These are the terrible movies you went to see in theaters:
Avatar Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Spider-Man 3 All of the Twilight movies
These are the awesome movies you probably didn’t see in theaters:
The Iron Giant Fight Club Speed Racer Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Serenity Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
It’s more profitable to make terrible films that you’ll go see in the theater than to take any risks and try to make a good movie with a single original thought and a competent filmmaker with storytelling chops beyond casting famous people and dropping in some fart jokes.
Now go see John Carter [OF MARS] while you still have a chance, like someone who wants to see more awesome movies and fewer that make you doubt the intrinsic worth of your own species.
And then, of course the attitude—and I probably shared in this when I first started working for American comics—the attitude now is that it’s just toys in the toy box, isn’t it? You get to play with your favorite toys from the DC or Marvel toy box. Yeah, I don’t want to do that anymore. Those toys were pried out of the fingers of dead men, and were pried from their families and their children. That’s just wrong.
Everybody in the industry knows it’s wrong and for some reason, nobody says anything about it.
“…the truth about Invisible Children is that we are not an aid organization, and we don’t intend to be. I think people think we’re over there delivering shoes or food. But we are an advocacy and awareness organization.”—
Jedidiah Jenkins, Invisible Children’s Director of Ideology, quoted at Boing Boing.
In 2005 and 2006, I frequently struggled through the troubling things I learned about the kidnappings and child soldiers in Uganda by envisioning my lifelong hero Batman systematically dismantling the factors that allowed Joseph Kony and the Lords Resistance Army to commit international criminal acts that still horrify my imagination. For perhaps the first time in my life, my mind conceived of atrocities and criminals that couldn’t be banished back into the dark with bravery and batarangs.
But when I went to Uganda in 2006, the Ugandan military soldiers I spoke with already referred to Kony’s forces as having been crippled. Mere “thugs,” they said. I’m 100% behind anyone trying to help Africans, but I’ve been somewhat suspicious of Invisible Children’s actions and finances for years. This new campaign really rubs me the wrong way. It feels “on message” for keeping the organization funded, but that message is six years out of date regarding the truth.
I want Joseph Kony brought before an international crimes court, and have dreamed of that day for seven years. That’s why I was so pleased that President Obama sent one hundred special forces advisors to help assist leaders on the ground in bringing about his capture.
During and since my visit to Africa, my idea of what Batman could achieve in solving the problems facing everyday Ugandans radically changed. Every basic tool in his arsenal—Fear, Money, Invisibility, and Violence—would be rendered useless for affecting long-term change. In my little imaginary story of Batman in Africa, Bruce Wayne finally left his name and former mission behind and became a teacher in Bombo. I often think I should have done the same.
(I realize this story is simplistic as well, and that fixating on how Batman would solve a problem is more a dysfunction of my childhood than a method of actually reaching solutions, but I figure sharing it might be useful for catching the attention of my fellow nerds out here.)
Not for nothing, but I have had some experience with young, charismatic dudes leading youth organizations to donate money to them under the banner of global aid, and while they tended to do some good, they also constantly simplified issues and made ridiculous separatist arguments. By all means, educate yourself about what Joseph Kony did, and the prior factors in Uganda that led to the formation of the LRA. But my advice is to donate your time and money to established charities with less overhead and more infrastructure.
Final note: Please don’t be impressed by my brief visit to Kenya and Uganda. I spent every dime I had (and more) to go there, money that would’ve been better spent putting the children I would eventually come to cherish through school. While I credit that trip with my “liberal awakening,” had I been better educated beforehand, I could’ve skipped the emotional breakthrough and actually helped change a few dozen lives for the better.