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May 17, 2002
2:31 AM   Subscribe

More from the Textual Analysis Department: Spiderman as class warrior. "This battle of good vs. evil features the alter egos of an orphan raised by financially-strapped working class relatives versus an egotistical corporate executive."
posted by raaka (16 comments total)

 
And this is surprising... why? Evil Businessmen must be the most common villains in pop media. Look at The Phantom Menace. Or the evil corporation that wants to breed the aliens to be military machines, in the Alien/Aliens movies. Or evil businessman Jim Taylor in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, or Henry Potter in It's a Wonderful Life... the list is endless. Everyone loves to hate businessmen.

From the linked article: Every single businessman the recent high school graduate Peter Parker/Spider-Man encounters are immoral and untrustworthy scumbags.

Yeah, no kidding. Isn't that the case in most movies and TV shows? And people wonder why the media is believed to have a liberal bias. Sheesh.

[Parenthetical snark: I am so glad the counterpunch writer has liberated himself from such oppressive bourgeois notions as agreement in case between subject and verb.]
posted by Slithy_Tove at 4:07 AM on May 17, 2002


I was (am) a great fan of Spiderman, but I always found very stressing, even depressing, his constants economic and work problems.

For god's sake, he was a superhero!!!!! Maybe there was a teaching in his adventures after all...
posted by samelborp at 5:15 AM on May 17, 2002


Actually, the class-war aspect of Spiderman and the rest of the media's ongoing bias against businesspeople is deceptive. It's not a working class vs. upper class thing. It's an artist/aristocrat vs. bourgeoise thing. In real life, a great many corporate executives come from the working class, and, indeed, continue to work harder than almost any one else in the company. The media disdain for them is simply an artistic/aristocratic disdain for the world of work and striving.
posted by Faze at 5:39 AM on May 17, 2002


You say that like it's a bad thing....
posted by rushmc at 6:19 AM on May 17, 2002


Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't it "Spider-Man"?
posted by drinkcoffee at 6:24 AM on May 17, 2002


The Phantom menace is a retelling of the struggles between British Imperialism and some of their colonies, namely Jamaica and India.

Working Class Hero Battles Defense Contractors

Ah, what a noble title. Indeed, just because you are poor and working, you are better than someone who is not. "Working class" indeed. Are not these wealthy businessmen also working? Why is their work less valuable? This class warfare shtick always confuses me. Giombetti is of course from a long tradition of writers who love to categorize and stigmatize others, but never bothers to mention which stereotype he fits into. Sorry, but I just disagree that pick-up trucks (with their obligatory confederate flag stickers or 'aint skeered' stickers), mullets, Natural Light, and WWF fanmania make you noble or heroic. (Oops, now I'm starting to stereotype people, and use non-sequitrs, kind of like the author)

I like this system of attributing ontological value based on payscale! I must be better than my parents then, since we both work, but I make a lot less. Finally, I have the upperhand!

Spider-Man was released eight months after September 11, which should have given the film's producers plenty of time to insert patriotic themes into the movie. Thankfully, this did not happen.

Wrong again Holmes! If he watched the movie, there is a parting shot of Spiderman atop a building, holding onto a flag pole with the American flag waving briskly in the air(there were lots of American flags). Or how about the scenes were some New Yorkers yell "you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us"? That was a dead giveaway, and a total groaner. I guess his bias made him ignore some of the more obvious elements of the film. Oh well, it happens to the best of us.

At this point I hate this guy, since he didn't include a spoiler warning, and he basically gives the whole plot away for those that haven't seen it. Bastard.
posted by insomnyuk at 6:24 AM on May 17, 2002


agreement in case between subject and verb

s/case/number

Must learn not to grammar flame... must learn not to grammar flame...
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:37 AM on May 17, 2002


Is this a tad overdone? Absolutely. Nevertheless, it struck me as necessary since I saw it as more of a piss-take on the even more annoying Michael Medved article mentioned within.
posted by rks404 at 6:53 AM on May 17, 2002


Stilthy Tove and Insomnyuk are correct that the "evil businessman vs Working Class Hero" is actually a pretty common theme in popular culture. This is not because of any grand shift in political paradigms, but because the studio's market research department has figured out that most American's percieve themselves as working- or lower-middle-class and want these Americans to identify with their characters so they'll fill theatre seats.
If this article had been written back when Spidey first hit the comics scene it might have been perceptive, showing the difference between Spidey's Marlon Brando and Superman's Jimmy Stewart which was actually something of a paradigm shift.

Sorry, but I just disagree that pick-up trucks (with their obligatory confederate flag stickers or 'aint skeered' stickers), mullets, Natural Light, and WWF fanmania make you noble or heroic.

Them's fightin' words insomnyuk....
posted by jonmc at 7:05 AM on May 17, 2002


I'm not saying that those things are bad, hell they're staples of life here in Ohio, or when I'm at school in Michigan.

If it's a fight yer looking for, y'all are gonna hafta git me a 12 pack of Natty Light first.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:23 AM on May 17, 2002


Gungadin Lucas, ha, fun link insomnyuk.

What about the trailer that had spidey catching a helicopter between the twin towers...The WTC is not once mentioned in the movie and the fact that the twin towers of the WTC are missing from Manhattan's skyline is a non-issue. ...wasn't this an issue at some point?
posted by bittennails at 7:45 AM on May 17, 2002


Aquaman vs. Picasso
Spider-Man vs. Dr. Morgan, pediatrician of evil
Superman vs. Lisa Johannsen, Colorado State English major
Batman vs. the terrifying day laborer conspiracy

Yeah, I think Hollywood's really missing out by insisting on stereotypes.
posted by furiousthought at 8:34 AM on May 17, 2002


Just wanted to verify the author's point about "Born in the USA" being a very UN-patriotic song:

Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up

Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man

Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says "Son if it was up to me"
Went down to see my V.A. man
He said "Son, don't you understand"

I had a brother at Khe Sahn fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone

He had a woman he loved in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms now

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years burning down the road
Nowhere to run ain't got nowhere to go

Born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a cool rocking Daddy in the U.S.A.
posted by muppetboy at 9:19 AM on May 17, 2002


Are not these wealthy businessmen also working? Why is their work less valuable?

Less valuable than what production and service workers do, or less valuable than the multi-million dollar paychecks they are given?

At least a big part of it is a major shift in ethos that has occured since the 1980s. My grandfather for example went to school on the G.I. Bill after WWII, got a Ph.D. in chemestry and spent the rest of his career working for Amoco with a modst and generous compensation package and a literal gold watch when he retired. When I was a kid, I grew up around people who spent an entire career from apprentice to master working for RCA, Otis, and GE.

Since then the ethos has shifted from one in which labour is a member of your community to one in which labour is simply an asset that can be disposed of at a whim for the purpose of maximizing shareholder profit. This doesn't make for very friendly relationships between those who are disposable, and those who make millions of dollars making the decision to "downsize" employees.

Personally I see Osborne as a tragic figure rather than a demonic figure. He suddenly finds himself disposable.

But isn't Hollywood just expanding on real-life? After all, we are currently in the midst of an investigation of a company that manipulated energy prices in order to make the California energy crisis even worse than it already was. The chain of events central to The Towering Inferno parallels the negligence that was involved in the Bhopal gas leak, and at the risk of invoking the new Goodwin's law, Sepember 11 was enabled by a moral calculus that balanced security against profit.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:42 AM on May 17, 2002


Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up


That's almost like the appropriation of Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:47 AM on May 17, 2002


I don't buy all the deep meaning being ascribed to the "Evil Businessman as Villian" trend. I think the trend is that Hollywood writers/producers are getting lazy and choose the rich businessman- villian because the character is not financially limited in his pursuit of evil. (rich villian = fancy special effects, fancy gizmos, and/or fancy ways of killing people and eluding police, if it's one of those inexplicable serial killer movies where the killer's goal in life is to generate labyrinthine puzzles for the audience/cops to solve)
posted by plaino at 10:36 AM on May 17, 2002


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