Rep. Louie Gohmert
In July of 2012, the Huffington Post reported that Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) responded to the Aurora movie theater shootings by stating that “the shootings […] were a result of ‘ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs.'” These comments from The Heritage Foundation’s “Istook Live!” radio show have some ugly implications to them: not only do Batman movies attract primarily Judeo-Christian audiences (hmm, ok…) but that the victims of the shooting were paying the price for attacks on specifically this theology. Link this to the relatively Orientalist nature of the first and third films’ villains (i.e. Ra’s al Ghul), and there’s a growing strain (see previous “By Rao!” posts) of either Islamophobic or non-ecumenical taint artificially attaching itself to Batman’s mythos.
Rao wants to know: Is Batman becoming associated with a particular faith?
In the wake of Thor‘s #1 opening weekend, Comics Alliance is reporting that another group is unhappy of its godly portrayals. Whereas the Council of Conservative Citizens previously railed against the casting of Idris Elba, a black man in the role of a Nordic god, (mentioned in a previous entry), this objection is a tad more level-headed. Namely, some modern-day Neopagan practitioners are rumbling over the depiction of their deities in the film.
A follower of Ásatrú (or Germanic Neopaganism, as it is also known), writer Eric Scott of religious discourse magazine Killing the Buddha made the sincere and deeply personal observation whilst inspecting Thor merchandise in a Walmart.
I held that foam hammer in my hand for a long time, which I’m sure only confirmed my weirdness to the nightgaunts of the third shift. With my other hand, I rubbed the Mjolnir necklace I have worn every day since my initiation into my family’s coven. I did not know what to think of it.
The truth is, I looked at the toys in my hands and I saw the result of millions of dollars of development and thousands of hours of manpower, put into something bearing the name of a god, my god, and it had nothing to do with me.
Scott suggests that his fellow practitioners were “too few to matter” to the corporations using this material for their merchandise. Pagan Blogger for Patheos.com Star Foster feels quite the opposite: that Thor will bring attention to active Pagans in a positive manner.
The issue here is not just appropriating a mislabeled “dead religion,” but also how these deities function for real-life worshipers versus storytellers. A sideline discussion over at City-Data.com offers the thought that the word “gods” is misused in various narratives, comic books in particular. Are Thor and his fellow Asgardians distinctly gods in the movie, or are they some other classification? Would calling them, say, onses show a greater sensitivity by storytellers or would it divorce them even more harshly from real-world practitioners?