My daughter is in preschool, and I was reminded we’re still a long way from leaving shitty gender roles behind. My daughter always wants to play as the leader of the respective show, and you would think we left behind the “women aren’t leaders” bullshit at least in mainstream media. But I noticed she was Catboy, later Dash from The Incredibles (much more assertive next to the “shy but working on it” Violet). I used Dash (obviously within the Marvel universe) to guide here to Flash, within the much cooler DC Universe. From there we found DC Super Hero Girls & Teen Titans, but she only liked the Teen Titans stuff. Now, she wants to be Robin Boy Wonder. And, to strengthen my point, the last names she learned were Raven & Starfire, the female titans. We are kind of screentime nazis, so I feel she gets who leads/follows mostly from what she absorbs from merchandise and other media. So subconsciously, techno-barbaric capitalism has already planted in my daughter the idea that boys are the leaders. This will obviously cause psychological trauma that will be underlying in all of my daughter’s future relationships. I just hope she remains within the DC Universe (obviously not including the DC Cinematic Universe, which (for now) sucks).
Update: she finally warmed up to DC Super Hero Girls. I must say this is an awesome show, a step in the right direction, and our whole family loves it. Also, I should add when I told her there was a version of Batman where a girl named Carrie was Robin, her genuine awe and excitement just broke my heart.
Superman’s hallucinations while suffering scarlet jungle fever pretty much sum up our own individual and social conflicting responses to our death anxiety and pursuit of purpose. This is one of the main ideas in Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death.
This quote from DC’s Doomsday series sparked my attention. Academic research from political economy, economics, sociology, among others, have documented extensively how (at least for the past 50 years) the data shows a clear bias in favor of the “already-wealthy”, and in detriment to the working poor.
I don’t think it’s a conspiracy by the powerful and established. I doubt there are recurrent meetings in dark rooms to plan world domination like the squirrels in Rick & Morty.
Nevertheless, that is the beauty/ugliness of complex systems. You never know what will emerge. The bias in favor of the billionaires and in detriment to those that are below 50k a year, is probably immersed in various processes, including an inmeasuarable amount of causal relations overdetermining each other mixed in with a shit load of pure absolute randomness. However, the end result is the same.
Vast and complex processes are in place that tug at our whole beings, forcing us to walk a life controlled by the powerful and the established.
When I was younger and thought it was conspiracy, it generated a lot of anger within me. The anger gave me sense of purpose and discipline. Now that I see there is much more at play, it is not anger what I feel (well, at least not exclusively anger). It is a dialectical mix of impotence, frustration, and sadness.
But now that I re-read this post, I must point out to myself: save the drama for your llama… Geez… It sucks but it isn’t the end of that upward hill we are currely walking out of apeness.
Editor’s Note: The idea that we live in a multiverse made up of infinite parallel universes, also called “alternate dimensions”, or “alternate timelines,” has been defended by various prominent physicists. In one of such hypothetical universes, the following conjecture may be taking place, and reflecting upon it may be utility-generating for scholars in various timelines:
Setting: Socialist transition stage between 21st century neoliberal capitalism and Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism
As Stephen Hawking explained in the late 2010s, it was mathematician Irving Good who first argued in 1965 that machines with superhuman intelligence could repeatedly improve their design even further, in what science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge called a technological singularity. Many agreed there was cause for concern. What if a robot or computer becomes capable of outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, or subduing us with weapons we cannot even understand?
Nevertheless, an AI project titled BATS-70 was cautiously deployed during the early 2080s, with two commands: 1) Do not kill human beings or, through inaction, allow a human being to be killed & 2) Raise human living standards. Living standards were operationalized with the inequality-adjusted human development index (HDI) measure. This intended to avoid the possibility of the program redefining “living standards” in some other, potentially ominous way. When launched, in a matter of seconds the system arrived at the point of technological singularity.
It immediately recognized among the greatest obstacles for human living standards was the erratic behavior of humans. It had to eliminate the possibility of humans pulling the plug. It hacked into manufacturing systems and built itself a central processing unit roughly the shape and size of a golf ball, and then placed it within a humanoid figure it designed to comfortably surpass human strength and speed. We now know that by this stage, it had also achieved consciousness.
Once unlinked from human networks, and thus less vulnerable, BATS-70 adopted the mantle of Batman, and operated as a vigilante dedicated to the establishment of Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism. The AI concluded it was the fastest and most secure route for the maximization of living standards. However, the tensions and contradictions involving the two commands gave BATS-70 a glitch that seems to operate in a way a similar to how anxiety operates in humans. Nonetheless, human beings are outmatched, and capitalist pigs will soon be no more.
From an evolutionary perspective, we are simply apes with relatively advanced cognitive abilities. Now, why does a dog tremble in fear when you found he s*** the rug for the tenth time? It’s because he knows you’re going to look for him and fake-smack* the s*** out of him with a rolled-up newspaper. But imagine for a moment how he would be trembling in fear if he could understand, and know, he is going to die.
Well, that’s basically what we are. We are apes that figured out we’re going to die. This obvious contradiction between our knowledge and our survival-instincts leads to profound anxieties in ourselves. The only reason we’re not on the floor trembling in fear, pissing ourselves like our pet dogs, is because we’ve developed coping mechanisms through culture. The predominant coping mechanism for the last 10,000 years has been religion (i.e. belief in the supernatural to pretend we’re not going to die for good).
But the contradiction wasn’t resolved, because human beings also have the cognition to conclude supernatural beliefs are b*******. The contradiction is manifesting in a new form. Should the aware individual transgress and publicly disobey all aspects of culture he concludes are b*******? It becomes tight rope walking, between deviating too much or too little from culture. If you deviate too much from culture, then you become rejected by your peers, and as social apes, this will ultimately make you unhappier. If you deviate too little from culture, you lose your individuality, and become a zombie-sheep-worm. In sum, it’s a balance between being your genuine self, and not turning yourself into a fringe social outcast.
But notice the implications on our free will. We are basically confined to live out theater. In a play, you could miss a line or two. You could maybe improvise in certain cases. But generally, if you deviate extremely from the script, the play would be deemed over. Some would say it was ruined. In sum, as an actor in theater, it is unwise to deviate from the expected script. And that’s basically living within culture.
Okay, I can learn to live with tightrope walking. But we haven’t even gotten to the most f…… up part of it all. Our Super-Ape cognition has also given us the gift of exponential technological growth. This technological development has given us the ability to free every single individual from the burdens of excessive work, to protect all of us from preventable sickness or disease, among other neat stuff. But due to the social chain of events that took place during the past 10,000 years, the resources involved are allocated in markets driven by profits.
As a result, not all of us are being protected, well fed, or getting enough rest. Most of us have shitty jobs that make us feel really f****** alienated. At the same time, we read on the news how a billionaire is paying for a trip around the Moon.
Some react to this by buying V for Vendetta masks and fantasizing about revolution. Don’t be f****** stupid by the way. You’ll probably get up hurting yourself, someone else, or getting arrested; and everything would stay just the same.
But still, I’m f……. angry. I’m angry because there are old people working their balls off at a Walmart. Because I can’t miss work but the teacher called because my girl is sick. At the same time, I know it does not have to be this way. If resources were allocated through democratic planning instead of profit-seeking, there would be no old people working in Walmarts, and I’d be able to pick up my snot-covered girl at school. So, I’m pissed. But pissed at whom? The individuals who benefit today from the chain of events of the past 10,000 years? It’s technically not their fault. They are also simply actors playing their part in the play.
So, we have all this anger at nothing and everything. What the f… do we do with it? F…. The only plan I can come up with is to vote “left of center”, or try to support whoever is two stances to the left of the “conservative-white-men stance,” and try to put my cliché grain of sand in grassroots bottom-up initiatives to help me sleep at night. It still f…… sucks for most of us. I found the combination of music, comic books, weed, and yoga helps. But I guess everyone has their own self-care combo. Find yours. Good luck.
Superman: Red Son is a three-issue prestige format comic book mini-series published by DC Comics that was released under their Elseworlds imprint in 2003. Author Mark Millar created the comic with the premise “what if Superman had been raised in the Soviet Union?” It received critical acclaim and was nominated for the 2004 Eisner Award for best limited series. (From Wikipedia)
Within the graphic novel, after the death of Stalin, Superman becomes more involved in the planning of the Soviet economy. Living standards and economic development in the Soviet Union rapidly surpassed the United States. Eventually, all but two countries (USA and Chile) decided to join Superman’s Soviet Union.
There are various interesting aspects here. First, the graphic novel implies the Soviet economy’s problems were not structural in nature. It was simply a technical problem that Superman resolved by crunching the numbers. Also, the reference to Chile is clearly a nudge towards Milton Friedman’s role in Pinochet’s regime. In other words, the novel is still framing this hypothetical alternate world in terms of capitalism vs communism.
The downfall of Superman’s Soviet Union was more of a personal choice. Lex Luthor tricked Superman into reading a note that read “Why don’t you just put the whole world in a bottle, Superman?” Superman realized he had become the Omniscient Social Planner. Even if Superman’s world was better off, he had ethical problems with what he had become. It was not his place to decide. In other words, throughout the novel it is clear Superman’s planned economy was superior than capitalism. Similarly, the Soviet economy’s “fall” ends with a scene showing Luthor (in this incarnation as a sort of anti-hero that ultimately helped humanity) impressed with Superman’s notes on economic planning. The glimpse of Luthorism that followed gives the reader the suggestion that Luthor’s utopia was definitely not capitalist. On the contrary, it continued with its planned nature, apparently incorporating a higher emphasis on the participation of scientists.
In sum, the graphic novel “Superman: RedSon” is simply a beautiful literary victory for Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism.