Friday, February 12, 2010

Captain America VS the Teabaggers

The comic book character Captain America may look like a cheesy, jingoistic propaganda image wrapped in the flag, but as my friend Matt, a huge fan of Cap' would fiercely argue he's actually been far more complex over the years than his appearance would suggest.

In one storyline he uncovered a dark government conspiracy of shadowy elites that he ultimately discovered was being led by then President Nixon (!) who killed himself when Cap confronted him in the Oval Office. In a later story Cap quit the job and gave up his star spangled shield rather than become an order taking agent of the government. Most recently he led a revolt of superheros against the government over plans to force them all to unmask.

Steve Rogers, the face behind the mask was a skinny New York depression era kid who agreed to a dangerous medical experiment he wanted to fight the Nazis so bad. Becoming a super soldier he fought Hitler, The Red Skull and endless Nazi troops until he got frozen in arctic ice for decades getting defrosted in the modern world.

Now Marvel comics are in trouble over a caustic portrayal of the Tea-baggers:

Cap's temporary replacement Bucky and his old partner the Falcon want to infiltrate a right wing extremist group and come to the reasonable conclusion that the Tea-baggers would be a good place to start looking. Falcon makes the equally reasonable point that a black guy from Harlem would have a hard time fitting in with a bunch of angry mid-western white right wingers.

So naturally the real Tea-baggers are deeply offended by this portrayal. I guess the truth hurts.

The Falcon mentions that the gathering appears to be "some kind of anti-tax protest" and notes that "this whole 'hate the government' vibe isn't limited to the Watchdogs." He then tells Captain America that he doesn't think their plan will work because "I don't exactly see a black man from Harlem fitting in with a bunch of angry white folks." Captain America then explains that his plan entails sending The Falcon in among the group posing as an IRS agent under the thinking that a black government official will most certainly spark their anger.

The clear implicit attack on the Tea Party Movement was first noticed by Publius' Forum's Warner Todd Huston. When a minor uproar ensued, Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada spoke to Comic Book Resources and defended the issue while apologizing for the panel that seemed to tie real-life Tea Party protesters to the fictional group depicted in the book.

Marvel Comics is a business, a Disney owned, hugely profitable test lab for future multi-million dollar movie projects including Cap himself, so its no surprise that the Editor in Chielf immediately apologized to try to defuse the story. Doesn't mean the story itself is at all unfair or inaccurate.


Matthew The Astrologer said...

Cap (even temporary-replacement Cap... and there have been a few)almost always shows his roots, and falls on the FDR side of any debate: he's always been a defender of freedom of expression, tolerance, and a lot of America's other best qualities. You know, the stuff teabaggers generally seem to consider "un-American." Any African-American teabaggers out there care to debate this with me?

(Crickets chirp. A tumbleweed blows by. Silence.) Thanks for helping me make my point.

Besides, normally I don't approve of violence as a way to resolve political disputes... but, punching Nazis? That's ALWAYS good.

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