Friday 23 June 2023

Thor: Love and Thunder - A Messy Fantasy Romcom about Learning to Be Vulnerable

So, here we are again. It's been several years since I last updated this blog, way back in December 2020. Hopefully, people will still want to read what I have to say. Fittingly enough considering the subject of this article, my last piece was about how a Thor comic helped me hold on to hope in a dying world. But let us turn our attention to the present and today's focus - Thor: Love and Thunder

Ah, Love and Thunder. Rarely has a MCU film been so divisive or misunderstood. 

As we approach the one year anniversary of its release back in July of 2022, I want to reflect on why this film has been worming around in my head, how I can't seem to let it go despite how its flaws or how messy it is. Why a lot of people genuinely do not seem to understand what Taika Waititi was doing with Thor, and why Thor: Love and Thunder is a classic Thor adventure about loss, love, trauma, and false bravado.

"A classic Thor adventure? You must be joking."

How did we get here?

If you've read my blog before, you will know that I wrote a very long and personal piece about my complicated relationship with Thor and his chaotic character growth throughout the MCU back in 2019. Please read if you haven't, aside from giving a more detailed summary of how we got here than I will provide here, it's probably my favourite of the articles I've written for this blog and was strangely cathartic to get out. 

As detailed in that piece, Thor's arc in the MCU has been one of progression and regression across his six film appearances up to that point, a struggle between being the king he was born to be and the good man he is trying to be, between false bravado and humility, between love and loss. Thor's character is an examination of fragile masculinity and ego in the pursuit to be worthy.

To quote my previous article as means to recap:
In his first solo film and in The Avengers, Thor gains humility after being stripped of his powers and learning the value of self-sacrifice, not to mention how to work in a team of equals. In The Dark World and Age of Ultron, he learns to build instead of destroy, creating Vision and fearing the destruction he might cause. So naturally it is in Ragnarok that he achieves self-understanding and realises his best self.
However, as we all know, this progression is not a straight line for Thor but an ongoing circular struggle to find a sense purpose on his journey towards worthiness. Which is why Thor goes from the fully realised and complete "version of himself who no longer relies on external symbols of power, such as his hammer or titles, but instead recognises his own inner strength and doesn't need to prove anything to anyone" in Thor: Ragnarok...

This moment here, in case you forgot.
To a god broken by all he has lost and desperate for revenge in Infinity War and then finally the depressed shattered shell we see in Endgame, a man wracked with guilt and PTSD who hides his feelings under a dad bod fueled by pizza and copious amounts of beer. Again to quote my previous article (last time, I swear): 
Thor is stripped of all the visual symbols of the wisdom he gained [in Ragnarok] and is reduced to a man driven by vengeance. A vengeance fueled by rage that masks his trauma and serves to obscure his grief and despair. How does Thor express this vengeance? By reverting fully into his old arrogant facade of desperate bravado, unable to admit his failings or emotions to himself, let alone to others.

This is made clear in his emotionally wrenching conversation with Rocket where he is so obviously a man in pain and dealing with deep grief but cannot let the facade of "Mighty Thor" down.

Sure, bud. Whatever you say.

It is in Endgame where Thor's facade finally breaks, where he finally allowed himself to be vulnerable and expressed his fears openly and honestly. I naturally am referring to the scene where he speaks with his mother. The scene which gives us the line which sums up Thor's struggle in the MCU up to that point: "Everyone fails at who they're supposed to be, Thor. The measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are." 

So, Thor ends Endgame adrift, no longer burdened by the weight of expectations from his birthright to the Asgardian crown or his desire to be worthy. As he says to Valkyrie when she asks what he will do, "I'm not sure. For the first time in a thousand years, I... I have no path. I do have a ride, though."

And this is where Thor: Love and Thunder picks things up.

Alone in the Crowd - The Asgardians of the Galaxy

While the film opens with Gorr, and we will get to Gorr, don't worry about that, I would like to start my examination of Love and Thunder by discussing that ride Thor got at the end of Endgame and the function of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the film.

Now, I know some people were upset by the limited time the Guardians spent in the film. I initially was a bit confused why they are in the film for about 30 minutes before they jet out of there, happy to leave the Chud of Thunder behind. But that's the point. This is Thor's story, the Guardians are just there to help begin his journey towards vulnerability and love. 

At the beginning of the film, Thor is completely adrift. As Korg says in his voice-over narration, which frames the film as a legend told to children around a campfire, 
But beneath this God bod, there was still a sad bod just trying to get out. Because all of the bods that Thor had worn over the years couldn't hide the pain that he was feeling on the inside. So he gave up his search for love, accepting he was only good for one thing... Waiting in quiet contemplation for someone to say, 'Thor, we need your help to win this battle.'

On a sidenote, it boggles my mind when I see people say they don't know what Love and Thunder was about. The film literally has Korg say out loud the themes of the story, either in narration or directly to other characters, multiple times. If anything, the film is too blunt about what it's about, but I digress.

Unable to find sense or purpose in his adventures with the Guardians and still wracked with grief and unable to process his loss, he is pompous and careless, not really aware of how his actions or behaviour impacts on others. All of which is perfectly established in the first fight scene on the planet Indigarr.

To be clear, I think this scene is great. The over-the-top ridiculous action, the late 80s heavy metal fantasy aesthetic with Jim Henson inspired puppetry, all set to Guns N' Roses is perfect. No notes. 

It also perfectly sets up Thor's arc for the film. We can see this in how Thor is late to the battle, too busy with quiet contemplation to join the fray but still chides Star Lord and Mantis for not hurrying up since "people are dying". When he arrives on the battlefield, King Yakan comments that he has finally join their fight and Thor responds, "You know what they say, better late than not at all." 

Thor seems incapable to take responsibilities as a god or a hero seriously because he sees no purpose in the constant fighting. This is Thor without purpose, a grandiose caricature of himself, leaning into a braggadocios version of his own legend. This is clear in how Thor focuses on heroic mythmaking rather than saving people, illustrated in how he instructs King Yakan to:
"Tell them what happened here today, tell them of the time that Thor, and his ragtag motley crew of misfit desperados, turn the tide in the battle and etched their names in history. For the odds may be against us, but I'll tell you this for free - this ends here and now!" 
Where in prior films Thor's false bravado was a way for him to hide his insecurities and sense of unworthiness under a layer of arrogant machismo, here it serves to distance himself from others and to avoid being hurt by putting on a front.

And it is a front that the Guardians are completely fed up with. While Star Lord might mouth along with Thor's declaration that "This ends here and now!", his comradery quickly erodes into frustrated annoyance at Thor's pompous grandiosity as the fight goes on. Notice Star Lord's massive eye-roll, Drax's unimpressed face, and Nebula's glare when Thor does the Van Damme splits between two Booskan Raiders before blowing them up - this is Thor showboating for no reason and they all know it. 

"Can you believe this guy?"

And Thor doesn't even accomplish the thing he is supposed to, which was to liberate their sacred shrine. He destroys it through his carelessness and desire to look suitably 'epic' while defeating the enemy. The front he has put on might create distance from others so he isn't hurt, but it doesn't stop Thor from unwittingly hurting others through his apathetic actions.

Furthermore, Thor's act isn't fooling anyone. Perhaps because he has also often put up a braggadocios persona to hide his feelings but Star Lord sees right through Thor and tries to connect with him. He notices the distress Thor is in when he sees his friend Sif is in danger and asks if he is okay. 

In an example of the film again blatantly telling us what it is about, Thor says he admires the Guardians' commitment to each but it's something he can never have. Then Star Lord tells him straight up, "After thousands of years of living, you don't seem to know who the hell you are" and to "Remember what I told you, you ever feel lost just look into the eyes of the people you love, they'll tell you exactly who you are". Wow, it's almost like he's setting up Thor's character arc and the themes of the film.

Despite all their adventures together (shown in extended montage and set to Enya), Thor never allowed himself to open up and truly join the Guardians. He never became part of their family because he refused to allow himself to be vulnerable or grow attached - so he grew adrift and lost purpose instead.

"Okay, bye guys. Have fun on your next adventure,
I'm sure it won't be emotionally damaging or heart-wrenchingly traumatic."

Then the Guardians get out of dodge, leaving Thor with Korg and the screaming goats to save Sif and join the plot proper. While it might have been an anticlimactic goodbye, the use of the Guardians effectively sets up the struggle Thor will grapple with throughout his story.

Rainbow in the Dark - A Bombastic Heavy Metal Fantasy

Okay, I have to talk about the film's aesthetic. I love this look. Like most things, aesthetic is a nebulous thing and subjective as all hell - either you vibe with it or you don't - but I think the late 1980s metal visuals are a perfect fit for Thor, particularly Waititi's Thor. 

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Waititi said he was heavily inspired by the ridiculous over-the-top nature of metal band logos and wanted the film to be an 80s style adventure, saying “You know, just the whole thing, like all the art and everything - it feels like an 80s album cover.”

Yeah, that tracks.

And the innate ridiculousness of this aesthetic serves not only the adventure feel of the film but also the comedy which serves to point out the inherent silliness of the superhero genre and the pomposity of our glorious himbo God of Thunder.

Again, this is reflected in the opening fight scene on Indigaar's loving homage to Jim Henson classics like Fraggle Rock or Dark Crystal in the design of the Booskan Raiders and their vehicles, as I mentioned earlier. 

Furthermore, the heavy metal aesthetic fittingly serves the story being told, one of irreverence but with a beating emotive heart under the surface, just like how metal bands would cover their sappy love ballads in distorted power chords and blistering guitar solos.

Talking about guitar solos, in addition to the inclusion of three Guns N' Roses songs and Dio's "Rainbow in the Dark", Michael Giacchino's score mirrors this feel perfectly. Giacchino utilises screeching guitar licks and thunderous drums with slick eletronic synths to supplement his traditional swirling superhero string arrangements to complement the metal vibe of the visuals.

Waititi also stated that “Thor with the singlet, that’s obviously a homage to Big Trouble in Little China, to (Russell’s character) Jack Burton.” Possibly the fact that Big Trouble is a favourite film of mine probably explains why I thought Thor's singlet and sleeveless jacket look is the coolest shit.

I'm sorry, but this is just a baller look.

Speaking of things subjective...

"They turned Thor into a joke!" - Understanding the humour behind Taika's Thor

Now, not everyone is going to like every joke and not every joke is designed to be for everyone, which is fair enough. Thor: Love and Thunder is a pure comedy for most of its runtime, when its not being an 80s adventure or a love story (we'll get to Jane soon). That means if you can't get its sense of humour, you're probably not going to have a good time.

Although, there are some people do not like an overly comedic tone in their superhero movies at all because they believe that superheroes must be treated MATURELY. These people seem to mistake a comedic tone for derision or lack of RESPECT for the source material. The fact comics are inherently silly (which is part of why they are great) and that Thor canonically turned into a frog in the comics doesn't seem to matter much to that sort of angry comic book nerd.

Hell yeah, Throg rules!

There is a fair argument to be made that there are far too many weightless jokes in Love and Thunder, particularly the ones like Valkyrie and Jane bobbing their heads to the speaker which looks like a hand grenade. A lot of these jokes seem like pointless improv which should have been left on the cutting room floor and often fall flat or raise a bemused chuckle at best.

However, a big source of humour in the film is the juxtaposition between the caricature Thor presents himself as and how oblivious he seems to how he is actually perceived by others. See how King Yakan refers to Thor as "God of Destruction" after he destroyed their sacred shrine but which Thor doesn't even seem to acknowledge. I would argue that those jokes which revolve around how Thor's braggadocios persona is shown to be empty and undercut by the reaction of the people around him serve a vital purpose for Thor's character arc, just as they did in Ragnarok.

As mentioned earlier, Thor's ridiculous bravado and oblivious himbo persona is an act designed to keep people at arm's length so they cannot get too close. It is defense mechanism for Thor and one that fits him like well-worn leather since he's just adapted the old uber-masculine façade he used to hide his insecurities and sense of unworthiness into a shield to prevent anyone getting too close.

We see this clearly in Thor's early interactions with Jane in the film.

It's very normal to pop out the wings on your helmet to assert your manhood.

Before he knows it's Jane wielding the restored Mjolnir, Thor confronts this 'stranger' by donning a grandiose golden costume with a ridiculously ornate (CGI) helmet. This wardrobe change signals how Thor feels a need to perform a caricature of himself and that we are meant to laugh at him, to see he is being ridiculous and that this is silly. 

As this article in Film Obsessive argues, "Like a jester figure, Waititi takes jabs at every trope he’s inherited: cackling at the costumes, the props, and the heroic gravitas of his beloved cast of comic book characters." However, this isn't a lack of respect for the source material or the characters. Waititi's irreverence serves a purpose. In addition to reinforcing the notion that, at the end of the day, superhero archetypes are inherently silly (which is a good thing and we should be willing to embrace that silliness), it "humanizes Thor as a relatable manly man—a Himbo who can oscillate at the snap of a finger from a dad-bod to a god-bod [to a sad-bod]".

Indeed, Thor's bumbling stunned response once he realises it is Jane wielding his ex-hammer is incredibly relatable. He rips off his ridiculous helmet and tugs at his collar from a hot flush. He stammers over his words and tries to reassert his previous braggadocios persona but is even less convincing than he was before. 

Jane is not fooled anymore than Star Lord was. She knows Thor and she can see that this is not the real him, which is reflected in Natalie Portman's performance. Jane constantly reacts to Thor's awkward bumbling and false bravado with a upturned mouth or slightly raised eyebrow, as if she is wondering why he is acting like such a fool but willing to indulge him.

We can also see this in how Thor struggles at first to reconcile the fact the previous symbol of his manhood, Mjolnir, is wielded by Jane and in ways he never could.

Korg yet again saying the themes of the film out loud for the audience.

We'll come back to Jane and Thor in a moment but first I'll like to talk about...

The Gorr of It All - Comic Book Adaptation vs Adapting a Comic Book Character

I think most people appreciated Christian Bale's portrayal of Gorr and wished there was more of him in the film. I personally would have like Gorr to challenge Thor's ideology or perspective of the gods, the same way he did in Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic's fantastic story arc in the comics or even how Kilmonger gets T'Challa to change in Black Panther

The whole scene on the Shadow Realm planet where Gorr taunts our heroes with the truth while they struggle is chilling and honestly one of the best in the film. There is no comedy here, just pure tension and suspense.

The fact that each of our heroes knows that Gorr is correct only adds to the sense he is ultimately under-used in the film. Their terrified and upset reactions highlight the truth of his words. The gods will use Jane but not help her or cure her cancer, The gods did not help save Valkyrie's fellow warriors and lover as they died in battle. In fact, the Valkyrie's were in battle for a god - on Odin's orders to stop Hela - and he did nothing to save them.

However, I'm not going to spend a heck of a time on this since everything I want to say about Gorr is probably summed up better by Pillar of Garbage's excellent "The Gorr Dilemma: Critiquing Adaptation" video.

To poorly summarise Pillar's argument, while movie Gorr is similar to comic book Gorr, he is not the same since the original Gorr storyline would not fit the focus of Thor: Love and Thunder which is Thor's personal journey to learn to be vulnerable and love again. 

This is reflected in how both Gorr's have a similar origin but there are slight, yet important, differences. Both versions of Gorr present a man driven to despair by the inactions of the gods he worships, who comes across two gods, one alive and one dead, and takes up the Necrosword to slay the alive god, before going on an intergalactic crusade to kill all gods. However, the key difference is in how and why each version of Gorr slays the first god.

In the comics, the god is wounded and asks Gorr for help. This causes Gorr's faith to be broken completely as he learns that the gods aren't omnipotent or benevolent, that his people weren't special or chosen, that godhood is a sham. In the film, unlike the space age design of the comic god, the god Gorr meets looks mostly human, if covered in gold. He does not appear alien but familiar. Movie Gorr does not kill him out of outraged morality but pure rage, fueled by the corrupting influence of the Necrosword, as an act of vengeance for the death of his daughter. It happens just after his god mocked him for believing in him and as his god is chocking him, almost an act of self-defense. It is not the existential grief of a man who has lost his faith like in the comic, it is far more personal.

Movie Gorr is driven by love and grief... the very same things which our lovable God of Thunder is struggling with. Therefore, although it is clear that Gorr is right in his assessment of the gods unworthiness of being worshipped, the film provides no clear counter-point. In the comic run, Thor knows that to prove Gorr wrong, he has to continually answer prayers and perform miraculous acts of labour and heroism to justify his existence as a god. Film Thor doesn't really have a retort to Gorr aside from the fact that Gorr might be as hypocritical as the gods, which sure, I guess.

However, the fact movie Gorr and Thor's motivations are both personal and essentially the same is the point. While I would have liked Thor to see how Gorr's crusade to kill all the gods for their petty selfishness and callous disregard for their worshipers is not dissimilar to Thor's own anti-colonialist recognition that "Asgard is a people, not a place" in Ragnarok, this is a personal story, not an overtly political one.

This Gorr is not an adaptation of the comic Gorr but has adapted Gorr to suit the needs of the film and serves Thor's arc. As Pillar points it, "the centre of this film is Thor's journey towards emotional maturity. This arc is the point around which every other aspect of Love and Thunder is oriented." In this way, movie Gorr is the same repressed individual driven by revenge that Thor was in Endgame and who Thor could be if he didn't work towards becoming authentic and emotionally honest version of himself.

Which is why the truth Gorr taunts Thor with is about love and pain.

Love is the central conflict Thor struggles with in the film, not Gorr. This is why Gorr tells Thor to "choose love" and call Stormbreaker to save Jane. Thor's main journey that leads him to change is not the goal of stopping Gorr but the realisation he wants to be love, and be loved by, Jane, to be confident enough to open himself up to someone else, even at the risk of getting hurt yet once again.

Which brings us to...

"You made me worthy" - The Legend of Thor and Dr. Jane Foster

Okay, some nerds who are way too precious about things are going to be upset but Thor: Love and Thunder is not really a superhero film. It is a 80s adventure fantasy based on comic book characters. That difference might seem like splitting hairs but it is important. 

In a lot of ways, when Thor isn't hanging out with the Avengers, he's not really a superhero. He's heroic, sure, but not really a superhero as we tend to think of them. He doesn't have a secret identity or a symbolic costume or even really fight crime. Instead, he has grand epic adventures across the galaxy, hunting monsters, battling gods, and confronting intergalactic beings beyond comprehension. His stories are more mythic and fantastical than a superhero on a crusade against crime.

I bring this up to lead to my next point about genre - in addition to being an 80s styled fantasy, Love and Thunder is a comedy (duh) but more than that, it is a ROMCOM. At the centre of this story is the relationship between Thor and Jane.

Aww, look at these two.

Before we get into their relationship, let's talk romcom for a bit. As this helpful article from Collider points out:

The romantic comedy genre is one that's full of distinct tropes. The meet-cute, the burgeoning relationship montage, the third-act breakup, love being rekindled, the crazy ex, the scene that pulls on your heartstrings.

Love and Thunder plays with these tropes in interesting ways. Firstly, Thor and Jane have already had an entire relationship that dissolved in the past, so their meet-cute in this film is not meeting someone for the first time but someone bumping into their ex. As discussed above, this shows Thor in a different light, awkward and bumbling, unable to maintain his overly-confident façade.

This playing with romocom tropes also explains the weirdly obsessive way Thor reacts to Mjolnir's return and Stormbreaker's jealousy of Mjolnir by reworking the crazed romantic partner trope through Thor's signature two weapons of choice. The jokes about Thor trying to call Mjolnir and Stormbreaker not working properly out of jealousy are rooted in this trope inversion. Once you understand what that Love and Thunder is playing with these tropes in this way, a lot of the 'awkward' comedy in the film makes more sense.

"No, baby, I wasn't thinking about her. I was actually just about to call you... beautiful."

Similarly, instead of the typical burgeoning relationship montage, since Jane and Thor have already had a relationship, we have a romance and subsequent break-up montage, fitting set to ABBA's classic "Our Last Summer". Also, Korg's voice-over narration gives another layer of pathos under the corny humour of a shmaltzy romcom montage.

Thor set his sights toward a future and all it might hold. But the more he pondered a life with Jane, the more he feared losing that life. And although Jane didn't want to admit it, she was scared of loss as well. And so, they built walls between them. Thor got busy saving humanity. And Jane got busy doing the same. Real busy. And eventually, the space between them grew and grew until it became too wide to bear. Something had to give.

Hey, isn't that the thing I've been harping about, how Thor's false bravado is a wall to keep people distant? Stop telling the audience the themes of the film, Korg! Seriously though, this is a sad account of Thor and Jane's relationship. Instead of being vulnerable and open about their fears, they retreated into themselves and drifted apart. 

As this article on Jane and Thor's romance says, "Often heartbreak can lead someone to harden their hearts to love. In Thor’s case, he numbed his heart into believing that his only purpose is to fight when called upon." This is exactly where we find Thor at the start of the film, adrift and alone.

However, it is through being reunited with Jane and the rekindling of their relationship that Thor realises that it was Jane who made him worthy and that he wants to open up and love again. It's on the way to the Shadow Realm that Thor reveals to Jane that she made him worthy. His path to reclaim his self-worth began when he crash landed in New Mexico and Jane hit him with her car. In his own words, "I wanna feel shitty about you. I wanna feel shitty about something and I think that's you."

In another example of romcom subversion - instead of a third act break-up, we get a third act make-up.

I have to talk about the hospital scene for a moment. Thor, now aware Jane has cancer and that Mjolnir is draining all of her mortal strength and killing her, wants to leave her behind and go face Gorr alone. Not because he doesn't believe she could help or because he doesn't want her by his side in battle, but because he loves her.

This declaration by Thor that he loves her is the first time across eight movie appearances, four of which he was in a relationship with Jane, that we hear Thor say it out loud. Possibly it is the first time Jane has heard it too, judging by the stunned look on her face. It honestly is heart-wrenchingly earnest in a film which had been so irreverent before, pretty much up to the point where Thor begins to open up and admit his feelings out loud.

However, Thor does not force Jane to stay in the hospital. He recognises it is her choice and tells her so, but his love for her means he wants to try at a second chance if they can. As he says,

While Jane does initially decide to stay in the hospital, when she senses that Thor is losing his fight with Gorr, she picks up Mjolnir and suits up as the Mighty Thor one last time. The look of anguish on Thor's face when he sees her arrive is tearjerking as he knows that this will kill her but he does not argue with her or force her to leave since he respect her decision. 

He is no longer the broken sad bod hiding under a god god and an offish braggadocios persona. He wears his heart proudly on his sleeve in a healthy non-toxic masculinity which doesn't seek to keep people at a distance but allows them in - more on that in the last section.

This is why during the last scene at the Altar of Eternity, Thor does not fight Gorr to stop him making his wish, he chooses to be with Jane and cradle her in his arms during his and her last moments, an image that parallels Gorr cradling his dying daughter. He tells Gorr to choose love (throwing the God Butcher's words back at him) when making his wish and promises to look after his daughter with Jane's approval. 

Love is the purpose Thor finds in his long journey towards meaning. Which brings us to...

"From god bod to dad god" - The Ballad of Love and Thunder

In yet another example of Korg spelling out the theme of the film to the audience so there's no confusion, he tells Valkyrie on the way to the Shadow Realm that he "thinks Thor would be a great dad". And so it came to be.

We see hints of this theme in more subtle ways throughout the story through the kidnapped Asgardian kids. Thor's interactions with them are fumbling at first, still trying to maintain his mythic "I am Thor" façade and instill false confidence. Over time, particularly after the confrontation with Zeus at Omnipotence City, he eventually speaks with them more openly and genuinely praises them for being braver than he was at their age. This leads Axl to declare, "I'm glad I met my hero." to Thor.

Then, in what I believe is one of the best MCU climatic battle scenes, Thor share his power with the kids, even the non-Asgardian ones, since they are all worthy and Space Vikings on this day.

There's a lot to like in this scene:
  • the pitch-perfect use of the outro solo from 'November Rain' to score the action 
  • how the lyrics of the song reinforce the themes ("Don't ya think that you need somebody?/Don't ya think that you need someone?/Everybody needs somebody/You're not the only one")
  • how the visual of Thor sharing his power with the kids recreates Yggdrasil the World Tree
  • the fun action of the kids fighting the shadow monsters, probably the best action sequence in the film after the amazing Shadow Realm fight. 

Also, as a keen-eyed YouTube commenter noted, there is something vital in the wording of the spell Thor casts to share his power. Thor says, "Whosoever holds these weapons, and believes in getting home, if they be true of heart is therefore worthy, and shall possess... for limited time only, the power... of Thor!" While it's similar to the enchantment Odin placed on Mjolnir, the key difference is Odin said "if he be worthy". Thor instead says, "is therefore worthy". The kids' worthiness is understood and acknowledged, by someone who's had a lot of doubts about his own.

We can only hope we have someone in our lives like Thor who recognises that we are worthy and we do not need to prove our worthiness to them, or to ourselves.

As this video by Implicitly Pretentious on Thor vs Genre Theory points out, the wider thematic genre of integration, which Love and Thunder falls into, is themed around resolving personal antagonisms, building community, and cooperation. 

This is why Thor bestows the children of Asgard with his power. This is why Jane dies saving the children and Gorr does not follow through with his crusade for vengeance but ultimately resurrects his child by choosing love. This is why Thor looks after Gorr's daughter after his own love, Jane, died. As Implicitly Pretentious states: "it is the ultimate symbol of this [integration]… just as Odin adopted Loki, the baby of an enemy, Thor does the same".

Quality family time.

Feeling Shitty - Final Thoughts on Love and Thunder

This is why I believe that for all its faults and messiness (for example, some of the blocking during dialogue scenes is absolutely atrocious), Love and Thunder has got into my head and my heart. Why I believe it is truly a classic Thor adventure about learning to love again. 

To be honest, I did not think this article was going to be this long. I genuinely thought this would be a brief defense of the film, a quick, short article. However, to quote J.R.R. Tolkien, "the tale grew in the telling", and it was in telling this tale, that my appreciation of the film only deepened.

So, give Love and Thunder a rewatch with this perspective in mind or watch it for the first time if the initial hate train turned you off it. If you can vibe with what the film is trying to do and get on its wavelength, you'll find that under its irreverent comedy is a sincere and open emotional heart. 

Then you might just fall in love with it too, warts and all.


'Thor: Love and Thunder': Thor and Jane's Romance Made Each Worthy

Thursday 31 December 2020

Thor: The Last Days of Midgard - How to Hold onto Hope in a Dying World

How do we save the environment from the seemingly insurmountable forces of capitalism, an ideology determined to destroy the planet as it extracts every last resource from it?

Intro & Context

Regardless of the blatant and apocalyptic detrimental impacts they have on the very planet we live on, unregulated and rampant business interests will be protected by the state. This should be obvious when the political elite are often in the pocket of oil companies, billionaire tech-bros, and industries who profit from the exploitation and pollution of the Earth. 

While the general population suffers and the planet dies as a direct result of their actions, the business class will continue to strip the world of its resources for short-sighted gains at the expense of our long term future.

It is a problem so insurmountable that even a god cannot fight climate change without being confronted by the impenetrable web of corporate greed and a legal system designed to protect the interests of capital and business. That's the lesson that Jason Aaron's Thor learns in the fantastic Thor: The Last Days of Midgard arc from 2012 (Thor: God Of Thunder #19-25).

Who needs Aquaman to save the ocean when Thor can swim?

However, it is not the lesson I learnt from this comic but we'll get to that. First, some backstory.

Backstory (to the Worst Year Ever)

This year, 2020 if you're reading this in the future (presuming there is a future), I had started to fall into despair at the state of the world and my inability to affect change on it. I was wound tight with stress, feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders and starting to crumble under the pressure. 

The resurgence of populist fascism, the enduring destruction of late stage capitalism, gross immoral inequality, a global pandemic, the fact that the world is literally on fire... and all I could do was watch it unfold on a computer screen. 

It feels overwhelming because it is overwhelming. It is too much and it all seems doomed. It is relentless, a constant feed of bad to terrible news, a desolate wasteland where nothing is able to bloom. It is as though you're in the middle of the ocean and dying of thirst. Cut off and alone, unable to connect or contribute to make things better since you can't latch onto anything or see a way forward.

What can you do when confronting destructive giants far greater and more powerful than yourself?

In the face of this unceasing toxicity, I become cut off. I was unable to be present in the here and now, in my own life. I was too consumed by what was happening abroad in other countries or the latest online discourse, the latest injustices committed by this corrupt state, politician or corporation, and so on, that I was unable to be fully present at work, with my friends, or even my family. 

I was tethered to the endless stream of terrible news that unfolded daily on my Twitter timeline...

And I believe I'm not alone in the loneliness caused by the hellscape that is social media. Too many of us feel cut off. Too many of us feel alienated and disillusioned by the constant suffering in the world and the failure of modern liberal democracies to meaningfully address the issues plaguing the world today. 

Issues of rampant corporate greed, the unequal distribution of resources, the gross exploitation of late stage capitalism, the continuing systemic bigotry of our societies, the inept responses to a global pandemic, and the ticking bomb of climate change. I mean, due to the dominance of neoliberal ideology which places the failures of society on the individual, often these democratic systems which are supposed serve the people deliberately make these issues worse when they aren't too busy ignoring them.

So the central question becomes, "How do we hold on to hope in dying world?". 

What if there is no one to smite since capitalism has no face to punch?

Let's Discuss the Comic

In Last Days of Midgard, there are two story-lines that are told in parallel which mirror and comment on one another. 

The first is Present Day Thor as he gets entangled with ROXXON Energy and its CEO Dario Agger, who, as Thor puts it, "seeks to poison Midgard for financial gain". Here Thor faces challenges not only in physical battle and of the magical variety but also of legal red tape and corrupt bureaucracy set up to protect the business elite. 

The second story-line is set millennia in the future, as old King Thor battles Galactus to prevent him from devouring a barren Earth which long ago died and is now just a dusty, hollowed out husk.

I'm sure there's no pointed commentary about our real-life future being made here.

The two story-lines are told simultaneously, mostly with the future plot adding layers of pathos and dramatic irony on the present day story. 

In the Present story-line, antagonist Dario Agger is the perfect embodiment of the modern neoliberal tech-bro, full of empty PR spin to obfuscate exploitative business practices. He also makes Elon Musk-like grandiose proclamations of his company's (modest) accomplishments, and expresses an insatiable desire to privatise vital resources from the public good. 

I mean, this is a man who wanted to establish an interplanetary ice pipeline to mine water from one of Jupiter's moons to "solve" the Earth's water crisis. 

I dunno man, you seem more preoccupied with the taking part...

Thor knows that Agger is actively destroying the planet and polluting the air but as Agger points out that neither he or his company "have never been convicted of any wrongdoing by any court in the world". In the eyes of the law, Agger and ROXXON are innocent and it is Thor who is the aggressor by thwarting ROXXON's enterprise by trying to stop them from destroying the planet. 

To be fair, Thor is deliberately destroying ROXXON facilities which hurts their profit margin and makes their shareholders sad. On the other hand, some of those facilities are so completely toxic that they have to be fully automated since no humans can work there, so yeah. Funnily enough, ROXXON cannot claim insurance since the insurance company is refusing coverage since the damage was caused by an act of god. Cute.

Fittingly, Thor is teamed up with Agent Rosalind 'Roz' Solomon of S.H.I.E.L.D's first ever environmental task force for this arc. Agent Solomon is a pragmatic idealist who wants to save the environment and believes it is possible but fully understands it is an uphill battle where you not only have one hand tied behind your back but also a chain around your ankles while your opponent has had a 20 year head start and more resources than you can imagine.

Of course, S.H.I.E.L.D are an espionage, special law enforcement, and counter-terrorism agency in Marvel comics. They are analogous to the CIA, by which I mean they're basically an arm to enforce American imperialism under the guise of counter-terrorism. So, that sucks and is a mark against Roz but she seems to have her heart in the right place.

However, the real take-away from this Present Day plot is how even the mighty Thor is in some ways powerless to stop the machinations of capitalism. 

Agger relocates ROXXON's floating factories to Broxton, a small town next to where Asgardia (the remnants of Asgard on Earth, home of Thor and the gods) is in an attempt to hurt Thor by buying up most of the town, displacing his friends and neighbours. And when Thor tries to fight Agger directly, he is served with a sue notice for damages done to ROXXON Energy.

What good is a hammer against a court action lawsuit?

It's quite interesting to watch Thor try to attack Agger head on, only to be hit with a lawsuit and restraining order, a fantastic example of how corporations will use the law to their own means in order to stifle criticism and activism. The law is on Agger's side because he has unlimited capital and the law is always on the side of those with capital, largely because it was written by people with capital. Funny that. 

Naturally, since this is a superhero comic, Agger turns out to be a Minotaur and hires trolls to kill Thor, which means Thor can smack his face with his hammer. Unfortunately, the town of Broxton is destroyed in the ensuing battle, showing how it is always average everyday people who suffer under capitalism.

Moving to the Future story-line, old King Thor, having seen the millennia since the events of the present day plot, as well as the death of all his friends and allies from that time period, stands in the dust of a dead Earth. Lamenting the loss of his beloved Midgard, who should arrive but Galactus, the devourer of worlds.

Galactus is a perfect metaphor for the unceasing need for perpetual growth and expansion, not to mention the destruction left in its wake, fundamental to the functions of capitalism. Galactus is famously always hungry. No planet, no matter how large or rich in resources, can satiate his burning desire to consume more and more and more until the end of time. He must always have more, constantly travelling the galaxy forever consuming. Just like capital, Galactus must feed.

But Thor says thee nay!

Visually, they made the rather deliberate choice to have Galactus give off bellows of smoke and ash, polluting the air with his mere presence. Oh well, sure there's no wider meaning to be read here.

Before they begin their battle, Galactus and King Thor discuss the Earth and why they want to devour or save it, respectively. Thor points out that the Earth is already half dead, and asks why he would even want to eat a world such as this. However, Galactus turns the question back on Thor, questioning why would he want to defend it. Their answers are quite illuminating.

Thor responds that the Earth has saved him more times than he can count while he hasn't saved it nearly enough. Galactus similarly states that the Earth has defied him more times than he can count and no matter its current state, the taste of it will be sweet.

Thor's response points out our duty to the world we live on, to nurture it and take care of it as it provides for us, while Galactus' reply highlights the pettiness and desire for conquest inherent in capitalism's need for perpetual growth and consumption.

It is interesting, that Thor then thinks to himself that it would so easy to let it slip away just by doing nothing. Perhaps it would be a mercy to let the planet be consumed... however, Thor is not the god of Mercy and stands his ground against a being far larger and more powerful than he is.

When standing up to a giant, simply breaking his hand is a victory of immense proportions.

I won't retell all the events of their battle here since it would take too long and distract from the point I'm trying to make but suffice to say, it is epic and a tale worthy of being told. 

Fittingly, Thor's granddaughters, the Girls of Thunder join the battle when Thor is knocked out and attack Galactus, causing some significant damage, even if they ultimately are unable to defeat him without their grandfather's help. It's almost like in order to defeat a monster like Galactus or capitalism, we cannot do it on our own but only if we work together.

Again, this is a superhero comic and Thor retrieves an all-powerful weapon that helps him defeat Galactus, although it is one which corrupts his soul as he uses it. What is fascinating is that during this part of the battle, Thor reveals that it was he that caused the destruction of the Earth by standing by and allowing it to fall. It was his inaction that lead to the death of the planet.

However, at the end of the battle, Thor bleeds from his wounds onto the ground, causing it to grow anew. 

I hope the message isn't too subtle...

But rewinding to the end of the Present Day plot, following the destruction of the town of Broxton, Thor and the Asgardians ask to help the people of Broxton on their terms to rebuild the town, acknowledging the townspeople's agency to determine the type of aid they require rather than it being assigned to them from on high. 

However, they don't completely fix the town before they have to leave since, to avoid further retribution or collateral damage to their neighbours, Asgardia is relocated to space. Lacking homes to live in among the rubble, the people of Broxton ask where they are to live since this land is their home...

Only for Thor to give them a castle from Asgardia to live in, the greatest of all halls in Asgard - his castle.

They lost their home so he gave them his, while acknowledging it cannot replace what they lost...

The Lesson I Learnt From Thor

All of this leads me to the lesson I personally learnt from Thor's struggle to save the planet against capitalism's never-ending desire to consume and expand, regardless of the damage it causes. The lesson was not a major revelation or startling epiphany but it was reaffirming and meaningful. 

It was simply to hope again. That, even though the struggle is seemingly insurmountable, it must still be fought. That, even if you will not win, you need to continue to do what is right. 

Furthermore, I learnt from this comic about a Norse god with a hammer flying through space that, even though I as an individual cannot hope to create the change I want to see in the world, I must do all I can to help better my immediate environment and community. 

That even though a god is sometimes helpless in the face of a system that will always prioritise corporations and profit over people, there can still be hope in the minor victories gained, no matter how small. 

Even if this fight is one long defeat, it is a fight worth fighting.

In conclusion, I realised that although you may not be able to change the world alone but you can collectivise with others to nudge it in the right direction. 

Do what you can while always remembering the Marxist maxim, "to each according to their ability". 

Try to focus on what can be done to improve your local community, connect with your friends, join a union if you haven't, petition your representative on issues you believe in, protest injustice, listen to others, support or join an activist group if you are able, log off social media sometimes, and look after yourself.

We are all we have and a better world is possible.

Happy New Year. Here's to the ongoing struggle in 2021.


Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic for creating Thor: Last Days of Midgard.

Matt Draper for his video on Mad Max: Fury Road which inspired the tone of this article -

Friday 1 May 2020

Pink Floyd's 'Us and Them': Group Mentality and the Death of Politics in the Culture War

'Us and Them' is a famous anti-war anthem from what is Pink Floyd's most popular album, The Dark Side of the Moon. The song is quite epic, one of Pink Floyd's best, with a subdued verses that have soothing sax and watery guitar licks, before an utter explosion in the bridges, complete with female vocal choir, clashing symbols, distorted guitar. It's a fantastically well-composed and musically effective song.

The lyrics of the song quite explicitly explore the futility of war and how soldiers on both sides of any conflict are mere pawns for generals and the powerful, their battles reduced to mere "lines on the map" that move from side to side. Since the message of the lyrics is so starkly clear to anyone who gives them a glance, it would be rather foolish to use them to comment on something else.

So naturally I'm not going to explore the obvious anti-war message of the song in any way but instead will pivot hard to discuss something Roger Waters definitely was not thinking about when he wrote the lyrics, the current Culture War between liberals and conservatives in the Western democracies.

What a great song.

Wait, what? How can I just use the lyrics of a song from 1973 with an obvious anti-war message to comment on the current political climate of 2020? That seems like a stretch and rather disingenuous.

Like any piece of art, song lyrics can accumulate new meanings over time and as people interpret them within different contexts. And the sentiment expressed in 'Us and Them' seems to me to relate perfectly to the current political moment we find ourselves in and the artificial divide between the two sides of the Culture War.

Or at least enough so that I want to use the lyrics to frame my discussion of our current moment.

So let's get into it.

Here are the aforementioned lyrics in full (that I will cherry-pick from to make my argument).

Us and Them

Okay, so what is this Culture War anyway? The Culture War is this ideological conflict where every issue is reduced of its material conditions into a 'battle' between liberals and conservatives. While conservatives tend to more explicitly weaponise these cultural battles, liberals are not immune to its effects.

Within the Culture War, both sides succumb to the division caused by treating issues less as problems that require solutions but as a way to indicate your political team. The way this starts is through the creation and spread of "wedge issues".

A helpful definition from this Renegade Cut video.

Now, these 'wedge issues' often have no bearing on reality or even impact people's lives in any meaningful way but still people feel incredibly passionate about them since they signal their political identity or affiliation.

As stated in the definition of a 'wedge issue' above, manufacturing wedge issues has two effects. One effect is to manipulate people into a Culture War such that they turnout in order to defeat the other political party. The other is to distract and divide the working class.

A great example of how a wedge issue can be used for both is the "War on Christmas".

As this informative article by Media Matters details, the War on Christmas is a completely manufactured cultural battle. A wedge issue created by propagandists on Fox News, such as noted sexual harasser Bill O'Reilly, to fracture objective reality along political lines.

As the article states,
Imaginary culture war issues like the War on Christmas make for good politics, as the people arguing that these are real issues can at any time simply dust off their hands, declare victory, and pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
According to the article, the creation of a fake issue like the War on Christmas provides "right-wing media a convenient way to manufacture divisions between the left and the right" in order to ignore real issues.

To be honest, looking at how the right in American has weaponised the War on Christmas victim narrative every year for the past 15 years or so while ignoring the real problems facing America's poor and most vulnerable, it's hard to disagree.

Up and Down, And in the end it's only round 'n round

However, I would go further than the Media Matters article and say that the Culture War is no longer limited to fake battles such as the War on Christmas but has infected all aspect of politics.

Every issue, real or imagined, is now a wedge issue, reduced to a political stance. All politics has become an aesthetic affect that signals which 'side' you are on - Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, Labour or Tory, NZ Labour or National, Red or Blue.

No where is this clearer than in how people on different sides of the Culture War believe governments and countries should response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Instituting a shutdown or quarantine in the face of a pandemic shouldn't be a political issue but simply a health issue.

When you have a pandemic, you need to institute a quarantine of some kind or people will die. And yet...

See this Reddit thread for more examples of people getting corona to "own the libs".

The tweets above show what happens when you turn every issue into a culture war.

It no longer becomes about health or what's the right response, or even the issue itself, but simply opposing the other team. This is how right-wing media trick people into thinking that ignoring doctors and health professionals to break quarantine and go out during a pandemic is simply "expressing their freedom" to own the libs.

People have been convinced that blind opposition to the other side, regardless of whether the other side is right or wrong, is a win in the battle for the 'soul' of their country.

This thinking affects liberally minded people too, as they often get a sense of superiority and can dismiss whole swaths of the populace as uneducated backwater hicks or rednecks, ignoring how that population has been misled and manipulated by politicians, media companies and rich assholes.

Their smug superiority often blinds liberals to completely ignore how they themselves are also manipulated on 'liberal' wedge issues by politicians, media companies and rich assholes on the other side. This is why liberals will often fall for hollow moves towards 'progress' that don't actually progress anything but protect the interests of the elite.

An example of this is the "girl boss" phenomenon.

Aw, yeah. Lean in!

Before we go further, let me state for the record that representation is incredibly important and it is vital that we address the decades of systemic gender discrimination in the workplace and politics. However, where liberals get tricked into a Culture War is that they are told representation in and of itself is what is important. This is regardless of whether this representation actually helps the marginalised group in question or is just tokenism designed to placate criticisms of discrimination.

That's how some liberals start thinking that simply putting women in positions of power will right the world because women are just intrinsically better than men because uh, feminism? Liberals such as former US President Barack Obama, who said last year that "if every nation on earth was run by women, you would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything".

However, as this article by The Guardian points out, "Women, you’ll be amazed to know, are not a monolithic group". What is the point in electing a woman leader if she is will simply continue the systems of exploitation that currently exist?
Having more female leaders is also completely meaningless if those women simply “lean in” to exploitative systems of power. It’s not old white men that are the problem, it’s patriarchal capitalism.
Liberals will sometimes even defend far-right figures like Margaret Thatcher because of her "girl power" and how she had to break through the glass ceiling of misogyny to become the United Kingdom's first female Prime Minister, but come on.

You all know the Eric Andre bit, right?

We stan an imperialist murder queen.

The "girl boss" trope is a recuperation of feminism by capital, stripping it of its radical systemic critique of patriarchal structures, until it is a shallow husk of progressivism. An mere aesthetic signally change while providing nothing of substance. The idea that if one women is able to succeed, that is a win for all women, even if she only did so by playing by the rules of the patriarchal system.

This is how identity politics is weaponised in the Culture War to manipulate liberals into supporting candidates based solely on their gender, race or sexuality. Think of Hilary Clinton's "I'm with Her" campaign slogan.

Again, please don't mistake me, representation is incredibly important and having a government that actually reflects the diversity of the constituents they represent is only a good thing. But here's the thing, they should also support policies which serve the interests of that diverse constituency, not lobbyists or the status quo.

Can we claim we have made any progress to celebrate the election of someone from a marginalised group if they pull the ladder up behind themselves? Is that a gain for equality? Is it a feminism to replace a male warmonger with a female warmonger? Is it a win for gay rights when a gay mayor ignores the issues facing the LGBTQ community?

I dunno about you, but that doesn't look like progress to me.

Haven't you heard, it's a battle of words?

Let's talk about the "Death of Politics" mentioned in the title. What do I mean by the "Death of Politics" anyway? That seems rather ominous and melodramatic.

Like in any war, at the end of the day it often is a battle of words. What is said about what happened is often far more important that what actually happened. Words are what bring meaning to things, they provide the framework for understanding. Indeed, the choice of words can often frame an incident one way or another, depending on how they are used.

What am I going on about? Well, how do we talk about those on the other side of the Culture War? What words do we use to describe them? How are those words used? Do those words even mean what they are supposed to or are we using them devoid of meaning in order to get an emotional reaction?

Let's take a concrete example, and a local one if you're from New Zealand like me, about a NZ Labour MP Deborah Russell who said some dumb things about personal responsibility for small business owners who were struggling during the Covid-19 shutdown. Russell said,
We are seeing a number of small businesses really struggling after only a few weeks in a difficult situation, which must speak to the strength of those small businesses going into this lockdown. It worries me that perhaps people went into small business without really understanding how you might build up or capitalise it in the first place so you have the ongoing strength to survive a setback.
Now, to me that seems like typical "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" type nonsense which you typically see from right-wing libertarianism or conservatism. It's kinda sad to see from a Labour MP, who are supposedly centre-left, but what you gonna do?

Well if you are David Seymour, you try score some cheap political points.

Got them.

If you're not from New Zealand and don't know who David Seymour is, you might not understand what I'm getting at. David Seymour is the leader of the libertarian ACT party. He is literally the personal responsibility "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" guy in New Zealand politics!

Yet hee's taking a jab at Russell, and by extension the NZ Labour party, for espousing views which are completely in line with his own political ideology. Which is weird enough on the surface but then Judith Collins, a member of the right-wing National party, chipped in with a little Red Scare, "Thank you for this little gem about socialist thinking against small business."

Essentially, she proclaimed that libertarian philosophy applied to business owners was actually socialism. Which makes no sense right? Nothing Russell said could be considered socialist in any way, shape or form. It's kind of directly opposed to socialist principles like social welfare, solidarity and anti-capitalism.

However, this is the "Death of Politics" in the Culture War. Actual awareness of political ideology or theory is discarded and replaced with empty name-calling for points scoring. There is no understanding of politics apart from "my side = good, other side = bad".

Within this false understanding, ACT and National will purposely say Labour are socialists so when a Labour MP has a bad take, they can pull out the "see communism is cancer" card, even when the take they apparently disagree with is actually in line with their own right wing ideology.

This is a common tactic the world over. How often has a left-leaning candidate or politician been labelled a 'communist' in order to dismiss them or make their ideas seems scary and invoked the scaremongering of the Cold War? Such claims were swung at Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, and deliberately.

Oh, by the way, remember those people protesting the shutdown in the States? Well...

Yeah, okay. Sure.

It doesn't matter that saying social distancing equals communism makes little no sense to the point of absurdity. It doesn't matter that the claim is self-contradictory. The only thing that matters is the emotional plea. What the claim invokes for people on your side that hear or read it.

If your side thinks that communism is cancer. then that is the plea you make. If your side thinks that conservatives are all uneducated rednecks, then that is the plea you make. The emotional plea of the claim is far more important than whether the claim is true.

After all, it is all just a battle of words and words have power even when they are meaningless.

Black and Blue, And who knows which is which and who is who

So, if both sides can become ensnared by wedge issues that either distract from real issues or superficially seem like progress but are actually hollow, which side actually wins in the Culture War?

Neither side. They are both being played.

As stated in the lyrics of 'Us and Them', the soldiers are just victims in war, pawns to be sacrificed in the front-lines while the generals are safe from the violent consequences of their decisions. (I mean, unless there is another way to interpret, "Forward he cried from the rear/And the front rank died". If so, please let me know. I'm genuinely interested.)

So if people are the "soldiers" in the Culture War, then who are the generals they are being sacrificed for? Whose interests are best served by perpetrating wedge issues that only serve to divide the working class from achieving solidarity due to their shared material conditions?

Why, those in power of course.

I'm not going to hammer this too much since it's obvious and I've pointed out how obvious it is, but keeping the populace distracted by non-issues or politicizing real issues into wedge issues, only benefits the capitalist elite and those in power.

Working class conservatives getting angry at the "liberal shutdown" only helps capitalists who want to 're-open the economy' at the expense of those same working class conservatives health and lives.

College educated liberals supporting a female candidate for office simply because she is a woman, without really evaluating her political ideology or policies, only helps that specific woman and maintains the status quo of exploitation under capitalism.

Speaking of capitalism...

And who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about?

Within the current system, politicians, the media and rich assholes uses wedge issues to blind people to the shared solidarity they should have with each other. This is done in order to keep the powerful in power and to protect capital.

"The two parties need wedge issues to motivate their voters and distract them from the fact that both parties wish to maintain the system that has the most to do with their oppression." - Leon Thomas

Capitalism, baby! It's a problem. Maybe we should do something about it.

Maybe we need to avoid unnecessary Culture Wars and focus on what is really important - building solidarity and improving the material conditions of people everywhere.

Just like how the generals don't want the soldiers of either side talking to each other and recognising their share humanity, the politicians and media who manufacture these wedge issues don't want voters, particularly the working class, on either side to recognise that they have more in common with each other than these wedge issues would suggest.

They do not want you to realise that dismantling capitalism, and other systems of division such as racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, will result in a better society for everyone.

Since "after all, we're just ordinary men," women and non-binary folks caught in an never-ending cycle of pointless political battles where nothing ever gets better or changes and "God only knows it's not what we would choose to do".

I dunno, it's just a thought.


Us and Them (song) - Wikipedia

Misinformation for Fun and Profit | Renegade Cut

A War on Christmas Story: How Fox News built the dumbest part of America's culture war

r/ownthelibs - Getting Corona to Own the Libs

You're not helping, Obama – just reinforcing myths about men v women