If you consider yourself a radical or an opponent of colonialism or United States’ ongoing imperialism, stop financially supporting Marvel.
Firstly, I'll say this; all media is propaganda. Every piece of media is made with purpose, and without critically thinking about what that purpose is, and who it benefits, we as consumers are being influenced.
So let's ask the question; why was Marvel created? Or, let's go even further back, and ask, why were comics created?
Almost zero of the cultural present or past of the United States makes sense without acknowledging that US culture was invented in response to, or as part of the rapid cultural shifting in the United States around the WWII era. Comics are far from the exception.
Arguably the first true "Superhero", Superman premiered in Action Comics in 1938. He was invented by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster. They were the children of Jewish immigrants to North America.
Most people know this. However, most people don't know that the character had been invented earlier -- as a villain. In 1933, there had been a short story published by the two known as "The Reign of the Super-Man". This title--and this concept--was no accident.
In this short story, a professor creates a "super-man", or an idealized form of a human being, through science. His experiment then goes rogue and terrorizes the citizens around him. This story is clearly inspired by Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, but also by cultural trends.
In the 1930s, support for eugenics was rising rapidly nationwide. In the United States, there were even "fitter families' contests" sponsored by the American Eugenics Society. This photo was of a winning family in Kansas in 1925.
Rather than being a niche or fringe opinion, eugenicism was openly and culturally celebrated by many. These eugenics ideals targeted disabled people, people of color, Jewish people, queer people, and more as "undesirable", and openly sought to remove them from the gene pool.
The two Jewish creators of "super-man" were well aware of the era that they lived in, and this story shows plainly their attempts to discuss the dangers of eugenicism through fiction.
The name itself, "super-man" may seem innocuous to us now, as it is mostly associated with the superhero (named after the character that popularized the genre). But you may know the same concept under a more sinister name -- ubermensch.
The fact that the German translation of the same word, superman, strikes a chord of fear, while the English version rings with inspiration is no accident. The concept of the ubermensch, or superman, was touted by eugenicists in the United States as well as in Europe.
It is revisionist history to attempt to obscure the United States' own history of eugenics, fascist sympathies, and more during the 20s and 30s. Entering WWII was much less a war of ideologies, and much more a war of political advantage.
The United States entering WWII was also a highly contested and divisive decision within the United States, where there were a great number of people sympathetic to the Nazi/Axis side of the war.
So how do you get a highly divided population to support a political cause, and a tangible, military cause, wholeheartedly, even if it is one much of the population ideologically supports?
In 1938, the Superman that we know of was premiered, by two Jewish descendants of immigrants eager to bolster support in the United States against eugenicist ideals. This version of Superman was a protector of the vulnerable, not an aggressor.
This version of Superman was meant to represent an idealized vision of the United States -- one that would fight fascism, eugenics, and Nazis -- all while being the most powerful himself, but choosing to use his power for good.
This theme should be familiar to you, not only in the context of superhero mythos, but also in the propaganda with which the United States' presents itself as an incredibly powerful, but benevolent, protector of the world at large, especially of smaller countries.
This personified mythos of the United States was popularized and came into its own in the WWII era, and was characterized by superheroes such as Superman, but also by other persistent figures such as Uncle Sam. Superman was also followed by a flurry of other superheroes.
These heroes included many of the superheroes persisting today. The Justice Society of America (The Justice League) was first developed in 1940. Batman, Captain America and Wonder Woman are created in 1941.
Comics were an affordable, accessible form of mass entertainment during WWII and the years immediately leading up to it. The influence of narratives such as this, portraying the United States as a benevolent protector of the vulnerable, cannot be underestimated.
Although it is impossible to know the degree, the shift in public opinion through these narratives dramatically increased public support for the United States' joining WWII, especially among working class people.
From here, the mythos of the United States as a protector was intrinsically tied to the mythos of superheroes. The popularity of superheroes spikes whenever the United States' is engaged in an unpopular conflict. The Golden Age of comics, WWII.
The next major spike arrives in the early 1960s, with The Justice League, the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man, the X Men, and the Avengers.
The concept of superhero *teams* is no accident here either.
The United States (personified by either Superman or Captain America) is here represented to be part of a greater coalition of "protectors of justice", united against an evil coalition of villains aiming to destroy it.
This comes in the early 60s, representing Cold War tensions.
In the Vietnam War era (1959-1975), comics and their narratives presented an intense personification of the United States' and its allies fighting "an evil coalition". Narratives such as this were necessary to bolster support for a divisive and cruel imperialistic campaign.
Comics continue to grow as a legitimate and deeply American art form throughout the 80s and 90s, with movie adaptations of this genre becoming more and more popular.
The superhero genre almost collapsed altogether in the 90s. In 1996, Marvel Comics filed for bankruptcy.
But the early 2000s were its saving grace. It successfully produced movies, coinciding with a surge in nationalistic fervor due to wars in the Middle East.
In 2008, Iron Man became the beginning of the Marvel empire we see today. If at this point, you still doubt the usefulness of narratives such as this as propaganda tools, please read the google-provided movie synopsis for this movie and keep in mind the United States' in 2008.
"A billionaire industrialist and genius inventor, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), is conducting weapons tests overseas, but terrorists kidnap him to force him to build a devastating weapon. Instead, he builds an armored suit and upends his captors. Returning to America, Stark...
...refines the suit and uses it to combat crime and terrorism."
I would argue this is a newer, and more refined, personification of the United States. This personification portrays itself as Tony Stark, someone rich and powerful, a weapons developer.
This characterization doesn't want to fight a war, instead it is "forced" to respond to terrorism that threatens its interests. This version joins forces more recently with a whole cast of characters, a coalition of those with diverse interests, fighting against a "greater evil".
This becomes even more suspicious when all three Iron Man movies received official military financial support. Costumes and vehicles from divisions of the United States' military appear in Marvel movies, from the first Iron Man up until the present.
The newest feature, "The Tomorrow War", even heavily features US Black Hawk Helicopters prominently in its promotional materials. This is not an accident.
If recruiting advertisements bear an uncannily similarity to modern superhero movies, down to the slogans, the effects, and the lighting, that is not an accident.
Focuses on individualistic heroism in these recruitment campaigns are not an accident.
The United States' military openly uses superhero movies, particularly Marvel movies, as a recruitment tool in the modern era.
For information as to how this relates to colonialism/imperialism, here is a US Dept of Defense map of US overseas military installations.
This thread is the barest scratch of the surface of these issues, so I'd like to add a few final thoughts here.
Firstly, consume media critically. Secondly, be suspicious of any media that presents a narrative of "good vs evil". Who does this narrative benefit?
Thirdly, I want to say that while these characters and superhero narratives at large have been used extensively as propaganda, particularly by and for the United States military, many characters have also been embraced by and utilized by countercultures as revolutionary symbols.
The fact that many characters have been used as countercultural symbols, or were intended by their creators to be used as such, does not, however, mean that major corporations (with government interests) are not utilizing them for propaganda purposes.
Be incredibly suspicious of anyone who presents a narrative of those who are "good" versus those who are "evil". These narratives are very easily culturally weaponized against specific groups at the convenience of those with money and power.

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More from @AlexPetrovnia

20 Jul
Hey researchers, listen up!
Here’s a crash course thread on writing gender questions from a trans person who has designed surveys before.
We criticize this a lot, but rarely do we show what is correct, so in this thread I’ll do my best to do that. 🧵
Firstly, do you want to ask your research question about sex, or about gender, or about something else entirely? The best advice I can give is this: be specific.
If you’re asking questions about uterine health, ask if your participant has a uterus, not for their gender. If you’re researching gender bias, ask about gender. If you simply need sex statistics, ask about sex.
Think critically about what information you want.
Read 13 tweets
16 Jul
My thread recently made it to the front page of Twitter, and had nothing to do with my transness. I had the same experience.
@Twitter @TwitterSupport Is hate against trans people ever ruled a violation against your policies? Or are you perfectly content to profiteer off of trans creators while not even doing the barest amount to protect us from abuse?
My inbox this morning was full of accusations about my mental state, accusations that I was a child abuser, and more. I reported these messages.
Every. Single. One. Was ruled not in violation of your policies.
Why are trans people not a protected group? @Twitter
Read 5 tweets
16 Jul
Hello everyone! 👋 There are a LOT of you who are new, so I wanted to take a few minutes to introduce myself! Here's a brief thread on me and what content you can expect to find here. 🧵
Firstly! I'm not actually a geologist!
I do love geology dearly and studied it for a while, but my professional/scientific expertise is in the intersections between environmental equity, freshwater ecology, environmental management, hydrology and public health.
Put simply, my scientific mission is this; to keep shit (sometimes literal) out of your drinking water.
This field means that I dabble in a lot of sub-fields that are tangentially related, and have a decent understanding of a wide range of scientific disciplines!
Read 9 tweets
15 Jul
Reminder that “transgender” is an adjective, not a noun.
This means someone can be a “transgender person”, not “a transgender”.
@Twitter You may want to correct this in your demographic survey.
Other notes @Twitter:
“Gender non conforming” refers to gender presentation, not gender identity.
“Male” and “female” are sexes, not genders.
Read 4 tweets
15 Jul
Have you ever wondered why we don’t find fossils in the Appalachian mountains?
The truth is, we do, they’re just not the kind of fossils you might think of—there are no mammals, no dinosaurs, no reptiles. There’s something else entirely. 🧵
See, the Appalachian mountains are old. Yes, all mountains are old, but the Appalachian mountains are *incomprehensibly old*.
They mostly look like this, which leads a lot of people to say they’re pretty lame, as far as mountains go. They aren’t dramatic. Image
For those unaware, the Appalachian mountain range extends over what is now the eastern US, reaching up into Canada. Image
Read 31 tweets
14 Jul
The system where you must renew your meds every month, often with doctors “check-ins” is incredibly ableist and classist.
My meds work great as long as I have all of them, but if even one is late my life spirals apart, making it EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to keep up with my meds.
Especially when I have 10 different prescriptions with 5 different doctors that all renew on different intervals.
I have ADHD and memory issues from PTSD and I have constant anxiety that I’ve forgotten to refill or pick up something critical. 😥
Read 8 tweets

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