Will Spiderman Become a Teabagger? Will Loss Of Super-Hero Diversity Hurt Our Culture?
flickr image FAKE SPIDERMAN by David Hepworth;
Will Wolverine become the Darth Vader, Cheney-Style, of comicbook-dom?
The Walt Disney Company, which, through it's network, ABC, has channeled right wing messages, has acquired Marvel Entertainment inc.
Will edgy characters become Bambi-like because Disney is pressured by the Religious right? Or will Disney enter the darker worlds that Marvel Comics has historically explored?
Will Disney's management, with its history of channeling conservative messages on ABC, subtly influence the way superheroes operate-- defending torture, invading countries that didn't start a conflict? Will Captain America become a privatized Blackwater or Xe mercenary, killing innocent bystanders in Iraq?
Will the Fantastic four carry signs into outer space demanding they keep their private insurer health care? Will Johnny, the Torch, spell out, in flaming letters in the sky, "NOBAMA."
Will The Hulk-- the big ugly green alter ego for professor Bruce Banner-- become the spokesman for the other green-- capitalist greed? Maybe Disney will spin him off to Goldman Sachs. Then they could name a stadium after him. "The Goldman Sach Hulk Green Is Good Stadium?" Er, maybe not.
But the Disney company DOES have a history of doing conservative message. Take the 9/11 documentary they created. Matt Stoller speculated how it came about, with primarily if not totally conservative input. He commented, back in september 2006,
"Disney wants to buy everything, since media is seen as a scale business. It's pretty obvious to Democrats if this movie airs that Disney is not a responsible public steward of the airwaves it controls right now. Why should they be allowed to engulf even more assets?"
D'ya think Disney has gotten any better?
I have a friend who writes a Disney comic. It'll be interesting to hear from him if anything changes with the new owners. Every day, I see changes in the way the Wall Street Journal handles "news" that shows Rupert Murdoch's hand. It took a little time, but the great WSJ is devolving, losing its news section independence, with more and more conservative perspective and coverage bleeding into the supposedly pristine news pages.
You might be thinking, "hey, it's just a comic book company." But Financial Post reports,
"Today, films starring Marvel characters -- including Wolverine, Spider-man 3 and Iron Man -- are among the highest-grossing at the box office every summer. According to its website, Marvel comics have a higher circulation than People, Time or Sports Illustrated. In the most recent quarter ended June 30, Marvel reported net sales of $116.3-million with a $29-million profit and earnings of 37 cents per share."
Just one more time, let's say it out loud. "Higher circulation than People, Time or Sports Illustrated." And they're buying Marvel for over $4 billion -- over 130 times profits, as in, at that rate, it would take 130 years to return the investment. And by the way, Legendary Stan Lee hasn't been with Marvel for a while. I don't think he comes with the deal.
One thing is very likely. In the past, Marvel could do deals with different movie companies. Now, all the Marvel characters will be Disney characters. We haven't seen many Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck movies or any other media that were not Disney. Thor, The X-men, the Fantastic Four-- I grew up with these heroes. I'm not sure it's a good thing to narrow the diversity of creative viewpoints they will be expressed as by moviemakers. Just as shrinking biodiversity is a bad thing, I wonder if a loss of super hero diversity will also cost us something in the vision and character of our culture.
Or, if Disney let's the cons get their hands on these 5000 Marvel characters, like they did with 9/11, things could be much worse. Frankly, with the billions that right wing billionaires have already invested in right wing policy promotion think tanks and orgs, like CATO, Federalist Society, etc., the idea that one or several might subsidize or outright finance a purchase like this is not that paranoid.
When the left is paranoid, it's because it's true. Bill Maher