Sunday, 6 July 2014

Why Are There So Many Super Hero Movies?

The last fifteen years have seen a lot of super hero movies released on an unsuspecting world. What's been going on? Are the studios lazy or bereft of new ideas? Or is something else going on? Superheroes are authority figures who put their worlds in order. They are also products of the culture from which they originate. Watch this episode from PBS Idea Channel to learn more.


2 comments:

Ed Love said...

I'd imagine it's because they already have a massive audience of the most frequent film goers.

They bore the *&@# out of me :(

Kathy Smart said...

The Idea Channel debunks Thomas Carlysle's Great Man theory and goes ahead to use it. Personally I think heroes such as Mandela and Ghandi who changed the fate of nations not only had keen senses of injustice but were desperately wanted by the 'unwashed masses' and as such received tremendous support from them to continue, through enormous suffering, to succeed. A hero who rose four years ago in Syria, for example, would have received the support of movie makers who risked and quite possibly lost their lives for the cause.

I like the idea that we have a collective love of narrative and we tend to view history through its lens. I think it is right, not wrong, to see history as a series of stories but the reason the Ideas Channel states it so pejoratively it the implicit accusation of oversimplification. We do tend to privilege the accomplishments of characters or leaders: we are star struck because we instinctively seek people to lead us, people we worship so they will show us how to make the world a better place.

Which is where super heroes come in. In the first part of the 20th century we needed revolutionary champions of the oppressed because we had an entrenched class structure. Whole generations were sent to war at the behest of the privileged. The early 21st century is a very different place. We are afraid of going to war and we want our ideal leaders to maintain the status quo. At least, the middle class want it maintained. The poor, who can afford television but not health care, may have more ambivalent desires.