Super disappointment

May 8th, 2012

Six superheroes under one roof was enough for me to make an exception for a Hollywood Studio movie. How bad can The Avengers be I thought. I can see Robert Downey Jr read a phonebook. Captain America was one of the best superhero movies of recent times. Scarlet Johansson can pout her way through toughest of acting doors. Due to whatever reasons I missed out on the movie during the weekend and by then entire social media was done with oohing and aahing about the movie.

Anyway, I watched The Avengers on its sixth day of release along with copious demographics of 11-17. Then comes the opening scene where Tom Hiddlestone does a mild Joker act and I knew exactly what sort of a snoozefest this is going to be. First half trudges along but I knew that Disney (still smarting from its John Carter debacle) must have something up its sleeve in the second half. The climactic half-an-hour looks like a straight lift from— now all you The Avengers fans don’t issue a fatwa against me— Rajnikanth’s Robo.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t intend to write a review here. As a sporadic reader of Marvel comics I have no right to write a thoughtful review. My problem with the movie is that we are told throughout that the world is coming to an end. Call it the 9/11 paranoia or the white man’s lament or Marvel scam but the truth is that someone is cashing in on man’s primal fears. If that isn’t manipulative, then neither is Aamir Khan’s television show and Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption crusade.

In his persuasive new book The Better Angels of our Nature psychologist Steven Pinker argues that we are living in the most peaceful times right from the days of ancient history. “People living now are less likely to meet a violent death, or to suffer from violence or cruelty at the hands of others, than people living in any previous century,” Pinker says. But the popular culture would have none of it. The moviegoer is forever besaddled with doomsday movies like 2012 and the ilk.

What’s more, the slick packaging ensures that even kids are made to watch this SFX carnage and made to believe that you need a cape to fight the external forces, which don’t exist in the ‘normal’ world. I might sound like a geriatric with both his legs in the grave, who is anyway not the target audience. You, the diehard Avengers fan, might argue that it’s just a movie and no one really expects a superhero in real life. But then, we might not deem anyone who deals with his inner demons as a superhero, which he most definitely is. Why is it that we have an ever-burgeoning mass of kids playing video games (most of them deal with vanquishing unknown unknowns) holed up in their rooms? We dismiss them as nerds and that perpetuates within them to render them incapable of handling human situations.

It’s not so easy to dismiss this Avengers sort of pap as escapist entertainment. Psychologists tell us that the human brain lights up when these scenes of violence are portrayed on screen.

If anything, what this world needs is movies like Shame rather than drivel like Avengers. That raises a question that why did I even go to watch it if I knew exactly what I’ll be dished out. Answer: to write this blog.

PS: Here are two tweets making rounds on Twittersphere and should give you a decent idea on what sort of a scam Avengers is:

“Congrats to The Avengers for shattering box office records. Condolences to everyone trying to make movies about human beings.” @Ti_West

The Avengers took in over $200 million so they shouldn’t have a problem with giving me my $10 bucks back right?” @JBFlint disappointment digg:Super disappointment newsvine:Super disappointment reddit:Super disappointment Y!:Super disappointment