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X-Men: First Class, whatever

June 13, 2011

Jessa Crispin via Bookslut

Me: “Why are there only white people in this movie?”
Friend: “The white people are metaphors for black people.”

I watched X-men:First Class tonight and I was reminded of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s opinion piece in the New York Times that I had read early.

That was the year a small crowd of Americans gathered at the Lincoln Memorial and commemorated the 100th birthday of the Emancipation Proclamation. Only a single African-American was asked to speak (Thurgood Marshall, added under threat of boycott). In “First Class,” 1962 finds our twin protagonists, Magneto and Professor X, also rallying before the Lincoln Memorial, not for protest or commemoration, but for a game of chess. “First Class” is not blind to societal evils, so much as it works to hold evil at an ocean’s length. The film is rooted in its opposition to the comfortably foreign abomination of Nazism.

This is all about knowing your audience.

I am reminded of the House Republicans, opening the 112th Congress by reciting the Constitution, minus the slavery parts. I am reminded of the English professor last year who, responding to Huckleberry Finn’s widespread banishment from public schools, was compelled to offer the Mark Twain classic, minus the nigger parts. I think of the Pentagon official, who this year justified the war in Afghanistan to soldiers by invoking the words of Dr. King, minus the “ultimate weakness of violence” parts. I am reminded of whole swaths of this country where historical fiction compels Americans to claim the Civil War was about states’ rights, minus the “right to own people” part.

This is all about a convenient suspension of disbelief.

I was expecting the whitewash. But it still grated me when they kill off Darwin (the only black character in the movie) – who was one of the most powerful mutants of the “new recruits”. He could “adapt” to anything that is hostile in the environment by changing his physical properties. He even knows how to control his power. He is the one who dies. Ridiculous.

I thought the whole movie was cheese. Tasteless, milky cheese. I find I don’t care how Xavier got his wheelchair. Or that Mystique had body issues.

Bridget Road’s Rex had a group of hollering, clapping young folk – they applauded raucously for the “heros” of the movie. During the opening scene, Magneto’s mother is killed of by the evil Nazi-esque, Sebastian Shaw. Somebody yelled “Aaiyoo” when she died, making me laugh.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 20, 2011 1:31 pm

    ……..Saw this movie last night and apart from it being kind of a schlocky mess a few things squicked me out especially hard. And the first scene of a concentration camp is way too much for the context being that there is none and it is solely mobilized as an explanation for magneto being fucked up and a badass . The way the movie dealt with the context of WWII and the holocaust in general seemed cheap. theyre black! which results in a hazy conception of their persecution something that at this point in mutant history as defined by the series seems to be largely theoretical until the very end of the movie when the major world powers apparently discover their existence and decide to annihilate them in the span of minutes.

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