Movies Must Stop Using Historical Violence for Pathos

A year passed Animals, Diana ran to No Man’s Land on Wonder Woman, deflecting bullets with his indestructible bracelets (in a way, no one bothered to fire his bare legs). This year, Disney’s Jungle Cruise introduces a magical healing petal that the movie’s heroes hope will be used to help soldiers through the canals of World War I. (Although they secure the petal, the movie ends before they can use it in battle. , something that could be described in an upcoming sequel..)

Entering magic or technology into history and pretending that it caused or prevented a violence is a dangerous game, one that would arguably take away people’s autonomy and blame it (the atomic bomb). , however, there is an immortal, non-foreign inventor — one whose blaming the subject of historical debate). Worse, accessing these scenes for quick grief and not exploring them in depth can feel awkward and cheap. A World War I backdrop can, says researcher Kees Ribbens, make a story “less vivid, less approachable,” but sometimes these scenes can be a shorthand that is too short. .

“Maybe there’s also some laziness on the part of the creators,” said Ribbens, who teaches courses on popular culture history and war at Erasmus University Rotterdam. “They know that the two world wars will almost always appeal to audiences today, because the wars are not only highly recognizable but also act as moral standards of right and wrong.”

Yes, displaying the atrocities of popular culture can raise awareness of historical events, but it can also be beneficial, says Agnieszka Soltysik Monnet, a professor of literature and culture at the University of Lausanne who specializes also of war representations in popular culture. Since these films are commercial businesses, Monnet argues, “their motive for using violence is primarily to touch a nerve in a way that moves people but never distracts them.”

In addition, the introduction of imaginary elements or superheroes reduces people’s sense of will, or, as Ribbens says, “suggests that people are actually incapable of dealing with the evil that, in indeed, it is the work of human hands. ”

However, is it new? Superheroes and World War II were always involved. Ben Saunders, director of comics and cartoon studies at the University of Oregon, says monthly comic book sales doubled between 1941 and 1944, with nearly half of enlisted American men reading about superheroes. fighting against the Axis powers (Captain America even punched Hitler in the face in 1941). “Superhero fantasy is one where the joy of moral righteousness and the joy of aggressive action are linked,” he said. “Then, naturally, it was an even more popular fantasy during the war, when the cultural need for messages of justifiable aggression was enormous.”

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