I don’t think I would have the strength to go through an Iron Man movie but for my nieces and nephew who were eager to watch it. In this barely analytical review, I’m paraphrasing the first chapter of Eric Cheyftiz’s The Poetics of Imperialism titled “Tarzan of the Apes: US Foreign Policy in the Twentieth Century” spiced with notes from George Carlin.
I just completed The Devil finds Work – an uncannily insightful book – by the black writer James Baldwin on racism in American movies. Iron Man is an arrogant, patronizing, racist prick who stands for everything that makes the United States such a crazy drunk ape of a regime. He just belongs to the long line of James Bonds and Supermans and Rambos and other dickheads who are out there to save white Americans and their families from the wretched others. There’s a point Baldwin makes over and again: what is missing or rather repressed in white American consciousness is blackness. This blackness takes myriad forms from the “blacks” themselves to communists, Arabs and gays. The stupidest American movie gives you an idea of what this hidden face of blackness is all about.
Individuals become individuals and groups are able to enter into association as groups concealing something about themselves. There is a universality to the hidden blackness and the murders and genocides of history are because men have not been able to come to terms with their dark selves. This blackness of history is fairly contextualized in how white America deals with the third world. America’s foreign policy is the teacher at school combined with the bully of a policeman on the street.
Literally speaking, reality is not black and white. A rich and exploitative Indian shares in white colonial consciousness just as much as a poor and exploited white shares the darkness of the colonized. Racism must be redefined in global contexts. Brown and black elites across the third world are viciously criminal and defy any simplistic notion of essential ‘race’ in understanding why some men have made it a business to dominate so many others.
Back to the movie: stereotype number One and the one we’re most familiar with: the black guy unthinkingly loyal to the American flag; Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes, played by Terence Howard; this one black guy like the dumb white woman is the background to the almighty smart Tony Stark supremely wealthy and supposedly as bright. There are at least one thousand movies with black guys confirming to the white guy that he’s the real man that the rest of the world wants to be; if you want to know why the black guy is psychologically necessary to justify white manhood please read James Baldwin who has the last word on the subject.
Complementing the black guy – the giver of certificates of masculinity to white men – is the dumb white woman who may not exactly be a certificate giver but something equally commonplace; she confirms to the white guy that he’s not gay; his sexual credentials are safe henceforth; he need not worry about being desired by other men or falling in love with an enemy who might happen to be male.
I don’t know if Iron Man’s assistant – Gwyneth Paltrow in the film – was playing dumb but that was the dumbest white woman on screen. I don’t think such a dumb white or a woman of any other race, religion or region walks on this planet. Women as a rule ain’t dumb. Period. Somehow the role was done with such conviction that it is hard for me to believe that the woman was acting. If she was in fact acting I mean it’s a performance of a life time. For dumb people to act intelligent is much easier than for any person to act dumb. If you act dumb you’re dumb – that’s in reality. On screen, to act dumb is to act dumb – something you don’t have to be in reality. Angelina Jolie who I think is pretty dumb in reality comes out real smart on screen. Not surprising because she understands the role better than she understands herself.
Someone should’ve thought of calling the movie ironic man instead of Iron Man. The movie is filled with men and ironies and since they go together in real life it comes as no surprise that it did well at the box office. The sad irony is that there are no iron men in life. A man who dreams of being more man than what he is suffers from an incurable emotional impotence. Iron Man is the perfect example of a man incapable of relating to the world around him. An emotionally impotent social order produces emotionally impotent leadership and Iron Man is that unconscious wish for domination meant to disguise the void – a void reflected in the foreign policy of the United States.
Iron Man in the third world is just another word for phallic domination. Those meaningless wars that the US is fighting outside its borders serve no ultimate purpose. They bring out what is horrible in just about any man; the side of a man that any humane society is expected to curb, that instinct to pillage and murder that has no place in a just order. George Carlin brilliantly summarizes those insecurities that make war, what he calls “a lot of prick-waving.”
War is a whole lot of men standing out on a field, waving their pricks at one another. Men are insecure about the size of their dicks, and so they have to kill one another over the idea. That’s what all that asshole jock bullshit is all about. That’s what all that adolescent, macho male posturing, and strutting in bars and locker rooms is all about. It’s called “dick fear!” Men are terrified that their pricks are inadequate and so they have to compete with one another, to feel better about themselves, and since war is the ultimate competition, basically, men are killing each other in order to improve their self-esteem! You don’t have to be a historian or a political scientist to see the bigger-dick foreign policy theory at work. It sounds like this: “What, they have bigger dicks? Bomb them!” And of course, the bombs and the rockets and the bullets are all shaped like dicks. It’s a subconscious need to project the penis into other people’s affairs. It’s called “fucking with people!”
Movies like Iron Man are about “fucking with people.” If Iron Man could win the wars for the US wherever they’re dumping arms and using the latest technology to fight ill-equipped though relentless enemies, Americans would not be having all the problems on the ground that they do. Local people are there to stay and they’ll do everything in their power to fight the ‘civilized’ beast that has come to destroy them.
The lesson for the US is very simple: Shut down your thieving corporations. Forget about the criminal loans given to criminals by the World Bank and the IMF. Get out of Afghanistan. Get out of Iraq. Get out of the Middle East. Get out of Latin America. Get out of Africa. Get out of the third world. Take your arms and your high technology and vamoose. You’re not wanted there. There are no iron men to protect you. The war is long lost. It’s the battles that delude you into believing that you will win.
Categories: Rethinking The World