, and heroism if we are to become a nation worthy of our heritage.
My point of disagreement with our myths lies not with their heroism but with their mode as lone actors. That drains them, in my opinion, of any useful lessons or inspirational value to us. They are sterile fantasies, much like our shoot-EM-up video games.
Our heroes are supermen, capable of changing the world by themselves, when we need heroic leaders and followers. We have these myths and stories; that we prefer lone rangers says much about why the Republic lies near death.
Think of EE Smith’s great first two books in his Lensmen series, powerful examples of collective action. Virgil Samms sees that evil is dominant in the world, with good people afraid to act. He believes that evil should live in the darkness and fear the light, and assembles men and women who together form a force that their enemies fear.
Think of Colonel Fury and SHIELD, the Justice League (best seen in the TV cartoons), and the Avengers in the recent movie. SHADO in the Gerry Anderson TV show “UFO”. Star Fleet in the original Trek series (not the following ones).
Looking to our history, remember The Green Mountain Boys of the Revolution. And Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, leading his farmers against the professionals British regulars.
Fabius why do you think the Super hero genre has such a hold over the American imagination?
Its hard to find any parallels in other European countries. Even in countries such as Britain and Ireland where a majority of early settlers came from its hard to find any comparable traditions.
That is a powerful question.
Perhaps because American citizens were more free and independent than people in other nations, we feel our servitude more? Just a wild guess.
It is worth some thought.
Did you also read portents into “Them” and “Planet of the Apes” and “Blade Runner”?
I can’t wait for your essay on how “The Incredible Hulk” proves everything d’Toqueville ever said.
So movies never comment on current affairs? Quite amazing. Write letters to all those reviewers writing about the new Star Trek movie relates to 9-11. They will be astonished at your insight.