Saturday, July 10, 2004

Spider-Man for President

Frank Rich makes the case that the enormous popularity of Spider-Man 2 is not an accident. Not only is it a good film in his opinion (I can't say; I haven't seen it), but it reflects the sort of hero American needs -- and knows it needs.
"'With great power comes great responsibility' is the central tenet of [Spider-Man's] faith, passed down not from God but from his Uncle Ben ... .

He takes it seriously. Spider-Man wants to vanquish evil, but he doesn't want to be reckless about it. Like the reluctant sheriff of an old western, he fights back only when a bad guy strikes first, leaving him with no other alternative. He wouldn't mind throwing off his Spider-Man identity entirely to go back to being just Peter Parker, lonely Columbia undergrad. But of course he can't. This is 2004, and there is always evil bearing down on his New York. ...

As a man locked in a war against terror, Peter Parker could not be further removed from the hubristic bravura of Mr. Bush and his own cinematic model, the Tom Cruise of Top Gun. There's nothing triumphalist about Spider-Man; he would never declare 'Mission Accomplished' after a passing victory, and his very creed is antithetical to the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war.

But neither is he a stand-in for John Kerry. Whatever inner equivocation he suffers over his role as a superhero, he stops playing Hamlet when he has a decision to make. Nor does he follow Mr. Kerry's vainglorious example of turning his own past battles into slick promotional hagiography."
Both candidates might learn something from this movie.

I hope Kerry learns his lesson first. Actually, it's hard for me to imagine Bush even being interested in the lesson this movie holds for him.

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