Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Men In Black III & the Victory Of the Cold War

1969.
It was a make-or-break year for America, a year when we would either win the Space Race against the Soviet Union (then Communist) or lose it, and possibly lose everything else, too, because if we had lost the race to the moon--an important plot sequence in the film--the Soviets would have been in a dominant position to potentially invade America and start the push towards socialism that Men In Black III makes us fully aware of by highlighting the socialist invasion we are dealing with today. As the credits song at the end reminds us this Memorial Day weekend, "To understand the future we have to go back in time," and that's exactly what films such as The Avengers, Battleship and The Chernobyl Diaries are chiming in as well.
In many ways--if not all of them--the audience is asked to identify with Agent J (Will Smith) because there are things going on in the film that we might not understand unless someone explains it to us, for example, Agent O (Emma Thompson) gives a eulogy about Zed and talks in a high-pitched, fast, alien dialect that is in-comprehensible; once more, dear readers, this is a perfect example of "noise" as an artistic medium to alert us the viewers that something is going to be said that we aren't entirely going to be able to understand, but they are going to say it anyway; why? Why bother if we aren't going to understand? Because just like Agent J finally coming to realize why his father couldn't be there for him as a child, we will come to realize what the film is trying to say, even if it isn't immediately accessible to us right now, it will be at a later time when we can use it for a greater purpose.
When the film first opens, we see a pair of women's black boots walking, and a highly done up woman carrying a pink birthday cake; we find out that "Boris the Animal" has been locked up for 40 years and his girlfriend has brought him the cake; we also discover that Boris has only one arm. Feet, as we know, symbolize the will because feet take us where we need to go just as our will directs where we want to go, so that Boris' girlfriend (as she is officially called) has her feet in black shoes, zipped up tight and Boris' name tattooed on her back, we know she is completely devoted to him and getting him out of the moon-based prison. The question is, who is this woman, really? And the answer depends upon who Boris the Animal is really.
The two guards behind her do a scan to insure there's "nothing inside the cake" and the guard says, "She's clean, well, not clean, you know" and laughs as we can be certain that something is certainly "dirty" about her. The way she is dressed suggests that she is an alien prostitute (or worse). Because Boris comes from the extinct Boglodite race, and the guards make it clear that Boris' visit from his girlfriend is not a conjugal visit, we can deduce that she is there to beget a child with Boris, i.e., the "child" of a new future in which the Boglodites take over the earth as originally intended, just as socialism/communism always intended to take over the US. The cake she carries, while it registers as 99% organic hides something evil; is there something in the US today that looks like a gift (entitlement programs, free birth control) but is actually hiding evil (increasing government dependency/control)? Boris' girlfriend is anyone "helping to free" socialism from the stigmas of failure and corruption in which history and experience has imprisoned it.
Seeing that Boris the Animal has only one arm, and hasn't had a visitor in 40 years, we are tempted to ask, what happened 40 years ago? In 1972, American chess player Bobby Fischer defeated Soviet champion "Boris" Spassky  to become the first US World Champion Chess player. Arms symbolize strength, and Boris the Animal losing his arm invokes that loss of prestige. Later in the film, Boris will attack Agent J, Agent J will go back in time to re-do the sequence, and come back to re-do the encounter with Boris; because Agent J uses a "creative interpretation" of the possibilities of time travel, he can use it to his advantage, which is what game theory is all about. Like Bobby Fischer, Agent J has the "better moves" that kills his opponent and we ourselves need to remember "moves" because we are in the exact same political battle this year that MIB3 illustrates for us in the film.
Because he has lost his strength (his arm) Boris requires a second person--an assistant-- to help him escape, that he can then easily discard (Boris lets his "girlfriend" slip out into outer space and death once he's finished with her). Boris does this with Obadiah, one of the prisoners who gave him the secrets to time travel in exchange for Boris helping him escape; Boris kills him instead. This is the first of four references to Iron Man, because Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) had Obadiah (Jeff Bridges) as a leader in his company who betrayed him, just as Obadiah in MIB3 betrays humanity by helping Boris the Boglodite escape to destroy the earth. Obadiah was an Old Testament prophet whose name meant "servant of Yahweh" and is used to name these two characters (from Iron Man and MIB3) to denote who they did not serve.
Throughout the film, Boris the Animal keeps saying, "Let's agree to disagree." Why? It's a disguise, essentially positing that two differing modes of thoughts can exist simultaneously. When Agent J kills Boris the Animal (repeating this line back to Boris who has said it all throughout the film), it's clear that what Boris stands for and what Agent J fights and sacrifices for, are mutually exclusive, only one of them can exist, and we have to remember that, because either the traditional American way will prevail in this country, or the new socialist threat invading our government will prevail and we have to decide which it will be.
To finish killing off the guards preventing him from getting out of his prison on the moon (rather like Lockout with Guy Pearce released earlier this year) Boris says, "Let's open a window" and, blasting a hole into the prison walls directly into outer space, all the guards get sucked out, including Boris' girlfriend (pictured above). Why is this important? Just as Boris' eyes are always covered in dark glasses, and everything getting sucked out the "window," Boris/socialism is incapable of reflecting. The eyes and windows are both symbolic of the soul's ability to mediate upon itself, and Boris mis-uses the window to get rid of his opponents and keeps his eyes covered so he doesn't have to see himself. Later, when the future Boris meets up with the past Boris, they get into an argument and nearly kill each other, and that's an effective symbol of the brand of socialism today meeting up with the socialism of the Soviet-era. Like the aliens (symbolic of socialists) in Battleship, Boris has human features, but he's clearly an animal, meant to alert us to the distinction between looking like a human and being a human (we see this again with Wu the restaurant owner).  The distinction is important because we are being tricked into the government's policies that look like they are supposed to help the country, but are in fact disabling the economy.
MIB3 is clearly saying, we can't--on the political level--just say that socialists and capitalists disagree, we can't just lock up Boris the Animal again like Agent K did in 1969; Boris the Animal has to be killed, just like socialism, and regardless of some people thinking it's just a matter of taste, thought or orientation, MIB3 is saying that Boris the Animal--and what he symbolizes--is as much a genuine threat to the life of this country as to the life of Agent K himself, and it's not sufficient to just cut of his arm and disable his strength; he (socialism) must be completely killed, terminated, destroyed. When Boris goes back in time to kill Agent K, that is socialism today going back trying to re-write history but we, like Agent J, have to be ready to protect and defend what we love and believe in.
Isn't this an interesting pose? Who else do we see striking this position with a weapon coming out of his hand that is a part of his body? Iron Man.Why would film makers of Men In Black III want to invoke Iron Man II? Because Tony Stark confronted another Russian threat in that film, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke), the second of four references to Iron Man. It's imperative that, unlike Sir Roger Moore 007-James Bond days, Russians are not the enemy being invoked in these films, rather communism/socialism is the enemy dressed in the Soviet-era guise that many in the audience will recognize (the same is done with the recently released The Raven with John Cusack: Edgar Allan Poe's villain is named Ivan, a common Russian name, who invokes a communist threat in that film). In MIB3, Boris has a scorpion/crawdad-like animal that stays in his hand, but can dislodge and cause havoc as well as Boris being able to release darts to kill his enemies. Would you rather have Iron Man's arc-reactor power coming out of your hand, or that gross animal? The difference in the weapons is a way of drawing upon the differences between what the Soviet-era "accomplished" and what the MIB3 and Iron Man 2 both have arcs (the third of four references): MIB3 has an "arc shield" that protects the earth from invasion--much like Ronald Reagan's Star Wars program from the 1980s--and Iron Man of course has the arc reactor which is the source of Tony's power that stabilizes his heart. Both of these "arcs" are also "arks," that is,capitalism is a vehicle (like the boat of Noah's ark) that both takes us where we need to be in terms of technological advancements and protects us from the kind of destruction experienced by Soviet-era socialism/communism. The comparison to Iron Man's technology and Boris' demonstrates--like The Chernobyl Diaries--the lack of technological advancement characteristic of socialist/communist states.
In a similar, substantiating vein is Wu's Chinese Restaurant.
Agents K and J get a call that "intestinal worms" have been showing up in customers' stomachs, so they go to investigate and Wu tells the two agents that if they arrest him, since he's Chinese, it's a hate crime, but Wu isn't Chinese, he's an alien, and he's an alien because he's a communist and Wu's throwing out at them the US law to protect himself from a "hate crime" is typical of liberal thought in the US and is used by socialists to counter arguments from conservatives against socialism (they don't actually argue for socialism, they argue against capitalism).
Wu on the far left and Agent K holding up an alien fish being served to earth people. Agent K is especially upset about this particular fish because he knows from experience that it's a favorite of Boris the Animal's. As in The Dictator, released just last week, the Chinese presence invokes an alien/communist presence and Wu's willingness to help Boris in MIB 3 means the film makers want to alert the audience to the Chinese willingness to take over the US via our debt they keep buying up and Congress keeps racking up, as mentioned in The Dictator. That Agent K is able to sense Boris the Animal's presence because of the food being served means that Boris is a man of appetites (as if looking at his all-molar smile didn't all ready tell us that) and that he is a Boglodite, a rogue race that eats up other planets. This is the dominant trait by which we can understand Boris being symbolic of socialism/communism: he eats up everything, because that was the agenda for socialism, take over every country. Last summer, I posted on the bubblegum pop song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, and how it's lyrics revealed the difficult position of the United States fighting the war in Vietnam, which and the Eisenhower's view of the domino effect of socialism, one socialist government causing its neighboring country to become socialist, etc., if you would like to read more on it there (please see Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini & the Vietnam War for more).
The "intestinal worms" which Wu's customers have been infected comes from the alien doctrine some people have been "eating up" about the "good" of socialism/communism and which they can't stomach. When Agent K rips off Wu's "skirt" and reveals his alien body underneath, it's the film makers ripping off the facade of Chinese communism to reveal the alien body of doctrine to US voters. This is also the fourth of four references to Iron Man, Iron Man 3 (to be released May 2013): Tony Stark will be going to China to battle Mandarin, his fiercest foe yet. It's not that the Chinese themselves are an enemy, but the socialism/communism we are slowly being fed in the US just as Wu replaces earth fish with alien fish.
One of the alien fish at Wu's Restaurant he's been serving earth people. Again, just as in Battleship and Boris the Animal, the alien has human "features," just as socialism has "acceptable features" but it's really alien. There's another film MIB 3 references through Agent J going to the Roosevelt Hotel, named for President "Teddy" Roosevelt and that film is Man On a Ledge, because it was on the ledge of the Roosevelt that Sam Worthington's character threatened to jump to his death. Just as Roosevelt's views and policies meant to make the American Dream available for a greater number of Americans, he also intended America--specifically the Navy, as in Battleship--to be a world power, which is probably the point of Agent J going to it because if America had not been a world power post WWII, we would have been unable (or at least seriously hindered) to stop communism.
There is an interesting facet of "alien-ness" discussed in the film: models.
When Agents K (Josh Brolin) and J go to Andy Warhol's (Bill Hader) Factory (his art studio) they discover that all models are aliens, and that's pretty accurate, because the way the women treat their bodies is alien to how women are meant to treat their bodies. This also adds an interesting twist on interpreting Warhol's pop art, which was a commentary on how products had become so integral to the daily lives of Americans; now, in MIB 3, the suggestion that Warhol is one of the agents, and the agency has been telling "Warhol" what to paint, recasts the pictures of soup cans and money as those products being available to Americans when they weren't to the rest of the world, and reminding Americans of the high standard of living we enjoy compared to other parts of the world, i.e., those being taken over by socialism.
In the film and in the trailer above, there is an interesting reference to another film being invoked from 1967, In the Heat Of the Night with the great Sidney Poitier. In MIB 3, after "Warhol" calls Agent J dumb ass, Agent J responds that he doesn't have a problem with "pimp-slapping the schznick out of Andy Warhol" and Warhol responds, "What?" Just as Warhol doesn't understand the slang (noise to him) being employed by Agent J, so many audience members won't understand the reference to the film In the Heat Of the Night when officer Virgil Tibbs (Poitier) slaps a prominent member of the Mississippi community.
It's at Warhol's Factory (another reference akin to The Raven's tying the production of art to capitalism, I mean, how many great socialist/communist artists can you name?) that Agents J and K meet up with the most interesting character of the film, Griffin, from one of the planets devoured by the Blogodites (Boris the Animal's alien race) and Griffin wants to help save the world from his planet's fate. He has a unique gift: Griffin can see the future, and not only the future, but all the possible combinations of the future based on different ways that we chose to act on our free will. For example, if K forgets to leave a tip, an asteroid hits the earth.
Agent K in 1969 (Josh Brolin) and Griffin with the green jacket and hat.
Griffin symbolizes an important and culture-shattering aspect of MIB 3 that is also invoked in The Avengers: Chaos theory. Why is this important? Well, chaos as a theory proper completely undermines the understanding of various theories of evolution (Darwinism). Whereas evolution generally states that a species does what they have to in order to survive, and that the strongest or most adaptable survive, Griffin's ability to put the future in terms of people's choice and free will, in terms of this or that happening, reflects what popular culture knows as the Butterfly Effect (please, don't accuse me of dumbing these scientific theories down; MIB 3 knows it has a general lay audience that it is presenting this to, not a committee of paleontologists). Griffin shares this chaos tendency with another major character this summer, Clint Barton, i.e., Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) from The Avengers.
Griffin opens a "window" into history (the opposite of Boris opening the window into outer space) to show Agents K and J the "miracle Mets game" when they were behind all season and then everything worked out perfectly for them to win it all. The continuous reference to "miracle" does not make Griffin a god figure, it's intended to make us god figures, that everything we do with our free will either is for the good of humanity or the destruction of humanity, one decision at a time. Just like Griffin, each of us is given a gift to use for our own good and the good of others, and when we use our gifts for good, we follow God and become as Christ commanded us to become, "Perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" because our wills are aimed at the goal of love, not self aggrandisement. Griffin shows them the game to increase their faith, because when their faith is increased, they will be able to have a greater commitment to what they need to do to fulfill their mission. This increase of faith is why Agent J is able to see his father dying and not--as he did with Boris--go back in time and be there to deflect the bullet or warn him, but understand the sacrifice and the burden that Agent K would carry as a result. As mentioned above in the (possible) invocation of the famous Bobby vs Boris chess match, the Mets game adds another dimension to the level of game theory being summoned by the film to remind us the viewers of the victory--and all the other victories--that were achieved in this film against socialism/communism so we don't become enticed into believing false accounts of history and, hence, reality, that would make it look as if socialism is really the winning form of government when it's not.
I had wanted to discuss this in my post on The Avengers, but couldn't really decide how it fit in, so just left it out, until I saw Griffin and then I understood a larger trend that both of them signify. Remember in The Avengers how Hawkeye seriously over-aims his target with his arrows, releases his arrow and the target flies right into the path of the arrow, making a direct hit? That's an application of a branch of chaos theory discovered during World War II, that bullets being aimed by anti-aircraft guns on the ground weren't hitting their targets in the air because wind speed and direction, the plane's speed, the gunner's quickness on the trigger, etc., all were variables contributing to a bullet's success in hitting the target in the sky (I know this seems like common sense today, but it had to be discovered in World War II). Why is this important? Like Griffin's (basic) application of the Butterfly Effect, Hawkeye's tracking system are trends of supporting a chaotic universe which undermines the (Darwinist) evolutionary universe which is an atheist universe.
How can I prove this?
Well, in the beginning of the film (included in the trailer above), Agent J "flashes" a group of people to erase their memory of what they had just seen and tells them about their kid winning the gold fish at school and then it was flushed down the toilet and the giant fish being hauled off in the background was the flushed gold fish "evolved" into that creature. That "evolutionary" understanding of the universe is how the film begins, but because of the character of Griffin, and Agent J's own conversion to understanding what happened to his father and American history, the battle is won by a chaotic universe instead of the evolutionary one; why is that important?
Note, please, that in the vicinity of Wu's restaurant, all these people are of Asian descent, where socialist/communist countries are most prevalent. Agent J flashing them and then telling a story to them (as they have no expression on their face or emotional interaction with him) provides an accurate depiction of the government telling people something--specifically about evolutionary process--and people just accepting it. Are we going to be like this?
Socialist and communist governments (to say the very least) discourage religion (they usually prohibit religion and persecute those practicing any religion) because when the state is in total control of the government and the allocation of resources, it wants to be able to decide who should get what and make people do what they want them to do instead of citizens being able to site their "conscious" as a reason for not following the state's mandate (the forced issue of Catholic employers paying for birth control and abortions is the perfect case in point).
Boris the Animal on his motorcycle. Please note how the mechanical object--the motorcycle--is made to have an organic feel about it, the shape and the "scales", the slithering aspect on the handle bars. Like the animal living inside his hand, his motorcycle becomes a part of him because that's what he needs for power, in other words, in his quest to control and dominate others, he sacrifices his won being, making his motorcycle a part of himself by making it organic and making himself like a monster in letting his hand be a home to that scorpion creature. The greater power Boris tries to have, the less of himself he is because he has to sacrifice more and more of himself to get that power, like sacrificing his arm. When K "takes off" Boris' arm, he doesn't slice it off or shot it off, he freezes it off, because that's a reference to the Cold War and the Soviet Union's strength that was lost when we won the race to space.
Socialist and communists advocate, therefore, the evolutionary universe as the proper paradigm, instead of a religious understanding of creation, because evolution leaves no room for a person's soul (we evolved from apes, not the image of God, and apes don't have souls) or God's role in the development of humanity. When we came from animals, we can be treated like animals; if we came from God, we have to be treated like God's children, and socialism doesn't like that. By undermining an evolutionary universe, MIB 3 weakens another weapon of socialism so it can regenerate itself and spread once more.
Agent K (Josh Brolin) and Agent O (Alice Eve, The Raven, playing the younger version of Emma Thompson's Agent O) strapping K into a jet pack suit because they have to get to Cape Canaveral for the Apollo launch and this is the only way to do it in 1969. Agent J makes an interesting statement, that if jet packs were safe, they would have them in the future, and from a capitalist angle, that makes sense. The two agents arrive in Florida without any difficulty, bringing us to a quandary if we look at things solely from a (strict) evolutionary process: why weren't jet packs developed as a dominant mode of transportation? In a chaotic universe, sense can be made of this, that it really posed serious damage except in extreme circumstances to not use them, so they weren't developed for mass production (I am just putting this line of thought out as an example to use), and this simple moment of the film shores up one more aspect against evolutionary perspectives, especially in a region (the economy) where most of us expect to see it and don't have any problems with understanding it as a useful paradigm in that region.
It's not that a chaotic universe includes God, but it doesn't exclude God the way evolutionary processes do (the attempt to explain how man came to be without God). The possibility of understanding a better scientific approach to the creation of the universe (even before I became a Catholic, I never subscribed to any of the camps of Darwin's thought) compatible with America's long held religious affiliations and capitalist program enhances the victory of the Cold War over socialism/communism that those ideologies "alien" to what America has been founded upon and is built upon will always win for individuals and the greater good.
Agent K (Brolin) has decided to put Agent J into a big mind flash "thing" (to erase his entire memory) because Agent J won't tell K why he's there and what he's doing. J is ready to scream out everything he knows for fear of what K is going to do. Are we being put in a similar device today to have our minds and memories erased of what has happened throughout American history? Who benefits, today, from re-writing our history?
In conclusion, Men In Black III, centering the plot around the Apollo launching of putting a man on the moon, intentionally means to remind Americans of who we are and why we are, the victories that we have won and the enemies we have fought against; the story means to teach us that history is a part of us and nothing was accidental and, by knowing our history, we can protect ourselves today, and our future tomorrow.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner
"Do you have these in the future?" Agent K asks J and no, we don't, and while they work efficiently well (and look totally cool) Men In Black III offers another example of how even our economy doesn't work along the strict likes of "social Darwinism" as it is often called (the survival of the fittest/the best) rather, there is more of a story to why or why not something doesn't get developed, like the faulty baseball that is thrown during the "miracle" Mets game, which had to do more with the tanner's wife than a great hit or throw. This is the human element in history, and an element that we can never forget.