Last fall, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu was promoting his film, Birdman, which is about a former comic-book-movie-lead and has-been who is trying to revive his career with a stint on Broadway. I personally hated the movie but Birdman went on to win Best Picture and Best Director Oscars this year, along with a slew of other awards. My qualms with the film were with the script and story – Inarritu showed himself to be a particularly brilliant director and more power to him. Anyway, last fall, Inarritu gave a lengthy interview to Deadline in which he spoke about the “cultural genocide” of comic-book films. You can read the full interview here, but here are some highlighted comments:
On the money: “I think there’s nothing wrong with being fixated on superheroes when you are 7 years old, but I think there’s a disease in not growing up. The corporation and the hedge funds have a hold on Hollywood and they all want to make money on anything that signifies cinema. When you put $100 million and you get $800 million or $1 billion, it is very hard to convince people. You tell them, you will put in $20 million and you will get $80 million. Now, that is a f–king amazing business, but they say, “$80 million? I want $800 million.”
Cultural genocide: “I sometimes enjoy them because they are basic and simple and go well with popcorn. The problem is that sometimes they purport to be profound, based on some Greek mythological kind of thing. And they are honestly very right wing. I always see them as killing people because they do not believe in what you believe, or they are not being who you want them to be. I hate that, and don’t respond to those characters. They have been poison, this cultural genocide, because the audience is so overexposed to plot and explosions and shit that doesn’t mean nothing about the experience of being human.
The idea of superheroes: “Superheroes…just the word hero bothers me. What the f–k does that mean? It’s a false, misleading conception, the superhero. Then, the way they apply violence to it, it’s absolutely right wing. If you observe the mentality of most of those films, it’s really about people who are rich, who have power, who will do the good, who will kill the bad. Philosophically, I just don’t like them.
Agree or disagree with Inarritu, but he has an interesting point of view and he explained his position very well. I tend to agree with him for the most part – I’m often disturbed by the socio-political subtext of both Marvel and DC Comics adaptations, in which the violent plutocrats (Bruce Wayne, Tony Stark) are given the responsibility to save the country/world.
Well, anyway… Robert Downey Jr. was asked about Inarritu’s “cultural genocide” comments during The Age of Ultron tour and this is what he told the Guardian: “I respect the hell out of him. I think for a man whose native tongue is Spanish to be able to put together a phrase like cultural genocide just speaks to how bright he is.” (I’m including the video below.)
JESUS CHRIST, RDJ. Do you know how g—damn insulting that is? Inarritu made a lengthy and eloquent argument for why superhero films are destroying the film industry for other filmmakers AND they have a terrible political message and all RDJ can say is “wow, his English is better than I thought it would be!” Just know, I’ve been on the receiving end of those kinds of comments (because of the way I look, some people expect me to have an accent, I guess) and I always think the speakers are unbelievably ignorant. Like “Oh, wow, you know lots of words!” And why wouldn’t a Spanish speaker “be able to put together” a phrase like “cultural genocide”? Do only white, English-speaking Americans understand cultural genocide (presumably because they’re the ones committing said genocide)?
Photos courtesy of WENN.