Monday, January 17, 2011

The X-Men and Prejudice

In the spirit of excellent hero movies, X-Men: The Last Stand reveals three sides to a war based on prejudice and misinformation.  Some scenes develop the “bad guy” characters well enough to understand who to root for, but I found myself sympathizing with Magneto’s mutant soldiers.  While the humans claim to have discovered the anecdote in order to help the mutants, many are militant about enforcing its use and have a secret agenda that involves putting mutants in their place.  

Magneto’s army is made up of folks who never saw their gift as a disability in the first place.  There’s a really short blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene where a mutant is holding onto the underside of the bridge when he gets shot with the “cure” and falls to his death.  I couldn’t help but think he was just trying to defend himself.  Then, of course, *spoiler alert* the scene where the X-Men have a brief, moral dilemma about whether to use some of the syringes against their own kind.  The movie brilliantly provokes ethical questions about prejudice including comparing one type of prejudice to another (i.e. “Easy for you to say; you don’t shed on the furniture.”)  It begs the question, “What lengths would you go to in order to fit in, be accepted, and be loved?”  Rogue justifies getting the cure because she wants to be able to touch people and, after all, who wouldn’t want that?  I couldn’t help but consider Hollywood stars who have had so many facelifts they barely look human.  I thought of a documentary on eating disorders that horrified me as a kid.  Most of the subjects were pre-teens and many died before the documentary was finished being filmed because they truly believed that a size 2 was fat.  It’s tragic how often societal prejudice can cause us to do the unthinkable.  How often do we stand up for what we believe in and protect “our kind” from prejudice?  Worse yet, how often does that inevitably make us the bad guy?  

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