Saturday, 20 October 2012

Postmodernism: Research & Ideas - Kick-Ass

Questions I have asked myself in Regard to Postmodernism Vs. Kickass
It makes sense to think of the atypical theme of the super hero archetype and find ways in which that it can be deconstructed so that certain rules may be broken to create something different entirely.
·         Who says super heroes have to be perfect (Modern)?
·         Who says that they wouldn't get their hands dirty?
·         Who says getting the crap beaten out of you isn't a super power?
·         Who says you need special powers to be a hero?
·         Who says heroes have to be a certain age?
·         Who says heroes are not just vigilantes?
The Modern Hero Vs. The Postmodern Hero
The justification of violence in such a grotesque manor makes Kick ass feel like a cartoon - completely unreal while at the same time providing justification for heroic pursuits even if misguided or completely futile. It is not morally wrong to stop a mugging (Kick Ass Approach) but to slice the muggers arm off during a mugging pushes the boat out a little too far, at least in terms of modernism (Big Daddy & Hit Girl Approach).
What is a hero? What is a Vigilante? Is it Morality?
The atypical classic hero does not meme or kill, he beats up and arrests. Dave Lizewski aka Kick ass (played by Aaron Johnson) is a visage of the classic comic hero (albeit with no powers) at least initially displaying heroic traits from saving cats from trees to protecting the innocent (albeit futile), he is not a killer.
Big Daddy & Hit Girl (Nicholas Cage & Chloe Grace Moretz) redefine Kickass by bringing the themes of the vigilante into the debate of right vs. wrong (good vs. evil). By doing this director Matthew Vaughn has a perfect vessel for actively comparing the motives of the modern super hero to the post modern vigilante. Charlie Jane Anders of the io9 Movie Review observes:
"Superheroes don't give us much in the way of lessons about morality, or science, or whatever — they give us a context in which violence makes sense. Much like gangsters, who are the other type of non-regular people we meet in this film. You could just as easily beat people up without wearing a funny costume or being a gangster, but then it would just be senseless assault. The superhero genre legitimizes our love of brutality. And our masochism, as I may have mentioned". (Anders: 2012)
Is Kick-Ass a story about heroes or Vigilantes'?
Even the vessel for the vigilantes delivery (Big Daddy) is an open mockery of the classic Batman theme openly transforming the 1960s metaphor into Batman's current vigilante theme - ala Christopher Nolan's  "The Dark Knight". Why is it acceptable? We are a nation who love to see a super hero fall and pick himself back up against all odds, Kick Ass is just trying to show what it is to be a real life hero even if its delivery leaves us wiping our eyes in disbelief. One almost feels invigorated seeing Dave Lizewski as he wipes the blood from his face in the mirror after another beating really making one think to themselves now that's what a hero really is. or is it?

Of course you still have sceptics who see Kick Ass devoid of its mockery of super heroes, seeing the change not as a new experience but as a desecration of the modern super hero. I.E. The gruesome nature, not to arrest but kill in a blood thirst rage with the use of a child as a killing machine. Roger Ebert of observes:
The Negative - Mindless Killing
"This movie regards human beings like video-game targets. Kill one, and you score. They're dead, you win". (Ebert: 2010)
On one hand you could agree with Eberts point there is even a particular section in the film where we flip to a first person view no doubt derived from ever popular video games culture such as "Call of Duty" & "Halo". Still I would like to argue that throughout regardless of right and wrong you still want the "Good Guy" to defeat the "Bad Guy". This is probably liken to Anders Point above, just simply stating because you know they are meant to be super heroes you can justify its controversy. Still the reason could just be that the film is so self aware that despite being completely whacky it is on some level reminding us of the real life hardened criminals (bullying turned knife crime, gang violence, etc). Jesse M observes:
Like Watchmen, Kick-Ass tries to construct a comic book universe that’s highly self-aware, wrapping it in some conventions that move toward realism (brutality, references to current events, the cynicism of the first half), and in other conventions that intentionally move toward self-conscious stylization (the video game sequence? WTF?) If it sounds non-committal, that’s because it is. (Jesse: 2010)

Kickass is a downright mockery of the super hero theme from its textile references to comic icons such as Spiderman & Batman. The costumes are bright and in your face reflecting nothing fantastical or magic like the modern iconic hero but more like cost-cut costumes from a Halloween store for fancy dress, with concealed body armor and an arsenal of fire power. There is an almost abnormal amount of blood and pain which almost seems to dig to the depths of a real vigilante, it is not pretty because it is what it is... The postmodern hero is not picturesque, he does not aspire to do good, he just aspires to stop bad... he does not have identity because he is every man.
Online Research:
Kick-Ass changes comic book films forever in a single blow
The Rubicon Blog - Postmodern Parables

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