Thursday, January 5, 2012

Corporations ruining the things we love: Star Wars, Marvels Comics edition-- and Mark Ruffalo saves the day!

By Donny Brooks and CitizenBot

With Star Wars returning to theaters, we can only brace ourselves against the impending deluge of merchandising, the flood of product tie-ins, and today we've seen the tip of the iceberg. We also get news of the further deification of Tim Tebow, (ugh-- spoiler alert-- if you're a Tebow fan, don't read this part. It'll make you mad) this time by Marvel Comics. Amidst all this corporate assault on the things we geeks love (Star Wars and Marvel Comics being our personal top 2) and just as I'm about to sink into despair, our man crush Mark Ruffalo comes along to brighten my day.

First, the bad news.

Star Wars basically invented modern product merchandising and tie-ins. So we shouldn't be surprised when we see them start to show up. But the first ones to come out are. . . a bit of a doozy. The first is for Lipton's Brisk "Tea" soft drink. And yes, "tea" is in quotation marks since all of these drinks contain more high fructose corn syrup than they do actual tea-- oh and they don't contain actual tea, they contain "instant tea."

I love Darth Maul, and I love Yoda, but this is. . . lame.

So is this: a fruit ninja-esque game for your phone where you use a lightsaber to cut through things associated with the prequels.

And if those weren't bad enough, did you know you can get a Vader burger? Well, if you hop a flight to Belgium, you can at your local Quick.

Darth Vader and Jedi burgers

I know what you're saying-- it's what Zombietron said when I showed him this earlier today-- a black bun? GROSS. Now, now- anyone who has enjoyed a hearty pumpernickel or spent significant time in Eastern Europe/Russia knows that black bread can be hearty and delicious. But I'm guessing, if Belgian fast food is as bad as American, it's probably not good bread.

Of course, back in 1999  to promote The Phantom Menace in its original release we saw the unholy alliance of three of America's fast food spokespersons: the Taco Bell chihuahua, Colonel Sanders, and the Pizza Hut Delivery Girl, so we can barely expect restraint or good taste.

Next up in our gallery of crap we have Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback who delusionally thinks that the God of this universe cares about who wins football games. (If He did, wouldn't BYU win a national championship every year? Right? Sorry- probably ging to get some hate-mail over that one.)

Regardless, because Tebow is a media darling among braindead sports fans across the country and especially in "Real" America across the Bible, Corn, Rust, and Obesity-load-bearing Belts, Marvel Comics has created special comic book sketches of Tebow, saying:
“Like the Marvel heroes who pull off last minute victories, Tim Tebow has fans around the world on the edge of their seats and believing that — in our own lives — when time is running out and all looks lost, we can dig deep inside and use our various strengths to triumph over insurmountable odds,” says Bill Rosemann of Marvel Custom Solutions.
Ugh. These graphics were used during a slobberfest over Tebow on corporate sister ESPN.

 Tim Tebow is a douche even in comic book form
I've previously praised the House of Ideas for doing corporate synergy the right way-- for example the Castle graphic novel penned by Marvel superscribe Brian Michael Bendis. But this is just so craven (nee Kraven) and ridiculous bandwagonism. I know why ESPN has to rave about Tebow. But et tu, Marvel? Do you also have to toe the line? I wouldn't mind as much if it were part of a long-standing series of NFL players: say, drawings of the redemption (a common theme in comics) of Michael Vick, or  Aaron Rodgers and his amazing work, or Drew Brees. . . or whoever.  But not Tim Tebow.

And for the record, I don't dislike Tim Tebow because he believes in God. In fact, I actually don't dislike Tim Tebow personally that much-- I dislike the PEOPLE who think he is helped in his football "Angels in the Outfield" style and then use it to further their own agendas: I'm looking at you, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann! And I'm also looking at you, ESPN, who will cash in on this delusion and whip it up into even more hype in a quest for more money (just like Jesus would've wanted). And my intent is not to make light of religion or Christianity. I happen to also be a pretty faithful person, but I think that is a private manner. That being said, if a player wants to drop to one knee after catching a touchdown in a show of humility, fine- that's also a personal decision.

But I think it's dumb to think that a Supreme Being who commands us to be mindful of the poor and downtrodden, or to avoid false idols cares about a sport that takes place on the one day of the week He supposedly commands Christians to not spend our time on worldly matters.   War, disease, famine, human trafficking, dogs and cats living together, and Rick Santorum-- all on the Big Man's radar, I'm sure. What the Broncos are doing? Nope.

Marvel's explanation about how Tebow is a hero because he shows us "we can dig deep inside and use our various strengths to triumph over insurmountable odds"? Yeah, I'd rather watch Peter Parker do that, thank you-- not some religious crusader who thinks his mission in life is to throw an oval-shaped pigskin. And if I'm thinking about someone who keeps fighting despite insurmountable odds, the young quarterback who comes to my mind is not Tim Tebow, it's Colt McCoy.

Speaking of real heroes: Mark Ruffalo. In my opinion, Ruffalo is possibly the best actor of his generation. He has not given a bad performance in a movie, ever, imo, and has given some amazing ones-- You Can Count On Me, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Kids Aren't Alright. And he's got a social conscience. For the past several years, Ruffalo has been involved in the fight to prevent environmental damage caused by hydraulic fracturing-- a drilling process to extract oil and gas that has been linked to cancer, smog, flammable water, and earthquakes.

He's also taken up with a lot of the Occupy folks in New York, fighting the good fight not only against fracking but also the boondoggle Keystone XL pipeline project. In of all places The Wall St Journal, Ruffalo dishes on what he's been up to.
Mark Ruffalo says the coming film, “The Avengers,” is an allegory for Americans.

“You have all these disparate egos, superheroes in this and that, and they refuse to give up some of their positions in order to make a more perfect union and to join the team,” Ruffalo says.

“That’s really what the whole movie is about: subjugating your own best interest momentarily to further that of the whole,” he says.

As Ruffalo sees it, the film’s message speaks to the times. “I didn’t know it a year ago that it was going to speak to so many of the issues we’re having here in the United States and throughout the world, the same kind of theme,” he says.

“These movies reach a lot of people, they’re our modern mythology,” Ruffalo says. He followed comic book superheroes as a kid. “I think a lot of the beliefs I have and cherish were fostered by the decency of our superheroes, and what they were about and what they were fighting for.”
Pretty eloquent for a guy playing a character whose catchphrases are largely monosyllabic, eg "Hulk SMASH puny human!!"

Ruffalo is right. And if he can get egos the size of Asgard and Stark Industries and SHIELD to work together, not only are we in for an awesome movie with this summer's The Avengers, but maybe we'll learn something about our own humanity.

So, let's get ready to Occupy Avengers. And let's, in the meantime, try to forego the ridiculousness of the Vader Burger, the Brisk "Tea", and Tim Tebow comics. I think that way we can maybe find some peace in this ridiculous upside-down world we live in.

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