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Saturday, July 18, 2020 

Greg Rucka's Old Guard is more like old propaganda

NY Vulture interviewed Rucka about a new film adaptation on Netflix of his GN titled the Old Guard, and neither he nor the interviewer are clear about certain elements. Here's what does come up:
Most epic heroes are rooted in war — Gilgamesh, Achilles — and it doesn’t seem like American pop culture really had that until superheroes came around. And then superheroes show up, and the first thing they do is go to war. What do you think made U.S. culture at that time ripe for this new type of mythical hero?

The nature of the cultural mythology certainly comes out of the immigrant experience of the country. When we talk about American mythology, we are talking specifically about the colonial mythology that we have created, and not the mythology of the indigenous people that were displaced. We have moments of military history in this country, but we don’t have a whole lot of moments where we can — certainly prior to WWII — point to a single heroic battle that turns the tide outside of really the Revolutionary War. And even in the Revolutionary War, we talk about crossing the Delaware, we talk about the Battle of Yorktown. We don’t talk about Gowanus Heights, for instance. So I think that lack of that particular kind of hero got filled at an appropriate time, culturally, where there was a need for those stories and for that kind of heroism.
The civil war of the 1860s to liberate black Africans from slavery wasn't heroic? I do wonder why he didn't think to cite that. Or why he hasn't thought to research and cite all the comics characters in history of Indian background who could make the case for indigenous examples (Wyatt Wingfoot in the Fantastic Four, Shaman and his daughter Talisman in Alpha Flight, Dawnstar in Legion of Superheroes, and Dani Moonstar in New Mutants). But it sure sounds like he believes the US was unjustly founded during the Revolutionary war, hinting his current liberal guilt position is in place. Which they continue to hint at with the following:
The movie makes a pretty strong connection between military acts of aggression and the long-game humanitarian benefit. How do you feel about those connections in hero and military depictions in the media?

Fictions of violence have their place as escapist cinema. We like action. And certainly as an American audience, we’re clearly much more comfortable with that than we are with people having sex. It’s the nudity and the profanity that’s going to get you the R-rating; it’s not the shooting somebody in the face. Showing two consenting individuals demonstrating their love for one another in a physical fashion, that’s problematic for the American audience.
What the Vulture piece isn't clear about regarding sex is what does come up in this Entertainment Weekly article (via Cinema Blend):
And the film isn’t your standard comic book movie, either: With Prince-Bythewood in the director’s chair, it’s the first major comic book movie helmed by a Black woman. It’s also led by not one but two women, a rarity in the action genre; in addition to Theron, KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk) plays a U.S. Marine and newbie immortal named Nile, whom Andy reluctantly takes under her wing. Plus, the central romance is a warm, unambiguously queer relationship between two men: Joe (Aladdin’s Kenzari) and Nicky (Every Blessed Day’s Marinelli), two immortal adversaries-turned-lovers who had their meet-cute fighting on opposite sides in the Crusades. [...]

Another key relationship in The Old Guard is that of Joe and Nicky, whose ageless love affair gives new meaning to the phrase 'Til death do us part. The pair met during the Crusades, after they executed each other as enemy soldiers, and after a while, they realized that not only could neither of them die, but they had actually found a soulmate in each other. “It had almost a Greek mythology, Achilles-Patroclus type of relationship quality to it, and I fell in love with that,” Kenzari says.

“It’s a story of the power of love,” adds Marinelli.

Joe and Nicky’s relationship is plucked straight from the comic. Indeed, when Rucka signed on to adapt his own story, he made it a condition that any movie made had to include that romance.

“I wanted a happy queer couple,”
he explains. “I felt the audience needed to see, here are two people who, if not for this, probably wouldn’t have found each other. They have what they have because they have this gift. They meet killing each other, and only within that discovery that they can’t do it are they able to put down all this bulls--- about religious hatred, about these cultural mandates, and look at each other and be like, ‘You know what? You are magical to me. My blessing isn’t that I get an eternal life. My blessing is I found you.’”

Also lifted directly from the graphic novel is perhaps the most moving scene in the entire film, when Joe and Nicky are — light spoilers — captured by enemy soldiers. One of their jailers mocks how much they seem to care about each other, and Joe turns to him and delivers a tender, romantic speech about his partner. “I love this man beyond measure and reason,” Joe declares, before leaning over and kissing Nicky deeply. It’s a heartfelt and distinctly queer moment, made all the more striking by the fact that it’s a genre rarity. Other comic book movies barely hint at gay relationships, if include them at all (see: the entirety of Marvel Cinematic Universe). The Old Guard makes Joe and Nicky’s relationship a cornerstone of the story, while also briefly hinting at a past relationship between Theron’s Andy and another female immortal, played by Veronica Ngo.
Well I guess I can understand why this went straight to Netflix, rather than theaters, Coronavirus or not. Has it ever occurred to Rucka that most mainstream audiences simply don't find his PC viewpoint on homosexuality appealing? Even worse is how he fails to recognize that horror movies like Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and even the Aliens movies were jarringly violent enough to get an R-classification in their time from the MPAA. I won't be shocked if he's obscuring those examples deliberately. Besides, IIRC, Avengers: Endgame may have featured a brief scene with homosexuality, and Marvel's studio division is already going that route with their planned Eternals adaptation. This is a telling example of the MSM insulting the studios despite the kowtowing.

The premise, as relayed by Pamplin Media, includes another eyebrow raising element of propaganda:
The characters don't know how they have acquired supernatural abilities. Schoenaerts was a French soldier who fought alongside Napoleon. Former enemies, Marinelli was part of Italian Christian invaders and Kenzari was from Muslim forces during the Crusade. And a new immortal enters the picture (Layne), a U.S. Marine, and she discovers her own powers after being killed in the Middle East; she becomes like a sort of younger sister to Andy.
If Rucka's really that much of a homophile, one can only wonder why he's so intent on casting an adherent to a religion far more homophobic than most others? The film's unlikely to find much of an Islamic audience with those kind of ingredients, that's for sure.

I also noticed Rucka telling Geek Culture how he's allegedly dismayed by an approach he contributed to, and, which gives another clue to the absurd political correctness the film's going by:
Audiences will be able to see Quinn, who isn’t a new character, but a new version of an existing Japanese character. Since the actress in the role is Vietnamese, he made some changes as the team didn’t feel it was appropriate to get her to act as a Japanese character. [...]

According to Rucka, he’s noticed that there has been an increasingly unhealthy fascination with death, and the notion of attaining immortality and not dying, but there isn’t enough conversation around the ethics of fighting back death and the repercussions of attempting to do so.

“You know, and there’s no secret about it, we’ve got several multi-billionaires running around the planet right now, and they fully do not intend to ever die. They are looking for ways to live forever, and the idea of some of these guys living forever terrifies me. It’s scary,” explains Rucka.

“Death is part of the natural order and if we are going to say, ‘Well, we are going to beat back death itself.’ Okay, but that brings with it a whole bunch of other questions and those questions have to be addressed. Who’s going to get that? Who gets the right to live forever? Right, who gets immortality? Who gets longevity? Is it only for the rich? ‘Cause when it happens, it’s only going to be for the rich first. We got to ask these questions.”
This is pretty rich coming from one of the same people who rubbed out Ted Kord/Blue Beetle in Countdown to Infinite Crisis 15 years ago. Simultaneously, there's suggestions here that Rucka must be alluding to old folks like Donald Trump, and it doesn't take too much to guess Rucka believes Trump would rather be US premier eternally, seeing how this Old Guard seems to have quite a bit of anti-war propaganda in it. And look how he went to all that trouble to change the background of a Japanese character, because a Vietnamese actress supposedly can't fit the role.

Now back the Vulture interview, there's one more part at the end by Rucka that's particularly sickening:
Nile has the line, “They’re in it. They can’t see it.” And that’s true of all of us. We’re in our lives. I don’t know if the donation I made to Black Lives Matter is actually going to save a life. I don’t know if that’s going to be something that will change the world for the better in 50 years, but it may be one more drop in the bucket. There’s something very uplifting and affirming in that, especially when we are trapped in this hellish alternate reality of everything coming apart.
The donation he made will definitely not save the lives of innocent police officials murdered during the riots that followed the death of George Floyd. Rucka's knee-jerk adherence to Orwellian principles is dismaying, and does a terrible disfavor to black lives and businesses as much as to everyone else, including police, who've seen their image demonized in the wake of what one single policeman did, and now it's being made worse with the calls to defund police stations. I don't suppose Rucka might want to contribute to the black leaders now protesting the whole notion of defunding? Nah, he's too cozy with the Hollywood elites to think of that. And, he's probably not concerned the money he donated to BLM could go to serving anti-Israeli interests either. This only makes me glad I don't have a subscription to Netflix, which already has some pretty suspect material they're airing.

As for the Old Guard graphic novel, it's not just old propaganda, it's laughable propaganda too, a notable example of virtue-signaling. We could always do better without it.

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"old folks like Donald Trump, and it doesn't take too much to guess Rucka believes Trump would rather be US premier eternally, seeing how this Old Guard seems to have quite a bit of anti-war propaganda in it."

Trump, when his reelection prospects were looking better, had floated the idea of being president past the two term limit. But why do you link anti-war propaganda with opposition to Trump? He has probably been the most anti-war president since before World War II, retreating from NATO commitment and involvement, pulling out of Syria, pulling out of Afghanistan, distancing himself from traditional alliances and making America seem like an unreliable ally, trying to befriend Russia and North Korea. The only people against whom he has been throwing around armed force are Americans.

"police, who've seen their image demonized in the wake of what one single policeman did"

George Floyd's death was definitely a watershed moment. Many police killings can be rationalized as split-second mistakes in circumstances where a policeman had some reason, however wrong in retrospect, to believe that his life was in danger. Floyd's death was brutal and impossible to justify, committed by an officer who has a history of disciplinary complaints oer use of force, and thanks to a very brave teenager who filmed his death, the world has seen that.

But - what has demonized the image of the police as a whole was not just Floyd's death, but even more the brutal over-reaction to the protests by the police in the weeks after his death. There are a lot of reasons for this - the sheer size of the protests meant that they were being policed by officers drawn in from other beats who had no training or experience in crowd control, the fact that the protests were protests against cops made it hard for the cops policing the protests to act with dispassion, the directions from higher ups were sometimes wrong-headed or absent. But knowing that doesn't justify the serious injuries to protesters and journalists, the casual brutality shown to vulnerable people, the blatant violation of standard police protocols on use of force, the use of tactics and weapons more appropriate to an occupying army than an American police force. All of which was captured on cell phones and cameras and broadcast to the world. It is not just a problem with one single policeman.

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