Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dichotomy Of A Mutant

Movies have long been a major pastime in our culture. Movie studios spend millions of dollars to make a film in hopes that their monetary return will be exponentially larger than their initial payment. Over the years, the formula for making a feature film that will automatically be a box office hit has not been discovered, but many directors like Ron Howard, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have come very close to perfecting the recipe. The common thread that binds all of these director’s works is that their movies imitate life. In the true since of art imitating life (or is that the other way around) the third instillation of X-Men does an outstanding job by bringing visual effects and a poignant storyline together to tell the story. Ironically, this story of persecution that is intertwined through out this film very much parallels the plight of gays and lesbians who will go to see this story unfold on the big screen.

X III is overcast with the ominous situation of the government distributing a vaccine that could “cure” mutants, stripping away the power that makes them unique. Those who despise their power unarguably will jump at the opportunity to become normal and those who cherish their powers and want to keep them (to be used for good or for evil) are afraid that the government will eventually forcibly use this “cure” as a weapon against them. This is very similar to why the American Psychiatric Association thought about homosexuality in the early days of its diagnostics. They thought that they could “cure” homosexuality with treatment. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its diagnostic list of mental disorders in 1973.

But the character Storm, the weather wheedling witch, has a stronger role than ever before. With her sudden thrust into the commander’s seat, she commendably defies the notion that being a mutant is an illness. Many thought the early days of homosexuality heralded the same sentiment.

Growing up as a teenager, many who were questioning their sexuality were so confused by their feelings for the same sex that the shielded away from the famed heterosexually contact and were all but terrified from engaging in their longed for homosexual contact. This parallels the character of Rouge, whose mutant power is that she absorbs the life force any person she physically touches. So much that she kills them. This presents a major problem as she is a teenager with a steady boyfriend.

One of the most stereotypical examples of teenage homosexual angst is that of the young boy who has come to the realization that he is different, but he does not want his secret to be known by his father. This is portrayed in the movie early when we see the father of the young winged avenger finds him trying to scissor his wings off as a child. Later in the movie, we find that the father is the one who created the “cure” and wants to use his own son as a guinea pig. Just before the son, now strapping young man, is injected with the “cure”, he changes his mind and breaks free of the situation by leaping through the glass window to soar freely over the San Francisco Bay. Very telling of a number of feeling of a handful of gay and lesbian young adults who have broken away from the shackles of their family and “came out” the live freely in society.

In fact, the only way that this movie’s perils parallel the struggles of gays and lesbians is that it never touches upon the issue of marriage.

IF you think hard about it, the mutant’s story can be associated with set of people who have been persecutes and defamed throughout the years. Jews during the holocaust, African Americans during slavery both can associate with the mutant’s story just as homosexuals. And you wonder what my fascination is with this story.

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