?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Thinking about the Marvel Avengers series of movies, it occurs to me how remarkable it would be, in light of their history, if Steve Rogers and Tony Stark could stand each other. Consider this difference in their upbringing:

Steve "Captain America" Rogers is a trailing-edge "GI Generation" American. He grew up during the Hoover administration, during the triple-disaster of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression and the rise of global fascism, and Herbert Hoover and his conservative pro-business pro-wealthy supporters insisted that there was nothing that the federal government could or should do about it, we were just going to have to accept our suffering and hope that things get better. And it was liberal anti-business anti-wealthy FDR who was the first politician of his lifetime to stand up and say that there was something the government could do to save kids like Steve Rogers, the New Deal, and he did those things, and the economy turned around.

The movie incarnation of Tony "Iron Man" Stark is a Gen-Xer. He grew up during the Carter administration, during the triple disaster that was the post-Vietnam military crisis and the OPEC economic crisis (and the resulting stagflation) and rising Soviet adventurism, and Jimmy Carter and his (supposedly) liberal anti-business anti-wealthy supporters insisted that there wasn't anything the federal government could or should do about it, that we were just going to have to accept our suffering and hope that things get better. And it was Ronald Reagan and his conservative pro-business pro-wealthy supporters who said that there was something the government could do to rescue the future for kids like Tony Stark, Morning in America, and he did those things, and the economy turned around.

For Steve Rogers' generation, Herbert Hoover discredited the Republicans, and conservatives in general, for decades; Herbert Hoover was the symbol of surrender, of flaunted impotence, of can't-do-ism, of accepting your suffering. For Tony Stark's generation, Jimmy Carter discredited the Democrats, and liberals in general, for decades; Jimmy Carter was the symbol of surrender, of flaunted impotence, of can't-do-ism, of accepting your suffering.

No matter who was writing the Marvel Avengers movie series, once the decision was made to set the story in the modern age but to keep Captain America as a World War II veteran techno-magically brought into the modern day, there have to come several points where Tony Stark flaunts his wealth, flaunts his big-business credentials, where he mocks government solutions and boasts of the primacy of wealthy industrialists. Any any time he says that in front of Steve Rogers, Steve Rogers has got to hear that and think: guys like you left me to die. But as soon as Steve Rogers speaks up against greedy businessmen, or stands up for the government, Tony Stark has got to hear that and think: guys like you left me to rot.

Maybe there are things out there that are enough worse than conservatives that Steve Rogers can, if he has to, join forces with Tony Stark for as long as it takes to fight them. Maybe there are things out there that are enough worse than liberals that Tony Stark can, if he has to, join forces with Steve Rogers for as long as it takes to fight them. Maybe. And maybe if it happened often enough and for long enough, they could develop a grudging respect for each other. But Tony Stark is always going to remind Steve Rogers of Herbert Hoover, and Steve Rogers is always going to remind Tony Stark of Jimmy Carter, so they are never, ever, ever going to like each other.

Comments

bradhicks
May. 12th, 2012 01:50 pm (UTC)
As liberal as I am, I still argue that Reagan's first term saved the country from disaster. Carter was, arguably, one of the three or four smartest guys to ever hold the office of President of the United States, but he ran the second dumbest presidency of any of them, for two reasons.

One, which he shares with the current office holder, is that he has completely unjustifiable confidence in what the intelligence community tells him about foreign affairs. Carter, like Obama, mostly only cared about and studied domestic issues; knowing he was over his head on foreign affairs, he trusted the CIA ... at a time when the CIA was screwing up so badly all over the world that they created almost every evil we face today. Carter could have done everything else right and he'd still go down in my book as the 2nd worst President in American history just for the "island of stability" speech that single-handedly created Hizbollah.

The other was the one that killed him, and the Democrats, with the American people for thirty years, and that was that when times were bad, instead of telling us, "things are bad, but if we do this and that and the other together, our children will be better off," he kept giving speeches saying, "things are bad, and they're going to stay bad, get used to it." Yes, American post-WW2 colonialism was never going to be as profitable post-OPEC as it was pre-OPEC, never going to be as profitable once Japan and Germany rebuilt their factories as it was when we had the only surviving factories in the world. But, seriously, how could a guy who spent his Navy years as a nuclear reactor technician have so little faith in science and technology that he couldn't even imagine an America that would some day get over the oil shock, how could he have so little faith in science and technology that he couldn't even imagine an American recovery?

Winston Churchill promised nothing but blood, toil, tears, and sweat ... until victory. Jimmy Carter promised malaise and decline forever and ever, amen, "the new normal," the Revolution Of Lowered Expectations, get used to it. He was Herbert Hoover with a donkey pin on his lapel. He was wrecking the country, and he did wreck the party.
kimchalister
May. 13th, 2012 06:32 am (UTC)
"As liberal as I am, I still argue that Reagan's first term saved the country from disaster."

What did he do that makes you say this?
bradhicks
May. 13th, 2012 03:49 pm (UTC)
Um, I thought I answered that in the paragraphs that followed that sentence?

In case I was unclear: his foreign policy ignorance created Hizbollah, and his relentless negativism was wrecking the US economy. God only knows what damage he would have done in a second term.
kimchalister
May. 13th, 2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
So, are you saying that Reagan saved us by stopping Carter's policies, not by any particular policy of his own? Just his upbeat persona?
bradhicks
May. 14th, 2012 12:11 am (UTC)
Precisely. His actual policies were awful; in fact, his foreign policy was worse than Carter's.
foolsguinea
Jun. 9th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC)
Um, as far as I can tell, things haven't gotten any better economically since Carter. Our new normal is pretty much as bad as he said, and as someone who grew up in the Religious Right, "Life sucks and then you die," seems totally normal and conservative to me. I think you have to be a Baby Boomer to hate him for that; you're just killing the messenger.