Zixinus wrote:Before we go further, I have what I think a reasonable demand: Let's go analyzing specific superheroes rather than just cross-picking from all of them. It is innately fallacious to take a list of characteristic that define an ideology, pick random individuals from a large group that identify with some but not all characteristics and then ascribe that ideology to all of them. To be logical, the m majority these characteristics need to be consistently present and even unifying characteristic of the group, if not an ideology.
If we analyze specific superheroes, we would lose the common features of the genre (white, male, perfectly athletic - certainly a reactionary view at the very least) in favor of specific backstories. There is no fallacy in describing these unifying features, and I did mention that some later-developed characters fall outside the canon image of the superhero.
Zixinus wrote:The other thing is that superhuman does not automatically equate to adherence to the ideology whose ideal is that superhuman. Just because you are an ideal man of one ideology does not mean that you identify and support that ideology. Nietzsche's übermensch was hijacked by Nazis (and Nazi-supporting relatives of Nietzsche) yet it is debatable whether it actually supports it (or have anything to do with it at all) or that Nietzsche himself would.
The problem here is that the very story about superhumans is structured like this: male, white, strong superhero (super)human being an undisputed protagonist. He is protecting ordinary humans - the sheep. And he's always or almost always operating outside legal boundaries, and always or almost always solving the problem with violence
. So the separation of the perfectly athletic male "heroes" and the sheeple who are just a human mass to be "saved" by the hero is present in most such narratives, and is classic. It does not matter what ideology the superhuman himself espouses - the story is structured in a way that is imbuing elitist direct-action power fantasies as a good thing
in the minds of the audience, it is the domination of strong authoritarian males who act as they want.
Zixinus wrote:It DOES tell us whether a particular superhero's ideology does or does not align with what is historically fascist and gives us a guide to what is fascist and what isn't. Something you have neglected to do so until now.
You seem to be of the opinion that a story can benefit fascism only by having its heroes give the Roman salute or walk around with the imperial eagle or a swastika. That's not so. The authoritarian strong white male power fantasy is deeply troubling, but the problem with fascism is that it also originated from western thought, and western culture, and there was - and still is - a very large demand for authoritarian or even fascist ideas in society.
Zixinus wrote:Also, I think an argument can be made that the ideal of a man is not necessarily exclusive to that ideology.
It is not exclusive, but if you look down into history, you will find this ideal, this cult, in the historic predecessors and precursors which fascist though heavily relies on - the empires, dominated by unchained autocrats, who created massive states in their "perfect" image, in the militaristic cult of the strongman.
Zixinus wrote:This was the actual point of Captain America: a weak man turned into superhuman who opposes the very culture that would worship him as perfect. It is downright a mockery of it, separating inner strength from physical strength that fascism (as noted by my quote) believes to be interrelated.
What started as mockery of the fascist idea, is by now a militaristic superhuman character that serves to illustrate and enforce US global dominance. The US is a global empire, one of the last such things remaining on Earth. "Super-soldier" is also, itself, a horrible idea, and for a long time - at least in my culture - it was considered a fascist one.
Zixinus wrote:Now the last characteristic is true for most superheroes. They are physically superior people that are clever if not brilliant or genius, highly-motivated and very good in a fight. However, it also ascribed to a historically common idea of "smart, strong, tough, clever and good in a fight". How many cultures do not have these characteristics unified in one person as not ideal? Especially in Europe? Hell, in Asia. How about all that anime with ideal, superhuman characters?
What about anime? Lots of it is just the same as classic "strong white super race person" comic books - delusional power fantasy, dangerous and sometimes fascist. It's not even entirely unexplainable, given that Japan was the first of the Eastern nations to directly import fascism and create its own breed of this ideology.
In my culture, complex stories about complex individuals composed the bulk of classic literature, not stories about person X being born super-powerul or become super-powerful and then do what they want (be good, if this is a superhero story). So I guess that's minus one culture in your cultural comparison. The stories about strong men are very primitive and compose like barely a few percent of our classic literature. Usually they're very old and tell the story of ancient legendary heroes, kind of like Greek myths.
Zixinus wrote:But what about the others? Let's stick to Batman for a moment. He is indeed masculine, disdainful of death (he never kills or if he does, it is notable exception or abnormal behaviour) and can be quite brutal to his enemies (of course, this ignores that he may often be forced to as his enemies are not rarely physically superior to him or otherwise have mayor advantages over him). Yet he is anything but anti-intellectual, as he is noted to studying a large array of things to be Batman including forensics, psychology and a great deal of other things. He often combats his enemy's super-science with his own. He does not care much for his virility (he adopts rather than sires children, while he had relationships women it is usually part of his playboy facade or deeper attachment that rarely lasts long). He is very capable of violence (and in some depictions, even of torture) but his love and enjoyment of it is limited, often doing it with a specific purpose in mind rather than for his own sake. Some versions depict him even with a sentimental and/or romantic bone in his otherwise cold personality. His stance on war is generally ambiguous, he is not noted for supporting or being against military.
Batman's physique dominates the image of him just as it does with Superman - when you see a panel with a strong brawly man, you don't think "intellectual!", so I guess there's that. But the fact that it is already a close match (and superheroes somehow always use violence to solve problems) is telling.
Zixinus wrote:You just described most of Western entertainment media of the 20th century and 21st century, as well as possibly before that. Maybe that of other cultures too. Villains are often repulsive and heroes attractive in fiction to gather sympathy of the audience. This is not an inherently fascist characteristic.
Fascism refined and was created on a foundation of Western thought. It did not appear in a vacuum.
Zixinus wrote:Except for all the super-scientists characters like Reed Richards, Spiderman to a lesser extent, Batman even who uses modern forensic sciences if not more and a bunch of others I can't name. Or that many origin stories frequently involve origins in super-science. Or have allies that are scientists if not super-scientists (the late Ms. Marvel for instance).
That's a good point, but I already admitted the genre now has more diverse stories, some of which go outside the canon.
Zixinus wrote:But for them to be truly anti-intellectual they must not only fight against scientist-villains, but acting or denouncing regular scientists and other intellectuals who are not criminals.
Not necessarily. The image of a strong man sticking it up to that evil smartass alone is an image, which has a certain meaning even in form alone. By making scientists an often-used villain type, it also betrays a certain intent.
Zixinus wrote:The superheroes are often intelligent too and it is actually more notable to list those that are not. Also, what about the times that the differences they are fighting often create superhuman physical or even mental abilities? Like a good deal of Batman's villains?
What about it?
Zixinus wrote:I think you are committing the common fallacy of communists, that of interpreting everything as a class war. For starters, while the classic archenemy of Batman is Joker but one of the characteristic ones is Penguin who is quite clearly high-class or Black Mask who is also a rich, corrupt businessman. Not to mention middle-class enemies that includes intellectuals such as Dr. Freeze, the psychologist and others I can't bother to list. If he is lashing out in revenge, he is doing it across multiple classes at very specific targets (criminals and preferably super-criminals). That is not class-war, that is war against criminals.
I've primarily based my criticism on the Nolan films. But I think the very idea of an oligarch who fights crime on his own is very dangerous. In real life, such people make corporate or paramilitary death squads and kill undesirables. They become the real "men of steel" and real vigilantes, and then people say it is horrible. So the disconnect between the hero Batman and what really happens when rich people fight others in thier own way, is also interesting.
Batman the hero is just another class diversion. Look, rich tough guy, the crime fighter.