Comments on

Soon We Will Be Invincible

Original entry posted: Wed Aug 1 04:15:14 2007

Johnny Pi @ Wed Aug 1 09:37:06 2007 EST

I saw things a bit differently. "If everyone's special, no-one is special" - from Dash, this is typical little kid griping, a feeble protest. From Syndrome, it's a bullshit rationalization - there was no reason for him to kill off superheroes to make everyone special; He's just a murderer with the same stupid excuse as a little boy. Why didn't Syndrome leverage his money and power into making everyone special without some murderous scheme? Putting those words in the mouths of those two specific characters seemed more like a repudiation of that philosophy than an endorsement. I know I sure wouldn't listen to either of them.

I think the father might have said it at some point, too, when he was being the sad sack. And again, it was a feeble protest - a juvenile retort. The line was born of frustration (as so many of those bogus "political correctness is destroying the world" lies are), so when it's later mirrored by the son it makes sense - they are both frustrated and, being unable to resolve the conflict within, lash out.

Maybe if the movie had ended with a Jack Kirby montage, all the heroes pointing at the screen and shouting, "Remember, kids! If everyone's special -- No one is!!" then I'd be more inclined to agree.

That's how I see it and I prefer my way. Your interpretation is so . . . unsubtle.

Corvus @ Wed Aug 1 10:49:13 2007 EST

You know, I don't see the movie as supporting special rights for individuals with great ability, but questioning the need to handicap them in the interest of making everybody else feel "special" too.

I'd argue that everyone that the message is that being "special" is something inherent to us as people and that we should look internally to find our power and not level the playing field, so to speak, in order to feel special.

Syndrome didn't see himself as special because he wasn't a super and yet, clearly, he was smart enough to invent zero point gravity devices! To my mind, that's psychotic behavior. Rather like saying, "I may be a world renowned particle physicist, but I can't play basketball worth a damn. So, I'm going to take over the world and force basketball players to wear hobbles and tie their arms behind their backs so I can be a better basketball player."

Thomas @ Wed Aug 1 12:23:36 2007 EST

I can see where you two are coming from, even if I still don't entirely agree. I think you're giving the flick credit for saying things that it didn't actually say.

While the good characters that mutter this motto are indeed sulking at the time, I always saw them as reacting to a wrongly-oppressive situation--one that is generating considerable strife inside the family, and one that is resolved, in the end, by bringing back the superhero team. You don't think that their reaction is rationalized by the end of the film?

This was a carefully written film--indeed, a crafted work of art. The rhetorical impact of repetition, particularly in stories for children, is well established and recognized as a common device. If the artistic goal of the film was to say that "you shouldn't hide your special gifts," or "recognize how you are special," why weren't those lines spoken and repeated, instead of the ones to which I've reacted so vehemently?

With that said, there is a tendency to resort to unsubtle political insinuations toward all media ("Hollywood is liberal!"), and I admit that I worried about whether I was crossing that line in writing this piece. Maybe I was.

Corvus @ Wed Aug 1 12:49:44 2007 EST

No, I don't think you crossed any lines, per se. And I'm not disagreeing with you about the message, only your interpretation of it. You see a sinister "special people get special privileges" message where I see a decidedly positive "leveling the playing field so everyone is considered special is wrong" message.

To my thinking, it's a reenforcement of the idiotic educational approach of heaping praise upon every single child, even if its only for eating lunch so that every one feels special, regardless of their level of effort or involvement.

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