By Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog
It’s the film which captures what 2020’s zeitgeist should become, given that the rabidly anti-socialist West has chosen to economically self-implode Everything Bubble 2 into a possible Great Depression 2 over the coronavirus. It’s based on a great idea: what if Superman’s spaceship had not crashed in rural Kansas but in the rural USSR? His catchphrase would have surely changed to, “Truth, justice and the
American socialist way!”
Ten million new unemployed in the span of 8 days… in the coming months Americans won’t be considered aliens to have similarly changed their motto.
Superman: Red Son (2020) is not about an evil Superman, just a socialist one. What movie viewer is going to root against Superman and for the kryptonite?
But rooting for a socialist? That’s not only radical art but a desperately-needed message during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Pepe Escobar, a must-read of the few must-reads, has reviewed the song of the corona zeitgeist – Midnight on Planet Lockdown: Dylan strikes again – because not only is he journalistically impeccable but his musical taste is incredibly hip. Lucky for us, Superman has just been reimagined to show not only that he, too, is still culturally relevant, but also that those about to clamor that we must save neoliberalism are Positively 4th Street.
It’s a fascinating new movie, and for the same reason I raved about following the ending of the often-proclaimed “best TV show of its era”, The Americans. In my 2018 review, Religion saves ‘The Americans’ – the superb (semi) pro-socialist TV show, I got right to the point regarding the portrayal of two Soviet spies embedded in the US:
“What has gone unappreciated, and of course rarely commented-upon among the fake-leftist cultural gurus of the US, is that ‘The Americans’ was the first show to ever sympathetically portray committed socialists in US history. For leftists, it was truly ground-breaking and long-awaited television.
Watching the show I was happily astounded to see – time and time again – that the spies were portrayed as truly devoted, impassioned, intelligent socialists. Throughout the show’s 6 seasons there were socialist critiques of American culture; of capitalism, imperialism, militarism, racism, individualism, etc., and all delivered without a hint of irony or doubt. Never before have Americans been so capably presented with a socialist critique of their society on the TV in their own home.”
It took 25 years after the fall of the USSR for such a show to be permitted into the US mainstream. Nothing could be worth such a long wait – we need socialist solutions right now, and especially in 2020 – but with The Americans for the first time Americans could at least visualise what true socialists looked like. Prior to that it was mainly stereotypes like Ivan Drago(n) from Rocky IV, a cold and inhuman Frankenstein, cheating with steroids yet still losing, rejecting socialism in the end, and losing to scrappy boy-next-door and Reagan-era icon Sylvester Stallone.
I wonder if in 25 years there will finally be a sympathetic portrayal of Iranian Islamic Socialism on US televisions? LOL… I’d be happy if it arrives in 50 years.
Don’t worry – no spoilers
I thought about doing a part two which would contain an in-depth analysis and spoilers – something like ‘The Death of Stalin’ & ‘sweet’ Hitler? Comparing postwar European cinema – but these crazy times push my natural proclivity towards producing hard news.
The basic plot is: Superman crashes in a land of anti-fascism, anti-racism, anti-tribalism, anti-sexism and which actually fought daily for genuine equality. Of course, for acknowledging this publicly Superman earns the enmity of the corporate fascist United States, which is headed by President Lex Luthor, Superman’s longtime evil-genius rival. Pity poor Americans who will be flummoxed: Are they supposed to root for President Luthor or this unAmerican Superman who is talking about the necessity of socialism with Stalin?
Wonder Woman plays a role that obviously is designed to promote homosexual tolerance (I never knew she was a lesbian?) as well as enraged #MeToo feminism because – after all – this is an American movie, and these are their dominant (fake-leftist, tribalist) political obsessions. I find the former quite boring – I atypically re-interpreted her character as being representative of polytheism. Socialism, after all, did deliver a fatal, banishing blow to polytheism/folk religion in places like China (Confucianism is not folk religion), and the writers of this movie appear to perceive that; socialism did not deliver any such fatal blow to monotheism in Russia, much less in the Muslim World. Wonder Woman’s official title is “Princess Diana of Themyscira”. Of course, Diana/Artemis, the huntress and the god of the moon, is one of the 12 major gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon, and is even more prominent in the neopagan (“the old ways are the best ways, but I’m not a reactionary!”) pantheon. Interpreting this character – and her destiny in the film – as a symbol of polytheistic thought and its socio-historical destiny makes for a much more global, historical, political (to Islamic socialists, at least) and philosophical film analysis.
(This would be the most interesting part of an expanded review, at least to me, because the West is totally oblivious on this score. The modern West is full of closet neopagans (and I’m not including those who believe in a non-monotheistic Holy Trinity) – people who have rejected Christianity and whose “spirituality” is full of pagan-origin, illogical notions and self-entered sensations. Anybody notice that the uber-evil Jeffrey Epstein constructed an elaborate Greek polytheistic temple on his island hideaway? I would have commented on it – why are no MSM columnists talking about “polytheistic fascists” yet we can still read them talk about “Islamo-fascists?” – but I was on vacation back then. And also: Muslims are instructed in the Koran not to insult polytheists as that could push them away from the one God, and isn’t that compassionate and logical?
But polytheism is still actually a real thing – not to fight against physically but to debate intellectually. To quote Ali Shariati, the Iranian Islamic Revolution’s top thinker, “… throughout history, religion has always fought against religion and never in the sense that we understand today, religion against non-religion.” Indeed – historically atheists have been tiny in number, almost always politically powerless and rarely willing to be martyred for their faith in no God. This is why Socialist Superman versus Polytheistic Diana represents an intellectual confrontation as vital as the one between Socialist Superman and corporate fascist Luthor. Watch the movie and you can see for yourself if Wonder Woman/Diana fights with or against Socialist Superman.)
Batman also makes an appearance: he serves as another enemy to Socialist Superman precisely because he is an obvious symbol of always anti-socialist, Make America Great Again-style jingoism. He is the “Dark Knight”, after all. Many may incorrectly interpret Luthor as a Trump-style character, but they should ask themselves: since when did Hollywood become pro-Trump? Also, Luthor (and this is no spoiler) is dating the MSM reporter Lois Lane!
It should be clear that there’s a lot going on in intellectually in this exceptional movie. Socialism, corporate fascism, Trumpian neo-fascism, #MeToo feminism, never-say-die polytheism – this movie takes on many issues which will burn in 2020 and beyond. No spoilers, but which will prevail: A classic “Hollywood ending” or an anti-American Socialist Superman?
Red Son is widely available yet CNN is the only major media to have reviewed it, per Rotten Tomatoes. Obviously, the Western MSM would like this to die a quiet death because they hate any leftist movie. I discuss this phenomenon, and rank the greatest leftist movies, in this article: ‘The Death of Yazdgerd’: The greatest political movie ever explains Iran’s revolution. I would definitely put Superman: Red Son in that conversation, but better than the Shakespeare-in-real-time ‘Death of Yazdgerd’?! You can watch it here on YouTube for free and with subtitles – see for yourself.
CNN wrote a pretty weak review, raising only one intellectual observation to discuss: “What ‘Red Son’ does, in an effective and perhaps unexpectedly timely way, is consider the extent the flag to which one pledges allegiance defines and shapes the man.”
This is the typical “cultural relativism”/Politically Correct lens, the only tool in a Western fake-leftist’s toolkit: Superman is a committed socialist only because he has crashed in the USSR; because everybody is a rabid jingoist/nationalist, and this excuses centuries of Western chauvinism. Clearly, the critic did not accept Superman’s constant, lucid attacks on American capitalism-imperialism, nor his numerous sincere pleas that the West accept socialism (on their own timeframe) to avoid more war and suffering. It is as if the critic does not realise this fundamental truth: many Soviets were committed anti-socialists – merely growing up under a certain flag does not automatically mean one thinks and feels a certain way.
But not in the West: all values are equal (relative), which nihilistically makes them all nonsense. This also permits the secret upholding of every lazy, divisive stereotype: all Soviets were surely fanatical socialists, all Muslims are radical theocrats and all Americans believe in truth and justice. The idea of “us versus them” is an American creed which did not begin during the recent “War on Terror”, nor even with their “War on communism”, but truly begins – though this is never admitted – upon their first footfall in American and their “War on Indians”.
Of course, CNN cannot broach the idea that Superman genuinely believed in the ideals of socialism any more than they can admit that Fidel, Khamenei, much of the Red Army, Xi, and probably half of Xi’s relatives genuinely believe in the ideals of socialism. Such belief is impossible in the moral-relativity West and its many nihilistic corollaries: all open leftists are liars, deluded, childish and/or phonies just waiting to be unmasked. All the billions of leftists in human history can do is roll their eyes… but also to openly reject Western political and moral nihilism.
The movie is “must-see TV” because 2020 seems certain to witness the latest inevitable bust (see my next article) in Western capitalism-imperialism. The wilful explosion of Everything Bubble 2 – which was re-inflated by a QE and ZIRP which did not benefit the “real economy” but the elite asset classes of the 1% – as an allegedly-necessary solution to the coronavirus will put socialist ideas back in the rightful place: in the daily conversation. 2008 saw the Occupy Movement and the idea of the “99%” – why would a 2020 (inevitable) capitalist bust not see an even greater interest and demand for anti-capitalist ideas?
Certainly Superman’s constant espousing of socialist ideals will raise many “deviant” political ideas in the heads of young children, LOL, but cartoons are for all age types now.
Watch Superman: Red Son with your kids and then try to explain that Superman was actually a fraud and a liar and that his pro-socialist speeches, defenses and motivations are as nonsensical in 2020 as they were in 1917, 1941 and 1979. What is certain is that ardent defenders of capitalism-imperialism will watch this movie and scream exactly that at the TV: something like, “Listen to the nonsense they have Superman spouting. It’s unAmerican I tells ya!” Socialists, however, will take Socialist Superman as a man of his honourable words.
Silly socialists, not coming up with this idea back in 1938, when Superman first debuted! Of course, nearly 30 million Soviets were about to be martyred to stop an idea which had swept the Western zeitgeist for decades – the idea of an “Aryan superman”. So we can understand why Soviets were laser-focused on art which emphasised equality and not exceptionalism.
These are crazy times, but are they so crazy that you can’t root for Superman if he’s a socialist and not a defender of “capitalism-imperialism with American characteristics”? Are you even following the times?
Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.