Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Spiderman 3-Action Thriller And Political Morality Play

Do what's right. You always have a choice. It may sound simple, but it isn't always easy. That's the closing thought in Spiderman 3 which I had the good luck to see a preview tonight at the Minnesota Zoo's Imax theater.

If Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and President George Bush watch this movie, they may identify deeply with Spidey. Power can be addictive. In the short term it's a lot easier to say "my way or the highway" than to wrestle with the real problem which may be your view of the world. But in the long term, using power just because you can (such as invading a country or vetoing bills) can come back and haunt you (such as thousands dieing in a war, a state's infrastructure and quality of life crumbling away).

Don't get me wrong, Spiderman 3 is a great action flick and I highly recommend it, even to those who aren't into the action genre. (I put myself in that group) But like all good science fiction, there's an underlying morality play that reflects the current times. For example, stoking rage to achieve a result that ultimately hurts the people you've enraged.

Right wing talk show hosts such as Jason Lewis are good at that. A few weeks ago, Lewis had a decent sized crowed of enraged people show up at the State Capitol to protest taxes. The protest started with an invocation, not for peace or love of fellow man, but with the purpose of stirring anger and hate against elected leaders who had the audacity to ask people to pay taxes. The irony of doing this at a facility paid for by tax payers was probably lost on most of this crowd. The fact that very few of them (if any) would pay more income tax under the proposed DFL tax fairness package and that all of them benefit from the services those taxes pay for is just as lost. Because of a deep hatred stoked by a third party, they seek to kill what helps them most.

In the movie, hate consumes Spiderman and he doesn't do what is right. Instead he does what is expedient and it comes back to haunt him where it hurts most. In the end, Spidey understands that seeking revenge is short-sighted, that adhering to a code that is more about yourself than helping others ultimately does nothing to help you or others.

Tim and George, when you grab that bag of popcorn and nestle in to that comfy theater seat, if you feel a pang of guilt watching this movie --that's the real you trying to get out. The part that does care about the truth. The part that does want to leave this world and Minnesota a better place than you found it. Toss off the darkness of policies that hurt others just to support the hubris of your false pride.

For once, do what is right instead of just what is right wing. It's not easy, but you always have a choice.


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