To say that I did not anticipate some outlandish display of American patriotism would be a lie, but upon leaving the cinema after seeing Captain America, I had a sudden urge to join the US Army. It took a post film debrief to figure out why I was struck so violently with ‘U-S-A!’ fever. Captain America, whether it meant to be or not, is a blatant advertisement for the army, glorifying the American soldier (I have a feeling it was meant to be…). I am not going to go all ‘anti-war,’ nor am I going to take a ‘pro war’ stance- this is not the point of my article. I would, however, like to address the fact that the makers of Captain America have unashamedly produced a feature length piece of propaganda.
I don’t know if you have seen the film but aside from some amusing quick quips, amazing CGI, fabulous explosions and Chris Evans with his shirt off, Captain America is a show of America’s global conquests, hyper intelligence, the Star Spangled Banner and Uncle Sam ‘We want you!’ posters over and over again for about 2 hours. As usual, America is the hero, saving the world from a villain who looks mostly like a burn victim with a bad cocaine habit. As per usual, Captain America, single handedly infiltrates enemy territory, sporting a massive red, white and blue shield which in any other circumstance would serve as a massive target symbol. He rescues a team of American soldiers who resemble a United Colours of Beneton commercial, complete with a burly white dude (handle bar moustache and bowler hat instead of regulatory helmet), good looking black guy (Daaaaamn) and a man of Chinese descent who is actually from Fresno….oh, and whole bunch of white guys. PC oozes from every film reel and by the end, the cinema was filled with aged, hot, stinky cheese.
It is not the hero syndrome I have a problem with- we have seen this for years in almost every film to come out of America (Pearl Harbour, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, etc). It is the fact that all over the world, parents are taking their impressionable children to see a fun loving, super hero film, only to be served a gooey plate of a fabricated American dream. Marvel’s other films have not offended me; Spider Man, Super Man, Batman…these heroes protected a city, promoting the Marvel franchise rather than the American one. Is it a surprise that Captain America’s initial trailer ran in the super bowl, launched on Independence Day and, wait for it, was funded primarily by Merrill Lynch (wealthy subsidiary of Bank of America)? Since 2008, US Army recruiting goals have been met by at least 122% but in 2006 when Captain America began pre production, Army recruits were no longer coming in droves. America needed to flex their muscles in order to not only entice their own but remind the world that they were still a force to be reckoned with. What better way to do than hailing an American hero who was so aptly named? Intro Captain America, a good looking, well mannered suburban white kid whose only goal in life is to serve his country. Pefect!
All over the theatre, children oohh’ed and ahhh’ed at the success of the star spangled banner’s troops. I even heard one child say, ‘I want to be just like Captain America!’ It is this exact phrase that investors hoped to coax from the lips of children nationwide, encouraging a new breed of aspiring soldiers, their life’s work dedicated to destroying anyone who dare challenge the United States of America.
I must admit, it was very clever, very effective and yes, it worked- had there been a conscription office near by, I would be shaving my head and standing at attention as we speak. But thankfully, I am Canadian and we are lacking the same narrow minded, obnoxious nationalism that America is so famous for. I am not saying the Canadian’s should not be overtly patriotic. On the contrary- I think that Canada’s bum must be sore from sitting in the fence for so many years. I love to see displays of national pride, I just don’t believe in subjecting an audience to blatant propaganda under the shroud of entertainment (If this shroud is on Chris Evans, he should definitely remove it…).
I doubt we will see an offensively patriotic Northern equivalent on our big screens any time soon although we could do with some sort of Canadian hero….because as of now, much to the disappointment of the kids in the cinema, all we’ve got is Dudley Do-Right.