Christians in the USA declare aphid excretions as miraculous. WTXF – What The Xtian Fuck?
Danger – contains spoilers
Last night I went to see the new Superman film Man Of Steel. As superhero films go, it managed a just good enough job of attempting to reboot the Superman mythology, but it had none of the slickness, brash confidence and humour of last year’s Avengers. If anything it took itself too seriously, with a thick paste of grim stoic inevitability that made the Dark Knight trilogy look like Bachelor Party. Then again, this is a Zack Snyder film; he’s not going to have his characters resolve problems by taking a spoonful of sugar or singing a cheery tune. This Superman character had a dark if simplistic edge, a man of two worlds but neither, haunted by his powers and imprisoned by doubt – and without any shred of charm or personality. Superman’s nemesis, General Zod, was my favourite character, and the most logically constructed. This wasn’t a camp “kneel before Zod!” comic book caricature bad guy out for revenge, this was a man with a mission, to which every other consideration was secondary, even when it came to all life on earth. He didn’t hate the planet’s residents, they were just in his way.
A constant theme in the film which verged on creepy was the reference to religion. Right from the beginning, Kal-El was being bigged up by his dad Jor-El; he would be a god to the people of earth and guide them to peace. I know all dads have high hopes for their newborn kids, but at this point Kal-El was a couple of years away from being potty trained, so really Jor-El wouldn’t know if his boy would be Jesus in a blue suit and red cape or a corner crack dealer.
And this is who Snyder’s Superman is; Jesus with laser eyes. They couldn’t have laid it out any more obviously if they had put a big ‘J’ on Superman’s leotard instead of the trademark ‘S’. The difficult childhood, years rambling in the wilderness, the random acts of miraculous life saving, ticking all the boxes but the virgin birth.
Ah, the virgin birth. Here, it is nicely turned on its head. On Krypton, it’s people had their offspring through genetic manipulation, with foetuses grown in glowy bottles Matrix-style, their society considering the act of physical birth a heresy. In a world where all babies were born in essentially virgin births, Kal-El was born from his mother. Jor-El had decided that bottle babies were part of the corruption of Krypton and contributed to the short-sightedness that was causing the planet’s destruction. This is a clear reference to our own scientific advances in genetics and a clumsy attempt at critiquing the ethics surrounding the application of science.
Despite Jor-El’s lofty disdain for Kryptonian science (he also rides a kind of flying bug-lizard instead of machines), he uses technology to shoot his baby into space.
Once on Earth, Kal-El is raised by the Kents as their son Clark, and they never cease to keep blowing it up his arse about how awesome he is and how there’s a plan for him, that he was sent to Earth by his father for a reason, that everything happens for a purpose, and how he needs to choose good over evil. After all this, quite how Clark becomes such a narcissist is a surprise.
When Zod turns up on Earth demanding Superman be turned over to him or face an ass-whoopin’, in a fugue of doubt Superman agonises over what to do. Should he sacrifice himself for humanity? So he asks a priest, who goes on to tell Superman that he should have faith and follow his conscience. So he hands himself over, like any good stoic Jesus would do.
Just to reinforce how bad the bad guys are, once they have him they tell Superman how they’re going kill everyone on Earth, using a big machine which looks like a lemon squeezer which will turn the planet into Krypton v2.0, and repopulate it using some Kryptonian babies in bottles they had found earlier. The rationale for this, according to henchwoman Faora-Ul, is that Kryptonians are superior, more evolved, and past the need for emotions like compassion which they consider weak. That’s right, these Krypton bad boys and girls are space-Nazis espousing some kind of social Darwinism. Kal-El, brought up by god-fearing merka-loving Kansas rednecks, ain’t havin’ none of it, and gets his freak on smashing bad guys through walls and so forth.
There’s probably more that I missed, something subtle which would need a second viewing to catch, but there’s no mistaking that Man Of Steel is a Christian allegory, and will no doubt provide social scientists and film critics plenty to chew over, in much the same way as After Earth’s action tribute to Scientology.
Unashamedly democratic socialist in flavour, with a raft of bold pledges that go far beyond the grey focus group designed middle-England pleasing platitudes that the three main parties seem satisfied to place one their stalls. No kneeling before the Chicago School neo-liberal consensus. That’s the Green Party party political broadcast for the May 2nd elections. Gutsy, and a demonstration that Green politics go further than recycling and ecological conservation. Much further. Sadly there won’t be a Green standing for the parliamentary by-election in South Shields, but it’s understandable – £500 could be spent better elsewhere rather than losing it fighting to be an also-ran in a safe Labour seat where the other parties are scrabbling for the honour of second place.
It isn’t just an election broadcast, it’s a proclamation of what is possible. Watch it.
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
David Potts, South Tyneside’s councillor for the bunga bunga party, put a remarkable example of science illiteracy on display for everyone to see. Last Thursday, he declared on Twitter:
“I wish people would realise that climate change is a total myth backed by zero evidence.”
I’m not sure what he thinks of the masses of evidence for climate change that has been collected over decades. The many years of work dedicated by scientists, the millions of pounds worth of experiments, the satellites and a planetary network of climate data collection. If it’s a ‘myth’, did the legions of scientists make it up? Is there a massive conspiracy by a shadowy green cabal with a diabolical plan for mind control? Could all of those scientists be wrong?
Most climate scientists agree that the evidence points to one conclusion: climate change is proven. If there’s any uncertainty, it’s the pace and severity of the changes that will come. The impacts of climate change pose a real risk to current and future generations. For the UK, it is a national security issue. Ignoring it is foolhardy and dangerous, and addressing the risks is a sensible approach. A destabilised ecosystem means a destabilised food supply, infrastructure and ultimately, society. It’s also an ethical issue. Those who are likely to suffer the most will be those from low incomes, or from countries where the support infrastructures are poor or non-existent.
The denial lobby have no credibility – scientific or otherwise.
From a party political standpoint, Potts’ view is entirely consistent with UKIP policy. Xenophobia and homophobia aren’t the only personality disorders that UKIP shares with the BNP. Like the BNP, UKIP holds a position denying that the planet’s climate is changing, or that the activities of homo sapiens could be responsible. When challenged on Twitter, Potts responded:
“Show me one solid, irrefutable piece of evidence and I’ll believe it”
What about the mountains of evidence? This is remarkably similar to his comment piece in the Journal newspaper in 2005 where he called on:
“anyone to show me just one single solitary shred of concrete proof that humans contributed or are at all responsible for global warming”
…and claimed that:
“reducing emissions is a complete and utter waste of time and money.”
Such buffoonery would be comical if it wasn’t for the fact that Potts sits in a position of responsibility. There’s no excuse for a politician not to be familiar with climate change after all this time; the causes, the science, the risks, and the possible solutions and mitigation actions. Potts makes decisions on policy. He has a responsibility to be informed, to know what the science says. If a politician claims the science to be a “myth”, then that’s not the voice of rationality, but an ignorant opinion poisoned by the confirmation bias of political ideology.
As Huxley also noted:
At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political ideas.
Sad news of the death of Jon Lord from cancer. One of the greatest of his generation, and the master of the Hammond organ.
Shaking the Tree with Peter Gabriel and Paula Coles.