Pastoral Genocide

Half-Hearted Review of “Iron Man”
May 7, 2008, 12:16 am
Filed under: Film | Tags: , , , ,

The diaspora of American taste only pretends to be enigmatic. We fancy ourselves as individuals, pop-humanististic beasts who think and feel and believe and do so uninhibited by the melding forces of marketing and commerce. The reality is, however, that culture is a big business. We suckle off the teat of homogenized art. Our tastes, mostly, are of a glossy origin, a streamlined mirage that reflects living and dying as purposefully routine. The myth, however, is that there is something shameful about being a part of the status quo, the electric normalcy of Rockwell or Hopper. Counter-culture absolutists have long considered themselves separate from the pangea of the mainstream. They are the self-ascribed demigods of moral creation. If left unchecked, they’d begin to spin the draconian cogs of Iconographic suppression. They’d dictate, and in their own minds, do so from the ageless soapbox of enlightenment.

But the truth is that taste and art are meaningful values if- and only if – they are built upon the supportive architecture of conditional and individual inquiry. To think alike is not a crime. To think differently because one fears thinking alike is, however, an abrasive danger that offers only shallow ineptitude and cultural landscape dotted by petrol rainbows. And, of course, the moral of the story – this story – is that the counter-culture is merely a distorted reflection of the mainstream, an existent reality that subsists off the fodder of the mainstream.

With that being said, “Iron Man” was one of the worst fucking movies I’ve ever seen. Robert Downy Jr. made me want to bag a case of Schlitz and hit the road. “Gynnie” Paltrow was markedly worse. Terrence Howard is reduced to a pathetic sort of nouvelle vague Uncle Tom, “yessah’ing” to and fro. In every conceivable manner, “Iron Man” is a hot stinking mess; a carcass wasting away under the heat of sun and the pressure of the carbon cycle.

While I understand one must set aside the strictures of reality to truly appreciate comic-cum-cinema, I just can’t buy Downey Jr. as a hard-drinking, womanizing genius who single-handily creates an alternative energy source whilst trapped in a cave under the watchful eye of Arabic-flavored terrorists. I don’t need to, necessarily, imagine Downy Jr. as a hard-drinking womanizer because he is one. A genius, though? Come on. At one point in the film, Downey’s character – who, for an electrical engineer/military-grade weapons baron enjoys a puzzling celebrity status – is being interviewd by a foxxxy reporter for Vanity Fair. She asks him whether he loses sleep over his corporation’s purported unethical business practices, to which Downey Jr. replies that no, he doesn’t lose sleep over his involvement in the weapons industry but he would would consider losing a couple hours of sleep by sacking up her. The reporter giggles politely, blushes slightly, and before you know it, hounddog Tony Stark is giving her the business. Women get all hot and bothered when dealing with celebrity electrical engineers. Unintentionally so (one would hope), the scene conjures images of Iron Mike Tyson, in all his functionally-retarded glory, informing the world that he only gives interviews to female correspondents with whom he “fornicates” with.

As bad as Downy Jr. is, Paltrow is worse. Playing the politely sexy Pepper Potts, I’m unsure of whether she’s meant to arouse me or unconditionally disgust me. She’s presented as some sort of fem-latchkey, the kind of office girl that is cutely unbelievable when she threatens to quit over workplace sexual harassment. Throughout the film, I was waiting for Downey Jr. to teabag Paltrow, at which point the audience would guffaw magnificently. “Iron Man’s” presentation of women is startlingly dim. I suppose this fact is unsurprising as the premise of the film is based upon the development, creation, and functional application of wrought-steel combat body suits with jet propulsion systems and heat seeking missile launchers. Nonetheless, it would have been nice for the film to make an attempt to breach the idea that – gasp – broads actually have feelings.

Terrance Howard’s performance is the most disappointing of all, mostly because Howard is an immensely skilled and underappreciated actor. His performance in “Hustle and Flow” was remarkable because it assuaged the looming temptation to become overwrought and sticky-sweet with the swan-song of socio-economics. He existed because that’s what people do – they live and die, often without purpose. Here, he’s a DoD all-star of an uncommon sort: one moment he’s in the Pentagon – undoubtedly monitoring your internets and listening to terrorists make cell phone calls – and the next moment he’s flying a goddamn Chinook over the deserts of Afghanistan. “Something,” as baby-daddy extraordinaire Keith Sweat once said, “just ain’t right.”

As I conclude this hastily-written and, undoubtedly, poorly executed excuse for a review, I will leave you with this: If given the choice, I’d rather watch Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbor” than “Iron Man.” I give “Iron Man” one quarter of one star, and begrudgingly so.

Ouch, right?