Big Hats Over the San Fernando Valley: Misunderstood Trauma in Hollywood

San Fernando.JPGWe live in a world where I can come home from work to the sounds of gunshots and sirens blaring from behind a closed door, and it has such little effect on me as I slip off my shoes and think about what I would like to make for dinner.

Violence is a tragedy; an unfortunate piece of humanity that springs up in the most intense forms of disagreements between dueling personalities. But we are surrounded by it at all times.  To encourage violence, to make it as stylish and flashy as possible, pushes dialogs that give voices to our murderers, our rapists, and these Nazis that have somehow become a legitimate political view in our country.

Alright, alright. That’s strike 1. Called someone a Nazi right out of the gate. Right away, bam! Godwin’s Law. Don’t worry. It won’t happen again.

I am tired and sad. As our President rants and raves about North Korea, drawing us closer and closer to nuclear extinction, I become numb. I would love to curl up into a ball one night and let it all out but I cannot; I do not feel anything anymore because there is too much noise now, and I would love to be able to escape into some fantastical media but I cannot because our media is too plagued right now by misunderstood traumas.

This is likely because all the people making our media right now are old money cishet white men living, literally, up in the mountains, their big hats casting scary shadows over the entirety of the San Fernando Valley.

We want to be strong; we have to fight, and there is something incredibly touching to viewing Tony Stark’s battle with PTSD and guilt in Iron Man 3. But on the flippity, it is jarring that his PTSD spawned from the joke-ridden, quip-laiden, and schwarma-lovin’ finale of The Avengers.

Was he having a mental breakdown and we just didn’t notice? I remember him chewing on scenery and killing it with each quip. In fact, I would go as far as to say that Tony Stark had a wonderful time in that movie. Despite Shane Black’s best efforts to create something real and honest, the foundation of it lets the scene down.

Any time the characters in the MCU utter, New York, as if it was fucking September 11th, I just want the film to cut to some serious old man at a keyboard going Dun-dun-dun!!!

This misunderstood trauma comes up again when Bruce Wayne, at the end of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, launches into a mansplanation of humanity to Diana, brazenly declaring that “Men are still good.” Which is a load of bull-honkey. Are you trying to tell me that this Batman feels anything beyond petty scorn? That guy? The one maliciously carrying around a cattle prod?

Yeah. Okay.

This Batman objectively cannot heal from his pain because he carries no weight on his shoulders. Yes, his parents are dead, and yes, post-movie Bruce Wayne likely installed a filter on his computer titled Tw: Martha, but he is still a murdering psychopath.

He tortures and murders indiscriminately without the slightest pang of guilt. You can easily equate this Batman to the Alt-Right, these privileged white people on the internet who have no pain, so they instead to opt to create their own misery by lashing out at the people who really need our help.

Before you give me a Strike #2 on Godwin’s Law please hear me out and — no you’re right. I did just call Batman a Nazi. Sorry. It’s been a day over here.

What Batman and the Alt-Right share is this false pain that has no bearing, and does not justify any of their actions. Yes, Bruce Wayne absolutely endured a horrific tragedy at a young age, but it does not in any shape or form justify any of horrific violence he commits in Batman v Superman.

This isn’t the heroism that we should be proclaiming as worthwhile, and it is frustrating to picture my imaginary son, Bob Hoskins Jr., watching Batman v Superman and understanding that as appropriate.

Of course, Batman v Superman is one of the many pieces of media that present Batman as a not-so-nice-kinda-fella that I would swipe left on.  Enter Bruce Timm, an illustrator from Tiny Toons who never really intended to become a show creator.  He was the creator of the famous Batman: The Animated Series, and has essentially been the head of DC Animation for the past 25 years.

Opening up Bruce Timm’s art book, you would expect to find glorious and beautifully touching pieces of art; but instead you will only find incredibly sexist pin-ups of famous superhero gals.  There’s definitely a bit of a man-child aspect to Bruce Timm that has become stronger over the years.

Last year’s Batman & Harley Quinn, meticulously animated in the old style of the 1992 series, depicts a hypersexual Harley that strips down to her underwear, showing off her ass to the audience, and has sex with Nightwing.  It’s a complete fetishization of a cherished character.  I’m sure Bruce Timm was excited to finally fulfill his fantasies that in no way needed to be drawn by a team of animators.

Bruce Timm’s Batman is also, big shocker here, a sexual predator.  A ‘joke’ began towards the end of The Animated Series that Barbara Gordon was sexually excited by Batman.  As these things go, it escalated into very real storylines culminating in a story line in the Batman Beyond comics where Bruce accidentally impregnates Barbara.  You know, a girl who is essentially his daughter and less than half his age.

Last year’s adaptation of the famous Alan Moore comic, Batman: The Killing Joke, gave us a sequence where Batman verbally abuses Barbara, telling her that she’s a child, a child who’s not nearly as good and put together as himself. This leads into a fight scene that culminates in the two having sex with one another.

This is particularly offensive because The Killing Joke is the platform that helped Barbara springboard into becoming Oracle, the wheelchair bound leader of the Birds of Prey, known as one of the most LGBT friendly sectors of the DCU.

The animated film completely misses the mark on this tremendously powerful woman, and instead fetishizes her into a sex object and eventually, an object of trauma porn after she becomes crippled.

Even Wonder Woman, despite being directed by a woman, suffers from this fetishization. The film was well received due to its idyllic outlook of the world when all the other films were so bleak and violent. While I won’t deny that this think piecer cried during the No Man’s Land rush, I firmly believe that this characterization of Wonder Woman comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of women.

That being that we can root all of femininity to the qualities of motherhood. This first off comes from a very heteronormative view of what it means to be a mother, and secondly, reduces fifty percent of the population to a very limited set of characteristics.

Nearly every depiction of Diana Prince I have seen, she is a ruthless, cold blooded, pragmatic warrior and in fact, one of the few superheroes alright with killing. It is bizarre to see her making such bold decrees about love, because this comes from no other place than a vanilla view of feminism.

Feminism is incredibly complicated and means something unique to each person, but the core concept is we should just stop fucking being ass holes to each other about stupid shit. But because this somehow intimidates people, we get movies like Wonder Woman where an independent characters is reduced to the most surface level and obvious view of feminism.

Quick aside, remember when Emma Watson bragged about what a good feminist she was for changing Belle’s character into an inventor for the Beauty and the Beast remake? Honey, that’s not how feminism works.

The strangest thing about Diana’s characterization is that in Batman v Superman, she is painted as this cold blooded killer, mostly to highlight how great Batman is when he mansplains to her that “men are still good.” Which I don’t think Wonder Woman needs to learn since she used a freaking love beam to annihilate Ares in her movie.

Every once in a while, they’ll throw us some scraps. An all female remake of a movie born from the screwball era of comedy. A black man in a Star Wars movie. A gay character in a Disney movie. Mental illness in a super hero film.

But it is not enough. It comes from the urge to generate a clickbait headline to drag in free press. We are not a media fad. We are thinking, feeling people with complex stories and narratives. But the people creating our media simply don’t give a shit.

As a transwoman, I feel forgotten and left behind by media. As LGBT voices become louder and louder, our media draws back and plugs their fingers into their ears, and regresses harder and harder with each passing expanded universe.

We need to stop living in the past and let go of these harmful nostalgias. We need to respect ourselves and hold our media to a higher standard. We are here and we matter.

And because we are at the end and I never hit my third strike with Godwin’s Law, I might as well do a swing and a miss now while I still can. I hope thirty years from now they do a remake of that Superman comic where he goes back in time and punches Hitler. But like, it’s done as a panel-to-panel remake. But instead of it being Hitler in 1945, it’s 2017 and it’s for Donald Trump.

That’s it though. That’d be the only difference.


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