Tag Archives: Canada

I Watched #Hellbound Before I Changed It to Buffy #btvs

Last night I was pretty bored and I needed to watching something while I did some fall cleaning. Lo, and behold, I decided to watch the documentary, Hellbound?, written and directed by Canadian Christian writer Kevin Miller. From all that I had heard and read, it was supposed to be a worthwhile film, and maybe someday I will go back and finish. But just not this year. The movie was fine, I could see the direction it was going: BIG NINE-ELEVEN TWO THOUSAND AND ONE DRAMA! The Phelps and their hate speech where 99.99999999% of the people living in the world are going to burn in hell for all eternity! Mark Driscoll implying anyone who disagreed with him was not manly enough and kind of queer. So NOT authoritarian! Liar and heretic Ray Comfort even had an appearance.

Nope none of these persons were problematic enough to trigger me into watching something else. Then, Miller first started making claims like all religions are about narrative, and story is ooooh so important to what it means to be human. It’s a familiar argument, one that Brian McLaren was writing about in the ’90’s. You see, there are a variety of Christianities. There’s the fundamentalists who claim to take the Bible “literally” but never seriously. And there are also Christians who read Scripture as literature and somewhat more seriously. While the latter sounds better, at least the BIG OLE SCARY fundies are honest and forthright about the implications of their beliefs.

Then, Hellbound started interviewing the likes of Wm Paul Young and Frank Schaeffer. Throughout his few minutes, Schaeffer repeatedly referred to Evangelicals as Pharisees. This claim went unchallenged, and given the lack of racial diversity in the film (it’s a Christian documentary, so not surprising given the “nature” of the business). Frantz Fanon argues in his Black Skin, White Masks that once you find an anti-Semite, there’s not an anti-Black antagonist far behind. Part of my path down the narrow road of anti-racism was taking a Jewish-Studies course that coincided with a Black Church studies class on Exodus. It was there that I first learned of how problematic loosely calling others Pharisees was. Jesus and Paul were Pharisees,

Cover of "Black Skin, White Masks"

Cover of Black Skin, White Masks

Pharisees were some of the very first Christians in Acts, but in liberal and conservative Christianity, people continue a willful ignorance of the history of antiSemitism and anti-Judaism. I’m sorry, but the Pharisees are not the villains you make them out to be. That’s why it’s no surprise when in liberal “Christian novels,” such as Wm. Paul Young’s The Shack, anti-Judaism goes unchecked.

 

English: Black Buffy the vampire slayer TV ser...

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But I think that there is something that goes much deeper. At the heart of the problem is the notion of story. I have discussed on here before the problem of seeing everything as a story here before, as it relates to postcolonial criticism.

So last night, when I changed the show I was watching on Netflix to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I decided to watch the season 7 episode “Storyteller,” the story of Andrew who was shooting a documentary about Buffy, the slayer of vampires, and I found this relevant quote:

“Buffy: Stop! Stop telling stories. Life isn’t a story.
Andrew: Sorry. Sorry.
Buffy: Shut up. You always do this. You make everything into a story so no one’s responsible for anything because they’re just following a script.”- Storyteller, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 7, Episode 16.

This is exactly the problem with emergent dudebros. They do not have to take responsibility for the histories of biblical interpretations or practices there of. They can just call it “STORY” since it sounds so much nicer. No way should they be held accountable for the real, historical experiences of the oppressed because when it comes to the Grand Narrative, only an arbitrarily limited account provided by men from the majority culture.

Perhaps then this is why the story of the Hellmouth remains truer than that of Hellbound? .

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 3, Wolverine

A Comic Fan Searches For A New Hero: Part 3, Wolverine

Check out the introduction for background on this series of posts!
Check out part 1: Green Lantern. Check out part 2: Captain America.

Wolverine (comic book)

Wolverine (comic book) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who doesn’t love Wolverine? Well, a lot of people actually. But that hasn’t always been true. Back in the day, when those of us who actually knew who the X-men were (the same people who were shoved in lockers and given wedgies), all loved Wolverine the best. He had the most character, the best lines, and he was the best there was at what he did (and what he did wasn’t pretty). Time has passed and like all things good, he was exploited and now shows up in 75% of Marvel’s product line, just for sales. So what about Wolvie? Can he be my new favorite superhero?

Who is Wolverine?

 Wolverine is a mutant, and most notably, part of the X-men. However, it should also be noted that he has been part of the Avengers, X-Force, the Fantastic Four, and Alpha Flight, among others. He is short – only 5’3”, is chock full of overgrown body hair, and can heal from nearly any wound in a matter of moments. He also has a nigh-indestructible metal skeleton that also covers his claws, which can pop out ouf his wrists and slice and dice nearly any foe. His past remains somewhat of a mystery and he is apparently very, very old.

 

Is this character heroic? Yeah……ish…mostly…probably…yes. Wolvie treads dangerously close to the anti-hero line. He has definitely gone to much darker places than nearly every other “super” hero, but he has always come back, if only by the literal skin of his teeth. Having said that, he has also had quite a few of the more memorable and heroic moments in the entirety of comic-dom, saving the universe any number of times, and proving that while he might struggle with his feral nature, he is loyal and willing to do what is needed to save others. (1 point)

Does this character represent the “powers” or fight against them? Wolverine pretty much fights against the powers. While he has taken up stints in various armies, and has certainly done the bidding of others who sought to use him, he remains an outsider, with a chip on his shoulder towards authority of any kind. He has been marginalized, and therefore, is quick to see behind the curtains of what the powerful are saying. He is the first to point the finger at the “man” and as a mutant, he is already standing far outside the party line. Of any party.  (1 points)

Does this character kill? So… about that. Its kindof what he does. A Wolverine that didn’t kill would be such a departure for the character and his abilities that it just wouldn’t work. His razor sharp claws and deadly reputation simply do not lend themselves to non-violence, and while he may try to keep his animalistic urges under control, he is the first to “do what must be done,” no matter how internally conflicted he is about it.  (0 points)

Does this character have a spirituality? Yeah. But it is spotty. Like most comic characters, they are subject to the whims of writers. For example, in one episode of the 90’s X-men cartoon, after talking with Nightcrawler and doubting God for the entire episode, Wolverine appears to become a Christian. He has had multiple religious/spiritual experiences, mostly focused through Japanese/Shinto cultural contexts, but also in more traditionally western ways as well. Still in other mediums, he portrays himself to be a practical agnostic. So spiritual? Yes. Religious? Not really. But the dialogue is there. (1 point)

Does this character have an interesting (and sustainable) story to inhabit? For sure. One of the reasons that Wolverine has had such a popular 40+ years at marvel is that the character bleeds interesting. Given his long life span, his mutant powers, his shadowy background, his struggle with himself, his love life, there is literally no end of stories that are waiting to be told about him. Now if only we can create other characters like that instead of being lazy and just sticking Wolverine in EVERY SINGLE MARVEL BOOK…. (1 point)

Does this character have a supporting cast that isn’t just around to make them look good? Yes and No. The truth is, whatever book he is in, he shines. If you put him in X-men, he is the one everyone loves to read. If you put him in Avengers, all of the sudden, even Iron Man and Thor take a back seat. And yes, Wolverine does have supporting cast members of his own, but they are soooooooo one dimensional compared to Wolverine (when is the last time Mariko, Yukio, or Amiko?). Rather than say that others are around to make Wolverine look good, it is closer to say that the presence of Wolverine can actually diminish the presence of otherwise interesting characters… (0 points)

Does this character have a T-shirt I can buy in size XL? Not any cool ones… (0 bonus point)

Does this character represent, in broad terms, an outlook on life that I can support? Partially. His attitude towards how to solve problems is, well, problematic. When all you have is razor sharp adamantium claws, every problem looks like meat. Still, he is a family man at heart, and when he is forced into positions of leadership, particularly with students, he is the first to critique his own methods. He is conflicted, and hypocritical, but empathic, self-sacrificial, and he loves people dearly. Until he doesn’t. (.5 Points)

Are this characters powers (or lack thereof) interesting? Yeah. to a point. Let’s be honest, the first time you see Wolverine absolutely gutted and you think, “there’s no way he can come back from that…” and then he heals, you are like, “WOW! Awesome!” But after the 50 billionth time you see some variation of that same thing, you are a little bored. His claws, same thing. Slash! Snikt-snikt! Slash! Cool the first 100 times… After a while, you have to pull a Superman with him and either take away his powers or give him some stupid weakness so people don’t feel that he is invulnerable, and therefore boring. (.5 point)

Verdict: 5 out of 8 points

Tune in next time for a discussion of Power Girl….

 

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