I’m not a comic book guy or a science fiction afficionado, but I appreciate having some intelligent themes to chew on in my otherwise hokey pop diversions. I never read the X-Men comics, but the film series continues to grapple with themes related to the acceptance of difference in others and in oneself, social conformity, and the challenge of channeling anger into positive action to promote the common good. And anyway, Ian McKellen is da bomb.
I’m told science fiction has a long history of implicit social commentary, as this wikipedia entry discusses. The original Frankenstein films by James Whale, for example, examine some themes similar to the ones on display in the X-Men series. Certainly, it’s easy to name films that wear their politics on their sleeves, like On the Waterfront, Twelve Angry Men, or Seven Days in May on the liberal side of the ledger. Then there are populist entertainments with fascist undertones, like Rambo or those Charles Bronson vigilante flicks.
What are some of your favorite, not so obvious works of popular entertainment with political undertones? Don’t limit yourself to films, or even to science fiction. Tell us about your favorites in the comments.
And if James Wolcott stops by, I’ll scream like a nellie queen for sheer delight.