Friday, May 5, 2017

"We Are Groot": Guardians Of the Galaxy Vol 1

Music is the voice of a culture, it's the artistry and the way a culture illustrates its elegance,... or lack thereof. It's quite interesting that GOTG would use cassette tapes for their soundtrack, because they were analog systems (we have also seen the use of analog in Pacific Rim and John Wick Chapter II, which has the advantage that it can't be hacked or put under surveillance). But there is also something else about it that is, to me, disturbing: it's a huge step backwards in technology. I don't want to be a Debbie Downer, however, we know that socialists don't like technology because technology thrives in an open market: demands by consumers drive the need to create better and cheaper technology at a break-neck pace. By getting rid of technology, socialists can also seriously cripple the need for the free-market, which is a main reason that "progressives" support destroying roads, cars, and technology in general, and going back to Little House On the Prairie days. There's nothing wrong with nostalgia, and I certainly have some cassette tapes left of mine that have fond memories (but now that I think about it, I don't think I have a cassette player anymore), but in general, this is definitely a step back and there is a reason for it.
Guardians Of the Galaxy Vol II comes out this weekend, and since I never got the review up for Vol I, I guessed this would be a good time to do it. I'm glad I watched it again, because it reminds me of two things: one, how naive I am, and two, how slimy and under-handed and confused so many socialists are. I'm not going to say that Guardians Of the Galaxy Vol 1 (hereafter GOTG or GOTG II) is a pro-socialist film, but I will highlight some of the scenes and issues which lend themselves to a pro-socialist reading and why it's so difficult to determine exactly which way GOTG wants to go, and why that's so problematic. (UPDATE: I have now seen GOTG II and can definitely say that this IS pro-socialist, so when I am being humble and confessing I might be wrong, I now have evidence that I was right, so please keep that in mind as you read the rest of the post. Thank you!).
Let's begin with Peter Quill's mom.
So, when we first see adult Peter Quill, he wears this mask, and a mask is important because it reveals rather than conceals. For example, we can see "exaggerated" features of Peter's that the film makers want to highlight in the character through this mask, which might be lost otherwise. The most notable feature are the large, red eyes. We know that the color red symbolizes love or wrath, because red is the color of blood: either we love someone enough to spill our red blood for them, or we hate them enough to spill their red blood to appease our anger. In the case of Peter, I think this is anger about the death of his mom, then being thrown in with a load of criminals and, basically, being abandoned. The rest of the mask is mechanical, a machine; when Peter is in prison, he lifts his finger up to give the prison wards the "bird," and apologizes, saying, "I didn't know how this machine worked," referring to his hand as a machine, and--when we don't want to deal with emotions we turn them off and bury them, treating ourselves like a machine, which is probably what Peter (and the rest of the Guardians) have done. Let's not forget the backdrop to Morag, the planet of acid rain, where we first see grown-up Peter. A landscape often serves as a detailed commentary on the inner-scape of the character: when there is life and abundance in the landscape, there is life and abundance within the character; when there is desolation and a loss of life, there is desolation and loss of life within the character, and that is exactly what we see in Peter.
On a very different note, when we see Morag, Peter uses some kind of an instrument to make visible an entire city and population we didn't see before; why? That "scratching of the surface" is a encoding device, that is, it's meant to invite us to do the same: just as there is a whole world living just beneath the surface of Morag, so, too, there is a whole world of messages and symbols beneath the surface of the film, and just as Peter navigates his way through to get to the prize (the orb with the Infinity Stone within it) so, too, must we the audience navigate the scenes and narrative to find our prize.
After Xandar, when Peter has run into Gamora, Groot and Rocket, and they have all been taken to prison, Peter's things have been impounded and this guard (in the bottom image) uses Peter's walkman to listen to his Awesome Mix Vol 1. Why is this important? When a "minor" character takes up something belonging to the main character (clothing, language, hairstyle, etc.) that minor character has been introduced to provide for us a commentary upon the main character, in this case, this prison guard. Even though he doesn't look anything like Peter, he is more "humanoid" than Peter was at the start of the film when Peter wore the mask, meaning, that in the short time that Peter, Gamora, Groot and Rocket have been together, Peter has all ready begun to normalize and humanize himself and his emotions (granted, not much, but he's getting better than he was at the start of the film). Why are space creatures seemingly always blue? Blue is the color of depression, and for humans to be depressed is "alien" to us: we have everything, so why on earth are we depressed? But we are depressed, and we have a terrible time working our way out it. 
First, she has cancer and is dying. We also encountered another mother with cancer in the (exceedingly anti-American) film The Help (Emma Stone, Viola Davis; please see The Help: Of Chocolate Pies for more). Peter's mom, as usual, symbolizes "the motherland," the land which gave birth to him, so that she has cancer and is dying mirrors how the film makers believed that in 1988, when she dies, America was also dying; the question is, why? (This is even more important when you realize that this start to the film isn't like the original Peter Quill biography at all, so this was specifically written for our day and time).
Why yellow? Yellow is the color of our dignity, it's the color of gold and of kingship (it is associated with cowardice because we are called to act like kings, and when we don't, it's particularly disappointing). So, why do they wear yellow prison uniforms? Just before they get into those uniforms, they are washed, with some massive red liquid stuff. The red is meant to symbolize their anger, not that they are going to be washed with more anger, rather, they will have their anger washed from them with the love they will find with each other (the first friends any of them have ever had). THEN, they put on the yellow, because, after they realize they have friends, and they accept the dignity of their friends (each other) and that the others protect their own dignity (mutually reciprocal relationships) then they can become the Guardians of the Galaxy and protect the dignity of millions, even hundreds of millions of others. But until they accept their own dignity, they probably aren't going to care about anyone else. So, it all starts here, in prison. Why? Because each one of them is in a prison they themselves have built, each one involving their rage and the loss(es) they have experienced. THIS is going to take on particular significance because, in GOTG VII, there are all those women made of gold (Elizabeth Debecki, The Man From UNCLE) so we will probably have something like the "false dignity" (a person with no fear, no jealousy, no bad anything that has been expunged from their being so they can't choose good even though they may want to be bad) vs the natural dignity of people who sometimes mess up, but sometimes also get it right. At least when it matters.
What about Rocket? Why does he have Peter get that prosthetic leg from that other prisoner, then later, want someone else's prosthetic eye? Because Rocket, being the result of an illegal genetics experiment, probably feels like he himself is made up "of parts and pieces," but also because Rocket probably doesn't want to be "Rocket" (which is a machine, like Peter, as we discussed above) but wants to be human or at least humanoid, and in collecting prosthetics, he might be able to become human.
What about Drax? Nudity, and Drax is "nude" since his whole upper-body is exposed, symbolizes "exposure," that is, Drax's emotions, thoughts, etc., are all "exposed," and he does a really bad job at hiding anything. His body is green with red lining; why? Either Drax can be the really rotten Drax the Destroyer, or he can be the sweet, simple and loving Drax our Friend who stays with us and helps us fight all of our battles (like comforting Rocket after the death of Groot). The red linings on his body illustrate (literally) how he can either be a vehicle of rage (like killing Ronan and then wanting to kill Thanos) or a vehicle of love (the gentleness that Drax has in a surprising huge capacity). Why can't Drax get metaphors? I think it comes down to truthfulness: there is an aspect of metaphors which "drop" the truth, call it, "Lost in translation," and Drax is incredibly truthful, and that means not leaving anything out of the truth whatsoever.
Gamora. We have seen a number of men enter romantic relationships with alien women lately: consider Garona and Lothar in Warcraft, or Rick Flag and Enchantress in Suicide Squad because women have largely become "alien" to men. Women are closer to resembling men today than they do women of the 1950s, even though men haven't changed nearly as much, if at all. 
This is the problem: if you are a capitalist and love democracy, then 1988 was an AWESOME year to be alive: Ronald Reagan was still president, the Soviet Union was beginning the economic reforms (perestroika) which would lead to the total dissolution of the communist strong-hold, and the internet took a big, intercontinental step to actually becoming the "world" in the "world wide web." So, why would the film makers believe America was "dying" in spite of all this?
That's the problem.
Ronan actually isn't a very good villain: we really don't know what his purpose is, other than to kill Xandar in retaliation for a thousand years of war waged against his father and grand father. Meh, that is kind of thin. My biggest concern is, at the end, when Ronan is just about to touch the surface of the planet with the stone, and Peter starts dancing to distract him; why is this a concern? I probably wouldn't have thought much about it, except Despicable Me 3 did for me. At 1:40 in this trailer for Despicable Me 3,Bratt challenges Gru to a "dance fight," and that is basically what Peter does with Ronan (yes, he is distracting Ronan, as we see Thor do in The Avengers 2: Age Of Ultron when Vision comes with Thor's hammer to pound Ultron, but that's a very  different scene, isn't it, from how this plays out with Ronan and Peter: Peter letting the "vermin" Rocket do his work for him; then, of course, we have the reference to The Secret Life Of Pets, and Snowball yells, "That raccoon is not the president!" and then collapses; Rocket has a lot of issues, but I don't particularly want to compare him to Obama (please see Flushed Pets: The Secret Life Of Pets for more). To me, Ronan makes a great candidate for a socialist figure, because he's so crazy, that is what socialism and its adherents are like, but I just don't see enough to link him to that (he's not a grounded enough villain, and someone else could easily take him and turn him into a Christian, or a Capitalist, or anything they wanted, so he's a very vague character). 
If they aren't capitalists, then they would be upset because it's really the Soviet Union that was dying, and they would take it out on America if they were socialists, ripped to pieces to see that the USSR had lost the Cold War, so they would "get back" at capitalism, Reagan and America, by giving the "mother land" cancer and snatching away her son, i.e., Peter Quill who would symbolize the future. This leads us to our second point: Peter's father.
This is that head of a giant alien that is being mined for all its valuable resources by criminals. Know who that sounds like? China. "Send in the criminals to do the work, that way, we don't have to pay them," but we also know that in this head there are no regulations and anything can go, so this suspension of the law, with capitalism (the mining operation) is a deliberate set-up to make capitalism look like a criminal activity. There is, however, a subtle play of genius that makes this much easier to swallow. "Mining" is usually a term meaning self-discovery or self-exploration (consider, for examples, the 7 Dwarfs in the story of Snow White: she encounters the dwarfs because Snow White herself needs to do mining of who she is and what she wants out of life, and when we dig through all the bad stuff within ourselves, we come up with the beautiful gems making up who we really are). Additionally, just about every single scene of the film is propelled by money. Peter goes after the orb to score the take for it, then Gamora goes after the orb to sell it to The Collector, and Rocket gets involved because of the bounty put on Peter's head. We can even look at Drax and his revenge-drive as being a form of "exchange" because he wants to exchange Ronan's blood for that of his wife's and daughter's.
"Ego" (Kurt Russell) is also known as "The Living Planet" in the film (oh, yes, he's name is "Ego") and we might see the "living planet" thing actually be a environmental platform. So, here's the thing: I believe in being a good steward of the environment as much as anyone else: no one wants to see rivers of neon green toxic waste running through naked woods full of trash and dead, rotted animals. No one wants that. What's important, however, is that we don't swallow a liberal-agenda propaganda piece because once they get an untruthful narrative about the environment in, they will promptly use that to enforce regulations and codes that will drive privates businesses out of business so only the government can afford to "own" a business, and it will. That's what is at stake with the Left and their "global warming claims."
What about Groot? On the one hand, "I am Groot," is just about as self-centered as you can get: basically, that's all ANY of us say because we can only speak from our filter, from our own vantage point which is limited (and that we THINK it's more expansive than Groot's is just an illusion). In other words, I could fill this blog post up with "I AM GROOT. I AM GROOT. I AM GROOT. I AM GROOT" and it would be just about akin to what I am writing now, in other words, "I am Groot" almost acts as a form of erasure (especially with Rocket interpreting everything that Groot says for everyone, providing us with the idea that I AM GROOT is just covering up some greater, deeper communication capability, we haven't been capable of tapping into yet. On the other hand, "I am Groot," is a perfect example of redundancy: when something is done over and over and over again, there is no information to be gotten from it, and so it becomes pointless,... unless, of course, that redundancy is broken, by replacing "I am Groot," with "We are Groot," and the information suddenly becomes overload: the transformation from individual to group (friends or family, call it what you will) to the point of dying for them.
This is a scene I particularly like, because each one of those little lights reminded me of Marvel's Doctor Strange, and Stephen Strange's constant insistence that no one was anything but a spot in the universe, a speck of dust; but in this scene, we see how beautiful each one of them are, regardless of how small they might be.
Allow me to make a circular argument here: at the beginning of the film, we have all ready Peter has gotten into a fight with the boys at school for killing a frog with a stick; in Groot, we can see the stick (Groot) killing a person with shish-kebabbing soldiers and that guy in the prison Groot on whom Groot puts a stick up his nose and causes it to grow into his head, making the bully collapse and cry like a baby on the floor. Groot is very much plant life (remember, after his "death," Rocket carries around a pot filled with dirt and a stick from Groot's body sticking in it, just like a regular plant cutting), and that relates Groot--if there is any at all--to the environmental agenda of the film. 
Given that little Peter was most likely born during the Jimmy Carter Administration, and that the songs from Awesome Mix Vol 1 came from the late 1960's-mid 1970s (liberal years, at least socially if not politically), the chances are increased that we have a "socialist" hero in this series. Given also that little Peter has gotten into a fight with other boys because the killed a frog, and Peter got a black eye (his eye being his ability to "see" and filter reality) then he's probably going to be a socialist figure, it not immediately, then maybe later. There is also Peter's mom wanting Peter to take her hand before she dies, and him not doing it, but then, when grown-up Peter holds the Infinity Stone and is being "stoned" to death, Gamora also wants Peter to take her hand, and he sees his mother, and takes Gamora's hand, MEANING, that Gamora is the "new" "motherland" for Peter, and IF Peter's mom was a socialist motherland, then Gamora has taken her place. BUT, and this is a big "BUT," I could be wrong. Again, I could be wrong, and I will surely admit it if I am--and I hope that I am wrong--but I think Marvel is going to start going to the Left, and we're going to start seeing it sometime this year.
Eat Your Art Out,
The Fine Art Diner