People sometimes ask me why I spend time writing on what comic book writers, actors, or other celebrities think about public policy. I do that because the old saying is true: Politics is downstream from culture. People have a natural tendency towards the “easy wrong” instead of the “hard right,” which is why we must always keep an eye on popular culture.
Take, for instance, actor Chris Evans and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. Millions of Americans look up to both men, albeit for different reasons. They have enormous megaphones. They have influence. Given that, let us now examine what both men were saying in the wake of the June 12 terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 and wounded 53 others.
Chris Evans, aka Captain America, said the following to nearly 4 million people:
“We need common sense gun reform. And to be clear, NO ONE IS TAKING AWAY GUNS! Just looking for COMMON SENSE reform.”
How does one define “common sense”? NBA coach Steve Kerr’s definition of “common sense” requires only “muskets” to be available to law-abiding Americans because the Bill of Rights is allegedly “outdated.”
“As a basketball coach, I’m not really, you know, I don’t often get political. If you don’t mind, I just want to say when 90 percent of our country wants background checks on gun purchases, and we’ve got our Senate and our House not only voting it down, but using the Bill or Rights as a reason for people to have rights to carry these automatic weapons — we’re getting murdered every day at an alarming rate — I just have to get this off my chest. …
Let’s have some checks. It’s easier to get a gun than it is a driver’s license. And it’s insane. And as somebody who has had a family member shot and killed, it just devastates me every time I read about this stuff, like what happened in Orlando, and then it’s even more devastating to see the government just cowing to the NRA and going to this totally outdated Bill of Rights, right to bear arms, you know, if you want to own a musket, fine — but come on.”
On one hand Mr. Evans says “no one is taking away guns” while on the other Mr. Kerr tries to convince millions that the Bill of Rights is “totally outdated.”
Marvel’s “Captain America” knows full well that lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate exist who agree with Mr. Kerr, but yet he still abuses the caps-lock button with “NO ONE IS TAKING AWAY GUNS!”
The Warriors’ Mr. Kerr must know that “automatic” weapons are nearly impossible to own in the U.S. outside of military and law enforcement communities, but yet he uses the term anyway.
When faced with objective facts — a.) people with power and influence do want to take guns away, and b.) more Americans died on U.S. soil by Islamic terrorists using planes as giant missiles (2,996) than by “automatic” weapons (zero) — the response by pop-culture celebrities is to lie.
If you are interested in taking the “easy wrong,” then listen to men like Chris Evans and Steve Kerr on gun control.
If you are interested in taking the “hard right,” then look for people who are not so wedded to an ideology that lying to forward the cause trumps objective reality. You’ll be glad you did.
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” won’t be in American theaters until May 1, 2015, but “Avengers: Age of the Offended” can be found any time of the day on Tumblr and Twitter. Aliens and robots may not be able to defeat Hawkeye and Captain America, but professional whiners have shown that they can make Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans apologize for going off script.
Messrs. Evans and Renner made the mistake April 22 of believing that only rational adults would hear their interview with Digital Spy. Prickly men and women who go through life looking for things to “trigger” them made the actors pay for it immediately.
Digital Spy: I know a lot of fans were actually pretty invested in the idea of Natasha with actually either or both of you guys, and now obviously she’s with Bruce. What do you guys make of that?
Renner: She’s a slut.
Chris Evans: **laughing hysterically** I was going to say something along that line. She’s a complete whore.
Renner: What a trick, man!
The jokes show an odd lapse in judgment considering the millions of children who will watch the interview on YouTube. It would make sense for the actors to apologize to parents who weren’t expecting to get slut-bombed while watching promotional interviews with their kids. However, saying sorry to single women for calling a fictional Russian spy a “slut” is just another sad capitulation to online censorship cops.
Note to the Jeannes of the world: They didn’t call a “woman” a slut — they called a fictional woman a slut. Regardless, Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner both promptly issued a blanket apology:
Chris Evans: Yesterday we were asked about the rumors that Black Widow wanted to be in a relationship with both Hawkeye and Captain America. We answered in a very juvenile and offensive way that rightfully angered some fans. I regret it and sincerely apologize.
Jeremy Renner: I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone. It was not meant to be serious in any way. Just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour.
The strange thing about the whole “slut” controversy is that it occurred at the very same moment Scarlett Johansson was telling a women’s magazine about the time Black Widow said she was “whoever you want me to be.”
I think my favorite thing about playing her is the character is you know very kind of slippery — she’s a slippery fish by trade — but in fact she’s very, she’s really honest. I mean she’s, it’s kind of an interesting dichotomy because you have this character who you would expect to be sort of —she says in Cap 2 ‘I’m whoever you want me to be,’ but in truth, when you’re talking to Natasha you’re really getting Natasha. She’s very straightforward and I like that part of her. […] She’s kind of a chameleon but then she’s very much like herself.
Black Widow is a “chameleon” who can be “whoever you want” her to be — unless it’s a “slut.” That is sexist. She must only be a supersmartindependentrolemodel (one word) — even though she’s a Russian spy who probably slept with men while undercover (or was that under covers?).
The one good thing about the apology offered by Messrs. Evans and Renner is that it refers to their comments as “juvenile and offensive.” At no point do the men give credence to accusations that their jokes (about a fictional character) were sexist. The full-time complainers were able to extract an apology from the actors, but it was one that was carefully worded to only apply to those with a legitimate gripe. Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye and Captain America were forced to join common sense in tactical retreat, but war was not totally lost. They’ll live to fight another day when “Avengers: Infinity Offended.”
Exit question: Is there any time that it is permissible for a man to jokingly call a woman (or fictional character) a slut in 2015, or is the word completely off limits to the perpetually-offended crowd?
The Super Bowl teaser for ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ didn’t add much to what fans have already seen, but it did go with the tagline: “In heroes we trust.” It’s a peculiar turn of phrase, given how millions of Christian Americans might take it. While most people will consider it an innocuous piece of marketing just meant to be a twist on the national anthem playing in the background, it still seems to be an odd move considering the sheer numbers of potential moviegoers that it will rub the wrong way — although Chris “God can be whatever” Evans probably doesn’t see it that way. More on that later.
First, the lyrics to the fourth verse of The National Anthem. Francis Scott Key was inspired to write them after the battle of Fort McHenry in The War of 1812:
O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
In the teaser, it looks like America is once again under attack by a foreign threat, but this time it’s not the British who are invading. One could make the case that if this generation’s Francis Scott Key saw Captain America and the Falcon defending the nation’s capital from terrorist attacks that “in heroes we trust” might make it into a modern anthem. Fair point. But would Captain America approve?
We can infer from ‘The Avengers’ that Captain America is a Christan. As he dives into the fray between Thor and Loki he says the following:
Black Widow: I’d sit this one out, Cap.
Captain America: I don’t see how I can.
Black Widow: These guys come from legend. They’re basically gods.
Captain America:There’s only one God, Ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.
When I saw ‘The Avengers’ in 2012 I was actually surprised that Hollywood writers would let Cap say that; I give them kudos for doing so. I’m “pretty sure” that the character, if he could break the fourth wall, would say that it was a bizarre decision on Marvel’s part to take out God from such a historical, revered phrase.
So that leaves us with Chris Evans. Does he approve of the tagline? For that we should look at a 2007 interview he gave to Indie London:
Q: Did you have a religious education?
A: Well my family is Italian and I grew up in the Catholic Church but you know the church was just a place to have religious discussions. It wasn’t forced upon me and we didn’t go to church every week.
Q: The film poses some questions about religion versus science. Do you have a view?
A: Well, I guess I believe in science. I believe in evolution.I don’t necessarily believe in god, at least not the man with the beard and robes and things like that. God can be whatever you want it to be, they actually said this in class [for the movie ‘Sunshine’] last week, it’s the universe, the thing that connects all of us, this innate energy that’s in the air, animals, trees, that’s God; it’s this constant living thing and in essence the sun is the creator of that, the sun is kind of the maker of all of that.
Actually, Chris, you’re wrong — the Church is not “just” a place to have religious discussions. It’s where you receive the Seven Sacraments: Baptism, Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick. Perhaps you should have gone to Mass more often, because whatever “discussions” you had didn’t impart a proper understanding of the faith you ultimately rejected. Call me if you ever want to have a real conversation on the universal salvific will of God, Mr. Evans.
It’s safe to say that the guy who believes “God can be whatever you want it to be” wouldn’t see anything wrong with marketing ‘Winter Solider’ by stripping God out of a phrase that holds a very special meaning for millions of Americans. What a coincidence that most people who believe God is “whomever” or “whatever” they want Him to be usually define Him in such a way that allows them to never be held responsible for their behavior here on earth. But I digress…
Ultimately, ‘Winter Solider’ is going to make millions of dollars. It looks like a really good movie, even if there are warning signs that it might be laced with plenty of anti-American fodder for statist moviegoers around the globe to chew on.
‘Captain America’ was released as ‘The First Avenger’ in Russia to make a few extra million bucks, ‘Iron Man 3’ turned the Mandarin into a Westerner — and now this. Think of how much money Marvel is making hand-over-first with their productions, and then think of how much more they could make if they simply weren’t so tone deaf as to how millions of Americans interpret some of the decisions they make on the periphery of the movie-making process.
The trailer for Captain America: Winter Soldier is finally here. The good news is that it looks like it has all the makings of solid espionage fare: Robert Redford? Check. Russian spies? Check. Shady spy agencies? Check.
The bad news? It has all the makings of a blame-America espionage flick.
Robert Redford? Check.
Alexander Pierce: To build a better world sometimes means turning the old one down. And that makes enemies. … Are you ready for the world to see you as you really are? Look out the window — you know how the game works. Disorder. War. All it takes is one step.
Shady American-led spy agencies? Check. Captain America whining about America? Check.
Nick Fury: We’re going to neutralize a lot of threats before they even happen.
Captain America: I thought the punishment usually came after the crime.
Nick Fury: Shield takes the world as it is — not as we’d like it to be.
Captain America: This isn’t freedom. This is fear.
The problem with most Hollywood espionage movies is that the creative teams tend to come at them from the “if only the CIA didn’t exist the world would be a better place” perspective. Writers start their script by operating from a place where America is to blame for the vast majority of “disorder” and “war” in the world.
Mullah nuts in the Middle East who deny the Holocaust and call for pushing the Jews “into the sea”? Eh. Chinese Communist intelligence agencies who have never met a U.S. business or defense contractor they wouldn’t hack? Eh. Nebulous terrorist organizations that don’t fly under the flag, even as they plot and plan to kill military and civilian targets on a massive scale? Eh. CIA attempts to “connect the dots” and “neutralize” threats before thousands of Americans die on their way to work on a Tuesday morning? Now there’s a movie!
Do I want to see a S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier crash into the ocean? Sure. Do I want to see Captain America take down a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier after whining about his own country for two hours? Not really.
Alexander Pierce says to Steve Rogers in the trailer for Captain America: Winter Soldier: “You work has been a gift to mankind. You’ve shaped the century. I need you to do it one more time.” Sounds logical. It would be nice if a character named Captain America ensured that the next century was an American Century. Unfortunately, there’s a high probability that The First Avenger will only do so after a magnificent monologue of American self-flagellation and all other options have been exhausted. I hope I’m wrong. Regardless, I’ll see you there opening night.
Piers Morgan has a weird thing going, where he engages Ben Shapiro in debate, Ben makes a fool out him, and then like a gambler who convinces himself that it’s only a matter of time before he comes out on top, he goes back for more. Chris Evans (aka: Captain America) has decided he doesn’t like Shapiro’s no-nonsense approach, and took to Twitter to say “I genuinely dislike @benshapiro.”
It’s an interesting tweet, and more so since Mr. Evans decided to opt for radio silence instead of explaining himself. We’ll just have to assume it has something to do with Shapiro’s appearance on Piers Morgan last night, in which he reminded the world just how loosely we use the word “hero” these days.
MORGAN: Let’s turn to Jason Collins, this is the sports star that came out. You tweeted this: “So Jason Collins is a hero because he’s gay? Our standard of heroism has dropped quite a bit since Normandy.” Why such a cheap shot against a guy who did a pretty great thing?
SHAPIRO: I don’t think it’s a cheap shot. Heroism is defined by willingness to sacrifice — and willingness to take a real personal risk in favor of a noble, larger goal. This may be a noble, larger goal but I’m not sure it’s a great personal risk. …
MORGAN: I think you may be homophobic simply because you said, “Why is Jason Collins a hero simply because he’s gay?” Why sneer at a guy for coming out when he’s being courageous?
SHAPRIO: I’m not sneering at him for coming out, I’m just —
MORGAN: Aren’t you the one being homophobic?
SHAPIRO: I don’t think it’s homophobic to simply say that we’re apathetic about people’s personal lives. …
MORGAN: You think this guy isn’t brave because he came out. …
SHAPIRO: I understand, I wear a yarmulke on TV, right? There’s a lot of anti-Semitism, there are people who are killed and anti-Semitic attacks. You know, per capita, as many hate crimes against Jews as as against gays in this country. America is not an anti-Semitic country and I’m not a hero for wearing a yarmulke. Being who you are in 2013 America is what America is about. It is not heroic to be who you are publicly. I’m glad for Jason Collins if it makes him feel like he’s going to have a happier life now. But, it does not make him a hero to be who you are because America is not a homophobic country.
MORGAN: You know what, Ben? Come off it.
Who is more of a jerk: Piers Morgan, who calls you “homophobic” if you’re apathetic about the sexuality of the guy next to you, or Ben Shapiro, who reserves the word ‘hero’ for men and women who remind him of those who would willingly storm the beaches of Normandy?
A basketball player who was never that big of a deal comes out as gay at the end of his career (interesting timing), the media goes nuts over the guy, and because Ben Shapiro says there’s really nothing special about it, he’s a jerk to Chris Evans. At no point in the conversation does Mr. Shapiro indicate that he holds any ill will towards the gay community, butbecause he doesn’t believe that America is a homophobic country Piers Morgan thinks he’s homophobic. Classic!
Perhaps Chris Evans doesn’t like Mr. Shapiro because his definition of ‘hero’ excludes Hollywood celebrities who sometimes believe they are heroes just because they’re wearing the right uniform.
Here’s what Captain America costume designer Anna Sheppard said of Chris Evans while filming the first movie:
“You can’t really take him seriously in his flag pajamas,” director Joe Johnston told EW in last year’s exclusive first look cover story on the film. So instead, the hero’s main uniform was designed to resemble a tricked-out airman’s jumpsuit, the “A” on the helmet and star on the chest modest in size, the colors muted. It took Evans about 25 minutes to suit up. “He likes to do it all by himself,” explained costume designer Anna Sheppard. “I think it helps him feel like a super hero.”
I hate to play armchair psychologist, but it must really sting for Chris Evans to listen to Ben Shapiro talk about men who mistakenly elevate themselves to “hero” status in their own mind, when deep down he knows he’s guilty as charged.
Here’s what Chris Evans and the ideological allies of Piers Morgan don’t like: serious conversations about words and their meanings.
When someone wants to agree on a definition of “rich” and “poor” before the debate begins, they are a jerk. When someone wants to agree on a definition of “marriage” before discussion starts, they are “homophobic.” When someone wants to define what we mean when we talk about “rights,” that person is considered mean. When someone defines an immigrant who is in the country illegally as an “illegal immigrant” that person is being insensitive. When someone wants to talk about the definition of “fair share,” that person is “greedy.”
The truth is often uncomfortable, and it’s easy to avoid it if you and the person you’re arguing with are having two totally different conversations — primarily because neither one of you defines a whole slew of words the same way.
Ben Shapiro is not a likable guy because he demands precision. He does not allow for wiggle room. He forces men like Piers Morgan to be intellectually honest. And that is why guys like Chris Evans “genuinely dislike” conservatives of the Shapiro mold:
In another explosive debate with Piers Morgan on Thursday night, Breitbart News editor-at-large Ben Shapiro accused Morgan of responsibility for Americans’ growing sense of threat from the federal government. …
When Morgan responded that he didn’t want to take away people’s handguns, Shapiro pressed him – and finally, Morgan admitted he’d like to try a United Kingdom-style total gun ban in the United States.
SHAPIRO: I still don’t understand your opinion on this. You say that you’re against military style assault weapons, but you’re OK with handguns. Handguns kill 6,000 people a year, assault weapons kill 300.
MORGAN: Well, they’re both a big problem: handguns in Chicago, and assault weapons with mass shootings.
SHAPIRO: You’re from the UK, why don’t we just go with a full gun ban?
MORGAN: Well, we’ve discussed this, the UK has 40-50 gun murders a year, the U.S. has 12,000. Why don’t we try it our way?
SHAPIRO: I’m glad you finally let your agenda out there.
MORGAN: I don’t have an agenda, I just want to make America safe and save lives. That’s my agenda.
Everyone has an agenda. Some of us are just honest about it. I’m a conservative. So is Ben Shapiro. And Chris Evans? It’s becoming rather clear, but for whatever reason he has opted to try and hide behind a wall of silence. It’s an odd choice, given that the decision offers neither cover nor concealment. Captain America a Piers Morgan liberal? Depressing, but at this point to be expected.
See you when Captain America: Winter Soldier comes out.
The new Captain America trailer is out – and it’s not half bad. That is, it’s not half bad despite a director who goes out of his way to assure the world that Captain America isn’t trying to embody uniquely American ideals – he’s just “a good person.” His costume is flag-inspired – but he’s not a “flag waver,” (Just as lobbing bombs on countries *cough*Libya*cough* is not war so long as other liberals say it’s not war?).
And the trailer is good despite the fact that all indications are that Marvel has tried to tamp down or minimize any of the Nazi swastikas that would normally accompany the evil The Red Skull (Germans buy movie tickets too!). Besides, imagine the conniption fits the thought police would have come Halloween 2011 if little kids wanted to authentically dress up as the The Red Skull? I suppose the thinking goes that if Marvel makes cool movies with cool villains, and those villains wear swastikas…then Nazism is cool? Or that merchandise geared toward kids would have to mirror the movie? I don’t buy it, but you know that there were countless hours of meetings over the appropriate depiction of Cap’s World War II nemesis. I’m a little jealous of the guys with that job, I admit it.
The thing that’s sad about Captain America isn’t that it will necessarily be a bad movie – it’s that even if it’s a good movie (or a great movie!) there are those of us who know what it could have been. We’ll know that had the writers and directors not been obsessed with how the world might react to superhero literally and figuratively wrapped in the American flag, it would have shined even brighter.
Chris Evans is on record as saying he modeled his Captain America on an Eagle Scout he knows. Great start. But the movie is Captain America – not Captain Eagle Scout. And while Eagle Scouts generally tend to be very patriotic, upstanding, model citizens, in this instance they are merely pieces of circumstantial evidence in a case where something much bigger is at play. There really is no other country on the face of the earth where freedom, liberty, the rule of law, science, and free markets have fused so flawlessly and produced so much prosperity. Captain America, done right, never rubs that fact in the world’s face, but serves as an inspirational figure. The problem with liberal filmmakers is that they only operate in a strange binary string of thought, whereas you only have the “correct” (i.e., liberal) perspective, or you’re a knuckle-dragging, “flag waving,” jingoist.
Americans should never shy away from standing up to the rest of the world (particularly fear regimes, failed states, and pseudo-socialist poverty pits), that our ideas are superior to theirs. And American heroes should be written to reflect that very same confident-without-being-cocky charm.
I’m looking forward to seeing Captain America at this point, but it’s in spite – not because – of many of the politically correct minds at Marvel.
I have not been impressed with what little news has leaked out about the new Captain America movie so far. When I get the feeling liberal directors or writers are going to turn Captain America into Captain America Anathema just to win over a few disgruntled pseudo-socialists and whiners on the other side of the globe, I get worried:
“He wants to serve his country, but he’s not this sort of jingoistic American flag-waver,” [director] Johnston said.
However, in a recent issue of Wizard, Chris Evans shows some signs of hope:
“I actually have a friend of mine who I’m modeling the character after. This guy is actually an Eagle Scout, he’s one of those guys who stayed in the Boy Scouts all the way until he was 18. He’s just a good human being. He does the right things, he’s open, he’s honest, he’s sincere, he’s selfless. It’s something I think that everyone aspires to.”
Actually, Chris, not everyone has such aspirations, in part because liberal writers and directors tend to latch on to moral relativist goon pap instead of listening to guys like Mark Steyn. One of the reasons why the United States is an exceptional nation is because sewn into its fabric are the principles Boy Scouts live by.
However, instead of focusing on the positive aspects of the American experience, liberal writers focus on dubious tests conducted on African Americans. Confused? Look up Isaiah Bradley, Marvel’s reminder to us all that the United States isn’t an experiment in self-governance—it’s one big Tuskeegee Experiment. Or just pick up a recent issue of Captain America, since apparently the Tea Party movement is the new Red Skull.
Chris Evans is on good footing by modeling his Captain America after a Boy Scout. Kudos. But he ultimately doesn’t have control over the script he’s given. I’m sure if George Bush was still in office the probability that audiences would get a not-so-veiled political pot shot or two, as well as a lecture on how we shouldn’t “lose our way” would be increased tenfold. However, George Lucas isn’t at the helm, and Barack Obama is in office; Hollywood lecturers have been lulled to sleep (like Captain America suspended in animation since 1945, frozen for decades), since a Democrat is in the driver’s seat.
It will be interesting to see what direction Marvel ultimately decides to go with Captain America. Until then, it looks like it’s only a matter of time before The Avengers’ Mark Ruffallo provides bloggers with political ramblings they can turn into blogging gold. He’s already displaying the pretentious posturing of a next generation Sean Penn:
“I probably wouldn’t have done this movie in the past. But because of what Robert [Downey Jr] had done and where that genre has gone since then, I did it…I have never really been one to go for the cash. If my dad knew how much money I had turned in my lifetime he would kick me in the a**.”
Why take part in a movie that might pit Good against Evil when you can play the sperm donor for lesbians, right Mark? Personally, I’ll go with the famous phrase comic nerds everywhere know: Make mine Marvel.