Politicize Me is growing!
Are comics conservative? Plus: A new podcast and a book excerpt
Politicize Me is growing! Welcome to all the new subscribers who joined this past week following news from Hachette Center Street Publishing about my forthcoming book, HOW THE FORCE CAN FIX THE WORLD: Star Wars as a guide to personal growth and political reconciliation.
I am so excited to have this opportunity and it’s all made possible by folks like you (the reader) who enjoy politics with your pop culture and believe they make each other better. Not everyone is gonna be thrilled about me doing this book and talking about the politics of Star Wars — because I am not a progressive person in my own politics. I’m not a reactionary conservative who is mad about everything that’s happened in Star Wars since Disney took the helm.
This book is gonna be for people who believe that Star Wars’ makes us better people and has a message that brings people together. I won’t use Star Wars a cudgel, despite there being a market for that kind of thing. I hope you’ll support me in that.
Down at the bottom of the newsletter, you’ll find a little bit of my chapter on HUMILITY and why we need it. It’s still in development but I like it enough.
The other day I came across a Medium essay by Connor Tomlinson about the monomyth quality of superheroes in American secular culture. The Boys on Amazon is a current show picking apart that pedestal on which superheroes sit and trying to tell a darker story about our obsession with them. Tomlinson is making an argument here that I think matters (to an extent) about the medium’s conservative origins and aesthetic. There is no doubt at all that comics today are deeply progressive, expanding in many ways the kinds of stories being told. That’s good. But the audience is shrinking none the less. Why?
There’s hope for a conservative comic renaissance. Avengers: Endgamesaw many of Marvel’s headliners go the way of the Dodo, and COVID-19 caused delays for new releases. DC are poised for box office dominance. Zack Snyder’s Jung/Campbell-inspired storytelling redeemed a nihilistic Batman and Wonder Woman through Superman’s Christ-like death and resurrection. One can only hope progressive writers and artists veer from identity politics and reverberating vitriolic partisan rhetoric with another sales implosion, before AT&T place the final nail in DC’s coffin with the cancellation of print.
Read more of that here from Connor Tomlinson
I have a new podcast out! This episode tackles the political intrigue of The Mandalorian, whose recent episode offered some new insights into the troubles of governing a galaxy. There’s a lot to chew on and it’s important, not just for understanding Star Wars lore but for grappling with our own world’s political disorder. After that, Brian Silliman (SYFY WIRE + Jabba The Pod) joins the show to talk about his recent interview of Anthony Daniels (C3P0) and why tackling politics in entertainment is a worthwhile endeavor, which Star Wars cares deeply about.
A LOOK AT THE BOOK ——————————————
We need an intervention from our culture of pride and self-assuredness. This arrogant culture is what led Duke University psychologist Mark Leary to develop a series of studies in 2017 on the components of “intellectual humility.” He found that when he asked a subject regarding disagreements they’d had with someone in the last six months, “What percentage of the time do you think that you were right?” — it came out to roughly 66 percent. Less than half thought they could’ve been wrong in a majority of disputes. This kind of attitude pervades our culture across gender, age groups, and political identities.
When Obi-Wan Kenobi mentioned to Yoda in Episode II: Attack of the Clones that his student, Anakin, had a tendency to be arrogant — Yoda laughed. “A flaw more and more common among Jedi. Too sure of themselves they are,” he said, now turning his convicting gaze to Kenobi, “Even the older, more experienced ones.”
Yoda’s balanced reaction to Obi-Wan reminds me that arrogance is not exactly a new cross-generational problem. However, when you take the research Leary did and apply it to issues of national importance such as the 2019 impeachment inquiry against President Trump, it becomes quite troubling.
An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll asked 988 registered voters “ Can you imagine any information or circumstances during the impeachment inquiry where you might change your mind about your position on impeachment?” Only 25 percent of Democrats indicated they were open to new information changing their view on Trump’s guilt, regarding the assertion that he suppressed military aid to Ukraine to pressure them into launching a corruption investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Republicans surveyed were no better. Only 24 percent of Republicans affirmatively believed that new information from the Congressional investigation would change their minds.
Padme, the Young Queen
How long can we continue to be a free people with democratic norms and a deliberative justice system if the pursuit of truth plays second fiddle to partisan identity? Star Wars has an interesting answer to how intellectual humility can interact with politics. I told you about the story of Queen Padme Amidala, so let’s look a bit closer at this masterclass in applied humility.
THANKS FOR READING! Tell me what you’d like to see here in the future by emailing me: Stephen.email@example.com
It’s me, Stephen Kent! I’m the curator of Politicize Me, host of the Beltway Banthas Podcast forthcoming author of ‘How The Force Can Fix The World’ (Hachette-Center Street). You can follow me on Twitter @Stephen_Kent89.