The anti-superhero series on Amazon. What if superheroes got publicists and social media?
The premise of this series is that a major private corporation manages superheroes’ careers and brand images like Hollywood celebrities. Of course, there’s big money in them thar hills and the whole “save the world” thing is just a cynical meme for exploitation by the elite.
I’m not that entirely adverse to the premise because, while I applaud the elevation of noble values that comes with most superhero stories, I have also had a deep distrust of the genre because of its tendency to replicate the idolatry of pagan religions.
Superheroes as God Substitutes
On the one hand, a superhero like Superman can certainly be a “Christ figure,” a myth that points toward a spiritual truth. But I have also observed that as our culture becomes more secular and more god-hating and anti-Christian, it is no surprise to me that superhero stories become replacements for that lost narrative. Superhero blockbusters are evidence of a deep inescapable hunger for deity. And when the Judeo-Christian god is expelled from society, superheroes function as replacements of human projections.
There is very little difference between, say the gods of the ancient world, and modern superheroes. Sometimes, they are even direct references to such (Wonder Woman, Thor, etc.). They perform the same purpose: they express and explain cultural and moral values and incarnate the pursuit of transcendence, that hunger for deity.
Humankind is “homo-religicus” or an inherently religious being. And when you cast away the constraints of the Judeo-Christian God, you do not become strictly secular, you actually construct a new mythology (religion) to fulfill those transcendent needs. You create new gods. And if you try to stay secular, ideology becomes your religion, or totalizing discourse that is your god of ultimate values: Leftism, Marxism, Socialism, identity politics all operate in this way. They are God-substitutes. They are idolatry.
And those gods are tyrants. Because human beings are essentially evil, and therefore, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
In this sense, I actually found myself quite interested in the series, at first.
In fact, the story can be seen as a critique of the corruption of power and of elitist celebrity culture. That is how it is set up, before it all comes unwound…
Cult of Celebrity
In the first episode, we see a world where superheroes are literally celebrities and must therefore manage their social media likes and maintain publicity relations to manage their brand images. Their talents at “saving the world” have been monetized by a corporation and manipulated by marketing, exactly like celebrities do right now in our culture. Exactly like Hollywood and the entertainment biz.
These storytellers were drawing from their own experience.
The analogy is inescapably obvious. The exception being that real world celebrities only perceive themselves as saviors of the world. They are not actually doing anything salvific. But their photo ops make them feel better.
And the cynicism of it all is actually quite accurate. The truth is that these superheroes are human just like anyone else, with the exception of their “God-given” talents. But they are weak, selfish, entitled, and with flaws just like anyone else. And when they are treated like gods, they begin to believe the lie and they become monsters.
So when a young new naïve superhero named Starlight joins the inner circle of “The Seven,” the seven top superheroes of the corporation, she is completely crushed by the reality that all is not sunlight in this world, and in fact, it is run by manipulative abusers. Just like celebrity cult and any elitist culture.
Her first shock is that her welcoming superhero (“The Deep” a fish man) forces her to sexually gratify him, or he will use his status to make sure she is not selected to join the team.
It is an exact replica of Weinstein’s Hollywood culture of power.
And it only gets worse, as we see each “supe” as being corrupt in different ways, drug addicts, sexual addicts, you name it. The head superhero, Homelander, the most powerful of them all (pretty much a “Superman”), has the reputation of being squeaky clean, but he is in fact the worst of them all.
The “supes” all act like Hollywood celebrities or any elitist with power. In a way, it really reinforces the Judeo-Christian notion that we are corrupt to our core, and even the highest most celebrated people in our culture are often not really good, because power corrupts.
This much is true. And I kind of agree. Celebrities are NOT the models of humanity that we should be elevating, just because they have talent.
But then the Leftism started to leak out. You see one supe refer to “the deep state,” a common term used by conservatives of the monopoly that the left has on government control. And then a TV interview with a supe who says that if citizens were allowed to carry guns, we wouldn’t need superheroes as much.
At that moment I thought, “What? That’s populism. That’s the opposite of elitism. Elitists want to have MORE gun control and we should leave it up to the supes to take care of us. That wasn’t consistent with the set-up of the story.” And I realized, uh oh. Here comes the forced Leftist agenda.
And then the “wokeness” of the series hits its stride by the fifth episode and falls apart into a hate-filled diatribe of America-hating Christophobic bitterness that typifies the lengths of self-delusion that Social Justice Leftists of Hollywood will go to try to force their square agenda of hatred into a round hole, to try to blame-shift and project their OWN darkness onto—guess who? You got it—Christians.
So, we find out Starlight was raised as a Christian, and she is to go to a Christian festival, “Believe Expo,” where another superhero is an evangelist named Ezekiel (He can stretch his body). Now you see where the sermon is going.
The bigoted clichés, the forced stereotypes of Christians and Christianity and patriotism begin to pile up like the ravings of a bitter mentally ill accuser, and we realize that the makers of this series just want to shoe hole their hatred into a narrative that doesn’t fit it, in fact, is an indictment of themselves.
In this series, better called, “The Protocols of the Elders of Christianity,” pro-American Christian faith and values are supposed to be embodied in the superheroes of the story who are in fact the celebrities and elitists of Weinstein’s Hollywood elitist culture of abuse.
Stereotypes and Tropes and Cliché’s, Oh My!
So, Homelander is a blond-haired blue-eyed Aryan who wears an American flag as his cape. He obviously represents the “American greatness” mythos as being white supremacy. And, yes, he is ultimately a villain. He preaches to the American Christian crowd, justifying a military response to being attacked by foreign powers, and of course, it’s depicted as a militaristic warmongering, as if American patriotism is ackshually… jingoist imperialism! Yeah, that’s the ticket. If you support defending your country, you must be a racist! It’s both ludicrous and bizarre.
But this is how these Hollywood Leftists think. The abusive Weinstein celebrity culture that typifies Hollywood and elitism is the fault of American patriot Christians in this Leftist Bizarro World. Wow, the depths of self-delusion know no bounds with these haters.
The stretch guy superhero evangelist, “Ezekiel,” turns out to be a closet homosexual, a standard Christophobic trope, a stock character of Leftist stereotyping, on the level of “the money-grubbing Jew.” And “Everybody has AIDS!” We should start accusing Leftist anti-Christians of being secret closet Christians, and they really pray and worship Jesus and flagellate themselves at night. Anyway, Ezekiel preaches to the Christian crowd, “Jesus said, hey bro, you shouldn’t need proof. You should just believe because I say so. Because you have faith.” An attempt to paint Christians as mindless followers.
We see references to Christian heterosexual marriage and virginity mocked as naïve and worse, bigoted. Starlight concludes that this is not how she remembered the faith of her youth, and ends up repeating another cliché of non-Christians, “how does anybody know how to get into heaven? I’m not so sure you should take the Bible so literally. It also says it’s a sin to eat shrimp.”
Oh, really? So, you think the Bible says it’s a sin to eat shrimp? Don’t quote me the Leviticus verse unless you are willing to talk about real context and real meaning, not a shallow out-of-context quote to justify your bigotry.
But these are Hollywood storytellers who parrot the talking points of two-bit skepticism in their Leftist echo chamber. Starlight says, “What, if you’re gay or if you’re Ghandi, you’re going to hell? And if you have sex before marriage, that’s not immoral! That’s human. What’s immoral is the guy who shoved his dick in my face!” (That was her initiation into the Seven, as you recall).
Sorry, #MeToo, but Christians were preaching sexual propriety in relationships millennia before you existed. And you criticized us for it! You know, like you just mocked virginity moments before. Rejection of Christian sexual morals created the monster of sexual harassment culture that you created and are now complaining about.
“There’s nothing wrong with sexual immorality! Hey, why are you putting a dick in my mouth?”
Really? You don’t see the irony? You really don’t see it, do you?
But that’s the way of blame-shifters, isn’t it? Always blaming the victim or blaming Christians or blaming morality or blaming God for the evil that they do.
Starlight complains to the Christians, “It’s just how Goddamned certain everyone is around here (Believe Expo).” As if Leftists are not so “goddamned” certain that Christians and conservatives are evil racist, sexist bigoted homophobes? Excuse me, but the huge log in your eye is exposing your hypocrisy.
And please don’t try to spin this into a “critique of American Christianity, not true biblical faith,” because there is no true Christianity to counter these stereotypes in this story. That’s how bigots think. In absolutes. You, know, “those people.” Then they propose their version of Christianity which is not Christianity, but Leftism! That’s how propaganda works.
It’s such hilariously bad filmmaking. They can’t even shoot a shot of Christians in the audience waving their hands without it looking fake or forced. And they call Christian movies propaganda and fake with their biased depiction of atheists and unbelievers? This is worthy of the “God’s Not Dead” hall of fame, only it’s “God is Dead.” This is so bad, one has to say it is like bad Christian filmmaking, only it’s in a new genre, bad Christophobic filmmaking.
So, what could have been an insightful critique of celebrity worship and elitist culture without God falls apart into an absurd non-sequitur Epic FAIL of Hollywood Leftist storytellers blame-shifting their culture of abuse and power onto the Judeo-Christian worldview that they hate.