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Shant Eghian

Shant Eghian is a graduate of Assumption College, with a bachelor's degree in history and political science. His interests include American foreign policy, political philosophy, comic books, and the impending robot uprising.

The Confused Reparations Politics of Frozen 2

On New Years’ Eve, I went with some friends to see Frozen 2. I liked the first Frozen well enough. I thought the story was creative and engaging, though I thought the music was completely overrated (why they thought a song like “For the First Time in Forever” was fit for production is completely beyond me). Frozen 2 was also entertaining, and often very funny, though I think the songs this time were even more bland and forgettable than the last movie. 

But what really made this movie stand out from its predecessor was the really bizarre political angle that the story attempted to take.

Why A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life are the Same Story

Every December, I make it a point to watch Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life and Clive Donner’s version of A Christmas Carol. In my opinion, they are the two greatest Christmas movies ever made. But after watching them this past year, I realized something; both movies are telling the exact same story, inverted from each other. 

 

What Frankenstein’s Monster and the Joker Have in Common

So I finally got around to seeking Joker. I can safely say that, despite many media warnings to the contrary, nothing catastrophic happened. Nothing blew up, the sun didn’t turn as black as sackcloth, a plague of locusts didn’t descend upon the theatre, and most importantly, there wasn’t the promised “wave” of incel violence that everyone was talking about. 

In case you don’t know, “incel” stands for “involuntary celibate.” Incels are groups of young men (usually white, but they can be other races as well) who have yet to get into a relationship. They often spend their time on internet forums, resentful of the fact that they can’t find a romantic companion, and blame it on the fact that they were cursed with bad looks, while other guys with ample height and chiseled chins can get whatever girl they want. Their fulminations often devolve into misogynistic jeremiads against the state of modern dating and women in general, and in the worst case, they can take out their rage in acts of violence.

So, when trailers for the new Joker movie depicted a relatively young white male living alone in his apartment and seemingly unable to get into a stable relationship, many in the media panicked that it would inspire mentally unstable white men to go out and engage in acts of brutality. Fortunately, no such thing took place.

Disney Learns: Live by the Woke, Die by the Woke

I have to admit, I’ve been pretty ambivalent about the slew of live-action Disney remakes that the company has been producing over the past few years. It’s not that I hate them, I just don’t find them worth my money. Every once and awhile, one of them would pop up on Netflix, or one of my friends would be playing them in the background, and I’d sit down and give them a watch. They’re… okay. Not terrible, not amazing, just okay. It just seems to me to be a way for Disney to make some easy money. 

One aspect of these live action remakes that some have commented on is their newfound “wokeness.” Whether this is making Le Fou from Beauty and the Beast an open homosexual, giving an animal-rights slant to Dumbo, or even giving a subplot to the new Aladdin where Jasmine wants to be the next Sultan, apparently Disney feels like its old properties are in need of some good old self-criticism. 

Exploring LeftTube, Part 2: BadMouse Productions

Why I like Extremists

In his brilliant column on the future of sex robots (trust me, it’s really good), Ross Douthat opens with a line that I think is often true: “Sometimes the extremists and the radicals and the weirdos see the world more clearly than the respectable and moderate and sane.” I say this in light of today’s leftist YouTuber, BadMouse Productions, the most radical YouTuber I’ll be covering on a series on the rise of the YouTube Left (otherwise known as “LeftTube”).

Compared to other leftist YouTubers, BadMouse may not have the most views or subscribers, but what marks him out from his comrades is just how much he embraces his leftism. He’s no champagne-sipping socialist. More like a, East Germany wasn’t so bad, maybe we should rethink Stalin’s legacy, it’s not so bad if protestors attack cops, blood of the bourgeoisie sipping socialist!

Exploring LeftTube, Part 1: PhilosophyTube

I watch a lot of YouTube. Like… a lot of YouTube… So much YouTube in fact, that I get a good bulk of my political commentary from watching YouTubers. Since about 2015, YouTube’s political content has exploded, with political views from Left, Right, and Center putting in their two cents on the culture wars that are polarizing our nation. As a conservative myself, I’ve been fascinated by the rise of “LeftTube,” a loosely connected group of leftist YouTubers that have formed in response to the rise of right-wing political content on YouTube. These content creators provide good insight into how the Left is responding to the Trump era, and more importantly, where it is going. Over the course of a series of shorter posts, I will be picking a certain prominent Leftist YouTuber, and I will uncover a central point they make that I think is worth exploring.

Making Gotham Great Again, Part 4: Mitt Romney, Man of Steel

Considering Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns as a Mirror to Today’s Politics

When doing pieces like these, it’s really easy for everything to become one giant Rorschach Test. You see some faint parallels between a book or movie you love and the current political situation, and you immediately start making these ridiculous connections between things that really have no relation at all. “Batman is Trump, so the Joker is Hillary Clinton, because they’re both the archenemies! And The Joker and Clinton both wear lipstick and… stuff…”

Thankfully, I think I’ve mainly avoided that throughout this series, but I have to admit, I started getting suspicious of myself when I got to the subject of this final article: Superman. He’s an integral part of The Dark Knight Returns, and a central part of Miller’s satire, so I couldn’t just ignore him. At the same time, any parallel I drew between Superman and a current political figure seemed to be an exercise in the “Rorschaching” that I was worried about. Is he Hillary Clinton? Robert Mueller? Pepe the frog?

See the previous installments in the “Making Gotham Great Again” series analyzing the themes of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and today’s political culture: Part 1: The MediaPart 2: Law and OrderPart 3: Ronald Reagan and the Republican Establishment

Making Gotham Great Again, Part 3: Ronald Reagan and the Republican Establishment

One of the most innovative aspects of The Dark Knight Returns is that Miller very clearly places Gotham City in the real world of 1980s America, and not a hyper exaggerated comic book universe. Ronald Reagan is president, the United States is locked in an ever-escalating Cold War, and real-life celebrities like David Letterman and Dr Ruth Westheimer are murdered by the Joker. Of course, Miller never comes right out and names these people, but by the way he draws them, it is easy enough to figure out what he is up to.

Based on previous installments of this series, you may assume that Frank Miller would be very supportive of Ronald Reagan. After all, Batman is a stand in for a type of conservatism that, to paraphrase Whittaker Chambers, recognizes the reality of evil and fights it instead of smiling and waving at it (Chambers, Witness, 704). In a time when Reagan was constantly (and rightly) denouncing the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” while many on the Left did not want to hear it, a reader may easily think The Dark Knight Returns is thinly veiled pro-Reagan propaganda. When Reagan does show up approximately halfway through the book however, Miller paints him in a less than flattering light. In almost every appearance, Miller portrays Reagan as a doddering, uncaring fool, who throws American soldiers into Cold War conflicts for no particular reason.

Check out the previous installments in this series: Part 1, The Media, and Part 2, Law and Order

Making Gotham Great Again, Part 2: Law and Order

Considering Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns as a Mirror to Today’s Politics

In an interview with Comic Book Confidential in 1988, Frank Miller remarked that 1980s America was a “very frightening, silly place… it’s often silly and frightening at the same time and [he] hope[d] [The Dark Knight Returns] is silly and frightening at the same time.”

Editor’s Note: Click here for Part 1 of this ongoing series. Warning: spoilers in this and the previous installment.

You do not have to read very far in The Dark Knight Returns to realize that Miller can indeed illicit horror and laughs on the same page, if not in the same panel. Miller’s genius at combining these two seemingly contradictory responses lead to some intriguing commentary on criminality and society’s response to it. And like Miller’s satirical attacks on the media, his observations on modern America’s inability to seriously deal with crime make interesting parallels with the Trump era.

Making Gotham Great Again, Part 1: The Media

Considering Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns as a Mirror to Today’s Politics

To fans of comics, The Dark Knight Returns stands as one of the seminal works of the medium. Written and drawn by comics legend Frank Miller in 1986, the story revolves around an aging Batman coming out of retirement after an intolerable surge in Gotham’s crime. Known for its intense action, suspenseful plotting, and dark atmosphere, The Dark Knight Returns proved to mainstream audiences that comics could be more than cheap, disposable, kiddie fare, and could stand as its own as a serious form of entertainment and storytelling.

One distinctive aspect of the book is its sharp political satire. Miller takes aim at a bevy of institutions, from the police force, to politicians, to Ronald Reagan, to the media.

At first glance, Miller’s satirical remarks can be seen as the bloviations of an angry young man. Almost no one avoids his ire, and his statements can seem contradictory. On the one hand, he attacks the media as fake and soft on crime, so he sounds like a conservative. On the next page, however, he attacks Reagan as hollow and is critical of American actions in the Cold War, so he comes off as a liberal. Is there any real coherence to Miller’s attacks, or is he just flailing his arms around with no real positive political agenda?

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