An odd thing about watching some of Hollywood genres where male psychology figure prominently, is you get to witness many of the very worst contemporary male faults. Strangely, attributions like “Does not play well with others,” is almost a call to arms for many of our contemporary brethren. Self-gratification is defined as the “the act of giving oneself pleasure or of satisfying one’s own desires .” But why is this bad, because many adults agree that civil social interaction actually requires a degree of willful collaboration, sympathetic sharing, and mutual respect and possibly some selflessness? So the question has to be asked what can be done about this trend? First I would say stop the Hollywood promotion of these anti-social attributes and stop it while things are still (relatively) manageable. Raging self-absorbed testosterone of the past, (sometime defined as narcissism) led to some of our worst historical incidents. No, this trend in entertainment isn’t new but it’s a sad turn of affairs just the same. As in the past, what can start as conventional dramatic presentation can become a kind of social etiquette for the easily influenced.
Before we go too far off field culturally, let’s explore the genre that has so brilliantly put this trend in the spotlight. Yeah comic books and their movies are fantasy, but some may also be a kind of wish fulfillment for the emotionally stunted. Let’s explore how future predictions, in the form of trailers, may fulfill the worst of past suggestions about familiar characters.
Opens May 3rd 2013
In terms of narcissism you might remember this outrageous act of selfishness from the critically dismissed Ironman 2. Ignoring technological giants of our culture (the Wright brothers, Jonas Salk, WordPress’ open source programming (or the website your reading from) whom nearly gave their innovations away for free, Tony Stark refused to part with his ironman suit when he was asked for it by the US government.
Suggesting some civil rights complications, Stark chose to withhold the suit and it’s unique power source during a period of global hysteria regarding the shortage of available energy resources. As if to erase this fit of egotism, two movies later, as apparent in the trailer, Tony Stark will in fact donate the Ironman armor. We might find it easier to forget Stark’s transgressions, if we weren’t being treated to yet another walk into the kind of ethnic vilification  that earned the first movie protests from the Hollywood weary Islamic community.
Man of Steel
Opens June 14th 2013
For anyone who thinks, this movie is a sequel to “Superman Returns” it is not and instead is a complete reboot of the franchise. Scanning the trailer one might notice the conspicuous absence of vision challenged Clark Kent. If you have been keeping up with recent Superman fashion you may have noticed how much the expression of the traditional Clark Kent character has been minimized in current years. One probably saw this presentation most in the Smallville TV show. Different from the Clark Kent immortalized by Christopher Reeves in the Superman movies of the 7O’s, today’s Clark Kent is a frequent ladies man, was a high school jock, and as a rule avoids the tights in any expression of his super-self. The Clark Kent identity used to he an expression of the character’s humility, modesty, and was a an effort to blend in with the human race in ways his hero identity made completely impossible. An option to repress as well as respect the world around him, one could interpret Kent as an expression of mutual affection. I’m not claiming the older character has been eliminated entirely but I wonder whether the “Type A” Superman will continue to be as engaging as the one we grew to know .
Opens July 26th 2013
Another reboot pursued after another less than persuasive studio adaptation. Actor Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has been given another chance to attract audiences with the same character appeal he provided for the character displayed in 20th Century Foxes X-men movies. And like the previous character discussed, just because the studio hasn’t found the golden approach for featuring the character, it doesn’t mean we won’t see the best portrayal this time. Taking cues from his comic book series it seems the 2013 presentation of the character will explore some samurai or martial arts themes and he will be pursuing a new love interest in Asia . Even if relocating to “chase tail” in Asia wasn’t a fairly clichéd international macho pursuit, we might still find endearing motivations that might still help us understand him better. Honesty I’m still curious about some things about the character that were never adequately explained before. Given the body’s tendency to reject things that are foreign to it, I wish someone could explain how the character can sustain his metal plated bones or claws. Or maybe we’re being silly, who needs an understanding of conventional biology to make a larger-than-life sci-fi character seem plausible?
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THOR: The Dark World
Opens November 8th 2013
There’s probably nothing wrong with the fact that people tend to confuse you with being a god, but there might be a problem if you encouraged people to come to that assumption. Not presented as omniscient, Omni-present, or even aware of weather in other parts of the globe, we might wonder what is going on in the head of this supposed Thunder God. Presented in his third movie, the character Thor is supposed to take us on a trip that presents more regarding his unique origin and the environment of his birth . In terms of genre, he’s probably more “Lord of the Rings’ like than say “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, so I imagine the story will veer away from exploring more practical descriptive topics like; why not circulate in an environment like Northern Europe where people actually worshipped you or instead of English, why doesn’t he speak in the Norse languages that mythologized him, and why doesn’t his appearance inspire the interest of the journalistic, historic, or anthropological communities? Any form of self-discovery might be a trivial pursuit when you’re a character who is preoccupied with expressing his immense potential.
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Self-gratification as a contemporary past time must interest us because it highlights passions we want to fully explore in ourselves. Expressed effectively in CGI technology, this year will our on-screen heroes continue to satisfy these gratifications or will we continue to look for bigger or bolder explorations of this trend?