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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Are Hollywood superhero stories American wish-fulfillment fantasies?

Marvel's Avengers

AlterNet’s Julianne Escobedo Shepherd makes an interesting case about the state of Hollywood in an essay entitled “How 5 Upcoming Superhero Films Represent American Wish Fulfillment”:

Over the course of the next year, a disproportionate number of superhero-centric movies are scheduled for release. This has much to do with both the increasing American appetite for glossy comic-book blockbusters and the nigh-guaranteed huge profits they’ll rake in, but there’s also something deeper involved: a need for a solution in a time of perpetual American crisis.

In a twisted way, it’s the same reason so many people have turned to the Tea Party: a distant desire for a fantasy world that won’t and can’t exist (for reasons of decency or, in the case of superheros, the limitations of physics). It’s not really to say that average Americans want to be rescued as if by magic, per se, but in times like these, the twin desires for a hero and need for escapism are exceptionally powerful when paired.

And then she goes on to examine how five movies — The Avengers, Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises, Twilight: Breaking Dawn (which is stretching the concept of superhero a bit), and Resident Evil: Retribution — represent wish-fulfillment for an America gone wrong and seeking to right itself again. As always, I recommend reading the whole thing for your own edification and enjoyment.

Those movies in particular or caped crusaders in general: Are Hollywood superhero stories American wish-fulfillment fantasies? If they are, is there anything wrong with that?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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