Iron Man From Tinseltown

Francis D. Grabau

When it comes to architecture, there's nothing else quite like modern American movie houses unless it's modern American warehouses.  They both share the same basic rectangular shape and sprawl across the landscape like huge 'Monopoly' boxes made to store things.  Parker Brothers, I'm almost sure, has nothing to do with them but for some loose change connection obscurely existing between storage units, tickets, drugs, and money.  Zeitgeist!

While the warehouses mostly hold inventories of merchandise, the movie houses host consumers stacked in seated rows  all gawking at the same huge wall in the dark. Of course, at the movies the wall lights up with astonishingly colored forms as a parade of literal shadows passes over it.  These phantom caravans of moving images are accompanied in our newest theatre franchises by very loud, digitally mastered corporate sounds. It can be an 'awesome' experience for anyone who wants and can afford it ... as I know since I just went to the movies on a very hot and muggy day in Shreveport, Louisiana happy to sit in the air-conditioned dark with other hot ticket holders gawking at a fantastically contrived and ultra-hyped "summer blockbuster" with the title, "Iron Man"

I assumed that Iron Man was meant to be some sort of comedy since it's based on the famous Marvel Comic Book character of the same name.  I don't know that particular comic book but I do know the likes of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Spiderman, and Captains Marvel & America. Iron Man fits snugly into that lineup of white, male superheroes each tragically suffering from his own uniquely skewed and sophomoric (but "All American") sense of moral righteousness. All these white manly heroes seem like the "wasps" they are, replete with stinging attitudes.  Instantly ready to right wrongs for reasons somehow bound into their tight and visually emphasized muscle costumes. They exude their questionable prowess by means of webs, lanterns, and semi-magical gizmos of all kinds while flying through the air on capes, surfboards, beams and even roller skates to shake things up. They are all warring -like G.W.Bush- against what they think of as Evil due to their feeble powers of introspection.
( It must be that damn
Kryptonite, again! )

But hey, introspection, self-reflection, and the subsequent compassion such invisible activities produce aren't exactly  character traits encouraged and approved of for the All American White Male.  Such real human qualities can't be conveyed
convincingly by adrenalin driven Action Figures on the wide screen, so we get stuck with these guys who speak to us in flat platitudes interspersed with quasi-zen-like lyrical cunundrums:

"In brightest day, in darkest night
No Evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship Evil's might
Beware my power, Green Lantern's light."

How are we to take such characters 'seriously' or even begin to vicariously enjoy their adventures?  Well, the writers, directors, special effects technicians (O, excuse me, I mean 'dudes'), and cameramen involved with Iron Man think they've found the solution to that problem; just plunk your Superhero onto the contemporary landscape of Afghanistan via Malibu Beach, then dip his personality liberally in Hip Hollywood-New York Cynicism  -you know, the 'profound' amoral ambiguity characteristic of disturbing folks like Quentin Tarrantino. Do, in other words, whatever you have to do to disguise the innate puerility, the hopelessly narcissistic solipsism of your Slick American Superhero. You can even pitch the gag that he (in this case a weapons maker and dealer) has undergone a genuine change of heart and emerged fully "humanized".  Like our war mongering 'President', our Slick American Hero becomes (in a flash) a "born again" man (for the money).  Fast with a gun, faster with a quip!  Wham!  Shazam!  Thank you, Mam! 

And just like that, glamorous Playboy weaponeer Tom Stark is transformed before our very eyes into the cyborg boy scout, Iron Man.  Proof of this transformation is seen in his preoccupation with his home made high gear super-techno suit which raises him aloft into the skies like Jesus. Technology is his saviour. Science replaces Spirit and his controlling interest in his father's Corporation gives him all the money he needs to further his 'change of heart'.  Duh!  Only Miss Pepper Potts is dumbly devoted enough to believe that tripe ... and, I guess, millions of movie goers so desperately depressed they 'pretend' that it's so. Hey kids, Tinker Bell is dying!   Everybody out there who believes in Tink clap your hands, clap 'em loud and clap 'em hard, help keep Tink alive! (They call this part "audience participation"  -it's digitally embedded in the soundtrack of the flick!)   Code name: 'Operation Bluebird'

Well, while I for one believe in Tinker Bell, I find it much harder to believe in Iron Man. I think it must be all that toxic heavy metal, the engineering and mining contamination (never alluded to in the film, but obviously present) that undermines my faith in him. That, and his visual-genetic proximity to mighty Tasers, his resemblance to Robocops and TerminatorsWhere did we first see these fascist techno-visions?  O, Hollywood, ain't it weird just to be alive!

I confess, sometimes these comic book characters can really get to me.  I mean, who is Iron Man in 'real' life? Does he ever do anything 'normal' like, maybe, take out the trash or cook breakfast?  Where was he and what was he doing with his explosive Super-Power-Technology when 9/11/2001 just 'happened'? Would he know how to make Skyscrapers collapse like pancakes?  Where are these Superheroes when you need them?  In their Heroic Righteousness do they ever 'accidentally' kill innocent people?  Ho-hum.

The ever so sly visual gimmicks found in American film and television still (unfortunately) pass for wit among us media addicts conditioned as we are to see in them intelligent and even meaningful forms of 'sophistication'  -they give us and our heroes what we like to call 'style' !  It's part and parcel of our high-tech shock and awe programming.  In America style is spin is packaging is the cloaking of the substance our corporate culture doesn't offers us. Inside all our stylish posturing is TOXIC lack of content.  A shadowy, mysterious void filled with nothing but the promise of ever more empty Propaganda.  I mean when all the techno-dust settles, The Matrix is just a matrix.  Mental junk food enriched with preservatives and synthetic neural pheromones.  But wow, it sure "tastes good" -huh?  Let's hear it for those chocolate covered Snickers!

Iron Man
Inside The Matrix

Dress up your fantasy in stunning high-tech armor, spray it with red and gold paint, put Robert Downey Jr. inside and you have another 'hit' flick for the profit investor's market.  Brand 'new' spin-packaging for Hostess Twinkies, Marvel Pictures, and Big Macs.  Seated in my chosen Tinseltown movie house, feeling ever so 'cool' in my air-conditioned escape from the never ending "War On Terror" (as well as the muggy heat of Shreveport) I still could not bring myself to chuckle knowingly when Iron Man -after his harrowing escape from the Raghead Terrorists- announced that his most pressing need was to (get this one) consume an American Cheeseburger!  My liver audibly (and all but verbally) demanded an instant dose of high quality Milk Thistle! 

Don't get me wrong, I have my own jaded sense of humor, I drink coffee laced with real cream (daily) and smoke nasty cigarettes.  Even an occasional cigar.  I don't quite buy full spectrum 'purity'.  But when Robert Downey uttered that cheeseburger line I saw Cint Eastwood grabbing his Fistful Of Dollars for 'taking out' Charlie Chaplin's Tramp. So it goes, as Kurt would say, the children's dance with death: Slaughterhouse Five. 

When is War not War? 
When it's entertainment.  When it's a movie like Saving Private Ryan, not a film like Paths Of Glory. 

Cheeseburgers for Iron Man, Springtime for Hitler and Germany. What's going on in America?  Last time I sat inside this Louisiana Tinseltown I came to see "The Passion Of The Christ"  -another totally bonkers movie!  But that was in Winter during an ice storm and then I was escaping into heat. What possible connection exists between the two Superheroes Christ and Iron Man?  A penis?   The notion that violence, torture, and penance are virtual reality fun?  Technology is 'neutral' and movies are just around to 'entertain' us ?  O sure, right, yeah ... and Obama, Hillary, and McCain are the three persons comprising the sublime mystery of the Holy Trinity!  Gimme a break.  Thank you, I'll take some Skull & Bones in my politics and a heap of red hot chilis on my (whole wheat bun, please) cheeseburger!

Iron Man is the Tin Man of Oz gone pyrotechnic.  And George Bush is US -(in case you've somehow failed to notice)- is the Composite American Jesus practicing dry humor on imaginary hits of whiskey, nutra-sweet, and tonic. We see now through a scanner, darkly. Even children's comic books are serious. Every movie you'll ever see is a potential terrorist threat. Newsflash -the notoriously celebrated Disneyland-Hollywood franchise collectively dreams of electric sheep. I mean, believe it or not, Shirley Temple actually met ET on the good ship Lollipop!  (It was, as they say, an "arranged" marriage.)

Phillip K. Dick was fond of saying we live inside the Black Iron Wall ever since Rome turned into the American Empire,  -just not convincingly enough to fool all of us all of the time.  Of course the now dead Dick is Hip America's favorite 'paranoid' author.  Yet I noticed, as the interminable credits rolled by, that Iron Man was filmed with assistance from the Pentagon.

Who hides inside Iron Man's cyborg suit?  Certainly not Charlie Chaplin cause he was Blacklisted by Homeland Security along with Dalton Trumbo and Bertolt Brecht.  Could it be the techno-spirit of the dark devil himself, Michael Chertov?  Isn't "dualistic citizenship" a modern form of pseudo-saintly "bilocation" ?  Just WHO is "remotely viewing" WHOM and what does all that have to do with HAARP and DARPA ? Oh, Paradiso, my Hawaii!!!


Vast Active Living Intelligence Systems

Welcome to the Inner Sanctum where only The Shadow knows  ... but he drinks Bromo Seltzer. That's acetaminophen, sodium bicarbonate, and citric acid.  JFK was assassinated by the American Establishment and 911 was an inside job. Those same "insiders" dropped the Murrah Building on the Wicked Witch in Oklahoma where Poor Jud is dead and the wind don't come sweeping down the plains no more.  Everything's "up to date" in Kansas City, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. They're all captured outposts within the Empire, and if you look real close behind the corporate curtain you might even notice Iron Man's fancy new PACEMAKER  (it's in your face)  -a gift from Dick Cheney who has no use for a real, organic heart (and thinks you don't, either!)  Still, there are the outstandingly entertaining issues of organ transplants, drug dealing, and human slave trade brought to us by the government's legal terrorists. Not to mention the thriving POPPY FIELDS OF AMERICAN OWNED AFGHANISTAN. The Fascists, indeed, are here wearing new techno gear.  Who said that?

Yes, my fellow Consumers in Christ, Iron Man is another corporately choreographed dance with death. So, if, like me you've been foolishly contaminated just wash that borg right out of your hair some enchanted evening when Mitzi Gaynor comes home to roost with Reverend Wright.  Take my queer word for it kids, absolutely nothin acts like a dame anymore. Not these days. Ask Pepper Potts. Or Ben Affleck. Ask Shakespeare's Mom!

Kinky war tramps everywhere you look. Ah, the heartburn.

All the dead and dying from our Corporate Christian wars.  Pat Tillman's Superghost meets Geronimo's Stolen Skull in the Secret Tombs of the priveleged Elite.  Methinks dreams of Superheroes are singularly pertinent to WASPS  -and clones of wasps.  Could this have anything at all to do with the Colony Collapse Disorder among the Honey Bees ?  The political and economic plan to starve the poor all over the planet ?  If Jeremiah Wright is correct and God is damning America are we to believe that Iron Man in his starring role for Homeland Security will save us?  Is this what comes of staring at shadows moving on the wall?   Entrancement?   Social impotence?   Ah, there's the sting!
Après nous le déluge ?

And So it goes.

We got sunlight on the sand,
We got moonlight on the sea,
We got mangoes and bananas
You can pick right off the tree,

We got volleyball and ping-pong
And a lot of dandy games!
What ain't we got?
We ain't got brains!

All 3 (three) of the image collages illustrating this comic book article were made by me, Francis D. Grabau.  As far as I'm concerned anyone interested may use them freely.

ckick here to return to index