looking at superheroes - myth, pop culture, ideology...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

and im back.

just a short one. camouflage man (superhero volume 2) was selected as a finalist for the Funnybone 500, a short comedy film festival for sydney filmmakers. pretty cool for a short (skit) film that was made only because we had the costume until the next day. kudos go out to chris bradstreet, camouflage man himself. he also composed the music for the film. the grand final is in september in willoughby.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

subject yyyyyyyyeah

i'm at uni, filling in time before our first production meeting (or is it second, i dont know if the first one counted. it seemed unofficial. yeah. ok. im not counting that one) for our semester 2 production - Subject Y note: Subject Y is the working title.
The film is directed by Aaron McLisky (visionary, auteur, genius and so on..) and we've got a rockin and rollin crew. Some people I've worked with, other people I've wanted to work with and just other people. Subject Y (working title) is a fucked up film, kind of similar to Eraserhead of Matthew Barney's (very fucking brilliant) Cremaster Cycle. Needless to say, this film is incredibly exciting. Its a huge challenge, but its very strong visually, has a lot of powerful cinematic elements and will be a very weird film. It has the potential to be extremely good, bigger than MAS213, bigger than the course. If its good, it could be one of those viral movies that spreads the internet and people send to each other as a test to see if they 'have the balls'.
There are a few... provocative scenes in it. A new born (freakish looking) baby is put in a desk drawer. A woman files her fingernail until it bleeds. Alot of vaseline, sticky stuff. A few orgasms. Sweat. Theres a lot more. The film has a disturbing vibe. I really want to get into someone elses film, post-Beekeeper. It was great to do that film, and it still needs a lot of work to finish it off, but i want to collaborate with another person on their film, and make it awesome. Just what i want to do right now. Subject Y is really exciting. It's (touch air with single finger, followed by stern nod) hot.

Back to Superheroes, I'd like to film 'monoxide', a film about the death of the superhero figure in the contemporary age. Its a cool concept. I'm thinking I might extend it into a feature, have three different story narratives: one of the superhero, one of the sidekick, and one of the supervillain. set it over one day. that would give me complete freedom to explore any ideological concerns I have about Superheroes, and who knows, maybe even get it out of my system. Jess asked me the other day why I don't do films that aren't about superheroes. At this stage, I guess, thats all that interests me. I could do dramas about a man bitten by a rabid monkey, or a wheelchair olympian going through a divorce - with his brother (!), but frankly im not interested. Even though Superheroes are kindof the same film i've always been doing (deconstructing costumed identites, ex. clown, death, gorilla) i think its getting more intelligent and maybe im starting to make better films. maybe not. i dont know. i enjoy it though. and everyone likes a superhero, don't they?

'monoxide' could even be my attempt at a magnolia film. i may have missed the mark (donnie darko, look both ways, any other recent film with multiple narrative strands and a sad song sequence in slow motion), but fuck it. x men and superman and spiderman and batman and all that shit, they're all too hollywood, too glamorous, too iconic. the superhero needs to be torn down to what it is and people need to see this. myth is always being made, constructed. that means it can be changed. the balance of power can shift. everything is ideological. fuck superman. hes an asshole anyway.

so yeah. in production soon: my short drama about a fax machine, send back through time to the middle ages, who is believed to be a witch. its a romantic comedy. working title 'You Can't Fax Love'. you know, that could make a lot of money for me.

and if you even think of stealing it.... i'll make sure that valerie solonas comes and shoots you.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


firstly, its not as if anyone reads this. no one (i know) is interested in the hidden ideology of superheroes, how they work as a contemporary form of mythology and how fucked up (yet great) it is. i would also like to say 'back of the net' to rhiannon, for annoying me enough to update this blog. I was watching LvT's The Kingdom, but hey, blogs are wikid orsum.

right. i had uni break, and shot the beekeeper (superhero volume 3). it was an attempt at a kind of transcendent cinema. dont know if it worked. its still being edited. it was great to get out and make a film. the actors were great, location was pretty good. no one died from bee stings, no goats were killed. we shot the film over 3 days in riverstone, which is out near windsor/richmond. it was pretty cold. there was an awesome team on the shoot, including rhiannon keyte (producer), bernd abrahms (cinematographer), dave brading (sound), aaron mclisky (ad), kate witchard (art design), as well as emma ferns and gaz (i dont know your surname). for film students to be making films whenever they can... its a good thing. the film will go for about 20 minutes, and hopefully, be a meditation on violence and revenge. to be continued.

new film written a few days ago, 'monoxide'. had to hand in a short script for production (it might get made, im betting it wont). its a superhero film (no suprise there - in fact its superhero volume number... four! a continuing series! thats actually happening!) its a black comedy. its pretty bleak. ive always felt that the best director for Alan Moore's Watchmen would be Todd Solondz, because he would be able to show the tragedy of each of the characters. The ridiculousness of the costume. The corrupt ideas of justice. Messed up people in a messed up world, who happen to be superheroes. I figure that Todd Solondz would never make Watchmen, so I'm doing my own version. 'Happiness' meets Superman. I'm telling you, it wont get picked. Hopefully I can shoot it end of year, after a bit more script work. It could stretch out nicely to a 15 minute film.

And here's the research for this post:
Not really research, but more a really cool article based on an interview from the comic con (i will go to the comic con one day. nerd dream). its worth reading, and more or less sums up what the hell i'm trying to do with this site anyway.
Its from IGN, written by Hilary Goldstein.
July 21, 2006 - Thursday at the San Diego Comic-Con brought an intriguing collaboration. Grant Morrison and Deepak Chopra, having met for the first time the previous night, had a discussion about the role superheroes play in the social fabric. We had the fortune of sitting in a small roundtable discussion with Grant Morrison, Deepak Chopra, Virgin Comics' EIC Gotham Chopra and CEO Sharad Devarajan. This was followed by a public conversation between Morrison and Chopra. We took the key elements of both discussions to bring you an enlightened discourse on the spiritual nature of superheroes.

The duo admitted, right off the bat, that they had no concrete notion of the seven spiritual laws of superheroes. The discussion itself, with audience participation, was meant to help create that model.

A superhero is "symbolic expression of the social subconscious," according to Chopra. "The superhero is a mythological being" who exists "beyond outerspace and innerspace, creating a new idea of being."

"Superheroes show us the world through x-ray vision," Morrison said. By this, superheroes are more than just a reflection of ourselves, but a look at the very deepest core of human existence. He added affectionately that "Superman is a beautiful idea of an American who does not kill people, but solves problems." The superhero, or at least characters that star in comics, have evolved to reflect society. The invention of Superman in the '30s is a great leap in the fabric of social mythology. Throughout the decades, the tone of comics changed to match the times. Now, "Celebrity has replaced heroes," a theme that can be seen in today's comics.
Even deconstructing superheroes, a '90s movement fronted by the likes of Morrison, "comes from fear," according to the comics writer. "People are scared to be hopeful." And though writers and society pummeled Superman, he persevered and the core character survived for the new era of comics just now emerging. Chopra suggested that the seven spiritual laws could mirror the seven chakras. "A Chakra is a junction point between consciousness and reality," Chopra explained before leading the audience through all seven.

"First chakra - Stability. Infinite centered awareness and dynamism.
Second chakra - Transformation. An absolute allegiance to transformation. Willingness not to have a permanent identity
Third - Power. Not in the sense of muscle, but in intention.
Fourth -- Love and compassion. Nothing better… it is integrated with the rest of the Chakras.
Fifth - Creativity. Always creative solutions.
Sixth - Intuition.
Seventh - Transcendence."

The seven chakras can also be linked to the idea of seven gods, a theme that clearly parallels the seven main characters of the JLA. "Look at the JLA," Morrison said. "They all map on the chakras. Batman is a human being of ultimate power [and intention.] Flash is communication. Superman is about giving selflessly… He represents the sun. He is that thing that loves us unconditionally." He added later that "Batman is like Christ harrowing Hell, because only he can withstand it. He endures everything for us. Batman is a character who was almost brought to the brink of his destruction," but who persevered. Batman is our shadow and "we have to look at the shadow and integrate the shadow [into our consciousness]."
And "yeah," Morrison admitted, Seven soldiers is an allegory to seven gods. "Mr. Miracle is the transcendent character," the seventh Chakra.


Superheroes are our new mythology. They are not so different from the Greek Gods, who were not as deeply seeded in religion as some may think. But what is mythology on a deeper level? As Deepak Chopra asserts, a mythology "must address the collective consciousness in a certain archetypal way. It must offer an idealist vision to aspire [towards]." He added that, "a good story should never end and good guys should never win."
"There are six plots that people retell," Morrison said. "These stories are told again and again." Myth is related to the word mother. As Chopra called it, "the womb of creation." Myth is not just hokey stories that explain why the sun rises and falls. That's a very simplistic view. To put it poetically, myths are where "we express our deepest longing and aspirations of collective being." Myth is a social experience beyond genetic codes or organized religions.
"As our consciousness evolves," Chopra said, "no doubt we will create new mythologies." Yet these will still center around the same principals of human existence. How many thousands of years have passed and yet there are still incredible parallels with the myths of ancient Greece and those of modern society? "The human story is about a quest, falling down, but getting up again," Chopra said. "Death and rebirth. It's about redeeming yourself and then redeeming others."
Comics are one of the strongest translators of mythology in the modern age. When reading a comic book, you use both the left and right brain at the same time as there is both language and art. "Comics talk through images directly to the subconscious mind," Morrison said.
"It would be great to examine the brainwaves of a comic-book reader," Chopra added. "I'm sure there is a coherence of right/left brain activity." Chopra noted that "the first art form was a comic book in a cave… The first comics were about fight/flight. Then [evolved to become] about the ability to achieve." Consider that cave painting. "By affecting the model of the buffalo, by adding a spear [in its back], you hope to affect reality."

The New Human

"Everything is all happening simultaneously," Morrison explained. "We are born simultaneously as we die. The whole thing is dynamic, it never dies." Everything is connected, we all come from the same material, the same big bang.
"We are the dust of stars," Chopra said. Our existence is still young in the eyes of the universe. "In many ways," Chopra said, "we are reaching puberty. There's a lot of curiosity, mistakes, risk-taking. But it is an exciting time." One full of possibilities, though there are certain to be some growing pains. Chopra proposed that our current destructive nature may not mean the end of human existence. In fact, it could be part of the natural order of evolution. "The are no fossil records of the evolutionary transition between lizard and bird." It happened, but we have no true proof, just as we cannot find the missing link between ape and man. Chopra suggested that it is possible a species can experience a "creative quantum leap."
Think of a caterpillar. "A caterpillar consumes more than it needs to eat until it reaches a point where its body begins to decay and die. Imaginal cells cluster. The send communications to each other. The caterpillar is imagining a new entity. [The imaginal cells] use the dying carcass of the caterpillar to feed. A dormant gene awakens and the dying caterpillar becomes a butterfly, a completely new creature."
Now consider that "cloning, tinkering with the intelligence of the universe," are "ideas that existed in ancient mythologies." Yesterday's mythologies are today's science. So think of our modern myths. Think of the superhero. "Look at destruction of environment," Morrison said. Look at what has become of our world and our society. "We are the imaginal cells."
Chopra put it plainly. "Superheroes may be a prelude to an actual leap in our evolution," as our social conscious has the knowledge of the possibility of flight and other incredible, superhuman feats.
So what are the seven spiritual laws of superheroes? That was never clearly defined. But Morrison and Chopra provided food for thought. It's unfortunate that more couldn't attend this discussion. It's impossible to accurately relate the entire discussion or provide the subtext offered by the two panelists. But should the Chopra and Morrison show come to your town in the future, be sure to check it out. You may be enlightened or, at the very least, entertained.

And I went to splendour in the grass which was pretty awesome.