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Old 03-19-2015, 11:24 AM
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Allegories for racism/homophobia/etc. like X-Men or District 9 don't work


A lot of what's in the X-Men stories are an allegory for society's unwillingness to accept homosexuality, of individual struggles to hide their secret and learn to live it, etc. The not-terribly-subtle allegory tries to get us to empathize with those who are different and are rejected by society and need to hide their true selves, to be ashamed of who they are. District 9 is a rather heavy handed obvious allegory about why segregation is bad. There are plenty of stories like these, but I decided to use those as two obvious examples.

Here's the thing: homosexuals aren't destroying society. They aren't plotting against heterosexuals. They aren't some unknown threat of potentially great power with unknown limitations and unknown intentions. They're just people who like to suck on genitals that match their own. Big deal. It's not the sort of difference that justifies hatred, shame, oppression, etc. That's all there is to it. Homosexuals are just other people who are trying to get by in life, same as us. They have the same range of personalities and qualities as any other person. That's why hatred towards them is unjustifiable and only causes harm.

X-Men Mutants, however, are fucking incredibly dangerous, hard to control, and could very well destroy society. If I lived in the X-Men world, and every other week some mutant or another is assassinating people, destroying a city, causing some sort of terrorist act, fighting amongst each other with tons of collateral damage, I damn well would want them to be controlled.

We're supposed to believe the guys who want to identify, track, and control mutants are evil hateful bigots. The villains of the stories. But those stories are all about mutant factions that see non-mutants as inferior beings who should be destroyed, or at least ruled over. Often more well-meaning mutants are still losing control of their power and causing untold harm. New powers manifest regularly that completely render our traditional methods of law enforcement and security ineffective. Yes, the protagonists in the story are the "good" mutants, but they don't represent or control the entirety of the mutant population. The existence of mutants is extremely damaging and de-stabilizing to society. Wanting to be able to keep that shit under control so your civilization doesn't collapse isn't bigoted, it's the only sane option.

So trying to make an analogy that fear/desire to control mutants is equivalent to hating gay people just doesn't make any sense. The allegorical elements are juvenile and don't apply on anything but the most superficial "see, he has to hide and be ashamed of his true identity, like a gay person!" level.

If gay people could destroy cities at will, assassinate and terrorize whoever they wanted, felt like heterosexuals are an outdated species that should be slaughtered so the new master race can arise unhindered, I'd be pretty fucking afraid of gay people too.

Basically, you can't make a story where the real world lesson is "don't be afraid or hate people, they're just like you" with the lesson of "don't be afraid or hate people even though they're not like you at all and they cause untold damage and completely destabilize our society and they can blend in among us and have unknown abilities and some of them want to commit genocide against you" - it's absurd.

Same deal with District 9 in place of racism/segregation. It's been a while so I'm forgetting details, but those aliens couldn't communicate with people, they were at times hostile to people, they'd eat people's pets, they couldn't really live in the same areas as people, they were utterly foreign and alien. They *should* be segregated off somewhere. They shouldn't be scattered randomly among people's neighborhoods. They're not cute and cuddly like Alf, they're fucking aliens. "Oh see how we're segregating these creatures that can't communicate with you and just ate your cat? That's the same way you feel about black people! See, black people are just normal people, we shouldn't segregate them from us. And ... walking alien prawn creatures are just like normal people too! See the error in your racist ways!?"

So yeah, if I were to ever take a lesson from these stories, it would have to be the opposite of what's intended. "Oh, shit, this story makes me worry that gays might have some sort of secret powers that they will use to terrorize and genocide heterosexuals one day!" or "This segregation thing sounds pretty good if the alternative is to have a walking prawn gesticulate at me and eat my cat!"
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Old 03-19-2015, 11:45 AM
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I agree. Magneto alone is more of a threat to humanity than the threat of nuclear Armageddon was at the height of the Cold War.

From Wikipedia: His character's early history has been compared with the civil rights leader Malcolm X and Jewish Defense League founder Meir Kahane. Magneto resents the pacifist attitude of Professor X and pushes for a more aggressive approach to achieving civil rights.

If Malcom X had the ability to create wholesale destruction with only his mind power while being impervious to attack, the Civil Rights movement might have turned out a bit differently...
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Old 03-19-2015, 11:55 AM
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A similar bad example is the alien analogies to the Nazis. Specifically, I am thinking of the '70s miniseries V and its remake. The problem is that these stories show the evil of Nazism as far outside the human experience, when in fact genocide is an all too human failing.
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Old 03-19-2015, 12:04 PM
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I tend to agree though in District nines case they could have separated the aliens from the genpop and still treat them well, which they didn't. The problem was well exemplified in the newest X-men movie. The heroes are scrambling to prevent the murder of one man that will somehow turn people against the mutants. The murder is prevented but Magneto dropped a stadium on the Whitehouse. Mystique preventing the death of the guy makes the government decide, for some reason, to not develop the sentinels even though the entire world now knows of people that can lift stadiums with their minds and kill you by ripping the calcium from your bones.
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Old 03-19-2015, 12:11 PM
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The other problem is that Professor X is simply, objectively wrong if he's supposed to be the MLK type (to Magneto's Malcom X)

Professor X isn't pushing integration and equal rights, he's preaching cowering in cellars and hiding. It'd be as if MLK said "Don't try to ride in the front of the busses, just hide in your basement and if you MUST go out, for God's sake, wear white-face makeup. Hide yourself!"

If he really wanted equal rights, he'd be suing the shit out of the government for operating Josef Mengele style concentration camps, having 20-foot tall robots running around randomly killing citizens without a trial, etc, not hiding in his "danger room". Why isn't he teaming up with the NRA and the ACLU to sue the government back to the stone-age? Going to the UN? etc.

It's a terrible message: Don't demand your rights, just hide and pretend to be "normal". Jew, black, gay, or other minority--what an awful idea for a so-called good guy to push.
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Old 03-19-2015, 12:24 PM
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X-Men/mutants only works as a gay allegory to an extent. Part of the popularity of them is they're also an allegory for anyone who has felt judged, excluded or picked on, which is probably most kids at some point.

The super powers are every kid's dream too. Any kid who has felt powerless or picked on has probably fantasized about having power and control and being able to do whatever they want and defend themselves against the mean kids.

The dangerous mutants I think are more of an allegory for blacks and Muslims, for instance. They get hated and feared for the actions of a minority of them. The moral is that most of them aren't bad or dangerous.

Last edited by levdrakon; 03-19-2015 at 12:25 PM.
  #7  
Old 03-19-2015, 12:43 PM
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X-Men/mutants only works as a gay allegory to an extent. Part of the popularity of them is they're also an allegory for anyone who has felt judged, excluded or picked on, which is probably most kids at some point.

The super powers are every kid's dream too. Any kid who has felt powerless or picked on has probably fantasized about having power and control and being able to do whatever they want and defend themselves against the mean kids.

The dangerous mutants I think are more of an allegory for blacks and Muslims, for instance. They get hated and feared for the actions of a minority of them. The moral is that most of them aren't bad or dangerous.
As the OP points out, the super powers make the analogy... strained, at best. People who can bench-press tanks or walk through walls or project destructive force beams are different from the rest of us in ways that raise concerns that can't be reasonably dismissed as mere bigotry.
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Old 03-19-2015, 12:46 PM
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I've made the same point when True Blood made the bizarre vampire=gay analogy, complete with anvil dropping dialogue.

Except gays don't need to kill heterosexuals to survive!
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Old 03-19-2015, 01:12 PM
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There was a thread once, asking if you would support the Mutant Registration Act, assuming that you are a normal unpowered person in the Marvel Universe. Many of us said, yep, we certainly would.

It's not bigotry to be afraid of someone who is literally a walking, breathing engine of destruction. You would have to be an idiot not to fear such people.
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Old 03-19-2015, 02:05 PM
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I think the comic book superheros are more an analogy for intelligence. Their super powers benefit them and make them special but they also set them apart. They are joining together with other similarly able people and trying to improve society while combating the feeling of being left out and different. To a young intelligent person who feels different that can be comforting.
Changing the analogy to being gay for the movies really made the movies worse. Most mutants can decide at any time to stop using their powers, blend into society and have just as fulfilling a life as the average person. Plus mutants really are a danger to society as the OP says.
District 9 on the other hand may not be a anti- racism movie at all but a reaction to mass Zimbabwean immigration to South Africa.
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Old 03-19-2015, 02:20 PM
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Analogies don't have to have one-to-one correspondence to real events to work. X-men works as an analogy to various prejudices (anti-gay, anti-semitic, nativist all fit), and the fact that it isn't a complete match has nothing to do with the issue. The X-Men represent any group that's discriminated against unfairly and the broad brush is more important than the tiny details.

The concept predates Marvel comics -- look at A. E. Van Vogt's Slan from 1940, which has all of the same factors.
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Old 03-19-2015, 02:29 PM
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. . . The dangerous mutants I think are more of an allegory for blacks and Muslims, for instance. They get hated and feared for the actions of a minority of them. The moral is that most of them aren't bad or dangerous.
Exactly. There is a common recurring motif in X-Men comics, when a teenager suddenly develops a mutant power that is minor, trivial, even benign -- and people all about lose their cool and start shouting bigotry. In one case, a young girl had the power to change the color of flowers...and was thrown out of her home by her parents and had to live on the street.

The depiction is of people reacting to their fears, and generalizing improperly. In that, it is allegorical to sexual orientation, race, religious views, and other class distinctions that are basic to bigotry.

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I think the comic book superheros are more an analogy for intelligence. Their super powers benefit them and make them special but they also set them apart. . . .
I never thought of that. It's pretty; it fits nicely with the comics and stories. You have a good case there. It's certainly intrinsic to the superhero genre that heroes are smarter than average. Good superhero writing involves the hero outthinking the villain, at least as often as just smashing them or zapping them. Spider-Man and Captain America have, many times, simply persuaded bad guys to give up.
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Old 03-19-2015, 02:30 PM
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My recollection of what seemed like EVERY episode of Star Trek Voyager until Seven of Nine arrived was that there would be a painfully literal transposition of the treatment of the Hologram Doctor and the historic treatment of Black Slaves.

It was so heavy handed it made me want to spew my ring.

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Old 03-19-2015, 03:11 PM
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As the OP points out, the super powers make the analogy... strained, at best. People who can bench-press tanks or walk through walls or project destructive force beams are different from the rest of us in ways that raise concerns that can't be reasonably dismissed as mere bigotry.
Did the comics or movies ever make that point, that taking reasonable precautions against dangerous people was bigotry? Most people don't have a problem with containing the truly dangerous. The problem is when fear leads to barcoding innocent children.
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Old 03-19-2015, 03:12 PM
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There are a lot of non-mutants in the Marvel-verse who could potentially destroy the planet. Plus, the vast majority of mutants have powers that are entirely harmless. This guy's mutant power is that he looks like a chicken. Meanwhile, folks like Doctor Strange, Thor, and Reed Richards are allowed to walk around more-or-less unmolested, despite having the powers and/or skills to level cities. Magneto is a dangerous villain, sure. But so is Dr. Doom, and nobody argues that really smart people need to be registered in case they try to fire a skyscraper into space.

So, the X-Men work as a metaphor for prejudice on some level, as they are routinely treated differently than other super-powered individuals, solely based on the way they came by their superpowers.

District 9 works even better in this regard, as most of the aliens aren't dangerous at all, just really, really foreign. FTR, they can communicate just fine with humans, although most aren't very good at it. They look different, they have weird customs, they don't understand our customs, and a lot of them don't speak our language. But there's no particular reason why they couldn't be integrated into human society - or at the very least, no good reason why they should be forced to live in shanty towns where they're routinely victimized by both the government and the local gangs. Which makes them a pretty good fit for a lot of immigrant groups throughout history.
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Old 03-19-2015, 03:54 PM
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Miller points out the real problem with Marvel's mutants allegory: there's no way to distinguish between superpowered humans bitten by spiders and superpowered humans just born that way.

However, the allegory used to work much better -- because the fear of Other (racism, homophobia, whatever) used to be much more demonized. Look at the way gay people were portrayed in popular culture in the 60s when the X-Men were first published. Gay people were regarded as an active danger to society and to people. Much easier to draw that allegory then, than it is now when gay people are not as ostracized and are being presented as normal members of society.
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:09 AM
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A lot of what's in the X-Men stories are an allegory for society's unwillingness to accept homosexuality, of individual struggles to hide their secret and learn to live it, etc.
Well, part of the issue is probably that the allegory to homosexuality wasn't the intent of X-Men.

The series was started in the early 60's, before there was really any sort of movement for the recognition of gay rights, and owes its origin to the fact that its creators were tired of coming up with elaborate explanations for superpowers and so just said "screw it, let's just have them born that way." Such allegory as was intended at the time was almost certainly related to RACE, not sexual orientation, as one would expect from American creators in 1963, when race was absolutely the #1 dominant issue of the time. The allegory to LGBT became popular well after the introduction of the X-Men to the Marvel universe.

There is really little sense at all to the Marvel universe which, as many others have pointed out, includes a lot of people who AREN'T mutants and yet have similarly awesome and potentially dangerous powers and yet are regarded as heroes. So you kinda have to accept a bit of suspension of logic to enjoy the stories.
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:15 AM
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The same logic applies whether it be racism or homosexuality. Hating and separating people based on a racial group is shitty because we're all fundamentally the same, but mutants fail as an analogy since they aren't the same at all, and should be treated differently.

The allegory does match more closely for homosexuality, though, since a big part of the mutant drama of the X-Men series (at least from the 90s TV show and the movies, I'm not familiar with the comics) is hiding what makes you unique because it would alienate those around you if they knew, being ashamed of your hidden secret, etc. That stuff wouldn't really make sense in relation to race.

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Old 03-20-2015, 10:01 AM
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The same logic applies whether it be racism or homosexuality. Hating and separating people based on a racial group is shitty because we're all fundamentally the same, but mutants fail as an analogy since they aren't the same at all, and should be treated differently.

The allegory does match more closely for homosexuality, though, since a big part of the mutant drama of the X-Men series (at least from the 90s TV show and the movies, I'm not familiar with the comics) is hiding what makes you unique because it would alienate those around you if they knew, being ashamed of your hidden secret, etc. That stuff wouldn't really make sense in relation to race.
No, they shouldn't be treated differently just because they're born different. They are still ostensibly human. If an individual proves to be a threat, then that individual should be dealt with, individually, not his entire community.

As a black child growing up in the '70's-'80's the X-Men spoke deeply to me. Overt racism was still very common then and being treated differently for reasons other than your own, personal, actions was something we dealt with a lot.
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Old 03-20-2015, 10:45 AM
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X-Men certainly spoke to me of race in early 80s South Africa. In fact, how the Morlocks Massacre storyline made it past the censors, I'll never know. Then again, they never censored 2000AD neither, and their SD/Mutie and Nemesis The Warlock storylines were even more obvious allegories.

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Old 03-20-2015, 10:58 AM
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I think, to some degree, people are taking both the comics and District 9 too literally. An allegory can't and shouldn't be completely literal. For example, one point of District 9 is that most people see the aliens in a certain way, as lesser beings driven by animal instinct or impulse and lacking intelligence, just like many whites in South Africa saw blacks as similarly different or alien even though they actually weren't.

To say an allegory doesn't work because it has some differences from reality is like complaining a metaphor isn't literal. "Oh, all the world isn't literally a stage so that metaphor doesn't work."
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Old 03-20-2015, 11:06 AM
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The allegory does match more closely for homosexuality, though, since a big part of the mutant drama of the X-Men series (at least from the 90s TV show and the movies, I'm not familiar with the comics) is hiding what makes you unique because it would alienate those around you if they knew, being ashamed of your hidden secret, etc. That stuff wouldn't really make sense in relation to race.
For what it's worth, a lot of Jews can, y'know, pass.
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Old 03-20-2015, 11:18 AM
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An allegory can't and shouldn't be completely literal.
An allegory is essentially a way to introduce a thought to you sideways to slip by your biases which make you unwilling to consider a subject in a certain light. People may not be able to come to terms with fact/philosophy/realization X because their biases won't allow it to be questioned. But if you have an allegory teach you Lesson Y, which is different enough that it doesn't activate your biases, and then once that understanding is implanted, it might end up skipping past your mental/bias defenses and make you come to a realization that Lesson Y also applies to realization X.

But Lesson Y has to be an analogous situation to realization X, otherwise there's no reason to apply Lesson Y to change your mind about realization X, and, if done poorly, may actually reinforce your biases about realization X.

If I come away from a movie saying "wait, the bad guy is right here, mutants ARE dangerous and we should keep tabs on them - why does the movie even consider him a bad guy? His point seems pretty reasonable" then obviously you're never going to come to the realization of "bigots are wrong, I shouldn't treat other races/homosexuals badly"

I basically come away from every X-Men movie thinking "yep, the villain in this movie who wants to register/control/keep us safe from mutants should be the hero of this story", it's counterproductive for an allegory to make me feel like mutants are an oppressed minority that are treated unfairly.

Note: I haven't seen all the x-men movies. Maybe one of them has a villain that zealously wants to inflict genocide. The ones I saw only involved people wanting to be able to register/track/safely contain/be able to secure against dangerous mutants.
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Old 03-20-2015, 11:31 AM
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I think, to some degree, people are taking both the comics and District 9 too literally. An allegory can't and shouldn't be completely literal. For example, one point of District 9 is that most people see the aliens in a certain way, as lesser beings driven by animal instinct or impulse and lacking intelligence, just like many whites in South Africa saw blacks as similarly different or alien even though they actually weren't.
An unfortunate thing is that the movie makes explicit that most of the aliens ARE rather mindless and lacking intelligence. "Christopher" is the only alien(and possibly "his" "son") shown with a human level of intelligence, I've seen theories he is the queen alien the humans theorized controlled the prawn colony, that he hid among the drones to avoid being experimented on.
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Old 03-20-2015, 11:38 AM
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Note: I haven't seen all the x-men movies. Maybe one of them has a villain that zealously wants to inflict genocide. The ones I saw only involved people wanting to be able to register/track/safely contain/be able to secure against dangerous mutants.
I can only think of one human villain in the movie franchise who didn't explicitly want to wipe out mutants - Senator Kelly, from the first movie. The second film featured Colonel Stryker, who tried to annihilate every mutant in the world with a modified Cerebro. The third movie was mostly about Magneto, but the government there was developing a "cure" for mutants that would also wipe them out as a distinct species. It wouldn't actually kill them, but it would erase them as a distinct population group, and they don't appear to be too concerned with asking consent before applying the drug. In the Wolverine origins movie, the human villain was Stryker again, who hadn't worked his way up to genocide yet, (it takes place before X-Men 2) but was keeping mutants in cages and doing radical experimental surgery on them. Same with the human villain in the second Wolverine movie, although his efforts were mostly Wolverine-centric. I guess that's actually two non-genocidal human villains in the films, but this guy was more than willing to cut Wolverine into little pieces so he could steal his healing factor - not genocidal, but really not a good guy. I don't recall a major human villain in First Class, but in the sequel to that one, Peter Dinklage is vivisecting mutants so he can build his anti-mutant robots - which eventually drive the entire species to the brink of extinction, and take a good chunk of the non-mutant world with them.

In the comics, there are a few more "reasonable" people who are concerned about the mutant problem, but the ones who aren't secretly hiding a genocidal agenda tend to be unwittingly working for someone with one. Which is the main reason why mutants always oppose any sort of registration scheme, no matter how well intentioned it appears on the surface - there's always someone out there who's ready and willing to pervert such a program to monstrous ends.

Last edited by Miller; 03-20-2015 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 03-20-2015, 11:54 AM
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I think, to some degree, people are taking both the comics and District 9 too literally. An allegory can't and shouldn't be completely literal. For example, one point of District 9 is that most people see the aliens in a certain way, as lesser beings driven by animal instinct or impulse and lacking intelligence, just like many whites in South Africa saw blacks as similarly different or alien even though they actually weren't.

To say an allegory doesn't work because it has some differences from reality is like complaining a metaphor isn't literal. "Oh, all the world isn't literally a stage so that metaphor doesn't work."
That's what I was thinking. It is fun to have discussions about what things in movies would mean in real life, and what the natural consequences would be, but for the sake of enjoyment you shouldn't overthink the metaphor.

There won't be a one to one correlation. You could make a movie where people with purple hair is the allegory for homosexuality, and purple hair people have to decide if they want to be open or hide or wear wigs, but that wouldn't be as exciting as a movie with telepathic mutants.

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I can only think of one human villain in the movie franchise who didn't explicitly want to wipe out mutants - Senator Kelly, from the first movie. The second film featured Colonel Stryker, who tried to annihilate every mutant in the world with a modified Cerebro. The third movie was mostly about Magneto, but the government there was developing a "cure" for mutants that would also wipe them out as a distinct species. It wouldn't actually kill them, but it would erase them as a distinct population group, and they don't appear to be too concerned with asking consent before applying the drug. In the Wolverine origins movie, the human villain was Stryker again, who hadn't worked his way up to genocide yet, (it takes place before X-Men 2) but was keeping mutants in cages and doing radical experimental surgery on them. Same with the human villain in the second Wolverine movie, although his efforts were mostly Wolverine-centric. I guess that's actually two non-genocidal human villains in the films, but this guy was more than willing to cut Wolverine into little pieces so he could steal his healing factor - not genocidal, but really not a good guy. I don't recall a major human villain in First Class, but in the sequel to that one, Peter Dinklage is vivisecting mutants so he can build his anti-mutant robots - which eventually drive the entire species to the brink of extinction, and take a good chunk of the non-mutant world with them.

In the comics, there are a few more "reasonable" people who are concerned about the mutant problem, but the ones who aren't secretly hiding a genocidal agenda tend to be unwittingly working for someone with one. Which is the main reason why mutants always oppose any sort of registration scheme, no matter how well intentioned it appears on the surface - there's always someone out there who's ready and willing to pervert such a program to monstrous ends.
And while Senator Kelly didn't want to wipe out the mutants, he did want to have the Mutant Registration Act and to ban mutant kids from school. I can't think of anything in real life analogous to the Registration Act, but there have been people over the years who want to keep gay kids and teachers out of schools because they are too dangerous to the normal kids.
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Old 03-20-2015, 01:43 PM
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And while Senator Kelly didn't want to wipe out the mutants, he did want to have the Mutant Registration Act and to ban mutant kids from school. I can't think of anything in real life analogous to the Registration Act, but there have been people over the years who want to keep gay kids and teachers out of schools because they are too dangerous to the normal kids.
Yeah, the point is that those people are wrong about gay people being dangerous to children while the people from the movies are RIGHT about mutants being dangerous to children and everyone else.
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Old 03-20-2015, 01:52 PM
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Except gays don't need to kill heterosexuals to survive!
Or do they??? [/tinfoilhat]
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Old 03-20-2015, 01:55 PM
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An unfortunate thing is that the movie makes explicit that most of the aliens ARE rather mindless and lacking intelligence. "Christopher" is the only alien(and possibly "his" "son") shown with a human level of intelligence, I've seen theories he is the queen alien the humans theorized controlled the prawn colony, that he hid among the drones to avoid being experimented on.
I don't think that was necessarily true. Were they depicted that way because the movie was from the human point of view? Or because they were put in a position through their segregation where they had no way to be members of society? Or because they were sick and malnourished on the ship? Or because it simply made a better movie? All of the above?

Looking at people less empathetically, not many of us have "human" levels of intelligence if that means possessing the ability to repair a space ship using jury-rigged equipment, understanding foreign/unfamiliar concepts of law and property, and other things that Christopher did.
  #30  
Old 03-20-2015, 02:20 PM
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Yeah, the point is that those people are wrong about gay people being dangerous to children while the people from the movies are RIGHT about mutants being dangerous to children and everyone else.
I guess it depends on your definition of being dangerous. If you mean that capable of bringing harm to someone else, either on purpose or accident, then every teenager ever, whether straight, gay, or mutant is dangerous.

But like I said before, movies can be overanalyzed, either for fun or just to be nitpicky. You can break down each part of the metaphor and list all the things that don't line up to real life. Or it's also possible to go somewhat in the opposite direction and go full Room 237 and read into a movie all sorts of things that aren't there. The allegories in the X-Men movies and District 9 work for me, and bring extra meaning to the stories, but there's nothing wrong if they don't for you.
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Old 03-20-2015, 02:43 PM
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X-Men Mutants, however, are fucking incredibly dangerous, hard to control, and could very well destroy society. If I lived in the X-Men world, and every other week some mutant or another is assassinating people, destroying a city, causing some sort of terrorist act, fighting amongst each other with tons of collateral damage, I damn well would want them to be controlled.
People have said that about black people, Jews, and homosexuals over and over, throughout history. They're saying that about Muslims RIGHT NOW. That they're going to destroy civilization/the world, often through violence, usually through radical change that tears at the space-time continuum.

Is this some sort of meta parody post that's whooshing past me?

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But those stories are all about mutant factions that see non-mutants as inferior beings who should be destroyed, or at least ruled over. Often more well-meaning mutants are still losing control of their power and causing untold harm. New powers manifest regularly that completely render our traditional methods of law enforcement and security ineffective.
See above. All this manifests in the creation of identity and societal change, from freeing slaves to Harlem to gay marriage.

People said and believed these things in all seriousness. Look at the debate surrounding the passage of the 14th amendment in the 1860s. We don't need mutants to destroy us all, the gypsies will do that first. Mutants may be exaggerated symbolism, but not different.

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but those aliens couldn't communicate with people, they were at times hostile to people, they'd eat people's pets, they couldn't really live in the same areas as people, they were utterly foreign and alien.
It has been a while since you've seen that movie, none of those things are true.

As a homosexual, I've taken a lot of comfort in some aspects of the X-Men movies--they present political views that affect ME, and possible scenarios and fixes that affect ME. Such as the possibility of a cure or other medical/genetic manipulation, screening, being ostracized by the government and society, being ghettoized, etc. So heartening to see it all reduced to "We must stop evil mutants!" in this thread.

Is there not one mutant out there that represents your own fears and accomplishments and failures and dreams?
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Old 03-20-2015, 02:47 PM
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Also, Per Sam Lowry, my favorite is Illuminati symbols in Despicable Me.
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Old 03-20-2015, 06:03 PM
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Yeah, the point is that those people are wrong about gay people being dangerous to children while the people from the movies are RIGHT about mutants being dangerous to children and everyone else.
This and other posts in this thread really make me want an X-Men re-imaging where they're an allegory for gun control.
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Old 03-20-2015, 06:42 PM
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This and other posts in this thread really make me want an X-Men re-imaging where they're an allegory for gun control.
Been done. Don't remember the issue number, but during Simonson's all too short run of FF, there were "Mutant Registration Hearings" and Ben point blank said something like "I never thought I'd be on the same side as the NRA and the ACLU".
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Old 03-20-2015, 06:43 PM
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I think what definitely ruined any hope for peaceful coexistence was X2. In that film you have one mutant who can kill every single person in the world. The fact that he was under mind control is irrelevant. How many people died that day? Yeah, he was stopped before everyone died, but there had to have been pilots on final descent, or surgeons operating, people driving, etc. I would not be surprised that there are millions dead. By one mutant.


I understand Magneto's viewpoint. He's right. There's no comprise. It's one side or the other. Where I stand, were I in that universe, depends solely on if I had powers or not.
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Old 03-20-2015, 06:48 PM
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I think what definitely ruined any hope for peaceful coexistence was X2. In that film you have one mutant who can kill every single person in the world. The fact that he was under mind control is irrelevant. How many people died that day? Yeah, he was stopped before everyone died, but there had to have been pilots on final descent, or surgeons operating, people driving, etc. I would not be surprised that there are millions dead. By one mutant.


I understand Magneto's viewpoint. He's right. There's no comprise. It's one side or the other. Where I stand, were I in that universe, depends solely on if I had powers or not.
This kind of negates the comparison to gun control even, hell even if everyone could legally own nukes it wouldn't mean potentially the death of all humanity if one person gets horribly depressed.
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Old 03-20-2015, 06:50 PM
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There are a lot of non-mutants in the Marvel-verse who could potentially destroy the planet. Plus, the vast majority of mutants have powers that are entirely harmless. This guy's mutant power is that he looks like a chicken. Meanwhile, folks like Doctor Strange, Thor, and Reed Richards are allowed to walk around more-or-less unmolested, despite having the powers and/or skills to level cities. Magneto is a dangerous villain, sure. But so is Dr. Doom, and nobody argues that really smart people need to be registered in case they try to fire a skyscraper into space.

So, the X-Men work as a metaphor for prejudice on some level, as they are routinely treated differently than other super-powered individuals, solely based on the way they came by their superpowers.
This was addressed directly exactly one time--during Morrison's run of the X-Men (which was right before, and probably the cause for--the whole "No More Mutants!" crap). Per Morrison, people were freaking out over mutants for two reasons.:

1) The mutant "subculture" (see "Blacks and Black Culture" or "Gays and Gay Culture" rants* was becoming extremely popular with da yooth of America and that was a sore-spot. It's like your kid who you want to be become a shitkicker-redneck like you dressing up and dancing to Donna Summers songs in the mid'70s. Also, there was a drug called "MGH" (Mutant Growth Hormone) that if mixed with a small cell-scraping of a mutant would give you their powers for a short amount of time (and possibly permanately fuck up your genetics. So now your no-longer redneck son is dancing to Donna Summers music and dressing like the Village People. While growing wings out his back.* The horror)

2) Morrison set an actual deadline: either 1 or 2 generations (20 or 40 years) mutants will become a majority and OMG! they might extinct us.

Both of which are....storywise....coherent reasons for mutants to freak people out in a way that the FF and radioactive spiders don't.


*I couldn't figure out how to extent the redneck->gay analogy to MGH.

Last edited by Fenris; 03-20-2015 at 06:51 PM.
  #38  
Old 03-20-2015, 06:58 PM
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There's obviously a difference in degree, but some people would argue that other races/cultures/sexualities do "destroy" our culture, albeit in a slow, insidious way of changing our language or destroying our moral values (instead of shooting laser beams or blowing stuff up).

And, to be fair, the comics have dealt with the issue of mutants being de facto dangerous... well, it was actually the Marvel universe at large, but the Civil War storyline in 2006 was about whether superheroes should be forced to register and fall under government bureaucracy as opposed to operating as vigilantes. (The X-Men basically sat out the whole thing, saying, 'we-re anti-reg and we've always been, don't try to fuck with us').
  #39  
Old 03-20-2015, 07:17 PM
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I think what definitely ruined any hope for peaceful coexistence was X2. In that film you have one mutant who can kill every single person in the world. The fact that he was under mind control is irrelevant. How many people died that day? Yeah, he was stopped before everyone died, but there had to have been pilots on final descent, or surgeons operating, people driving, etc. I would not be surprised that there are millions dead. By one mutant.
Yeah, but how many people know that a mutant caused all that? All they know is that everyone went all hurty for a while, and then it stopped. The X-Men dropped a thick packet on info on the President's desk at the end, but we don't know how much of the truth they laid out in that, versus just pinning the whole thing on Stryker's mutant genocide machine having an unspecified malfunction.
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:26 PM
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I tend to agree that at the time of their origin in the 1960s, X-Men's allegorical take was more along racial/sociopolitical themes -- Magneto and the Brotherhood being the hardcore militant/revolutionary types(*) feel they were driven into becoming criminal subversives.

(*Ya think Magneto may have been a big JDL supporter?)

However with the passing of time and the evolution of society itself, the allegory of the Outsider can itself evolve and adapt. So the X-men of the current generation are more about all the types of "different" person who is ostracised because of that, and what does it mean to deserve "normal" treatment.

But there comes about another aspect: in those intervening decades, society itself has grown more concerned about unknown or ill-defined risks brought about by the very changes around them. GMO foods, climate change, EMFs, privacy and surveillance issues, big Pharma, covert operations, side effects of fracking... people are far more worried about unintended consequences and externalities now, so it is sensible to ask "Well, who's in charge of preventing this from going wrong? And how do I know I can trust that?".

However this can be tied in with the overall X-Men ethos in the sense that in-universe it speaks to society's known problem with risk assesment. There are probably a majority of mutants whose changes are essentally innocuous, just quirky, maybe even not so "super", and some perhaps actually a disability not much different from a regular-human congenital disorder; but who get screwed over just because all everyone can think of, and virtually all that we ever read or hear about, is the one who can obliterate the city if s/he suffers a minor seizure or the schmuck in the dork helmet who goes around claiming he's gonna cure the world of humans; so they treat every one of them as an existential threat.

Last edited by JRDelirious; 03-20-2015 at 09:28 PM.
  #41  
Old 03-21-2015, 02:34 AM
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The third movie was mostly about Magneto, but the government there was developing a "cure" for mutants that would also wipe them out as a distinct species. It wouldn't actually kill them, but it would erase them as a distinct population group, and they don't appear to be too concerned with asking consent before applying the drug.
Actually, I would argue that it wasn't even going that far—the government wasn't spraying The Cure over cities with cropdusters, it had "weaponized" it in the form of dart guns, and used against mutants who were actively attacking unpowered people. I'd liken it more to "using a rifle against a knight in plate armor charging you with a broadsword."

Even Worthington's producing and releasing The Cure wasn't done maliciously, or high-handedly. They weren't influencing the government to make it mandatory, or dumping it in the water, or making it secretly lethal or the only antidote for a plague they'd released. It was an elective medical procedure, administered to paying customers. We don't even know if it was covered by anyone's insurance.

And yeah, erasing your amazing superpowers just because of prejudice or self-hatred would be lousy, but not everyone gets to be Superman. There are people like Rogue, who have powers that are uncontrollable, dangerous, have significant unpleasant side effects, and (in the movies' version) not even particularly combat effective. Even aside from the issues of personal choice—it wouldn't be my place to tell anyone what they could or couldn't do with their life and their body, as long as they weren't hurting anyone—it's less like someone wanting to be "cured" of being gay, it'd be more like me wanting to be "cured" of being white, so my fishbelly pale Irish skin wouldn't burn red and start peeling off, and possibly get cancerous, any time I went out in the sun.
  #42  
Old 03-21-2015, 02:39 AM
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Well, the whole X-Men dynamic, and the call for the Sentinel program, isn't really allegory. It's speculative fiction with a horror element. Imagine you have paranormal powers! Wow! Great! Now imagine it gets you hunted down by even more powerful giant robots built by your own government!

The mobs of protesters, and "Anti-Mutant Hysteria," while a little silly, were kind of modeled on anti-abortion and anti-gay protesters, among others. But it's not an allegory, no.
  #43  
Old 03-21-2015, 05:15 AM
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I think what definitely ruined any hope for peaceful coexistence was X2. In that film you have one mutant who can kill every single person in the world. The fact that he was under mind control is irrelevant. How many people died that day? Yeah, he was stopped before everyone died, but there had to have been pilots on final descent, or surgeons operating, people driving, etc. I would not be surprised that there are millions dead. By one mutant.


I understand Magneto's viewpoint. He's right. There's no comprise. It's one side or the other. Where I stand, were I in that universe, depends solely on if I had powers or not.
Bullshit. Just straight bullshit. The very thought process you are describing is bigotry. You are seeing all mutants as one, and using the worst attributes of one to condemn all.

Mutants are sapient beings. They should have the same rights as all other sapient beings. You don't get to kill all Africans because one African guy is dangerous. You don't get to even kill just the dangerous guy if he's not doing anything wrong.

A world that would attack all mutants because of one is a bigoted world. And being against bigotry is exactly what the story is supposed to be about.
  #44  
Old 03-21-2015, 08:24 AM
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I completely missed the allegory in X-Men (probably among many others) but the District 9 one hit me like a ton of bricks. I was on a flight and I remember the exact feeling as it panned out.
  #45  
Old 03-21-2015, 08:38 AM
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I'm conflicted because I'm annoyed in general by message movies that bang you over the head with their moral, like it's an after school special. Then you can't criticize the movie for sucking because it "means something." If you hate the movie that's anti-child slavery, what are ya, pro-child slavery? Or worse, so called intellectual movies that try to make some grand point about human nature, like they're going to come up with anything new. Or how about all those movies of the 2000s trying to make political metaphors with the war on terror. There's a difference between not being able to escape your own milieu and diving in head first.

On the other hand, the OP is racist against prawns, which is funny since I thought the movie was trying to get audiences to confront their own racism, even among well meaning libs who look down on the poor benighted creatures and want to help them. Slums are dirty and violent places.

A lot of people get way too caught up in surface level details when talking about stories. How does this work, why did this happen, why is the world letting South Africa treat the technologically superior aliens like shit, do they have a death wish, how will they explain their behavior if the rest of their race comes to pick them up, etc. Nitpicking is fun, but it shouldn't really matter. The details are just window dressing.

X-Men 2 came out in 2003, when perception of gay people in America was much worse and was even a major topic of the 2004 election. It's hard to tell the effect lines like "Have you tried not being a mutant?" may have had, but it's worth a golf clap I guess. No rule says political indoctrination, uh, I mean conscience raising, has to be boring.

Last edited by marshmallow; 03-21-2015 at 08:40 AM.
  #46  
Old 03-21-2015, 09:06 AM
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Fun thread. I am enjoying the discussion.

I grew up with and love the Marvel comics universe. My first comic I recall buying was X-Men #95 - the second regular issue of the new X-Men that would eventually Take Over. I also happened to enjoy D-9, a movie I wish the director could live up to.



About this topic, I have to ask: doesn't this boil down to "a metaphor works...until it doesn't." ?

The "difference" that fundamentally defines the mutants in the world of the X-Men has been put to use to fit any number of narratives. As a 13yo kid reading this stuff, I related to the mutants as teenagers going through puberty and not feeling understood or attractive/normal, but full of new power.

All good sci-fi/speculative fiction creates a world with differences - they are physical manifestations that are used to illustrate ideas and concepts. I am not surprised that the congruance is not 100%
  #47  
Old 03-21-2015, 09:14 AM
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Here's the thing: homosexuals aren't destroying society. They aren't plotting against heterosexuals. They aren't some unknown threat of potentially great power with unknown limitations and unknown intentions.
I don't know much about X-Men, but I'm (barely) old enough to remember the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. I assume you're not, but at the time there was a lot of ignorance and misinformation about how HIV is spread and how common it was among gay men. There were people who believed that if a man was gay he was probably HIV positive, and further that this meant that even shaking hands with a gay man put one at risk of contracting a horrific, deadly disease.
  #48  
Old 03-21-2015, 09:33 AM
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The analogy worked better in the early days of X-Men when the powers displayed were relatively limited. With Paul-Bunyan-type-inflation, though, especially as presented in the films, I can't see any plausible reason why someone like Magneto isn't on a shoot-on-sight list. Heck, why was he even kept alive for years in a Pentagon sub-basement?

Seems to me a big step toward gaining acceptance would be to wait until some hurricane threatens the east coast, then have Storm mitigate it or redirect it out to sea. Right off the bat, she'd be demonstrating the ability to save the U.S. billions of dollars per year just by reducing the effect of weather-related natural disasters. The X-Men should be selling their powers and the market will embrace them for it.
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Old 03-21-2015, 10:07 AM
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Actually, I would argue that it wasn't even going that far—the government wasn't spraying The Cure over cities with cropdusters[...]

Even Worthington's producing and releasing The Cure wasn't done maliciously, or high-handedly. They weren't influencing the government to make it mandatory, or dumping it in the water
But how do we know "They" would not get around to that sooner or later? It is sort of implicit in-universe that is a very real and even very highly likely danger -- Magneto's Holocaust survivor background serves as a reminder.

When X3 came out I thought that the storyline of Rogue being treated sympathetically as a character who understandably comes to feel her mutation is a disability that she wants to fix would raise more debate, but it pretty much got buried under everything else.



The larger theme in these stories also involves not just those elements of equal protection and coexistence, but the notion of opression or disenfranchisement becoming an incitement to subversion and crime, when if ever is it justified, and how do you avoid that becoming a self-reinforcing spiral. It also speaks to a fear among the former ruling groups that if the opressed are liberated or the outsiders become dominant, then they will seek to turn the tables and settle scores harshly (or at the very least seek to exact massive reparations) against the people who are mere descendants, or even just look like, those who once committed the opression.
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Old 03-21-2015, 10:10 AM
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It's kind of hard to think of many issues mutants couldn't be an allegory for.
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