Guardians of Galactic Culture

Not all movies, even Disney/Marvel flicks, are without redeeming virtues.

Every generation, it seems, bemoans the unprecedented debauchery of youth and the decay of culture.  Widespread cultural decline would appear to be a full explanation for most if not all of the systemic problems we see in America.  We are living in John Adams' prediction:

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

We hardly need to present proof that modern-day America is anything but moral and religious; a simple walk down any city street or into any store, or turning on the TV for more than a few seconds, provides all the evidence you could ever need.  And, as Andrew Breitbart observed,

Politics is downstream from culture.

Thus we find that modern politics is every bit as corrupt and degraded as our culture. In order to fix the one, we must first fix the other.

But how?  Conservatives were expelled from all aspects of culture generations ago - high, low, popular, and everything in between.  Sure, there have been isolated corners of parallel conservative institutions, from Davey and Goliath to VeggieTales and even today's The Chosen. But these have little if any effect on the wider culture-at-large; as successful as they may be, they're fundamentally preaching to the choir.

What the past half-century has taught is that presenting Sunday-school lessons as Sunday-school lessons only works for people who like Sunday school and are probably already attending.  The same is true in wider politics: how many people bothered to watch the various movie versions of Atlas Shrugged or other conservative message movies?  Basically nobody, and certainly nobody left the theater a libertarian that wasn't already one when they went in.

No, what's needed is stories, drama, and entertainment that can stand on their own, telling a gripping tale, that only tangentially expresses conservative values, perhaps even in a heavily cloaked way.

Thus it was that we were gobsmacked to find such a film presented by none other than that wokest-of-woke internationalist organizations, the Walt Disney Company, in the form of Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 3.

Goodies and Baddies

Searching for their missing National Review subscription?

On its face, there is nothing conservative about this film by any of the regular metrics.  There is no shortage of foul language, sexual innuendo, and of course rampant violence.  The whole point behind the titular Guardians is that they respect no laws or outside authorities; they answer exclusively to their own morals and sense of right and wrong.

And that's what makes them heroic, because in their world as in ours, all sources of authority are utterly corrupt and evil in result if not always in intent.  There is, of course, no religion presented, as such.  The villain of the tale, known as "the High Evolutionary," seems to be a near-deity, roughly analogous to the powerful but rather fallible Greek gods, but unlike them, his power is a deep devotion to science.  Hmm, does this remind us of anyone in the real world who claims to be the living embodiment of Science itself?

What's more, the stated objectives of this character are functionally identical with those of our modern Left and the Democrat party: to create a flawless and perfect Utopian society.  Nothing wrong with that, right?  Except that anyone or anything that isn't flawless and perfect is decreed by his High-Evolutionaryness to be devoid of inherent rights and subject to summary extermination the moment their usefulness ends.

There's a truly striking sequence toward the end of the movie, on artificially-created "Counter-Earth" that appears to be a rough facsimile of 1980s America, but populated by evolved intelligent animals.  Some of these animals apparently work blue-collar jobs, live with their families in neat suburbs, and drive oversized sedans; others deal drugs and beat up victims in the inner city.

When Guardians leader Peter Quill points out to the High Evolutionary that utopias don't generally include drug pushers and thugs, he calmly and regretfully agrees, "They do not" - whereupon he pushes the planet-destruct button, incinerating countless billions of his own creations while his starship soars away to try, once again, somewhere else.

He even comes close to discovering the truth: his fresh batch of perfect "people" are clearly H.G. Wells' Eloi from The Time Machine, peaceful and brilliant but devoid of any imagination, motivation, or leadership capability.  In contrast, his most successful creation, Rocket Raccoon, is a foul-mouthed dealer of violence... who saves the lives of vast numbers of innocents, whereas the High Evolutionary tortures and murders "for a higher purpose" without a second thought.

Nazi Dr. Mengele would be right at home working in the High Evolutionary's experimental laboratories, as would Planned Parenthood and many of their supporters.

Revenge Served Cold

The director of the movie, James Gunn, had his own run-in with cancel culture: in 2018 he was fired from directing this sequel over "controversial" tweets decades old, only to be restored after outrage from fans and costars.  It shows: the digs at modern leftist shibboleths are mostly subtle but clear if you're looking for them.

There never was a movie more replete with Persons Of Color: blue, red, purple, green, and on and on, all the colors of the rainbow and more besides.  And yet, as portrayed in the movie, there's one and only one actual (half-)human being: none other than Peter Quill, a strongly heterosexual, English-speaking, middle-American white male who is also the primary hero and leader.  Funny about that!

Any visible black people?  Yes, one: the villain, who in Marvel lore was an interwar Englishman and thus white, but in the movie doesn't seem to be particularly human at all, like nearly all the rest of the cast.

Now, if you care about actual black people, this is fine: the actual black human actor, Chukwudi Iwuji, did a tensely restrained and powerfully dramatic Oscar-worthy job of what could have been the standard chewing-up-the-scenery villain role, and hopefully will receive the honors his performance has rightfully earned. If you're only somewhat woke, there's a crumb for you: the character was white in the comics for decades and has now been race-swapped.  But he was the bad guy, how racist!

What about homosexuals and other perversions?  Well, as is typical for the Guardians, they're too busy getting into and out of scrapes to spend much time in bed; the main "love interest," Peter Quill's alien girlfriend Gamora, isn't even in the movie as such.  She was killed as dead as it's possible to get in a comic-book movie by big-baddie Thanos (who himself exemplifies the goals of environmentalism) rewriting history; a major subplot of this movie is Quill attempting to come to terms with the fact that she's gone and not coming back, even though his universe does contain another "Gamora" who looks the same and shares some of the same history, but, not the important bits that produced the relationship.

There is however one scene that had my jaw on the floor, a throwaway comic mind-altering sketch at the expense of homosexuality, almost redolent of Monty Python.  I haven't seen anything like it in, oh, probably decades at the least.  It contributes to the plot not one whit; it is isn't even very funny.  The only possible reason for its presence has to be a thumb-in-the-eye to the Heroic Homo trope, courtesy of a vengeful director.  Astonishing!

What's the main lesson or moral of this movie?  It's not a trick question, and, it isn't "don't trust the good intentions of elites," though that's drip-fed into you the whole time.  It's something even more wholesome, on full display to audience applause: There is nothing more important than family.

And, yes, despite not being related, the Guardians are portrayed as having become a family, with all the stresses, fights, insults, rivalries, but also underlying love and sacrifice that implies.  What's more, as they realize this about themselves, they also realize the essential importance of one's actual biological family: the movie closes with Quill returning to Earth to reconcile with his human grandfather who he hasn't seen in probably 40 years.  I wonder how many theatergoers may have left the auditorium with similar thoughts about their own estranged family members?  Not what you expect from a comic-book flick!

In short: while having nothing ostensibly to do with anything political, religious, conservative, or "good" in the church sense, Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 3 has a lot to say about those topics, nearly all of it both good and readily digestible to the average watcher who's spent their life steeped in the dominant liberal media culture.  How's that for artistic genius!

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
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