“Captain America” sequel: The first libertarian popcorn movie

“Captain America” sequel: The first libertarian popcorn movie

cap.amThe stars and heroes of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” may be government employees, but the messages of the movie amount to entry-level libertarian thinking — messages with massive resonance for current policy and political debates. Among them:

1) Don’t trust a state that gathers secrets on everyone.

2) Really don’t trust a state that has remote killing powers and gathers secrets on everyone.

3) And really, really don’t trust a state that thinks killing people without due process is OK if the national security machine says so.

Some of the movie-biz trade coverage seems faintly surprised that “Captain America” was still a gigantic worldwide blockbuster after its first 10 days:

“Captain America which stays at the Top of the box office world and continues to rack up dollars; it’s total cume domestically will be about $158M after its second weekend. The Winter Soldier, which had A CinemaScores across the board, dropped less than the first Captain America did in 2011, which was 61%. And, because of its equally strong presence in international markets (about $60M more from this past weekend), Captain America: The Winter Soldier now stands tall with a $476.1M worldwide cume with one more territory to open – Japan. It’s 163% ahead of the first Cap which made, all in, $370.5M worldwide.”

That’s from Deadline Hollywood. Its author shouldn’t have been surprised. In the movie, the U.S. is depicted as being borderline-fascistic because of Total Information Awareness-style info-gathering and a much-more sophisticated version of the present U.S. programs which kill perceived enemies with pilotless drones.

Worldwide popularity reflects anti-Americanism

That depiction tracks semi-precisely with the low opinion of America held by much of the world over the past decade, at least after the Obama honeymoon ended overseas. (Will it ever end here?)

The Bush 43-Obama zeitgeist is in trouble if pop culture sides with “Captain America” the movie and the superhero. Pop culture is very much like the domestic version of “soft power” — as the Obama team showed when it actually got tons of traction for its insane argument that Romney’s 2012 comment about “binders full of women” was somehow a sexist “Mein Kampf.”

Don’t trust the government is a powerful argument to many of the people who pay close attention to how the world works. If it becomes a message that pop culture explains and amplifies to those who pay less attention, hallelujah.

And it seems unlikely that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is an outlier in the ever-growing Marvel cinematic empire. “The Avengers” certainly brought up the don’t-trust-the-government theme.

More more more!

Can governments kill their citizens without a trial?

A final note: When Sen. Rand Paul demanded a year ago that Attorney General Eric Holder say American citizens couldn’t be killed unilaterally by government drones, it was widely derided as a stunt. A few more movies like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” and that question will become a staple of press conferences involving presidential candidates for the rest of time.


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