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My Trip to the Multiplex; and the Pro-War Politics of the Liberal Gay "X-Men"

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik June 5, 2006 at 2:25AM

My Trip to the Multiplex; and the Pro-War Politics of the Liberal Gay "X-Men"
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Sitting in a crowded theater on Saturday night, as an interminable and deafeningly loud series of commercials blasted before the previews, I realized just how long it's been since I watched a big movie in a megaplex -- and why people are turning to Netflix: Damn, it's annoying, with those ads, the equally loud, obnoxious crowds inside and outside the theater, and kids cackling throughout the screening.

As for the movie X-Men: The Last Stand, I am a guilty fan of the series. While I should have been seeing the Film Noir double-bill at the Film Forum, the existential French comedy at the IFC Center or the suicide bomber documentary at the Cinema Village, instead, I opted for stars in funny outfits and colorful makeup. And I'm embarrassed to say that I felt totally satisfied by it. As Dennis Lim suggested in his review, even grand-hack Brett Ratner couldn't muck up the inherent allure of the series: which I've always chalked up to superheroes fraught with guilt, shame and heaps of internal conflict. (A friend called them Jewish superheroes -- and with the Holocaust references and Bryan Singer's background -- see Apt Pupil -- I don't think she's exaggerating.)

But what strikes me as disturbing -- and even more so, because so few reviews mentioned it -- is how pro-war the third installment of the franchise is. Yes, the film obviously leans to the left in its embrace of gay rights metaphors or if you prefer, pro-immigrant melting pot philosophy (let's throw out white hegemony and celebrate our various differences and mutations, whether you're a sexually ambiguous Dominican who sends shockwaves through the air or a Chinese-American with porcupine skin).

But in the last act, a different message takes over: When Magneto shames the X-Men as sell-outs for coming to the defense of the military, I was on his side. And in an endorsement of neocon-style pre-emption, Wolverine's mantra is, "The best defense is a good offense," later to be repeated by Storm in the climactic battle, where the intellectual Beast decries "diplomacy" in favor of busting heads. Dare I say I don't think I've seen in the last few years a Hollywood climax so intent on justifying the Bush Regime's wartime policies.