Last week I wrote quite a rant on my Tumblr which turned out to be the push to create a more verbal-centric location to my ether-presense, thus creating this website.
It made sense that I return to that post to republish it here, with a few edits and upgrades along the way.
Recently there have been a couple of articles in the news about the line from The Avengers where Thor mentions Loki is adopted. We all know that line – we all heard how the theaters roared with laugher at it. There is, however, a group of people who were deeply offended. In the New York Times (May 16th, 2012) Jessica Crowell decided to raise the objection of the quip not being funny in an online article she penned. Now, she calls herself ”a doctoral student in Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers University“ but really that doesn’t hold much weight with me.
When I first read that a group of people were demanding an apology from Disney/Marvel regarding the line my wife was already in bed and I was just climbing in. She was really keen to go to sleep – I was keen to rant. I thought I got it out of my system but reading Jessica’s article while eating breakfast… well my half eaten toast clearly says it all.
Let us break down some key points and rebuttle here:
1. Jessica’s script quote:
Thor: He is of Asgard and he is my brother!
Black Widow: He killed 80 people in 2 days.
Thor [deadpan]: He’s adopted.
Now I don’t have a copy of Joss’ script. This MAY have been how it was actually scripted but the delivery, not so. Anyone who has studied theater will know his delivery was not deadpan. It had rising tonal intonation – an offering in the form of question that will provide a satisfactory excuse to those around him. This is actually quite important and we’ll get to why shortly.
2. She left the theater with her boyfriend (who probably had to listen to her whine on for the 35 minute ride home) in the middle of the movie. Did he manage to tune out the mewling quim by wondering just how awesome the Hulk might have been if he could just have seen it? The only plus side to her boyfriends scenario is that Agent Coulson is, y’know, not getting his trading cards bloodied.
3. She calls herself a media-studies scholar.
4. She talks of a stigma surrounding adoptees which may stop them speaking out.
5. She does research online (for a few minutes) regarding the, uh, offending line.
6. She closes with:
I am embarrassed that Marvel and Disney would include such a cheap one-liner in their film. But I am not embarrassed to admit that I am adopted. And I am not embarrassed to admit that I walked out of their movie. Because no real hero would so casually dismiss family.
Here are my problems with this scholars rant in a (Inter)National Publication:
1. She didn’t stay to watch the whole movie. We have to question if she even saw Thor – there certainly was no mention of it. The Thor/Loki arc is dynamic and integral to understanding the relationship between themselves, their father and other worlds where mere mortals live.
2. My six-year-old does better research for his homework than she did for this publication. Seriously. Hopping online and keyword searching for “a few minutes” is just fucking awful. How about talking with other adoptees (without stirring up rhetoric) to get a balanced view. All of these assumptions she is piling on to others without actually knowing how others feel. She assumes a hell of a lot in this article.
3. She talks about being a media studies scholar. So she should know the power of stirring up shit like this to make people feel that they should be offended by such a line from a blockbuster movie.
4. She projects her problems/issues/self-esteem/thoughts on to everyone. Remind you of anyone? Loki’d.
5. She is a terrible example of a scholar. Just plain god-awful. Why? She left the movie early. Fine, as a consumer she has every right to do so – but, by all rights, loses any platform to claim to be an academic or to act as a critic. It is like watching half of Hamlet and trying to argue he suffered from madness. Get thee to a nunnery and watch the whole play and then we will talk about his antic disposition. Not before. She has no word (except the hearsay of others) as to how the movie progressed this theme. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. Regardless of if it did or didn’t, she would now go into the movie with such a closed mind she wouldn’t see the Forest for the Gump.
6. She fails to do a character study. Look at Thor – how he continually fights for his brother. Thor believes there is redemption for Loki and wants to take him home. That is not the act of someone who craps on an adopted sibling. Thor knows he must stop Loki – the other Avengers want to kill Loki. Where Hawkeye wants to shoot an arrow in his knee eye, Thor wants him to return with his brother. His brother. HIS BROTHER.
The adopted line isn’t said with utter conviction of “this is why he is a fuck-up and has killed 80 people (and about to cause $160m+ damages to New York City)” but more with a “he is still family despite his fuck-up.” Y’know, this does bring to light people and their over-sensitivities in media. This is a comedic line and in comedy you cannot worry about offending people. Offense is never given – it is only taken. It seems there are people who are offended by, literally, anything. I don’t find everything that is supposed to be funny ‘funny’ – but it is rare for something to hit a nerve with me and when it does, I move on and let it go. Why? Because it is highlighting my own hang-ups that I need to get over. It gets tiresome having people stirring up ‘causes’ and projecting stigma of their issues on everyone else. The reason half of these issues continue is because we keep bringing them up, projecting them on others and compartmentalizing them.
Now, I’m adopted. I used to be jealous of kids who had a real family to go home to but it didn’t stop me getting on with life. So, y’know what? I grew up, took that chip off my shoulder and cooked it with some fish. With a splash of malt vinegar and wrapped in yesterdays New York Times, it makes for a great supper, particularly if the pages are of some failed, half-assed journalism.
Jesus. The next thing we know the New York Times will be publishing articles about how Mother’s Day has to end because it is hurting all the sensitive infertile woman who cannot stand to see children happy at making their Mom’s gifts. Oh wait, they already did.
So, in closing, to quote Jessica:
I am embarrassed that Marvel and Disney New York Times would include such acheap one-liner journalism in their film paper. But I am not embarrassed to admit that I am adopted. And I am not embarrassed to admit that I walked out of their movie I’m also a scholar. Because no real hero scholar would so casually dismissfamily journalistic integrity.
Notisolde went on to add some excellent points on her Tumblr on this:
The epitome of getting upset just to get upset. SHE’S the one attaching the stigma to that line in the movie and making it very public. gg. This is the same type of thing as if I were to, say, treat someone of another race as above my own just to prove that I’m not racist – when that, in itself, is the definition of racist (harmful or not).
Thor’s fight for his brother isn’t just in the end of the movie, so I know she didn’t step out before seeing it. Each time Thor faces Loki, he begs him to “give up this poisonous dream,” to come HOME. No matter what he’s done.
Thor’s comment was a two-word offering that was likely meant, if not simply for a moment of comic relief, then to reference an comically underwhelming excuse, explanation of what set this chain of events in motion. It’s not the title or state of being adopted. Nor does it mean anything toward others who are adopted – it’s what that means to Loki.
At the end of Thor, Loki discovered – accidentally – that he is a “monster,”Jötunn. That he was lied to his entire life about his heritage. THAT’S the problem. THAT’S when Loki went from mischievous to total fucking hellion.
It’s not because he was adopted. It’s because he was betrayed after he was adopted.
“We were raised together, we played together, we fought together… do you remember none of that?” Thor’s love and fight for his brother, blood or not, especially in the face of Loki’s actions is what we should be focusing on. Making yourself offended over two simple words without even bothering to apply context is ridiculous, petty. (And so tiny!)
Again, though, some people will decide they are offended no matter what they need to seek out to justify it. I guess we all have our ‘thing.’