Thursday, June 5, 2014

One Man's Dream is not necessarily Another Man's Cause

[this review may contain minor spoilers for X-Men: Days of Future Past]

     It's fortuitous and somewhat coincidental that X-Men: Days of Future Past has recently had runaway box office success. It's a story about a man with a dream, a man with a cause, people defending an old establishment, and extremists thinking they're doing the right thing. While it's definitely not the story the comics told us decades ago, I think it benefits for this. Shame about Kitty Pryde, though. Maybe if they'd spent a movie or two developing her as more than a background character instead of making five movies about Wolverine (not that I'm complaining. I love me some Hugh Jackman's Wolverine), the movie would have been able to stand on its own with her as the one going back instead of him.

     But that's not what I want to focus on right now. X-Men has always served as a sometimes subtle, sometimes not-so allegory for minority struggle, and DOFP, in the day of hashtag slacktivism, media bias on both sides, call-out culture, and tumblr-style gender wars, has updated the formula. Xavier and Magneto are there still, but the context has changed.

     Xavier's Dream, which I would like to say that I do, and always have, strongly believed in, is that humans and mutants can peacefully coexist with each other. On top of that, realizing that there would be humans that violently feared mutants and mutants that could justify that fear, he formed his X-Men to defend innocent mutants against the formerly mentioned humans, and innocent humans against the latter mutants. The Dream is fueled by hope, and that Dream cannot survive if fearful and bigoted humans or violent, misguided mutants harm innocents on either side.

     Magneto's Cause, on the other hand, is something that scares me as bad as the aforementioned bigoted and fearful humans. It's much simpler, because it's a cause that's fueled by anger. It's completely black and white. Humans are history, are a threat, should be removed from the equation. Mutants are the future, innocent and blameless, and acting only in defense of their people. Any human that doesn't fit with that equation is simply a tool to be exploited and discarded, and any mutant that doesn't fit is a traitor to their biology.

     The main plot of DOFP revolves around how the act of a single extremist caused the entire world to fall apart, and how those with a Dream and those with a Cause must set aside differences to stop those that would go too far from hurting everyone with their actions. One extremist, Mystique, must be stopped from taking an action that would paint all like her a criminal and a threat, and another extremist must be stopped from using her actions (and her very biology) as a weapon against innocents. It's an effective allegory for the all-too-common people who think they're fighting the good fight, but just aren't helping

     I'll close out this thought with a semi-angry statement made a few weeks ago. I think it's still relevant.

“Too many assholes out there thinking they believe in Xavier's Dream but fighting for Magneto's Cause.”

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