This weekend, something remarkable happened: Hollywood grew a spine.
I don't know it happened. Perhaps it is a sign of things to come; perhaps it is just temporary cartilage that will buckle as soon as any real weight is placed upon it. But still, for 2 hrs and 30 minutes, something glorious occurred.
In a big-budget blockbuster that is, incidentally, only one of two Marvel Studios movies this year, and the only one with any real "name-brand" recognition, I heard and saw the following:
- The bad guys, who have a direct moral and historical link to the Nazis, said that people were too stupid to be allowed to have freedom, but if you try to take that freedom away they will fight; therefore, the trick is to scare the people enough into giving up their freedom voluntarily.
- The bad guys also said that to serve the "greater good", millions would have to be killed (troublemakers, free thinkers, and those who would oppose the new order) in order to save billions. Ah, the moral "justification" of genocide.
- And finally, these bad guys, these Nazi inheritors, said that they needed to do this through Big Brother tactics and the surveillance state... which they acquired through step 1, "scare the people into giving up their liberty."
- And then -- AND THEN -- no less a symbol than Captain America* his own bad self stated that no, this is wrong, that it goes against everything he believes in, everything he stands for, and everything he and his generation fought for in World War 2. Then they try to murder him, of course.
I'll say that again: the proponents of the surveillance state try to murder the living symbol of liberty.
- And then this living symbol, allied with other trouble-making, free-thinking, liberty-loving "undesirables", goes and beats the snot out of the bad guys. They get the mobile death camps to destroy each other, they expose the spy network by leaking all their secrets onto the Internet**, and they dismantle the surveillance organization so that citizens are no longer spied upon by their own government -- all while the audience is going "Go Cap! Kick their butts!"
I can't believe I just watched Hollywood make a movie where they
- Equated the modern surveillance state with Nazi Germany;
- Stated we were but one step away from genocide;
- Had a figurehead for American Ideals say "No, that's wrong";
- Endorsed the destruction of said surveillance state in the name of freedom.
I feel like I dimension-shifted while I was sleeping and awoke in a glorious new world.
Pray tell me, good sirs and ladies, what color is the Emperor Norton bridge in this reality?
* Fuck Yeah!
** This was done by Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanova. Who is Russian. The Snowden parallel is obvious.