Noah Bennet vs. Benjamin Linus

“Heroes'” original bad-ass dad takes on the patriarch of “Lost.”

Even in the midst of newlyweddom, mid-semester shennanigans, and the current economic crisis, some things are just worth blogging about. My wife and I could not reach a consensus on Gandalf vs. Dumbledore, but we did make some progress on pitting TV’s two best dads against each other.

Noah Bennet would do anything to protect his daughter. He quit his job as a secret agent when the Company threatened her life. He later reenlisted in order to catch the supervillains who would threaten her. He has no superpowers because he does not need them. All he needs is a gun, a few ninja moves, and Plans A through C. If Bruce Wayne had enough emotional stability to settle down and raise a family, he would dream of being a man like Noah Bennet. In a bind, all Claire-bear really needs to do is shut up and trust her father. (Of course, she usually doesn’t and drama ensues. That’s why it’s TV.)

Benjamin Linus failed to save his daughter, but it was not for lack of trying. Some might call him a manipulative weasel. Maybe. But that’s only half the story. He has been the fearless leader of the native tribe inhabiting the Island. He can bend space and time if need be. He could convince a dozen of aircrash victims to stay on the Island rather than seek rescue. Okay, so he failed to convince the evil special ops forces to release his daughter. His revenge resulted in him slitting a man’s throat and blowing up a boat full of innocent civilians. But he has his own fare share of ninja moves and, beneath the mousy exterior, lies a force to be reckoned with. Did I mention that he killed his own father (and all of dad’s co-workers) in a poison gas attack?

Who would win in a fight? They’ve got a lot in common. Both:
-always have a plan
-ends always justify means
-possess the power of persuasion
-have ninja moves
-fiercely protective of their adoptive daughters

Ben “is a little crazier,” write Mutantreviewers, discussing Heroes vs. Lost. Maybe. But Bennet seems to be cooler under pressure. He’s better with a gun and equally capable at hand-to-hand combat. Ben’s greatest strength is getting other people to do his dirty work. He is a leader, however disreputable. Bennet is more of a loner, who would prefer to work with a trusted partner or alone. Ben relies more on verbal manipulation, but I doubt Bennet would be subject to his wiles. Unless they’re on the Island, my money’s on Bennet. And even if they were…. But, then again, Noah Bennet was the only one my wife could conceive of possibly beating Dumbledore.

Published in: on October 16, 2008 at 11:39 am  Comments (9)  
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Batman as Christ-figure?

(Contains Dark Knight spoiler.)

In an earlier post, I reflected on the differences between Batman, Superman, and Spider-man. At that time, I was of the opinion that Superman most vividly reminded me of Jesus and that Spider-man was the strongest of the three because he most clearly embodied the tensions of being human. However, after seeing the Dark Knight, I realize that Batman exemplifies aspects of Christ in ways that Clark Kent never could.

Don’t get me wrong. There are a multitude of ways in which Bruce Wayne is not like Jesus: violence, ruthlessness, willingness to lie, moral ambiguity, and such. But in his chosen calling, in his self-sacrifice, and in his humanity, Batman is much like Christ.

Batman was born as a sort of reverse incarnation. Rather than God becoming man, a man becomes more than a mere mortal by virtue of his choice and the actions that choice necessitates. His commitment to his calling overrides all of his other rights and needs. He became a legend. [That was the point of Batman Begins.] If Batman is the greatest of the superheroes, it is because he is super not by chance but by choice.

Likewise, Batman’s sacrifice of himself which defines him and makes him Christ-like. Beyond sacrificing his own personal safety, comfort, and well-being, Batman in the Dark Knightsacrifices his reputation. By defining himself as legend and nonetheless sacrificing his reputation, Batman has sacrificed his very self. Rather than allow the name of justice to be smudged and the hope for peace to be darkened, Batman took upon himself blame for actions that were not his. He became the ultimate superhero as a scapegoat.

Like Christ, “He was despised and rejected by men…. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:3-4).

Simply because Batman has not yet physically sacrificed himself to the point of death does not mean that he wouldn’t… or that he won’t. (Side-note: The Dark Knight provides the perfect set-up for a sequel to capture the essence of The Dark Knight Returns, storytelling genius Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic novel.)

Superman has often carried with him a certain stoicism. Batman, too, could often be accused of the same. However, in Christopher Nolan’s latest contribution to the Batman story, he struggles, cries, and nearly gives up. (There’s a man I can relate to!) But he goes on anyway. (Now there’s a man I can praise!) He will do whatever it takes to save Gotham, whatever the price, whether for criminals or for himself.

So what?

Do all great stories mirror the greatest story? Do we need reminders of who we are and of who we should be? Or is this merely for entertainment’s sake?

Grad School Musical

A beautiful but aimless poet falls for a boring chemistry research assistant with hot career prospects. Their semi-mutual friends stumble and fake their way through various feats of academic prowess. Featuring such hit songs as “There Must be a Way to Read Three Books a Day,” “Can I Date on this Stipend?” and “Don’t Diss my Dissertation!”

Sex vs. Batman

Once upon a time there was a man named Batman. He had lots of money, lots of skills, and kicked some major booty. He fought injustice. He ruled minds of many men, young and old. But one thing he lacked: he did not rule their hearts.

Now sex does not equal love, but when a man and a woman do pledge their love to each other in marriage, sex is a physical expression of that love.

Batman is imaginary. Sex is concrete. Batman is about me. Sex is about us. Batman evokes my inner child. Sex evokes my inner and outer man. Batman is an expression of untamed masculine striving. Sex is an expression of my masculinity meeting my wife’s femininity (as we tame each other?).

I might not see the new movie any time soon and that’s okay. Married life is grand.

Netflix/Cable: Do you own them? Or do they own you?

Two of our grandest pre-marital achievements have been the establishment of a Netflix account and the harassing of our apartment management to set up the cable service that is automatically included in our rent. (We’ve been paying for it for over six weeks now and we want to see some results, dang it!) The effects have been as follows.

Netflix: We giddily rush through movies and t.v. shows, watching for entertainment but also for the sake of speed. As much as I might want to watch the Godfather (which I own), we’d better watch
Love Actually so that we can get the next disc of Lost! I find myself drawn into an entertainment rat race. We watch so that we can experience adventure… or do we watch so that we can watch more without asking why?

Cable: I turn it on, flip through all 80 channels with amazing reception and turn it off. I’d rather watch Netflix. I guess it’s worth having for those 5/min/day. I might watch a whole (5 min x 7 days x 4 weeks) = 2.5 hours each month, so is it worth it? It was automatic… but it’s still sort of mind numbing and lame. (I know I won’t still be saying that in two months when fresh episodes of the Office are back on… oh wait, didn’t need cable for that.)

Which leaves me with the lingering question: Why do we watch anything? Or is it like popcorn at the movies: you eat it because it’s there?

Published in: on July 10, 2008 at 5:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bratz vs. Barbie

Special guest-contributor the Future Mrs. Faithfool.

“What’s the point of Bratz? To get girls excited about dressing like whores. At least Barbie dresses with class.”

X-Men vs. Heroes

I’m sure this has been done to death elsewhere, but what the heck.  It hasn’t been done by me.  Now that there have been three X-Men movies, with a slew of prequels on the way, and now that the second season of Heroes is very done, I think we can step back and assess.

(*I rely both on the X-Men movies and on my reading in late 1980s/early 1990s of The Uncanny X-Men, issues #201-301; I ignore the recent Heroes spin-off comic.)

Which is better, the X-Men or the t.v. show Heroes?  Let me count the reasons.

In the X-Men‘s favor: they were first, they have solid leadership (especially under Professor X), Magneto is a compelling villian, Wolverine captures better than any other the wild side of the male soul, Storm makes a solid heir to the Professor’s throne and makes Hallie Berry look like a decent actress again, and only this franchise could pull together Patrick Stewark vs. Ian McKellan.

In Heroes‘s favor: Noah Bennett might be the most-bad-ass-dad of all time, the show has brought non-initiates (i.e., non-nerds) to the superhero table, the first season  was amazing, Hiro Nakamura  is like the best-Japanese-friend I never had, and the show is just plain fun.

To the X-Men’s discredit: the third movie was terrible, the uniforms are silly, and — maybe it’s the school — but teen angst keeps peeing on my fun-fire.

To Heroes‘s discredit: Peter Petrelli is a dumb-ass many times over, Mohinder Suresh waffles more than a bad senator, the little girl (what’s her name?) is creepy, Alejandro, and — let’s face it — much of the cast is very annoying much of the time, when you stop to think about it.  Claire!  Monica!  Nathan!  Can’t y’all get your act together?  Plus, the second season was only so-so.

What they have in common: a grasp of moral ambiguity, the importance of teamwork, and of “family” in all its forms.  Oh yeah, and good and evil mutants with superpowers.

The Verdict:  More heroes = more fun.  I’m glad we have both franchises, but, at the end of the day, I’m happy saying that Stan Lee is a genius.  Kring has yet to prove himself.  Go X-Men.

27 Ways to Lose your Balls

Few movies promise to be as utterly emasculating as this year’s 27 Dresses. As the title and trailer indicate, this movie ought to contain nothing that appeals to the typical male viewer. It’s refreshing, really, to see a major studio sending out a big #$&* you to their primary demographic.

“But it’s got Katherine Heigl,” some might argue. “She’s supposed to be hot.”

So was Princess Diana. Do you see me reading the biography?

What baffles me is that they’re not even trying for cross-over appeal. This isn’t a date movie. This is a cut-off-your-balls-for-a-few-hours-and-sew-them-back-on kind of movie. (Don’t ask me how they get sewed back on; I’m not a doctor; and yes, it’s “sewn.”)

In short: the title says it all. If your girlfriend/wife/signif-oth drags you to this one, she owes you big time. You just surrendered your manhood.

If you don’t believe that Jesus is God, why not Tom Cruise? Or FM-2030?

If you’re not sure Tom Cruise is crazy, check out his interview expressing his hope to “create a new reality… with enough love, compassion, and toughness.”  I miss Jesus already.  (Helpful explanations of his jargon here.)

Yet Scientology is part of the larger movement of transhumanism, and they’re not even the craziest ones in the movement.  Not to be confused with transsexuality, which this is not the place to discuss, transhumanists hope to incorporate advances in technology and “spirituality” to become immortal, post-human entities (and sometimes cyborgs).

I originally entitled this post “Science Fiction + religion – God = 😦 ” but changed when I realized that some might infer atheist non-cult-members, many of whose views I greatly respect, as being lumped along with self-theist psychos. I value dialog with people of other beliefs, but even I have my limits and and some point have to cry, “Dude, that’s loco!”

Worship someone, please, but not your future self.

A Very Waterpark Michael Jackson Karaoke Christmas

I love my family.  I have always been aware that my family is a little bit weird.  I am, too.  But the older I am, the more openly weird my family becomes.  And so it was that we all spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day at the indoor water park at our hotel, going down the slides, singing karaoke, and watching old Michael Jackson music videos. 

 

The warm water rushed us down, giving birth to us a few dozen times.  Our voices frayed after hours on end singing songs to which only my father knew the words, laughing ourselves silly.  Our eyes blurred before the slow metamorphosis of the King of Pop, who managed to dance his way out of every imaginable crisis:  The thugs attack?  Dance!  Your peers question your badness?  Dance!  The pharaoh tries to kill you for your past fling with his wife?  Dance! 

 

And so it was that we, too, used music to resolve each crisis.  Grandma and Uncle Bob have subjected the love of my life to three hours of family history and show no sign of stopping?  Let’s sing!  Grandpa has lost his ability of speech and sits staring blankly at the nursing home ceiling?  Let’s sing!  Sing of the newborn King, of healing, of hope!  More than the presents, more than the laughter, and the reason for them both: Christ is born!