Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Bent Bullet Theory & X-Men Days Of Future Past

Is this actually going to play a role in the film? Recall, if you will, Prometheus did something similar with the big pre-release that Guy Pearce did as the big-time business owner who had funded the space trip but not a second of that was in the film; it's an interesting way to launch viral videos, sure, but I think that's a rather sarcastic way of looking at it; these videos (the Prometheus and the Bent Bullet video) are really gold mines of character information; how? Well, the Guy Pearce character was important, but there wasn't much time to develop his character, so the viral video added important background information we would not have received otherwise; why is that important? It's the movie industry validating film as art, that they know these are characters who are contributing to cultural identities (no, not like people dressing up as them for Halloween, or buying the products from a marketing line) that their characters embody ideas, concepts and entities, that they are metaphors for people or ideas in our own day and age and the film makers want us to know that so they take the extra care and time to craft additional material to increase not only our enjoyment of the film--because, having taken the time to watch the video and read the articles at this new website, we then become the "informed reader," the one catching the references outside the strict "text" of the film's narrative being provided--but, even more importantly, to deepen our bond with the film and characters so we want to interact with the narrative on an ever-deeper level (we are given a taste of honey to make us want more). The film makers don't make money off these videos, this website and trailer are purely for us, the viewers, and the quality of our interaction with what will unfold in the film next year. Some cynical people might comment (as one all ready has) that this is purely to "cash in" on historical events," but the gravity of these events, and how they are still shaping the identity of this country and the political atmosphere, invite commentary, and because no money is being made from this video and webpage, we should take them as commentary, not marketing ploys.
One reader commented he thought this a shameless way for X-Men Days Of Future Past to make money and attention off the Kennedy assassination and found it terribly tacky; I couldn't disagree with him more. Rather than mocking or capitalizing on that terrible day fifty years ago, X-Men Days Of Future Past seems to be making an imperative statement about who Kennedy was and why his being killed was so terrible for the country; not everything in this video is what they want you to see, so we will discuss it below:
If you go to the full article written on the "Bent Bullet Theory" and Magneto, it's a rather long yet worthwhile article setting up an entire, somewhat "alternate" universe in which it's probably Mystique/Raven who killed Kennedy while Magneto was contained in his plastic cell. The question is, "Why are they telling us this?" and the biggest clue is contained in two details:
The bloody speech (below) supposedly removed from Kennedy's body.
The first detail is, according to film makers, the speech Kennedy was going to make before he was gunned down:
"My friends, and fellow citizens", he would have said, "America today is stronger than ever before. Our adversaries have not abandoned their ambitions. Our dangers have not diminished. Our vigilance cannot be relaxed. But now we have the strength to do whatever must be done to ensure the preservation of all our citizenry. A citizenry that is ever-changing, shaping the unique landscape of tomorrow's America. Now we can choose to accept that change and allow it to make us stronger. Or we can choose to be throttled by fear of the unfamiliar. I ask that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility. That we proudly accept these differences, be they of race, creed, or genetic background, that we may achieve in our time--and for all time--the ancient vision of 'peace on earth, good will toward men.' Toward all men and all women and all our magnificent and unique abilities."
The film makers remind us of the Civil Rights movement and the terrible "summer of hate" that engulfed America, and even Kennedy's visit to Dallas. When the first trailer for X-Men Days Of Future Past came out, we saw the posters featuring the "cross-over" of the older Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and the younger Xavier (James McAvoy). Why? The film makers want to drive home the point that every decision we make--even those in the deepest parts of our hearts--and every word we say, has consequences and shapes who we are today and tomorrow and who we are 20 years from now, us as private individuals and we as a country. What happened then has shaped who we are now: our troubles, our turmoil, the direction we are going and who our enemies are and how they are beating us. We never get "beyond" anything as a society, it always haunts us, but the past contains lessons from which we are also always learning (consider the 1964 stop-motion, Christmas time favorite, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: the Island of Misfit Toys is very much a metaphor for politically disenfranchised groups of people during the 1960s and how Rudolph--himself something of a "genetic mutant"--was able to help a white and polka-dot elephant because of his own rising in the ranks to Santa's team of reindeer; the story is as popular today as it was then, in large part because this is the story of America itself and why we have survived for as long as we have: we believe in the natural uniqueness of the individual and the role they have to play in society and history.
The second detail.
Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963; the date Magneto gave himself up and was formally charged by the FBI is, according to the mug shot picture above, February 2, 1964; why that date? On that day, the US Federal Government authorized the Twenty-Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution; what is the 24th Amendment you ask?
It's about taxation.
According to the website, these are the articles of impeachment that were going to be presented against Kennedy. Article 1 reads: 1) Betraying the Constitution (which he swore to uphold). He is turning the sovereignty of the U.S. over to the mutant-loving United Nations. I think this is going to play an important role in the film because Trask Industries has created Sentinels (robot soldiers) to hunt down and kill the mutants, so if Kennedy was really in a "Agenda 21" type arrangement with a mutant-loving United Nations, why would Trask be allowed to hunt them down? We don't know details, but these questions will enlighten our experience of watching the film and understanding the message film makers want to convey.  
In the past, the poll tax was a means for a government to tax the population based on the census, rather than an act (such as trade or purchasing certain goods), a person could be taxed because they were a person and the tax amount was fixed, regardless of income or social status; in the past, it was recognized as occasionally being used as a political weapon to keep minorities from voting: if you can't pay the poll tax, you can't vote. Why is this important? Well, we all ready saw a poll tax be the demise of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady (Meryl Streep) but this merely reflects that the biggest tax in the history of this country has gone into effect, Obamacare, and, in the Wall Street Journal in 2012, "historian and author Dr. Paul Moreno argued that the requirement of all Americans to purchase health insurance or face a penalty could be construed as a direct tax that must be apportioned and thus unconstitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts rejected this reasoning and this rationale was not cited in any dissenting Justice's opinions" (Wikipedia, Poll Tax).
I'm not the one bringing this up, Magneto is.
And the reporter.

Why on earth would Magneto, as he seems to contend, be there on the grassy knoll to save Kennedy, and--if he is Magneto--why couldn't he? Why wasn't Magneto able to control the bullet to divert it from Kennedy altogether, as the testimony of the little girl clearly states she saw him physically controlling the bullet? When I was an undergraduate, my professor of Old Testament studies passed on one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned: the Bible answers all of our questions, if it doesn't, then we are asking the wrong question. The Bent Bullet Theory is a far cry from Holy Scripture, however, they have gone to great lengths to create this alternate universe so if the questions we are asking don't have answers, they must want us to search for the questions they have provided answers to, namely: is Magneto hiding from Mystique (and others) rather than being imprisoned by humans? We know from the article that he surrendered, had a show trial, and has destroyed several prison cells, and the final one is so strong, if there were a nuclear war, "Only the cockroaches and this guy (Magneto) would survive," so why--as the most dangerous man in the world--go voluntarily into prison for a crime he didn't commit when he could easily be out and bringing Mystique to justice? In the trailer, at 1:52, Magneto (Fassbender) draws Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) towards him,... oh, I would so hate to be her in that moment! Does what we see in the film above, and what we read at the website, and then see in the trailer, does all this fit in? OR, is Magneto harboring some terrible, evil plot while in his cell? If the film makers wanted us to believe that, I don't think they would have included the bit about Magneto telling one of his guards to go to the infirmary (the guard had too much iron in his blood) and surely, Magneto could have used that to help himself, couldn't he? That was a pure act of altruism, someone condemned to two life sentences, telling the guard keeping him there that he's sick and needs medical help,... this is all a deeper characterization for Magneto that we will be privy to going into the film and our knowledge will be rewarded, I am sure! By the way, the outfit Magneto wears in this shot is the same outfit he wears in at least two scenes in the trailer (posted at the end). The gray of his overcoat and neck scarf (like the one Gerry Lane [Brad Pitt] wears in World War Z?) suggests one of two possibilities: gray is the color of ashes, which pilgrims would wear as a sign of penance; is Magneto doing penance for his crime or a crime he aided (this fits another Ian McKellen character, Gandalf the Gray, from The Hobbit, who does symbolize the pilgrim)? On the other hand, gray is also the color of the novice, as the life the novice has left behind has been burned to ashes before starting their new life (in whatever vocation they are entering) so are we to somehow view Magneto as a kind of pilgrim in some way? The blue shirt Magneto wears suggests wisdom and depression, that he is going to be making some kind of "act of penance," possibly at the cost of Mystique (we will discuss why she is blue later because she is her own philosophical dilemma) in order to end a war before it starts. 
How is the reporter brining it up?
In the article at the Bent Bullet Theory, part of the web of conspiracy created by "the real JFK killer" (Mystique) is that Jack Ruby was injected with cancer cells in Parkland hospital (please recall, a film called Parkland about Kennedy's assassination has just been released) after shooting Oswald, and Ruby, Oswald and Kennedy all died at Parkland hospital. (PLEASE remember, this is a universe the film makers have gone to considerable trouble and expense to create in addition to X-Men Days Of Future Past; they are not saying there was actually a shape-shifter, this is all METAPHOR to express something that has to be expressed in today's society but can only be expressed through art; just so know one thinks I believe this stuff, this is just for the film). 
A normal bullet and the "bent bullet." The website makes a point of Magneto's hurried trial and how he was convicted upon circumstantial evidence. Why? Well, we have to admit, it certainly makes the government look bad, and Democrat president, Lyndon B Johnson, who called Magneto, "The most dangerous man in the world."  
Why should we care about all this?
What's the point?
Is this all an elaborate anti-Obamacare ploy? It could be, however, I think there is going to be a far greater political and cultural commentary offered by the film and the Bent Bullet Theory is a springboard for that. At least part of the purpose of all this is, is to create a violent conflict in the dichotomy between chaos theory and "evolutionary" theory. When we think of the mutants in the X-Men series, we tend to think of evolution (as roughly conceived by Darwin and mutilated at will by modern scientists still trying to make the unworkable work) and some kind of general "survival of the fittest" scenario when we mere humans are not the fittest. Chaos theory, on the other hand, deals with details--the tiny and insignificant is its area of expertise--and how details effect the larger picture (think of, roughly, the butterfly effect). So, what the Bent Bullet Theory presents us, is a tiny bullet on one hand, and a superior being to all other beings (Magneto) on the other; comparing this is like apples and oranges,.... or is it?
A scene like this, of the powerful Magneto being powerless and inactive, has to make us question what is going on. Has Magneto being imprisoned actually limited the harm and danger Mystique can accomplish by not having Magneto to blame for it? I did find a note from a commentator who said that, if Magneto has been in prison all this time, that meant the events of X-Men the Last Stand didn't take place. Again, the film makers promised us that any and all "inconsistencies" would be reconciled and put aright by Days Of Future Past. I can't help but think of another Fassbender film, Prometheus, when he plays a robot, David, but should we also consider Kahn (Benedict Cumberbatch) from Star Trek Into Darkness? Kahn was a human-created superior human, whereas Magneto naturally had the x-gene causing his powers. 
Honestly, we can't know until the film comes out, or until more teasers have been released, however, I think we have to think in terms of the very big and the very small and asking these questions now provides our minds with the critical thinking which will allow us to pick up on details later that we might have overlooked otherwise; to be perfectly honest with you, I think this film is going to reach to the greatest heights of art--philosophy and theology--and every second we spend thinking about the metaphor they are going to present to us will be well rewarded.
We see this painting (Liberty Leading the People by French artist Eugene Delacroix) in the trailer (at about 1:03, re-posted at the very end of this post) which Magneto (Fassbender) stands in front of while firing a gun. In the trailer, however, the little boy on the Liberty's left side holding the guns, has been moved to her right side, where a person looks up to her from their knees. Why? This is one of those paintings that is so famous, you learn about it in Modern Art Hist 101, being a celebration of the French Revolution. Having "inverted" the painting's formal arrangement begs the question: are we supposed to "invert" the film as well? Magneto wears the same outfit in this scene as he does in the black and white photo still of him above on the grassy knoll, supposedly when he's killing Kennedy. In the trailer, he holds a gun, just as the young boy behind him in the painting holds the gun. In the trailer, given that Magneto doesn't need a gun, just a bullet--or anything metal, for that matter--why does he bother to shoot a gun? To tie him in with the painting which is going to act as commentary on this scene and the events surrounding it. So, when we watch the film and that scene comes up, we know what to be looking for. 
What we can say, with absolute certainty, between the first trailer released of the upcoming film and this Bent Bullet Theory information provided to us, is that extreme emphasis is being placed upon the individual. Free will and consequences are themes we have seen in films, from Man Of Steel to Beasts Of the Southern Wild, Monsters University to Iron Man 3, and they are themes which are wholly incompatible with socialism (socialists contend that humans are animals not capable of making their own decisions, and--lacking free will--are too easily manipulated by advertisers and society, so they have to be indoctrinated in socialism to then start making decisions for the good of the state (read: self-sacrifice, like the sacrifice of the contestants in the arena of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire). But free will is one of those characteristics separating the human from the non-human, a theme which will be important in the upcoming film:
Fifty years ago was the assassination of Kennedy, and the question is, knowing that Trask is the manufacturer of the materials used in Magneto's cell, are they--like the artificial constraint used on Wolverine's heart (Hugh Jackman) in Wolverine--a means for artificially maintaining that which should not be maintained? The Bent Bullet Theory, above all, qualifies as a "conspiracy theory," and will probably make us question if other "conspiracy theories" are also just conspiracy theories.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner