1/ I muscled thru the first episodes of #WandaVison & I'm in ep.5. I have notes.

Look: a problem w/a 'realistic' rendition of superheroes is that the entire superhero concept is inherently fascistic so 'realism' will often end up as creepy apologetics
2/ Moreover: the only real difference between a superhero and supervillain is a mood change. Lex Luthor is a genius & often has powered armor. That's Iron Man, no? Same guy, different moods.

The MCU knows about this problem but IMO handles it badly.
3/ I hated "Civil War" because it recognized the issue but IMO gave multiple characters 'idiot balls' - or decided to make the bad behavior inherent in the characters, which made it a full-fledged Ebert "Idiot Plot"
4/ Like I alluded to in my "High Noon" thread, I don't watch fiction to see people act terribly b/c I see that all the time in real life. It's especially galling in superhero movies b/c they're depicted as having unaccountable power. That's abuse, y'all.
5/ [Spoilers]

Wanda is torturing a town b/c, evidently, she's in grief. IMO that makes her a supervillain.

Hollywood often depicts "love" for a relative as more important than everything, including mass destruction.

IMO, love of self that damages others is the core of evil.
6/ Heck, who knows, maybe that's what this TV show is trying to explore. But seeing some overpowered person use their resources to please their own fantasies at the expense of their neighbors - and use a 'higher ideal' as an excuse - is commonplace, grubby & contemptable.
7/ I just can't expect WandaVision to do a better job than "Infinity War" in showing sympathetic or just coherent character motivation. IW was unwatchable for me b/c it had the same Idiot Ball/Plot elements. And Stark's demand of the five-year blip in "Endgame" was enraging!
8/ I guess, ultimately, my problem is that I hate needing to see wanton misery and destruction on screen. Because, again, I see that everywhere. Do these writers & viewers not know real misery? Is it cathartic to them to watch horror, injustice, mutilation, child death on screen?
9/ It's fiction. You can do anything. So it's an actual choice to set up a story that requires an unjust solution that tortures the innocents on screen. This is especially true in a comic book universe where the rules of science don't apply.
10/ The infinity stones are literally a device to let anything happen. So what kind of stunted mind depicts half the universe destroyed and, when possessing the same power stones, the heroes incapable of reversing it completely?

I think it's a bad artist's idea of 'serious'
11/ I don't understand the mentality that feels a movie's 'serious' b/c innocent people die on screen. Gevalt: just look out your window for that!

Note, this is why I utterly detested "Revenge of the Sith" & "The Dark Knight": shallow tragedy & philosophy that dresses up misery
12/ Again, as I said with "High Noon" - my tastes are uncommon and to an extent "De gustibus non est disputandum" (aka "tastes differ"). Ethically, though, I have a problem with glorifying cruelty and these movies IMO run afoul of that.
13/ I don't watch horror movies for the same reason. There's a nihilism in them & a weird joy in hurting people & showing their misery for my entertainment. I don't get it.

I like superhero films, but they need to be simple: Good vs evil & Good wins. Why? B/c they are fantasies.
14/ Fiction for me should be different from the world I see as a social scientist, a historian, a philosopher, and especially as a rabbi. I've held dying people's hands; I've seen poverty, misery, illness, death. I see bad guys win often. Why do I need more?
15/ Now, to apply my duty of charity: despite describing why I don't like certain art, this cannot be a condemnation of the art or those who like it b/c, ultimately, my tastes come from my personality & history.

That's the wisdom of this phrase:
16/ Some people watch these movies & enjoy the depiction b/c - I suspect - maybe they can't see, or haven't seen, what I have. They need things to be exaggerated & overt for them to recognize the emotion. What emotion I get from just a hint, they need in an epic. And vice-versa.
17/ It's a long battle, and I think my position is strong when it comes to superhero movies because they're power fantasies and often the writing doesn't accomplish what they claim they want. But I can criticize the writing w/o condemning those who enjoy the final product.
18/ This gets into a larger discussion about modes of thought & fictional narratives (e.g. how physicists can't suspend disbelief for movies that I am able to; or how seeing a palm tree in the background of "NYC" ruins a movie for someone while I don't notice) which I'll do later
19/ For now, I'll end.

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More from @JoshuaCypess

8 Mar
1/ My list of favorite women to follow in honor of #InternationalWomensDay

For reference, here are my lists for 2019 & 2020. Since then I've added more (and taken a few off).

2/ This year I want to spend time highlighting voices - in no particular order - that I consider crucial weekly reading (I print out threads to read over Shabbat b/c during the week I'm working so for me the best time for reflective Twitter is when I can't do other melakha)
3/ I've mentioned before that I use thread-readers often - how else could I read over Shabbat - but some of my favorites don't allow access. But I'm putting on this list those who I find valuable enough that I *would* thread if it was available.
Read 23 tweets
8 Mar
1/ #ReshetKeshet. For #KiTisa, I taught my explanation for why they chose a calf as the object of worship. My exegetical method (parshanut) is peshat focused. I define peshat as an attempt for a necessary interpretation of the text (as opposed to 'drash' which is a possible one)
2/ Why a young, male cow? There could be a lost external significance to that animal, e.g. the Egyptians worshipped cows. We're told that this was the reason for a lamb for the Pesach offering, except: it can also be a goat. And nowhere is cow worship mentioned in Tanakh.
3/ It's tendentious b/c it requires an "okimta" i.e. outside data not found in the text. That takes it outside peshat.

Note, Ramban suggests the Pesach is a lamb b/c the month of Nisan is Aries in the Zodiac. This is more of an internal proof (Pesach needs to be in the Spring).
Read 34 tweets
7 Mar
1/ Also, for Prime People, "High Noon" is available! Possibly my favorite Western ever. It also seems to be a Rorschach test: for some it's an egoistic "My Way" message of the lonely hero; for me it's the depiction of selfish cowardice from the town
2/ So, spoilers:

The hero isn't as interesting to me and IMO this is purposeful: his interchangeability with any other Western Tough Guy is the necessary constant that allows the film to highlight the main conflict: he's abandoned by every other person b/c they're selfish.
3/ Even his decision to stay & fight can be seen as selfishness: (a) his self-regard (as the sappy song incessantly yawps, playing every time he steps outside like it's a shopping mall) & (b) it's better to stop a conflict from ever happening through a show of unified resistance
Read 19 tweets
7 Mar
34.01/ Week thirty-four, March 6-12, 2021, begins here. Last week's thread linked below
34.02/ This just happened:

11yo "What is the word again for throwing things out a window?"
My wife: "Defenestration"
Me: "Yeet"
34.03a/ We've been having Family Movie Night (tm) for these early Sat. nights with me as MC (I've been a movie maven since a wee lad). We went through a three week Bill Murray period (Osmosis Jones, Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters) & last night may start a three wk Danny Kaye series
Read 9 tweets
28 Feb
33.01/ Week thirty-three, Feb. 27-March 5 2021, begins here.

Week thirty-two linked below
33.02/ #ReshetKeshet for #Tetzaveh: a good resource for understanding the laws of the priestly clothing (bigdei kahuna) is the Rambam. See Hilchot Klei Hamikdash, esp. chapters 8-10, in Rabbi Eliyahu Touger's exemplary translation below:
33.03/ I missed the entire discourse about the horrible National Anthem at CPORK? CPAWK? (whatever) but whoa just heard it. My wife just showed me this great attempt by pianist Brandon Ethridge (@brandonethridge) to accompany the roiling swamp of this song
Read 15 tweets
26 Feb
1/ #ReshetKeshet. I'm trying to combine my sociological work on disability with my rabbinic role by writing a Disability Shulchan Arukh, as it were: how halakha applies to full variation of humanity. BTW, the gemara is full of this but invisible disabilities are overlooked.
2/ So, notes on the mitzvah of hearing the #Megillah, which is a disability nightmare. Shas deals with things like blindness:
And deafness: rabbikaganoff.com/megillas-esthe…

But what about #ADHD? For a mitzvah that requires total concentration?!
3/ Or people with sensory overload issues, like #autism & others, who can be quite uncomfortable in rooms packed to the rafters with people graggin' graggers and noisemakers and full tumult (pardon my Yiddish)
Read 14 tweets

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