Wednesday, May 04, 2011

No Place for a Super Villian

I recall thinking, when the first post-9/11 James Bond film came out, "What's the point? The fun of such films has been squelched. There is now a constant reminder that the world will not be saved, the tragedy will not be averted, people will die, and there are no super heroes or super spies who can stop it. Bond is useless now, Superman is useless now...they're all useless now. The audience is too painfully and consciously aware of their participation in the required suspension of disbelief to enjoy such fare."

Only thing was, I went to see it anyway...addicted as I am to such nerd-nip...and I did enjoy it.

Turns out, it wasn't just the climax in which the hero saves the world from certain destruction that makes Bond films so alluring. It's also the skimpy bathing suits, the fabulous gadgets, the incredible (in every sense of the word) car chases, the glamor, the cheesy one-liners, the exotic locations, and the luxurious interiors. Those things all still worked to make the film a fun escape.

Indeed, the film still had plenty of escapist potential, because, quite frankly, it ALL required a suspension of disbelief, not just the climax. In the first post-9/11 Bond film, Die Another Day, for example, check out the set for super villain, billionaire Gustav Graves' ice-castle party:

Must have cost a pretty penny.

Compare that, if you will, with what a million dollars will buy you in Abbottabad:

The Guardian has a brilliantly biting piece titled "Why did Osama bin Laden build such a drab HQ?":
If the death of Osama bin Laden tells us anything it's that life isn't like a Bond movie. Rather than running al-Qaida from some spectacular Ken Adam-designed lair under the ocean or inside a volcano, Bin Laden ended his days in an exceptionally ugly and ignoble townhouse – a bland, square, flat-roofed three-storey block with few windows or other features.
Read the whole's very cathartic.

Interestingly, I did see a lot of chatter on Facebook and Twitter about how disappointed people were to find out how lousy bin Laden's lair was. In fact, the living quarters of the world's most wanted man have sparked the imaginations of people, including artists, for quite some time, apparently:
Most of Bin Laden's other homes were similarly destroyed by US air raids at some stage. He appears to have been flirting with dictator chic in his half-built house in Kandahar, which was said to include a mosque, 15 bedrooms, western bathtubs, carved wooden window frames and pastel-coloured conference rooms. Oddly enough, Turner prize-nominated British artists Langlands and Bell found another of his bombed-out Afghan residences in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in 2002, which they turned into a digital art piece.
There's been a lot of conflicted feelings about how to respond to bin Laden's death. The Martin Luther King quote (?) being posted every three seconds by someone somewhere on Facebook:
I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
is good to remember, of course, and I'll get right on that as soon as I post one more (er, two more) link(s):

You'll note that even Stewart makes several references to 007-esque super villain motifs when discussing bin Laden. That's how large the bearded one loomed in our collective imaginations.

It's OK, in my opinion, to resort to gallows humor to exorcise such demons. Escapist mockery can be the best medicine. A little, anyway. We have the rest of our lives to perfect our better selves.

Unlike bin Laden.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post; however the MLK quote was incorrect in that he never saird the first line.

5/04/2011 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Yes, I saw something about it being questionable (hence the question mark), but it is being quoted all over the place as presented here,

even if MLK never said it, plenty of people seem to want to believe this sentiment is how to live

I personally feel a bit of relish in seeing the face of evil being wiped off the earth is ok

5/04/2011 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

After seeing pictures of what was referred to earlier-on as a "mansion on a tree lined street" on NPR I thought that too.
Of course evil will still exist, but perhaps with Bin Laden out of the way there is one less Super Villain to blame for the problems in the world and more equality and solutions can be found.
I envision Dick Cheney in a Super Villain Lair with his EMT, Earthquake,puppy-grinding machines, and torture parlour. When will he see justice?

5/04/2011 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Bernard Klevickas said...

Oops! I meant EMP. As in Electro-Magnetic Pulse generator which could be used to disable the electrical systems on things like Senator Paul Wellstone's private plane.

5/04/2011 03:11:00 PM  

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