Week 3: Millennials are not Ruining Everything

Technopoly is frequently used as a plot device in Superhero comics and popular media, it is most often wielded as a critique on younger generations and their supposed co-dependency on the digital world. However, what I enjoyed most about Ms Marvel is how it flipped this on its head. Sure, it still used technology as a fear-mongering tool, but the outcome was not one that resulted in a far too familiar ‘gah, the youth today-eh?’ rhetoric. Instead, The Inventor was used to represent the underestimation of millennials who have become a go-to punching bag for older generations and their shortcomings.

The Inventor turning millennials into batteries was an enjoyable storyline to read based in the reality of how society exploits younger generations to fuel the needs -or greed- of their predecessors. We see it as a systemic problem that worsens over time, institutions make it harder and harder to enter into the workforce in any capacity or to be useful (as so many of the teenagers that had volunteered to be batteries claimed). We have a huge demand for work experience that overwhelmingly presents itself in unpaid internships and a multitude of forms of playbor that take advantage of a generation trying to get started in life. By including the millennial struggle through an intersectional lens Ms Marvel opened a more hopeful and inclusive dialogue on the prospects of youth in today’s climate.

Additionally, I thoroughly enjoyed the similarities and contrasts of the villain and hero in these issues of Ms Marvel. Both have a goal that is for the good of society but there is a juxtaposition of scales. On the one hand you see an environmentalist with a goal of changing an entire system for the better but with corrupt means. On the other we see someone who is working to establish herself in her own community and do good on a local scale. In some ways this serves the America-centric Marvel universe but by having a female, young, and Muslim superhero they are at least taking a step in the right direction of better representing their diverse readership (I should note that I believe this change does need to continue and at a faster rate that it has before or is currently occuring).

Asides from class discussions…

I wrote down some quotes about Kamala that were said in class and one that stuck out to me was a character flaw that she is “dumb”. I feel like this is an unfair assessment of her, I would argue that instead of being “dumb” she is, on occasion, irrational in her decision making. This again feeds into societal criticisms of younger generations where inexperience is often equated to a lack of intelligence. Kamala exhibits a lot of intelligence and intuition as Ms Marvel; her spontaneous problem solving and ability to switch her logic from the massive to the microscopic (when she shrunk to destroy the wiring of The Inventor’s machines) is awesome! I think it shows a lot more intellect than what we see from other ‘pro’ superheroes like The Avengers who often manipulate The Hulk to go around smashing everything in order to solve an issue that maybe didn’t require so much destruction (a tactic Kamala could deploy with her capacity for embiggening but choses not to).

Secondly, I just wanted to add that I really enjoy G. Willow Wilson’s deconstruction of what it means to be normal and how Kamala struggles with defining her own normal. It is relatable to almost everyone as at some point in our lives most us feel abnormal. In reality, normal is subjective and an individual ideal. So often we see Superheroes perpetuating very narrow ideals of normality when in fact, there is ‘no normal’.

 

 

9 thoughts on “Week 3: Millennials are not Ruining Everything

  1. Hey Katie, great post! It was a very interesting read. I totally agree with you regarding the juxtaposition of the villain and the hero. One of my favourite aspects of the Inventor is the irony that his cause is a noble and good one, but the means through which he is attempting to achieve that goal is horrendous. I found this concept of the Inventor as extremely clever and it definitely added to my overall enjoyment of the Ms. Marvel graphic novel.

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    1. Thanks for the reply Vlad! Yeah The Inventor was a really cool move as I feel like it added to serie’s ability to pick up on a range of issues and weave them into the plot line without it being so overt that it feels patronising. Definitely a more unique villain 🙂

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  2. Hi Katie, great post!
    I think you made a good point about Kamala choosing to shrink down to solve problems rather than to increase her size and smash things like the hulk. It was cool to see that transformation occur through the story because the first time when she stopped a robber she literally destroyed everything and missed the robber. As the story progresses we see her find new solutions to take on her enemies, and instead of her getting stronger or new powers she gets more combat intellect as the story progresses. I agree with you in that I never thought Kamala was dumb; it was more so that she’s naive and can act rashly at times. That being said, I think most people can agree that that’s a stage a person and/or super hero has to go through in order to find themselves.

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    1. Hi James, thanks highlighting the progress Kamala has made in using her powers – i had almost forgotten about the first incident of large scale destruction from initial attempts at embiggening! I really enjoy being able to follow Kamala from the very beginning of her superhero journey and seeing these naive/clumsy stages rather than skipping straight to a perfect superhero and then getting flashback origin stories, makes for a nice change.

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  3. Hello Katie,
    I completely agree with you that she is more of an irrational thinker rather than “dumb”. I think one of the biggest factors that influence her character is her parents. They put restrictions on her such as giving her curfews or show anger towards her if she does things that not appease them. In addition, her interaction with the Inventor was also quite humourous such as when she acknowledges him as a bird instead of Thomas Edison. Your post made me appreciate her problem solving skills much more especially when she destroys the machines of the Inventor.

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    1. Hi Quang, the dynamic between Kamala and her parents is really interesting to see as despite it being in some ways a very familiar high school setting, seeing this with a Muslim protagonist is really refreshing. I love that they made Thomas Edison a bird, I did not expect it at all!

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  4. Hi Katie,

    I really like your “speak what you think” mentality, whether in class or on your blog posts. Your title alone made me really excited and I already knew I would comment on your post. I completely agree with your comparison to how we feel that the amount of work we put into education now doesn’t translate to the ease and ability of entering the workforce once we graduate. Our society today would rather pin the blame on others rather than admitting to our own imperfections and responsibility for the problems we face today, and this is the sad reality of our days. I had similar thoughts regarding comments on Kamala being a little “dumb”. My initial thoughts to Kamala’s decision and actions made sense to me. She, being a new superhero, is very much aware of the new responsibilities that come with her powers. Furthermore, she is determined to put it into good use. Perhaps we are so used to the intelligent, strong, and experienced superheroes with no weaknesses or flaws, we fail to realize that Kamala’s mistakes are very realistic.

    Thanks for the great post, looking forward to the next one!

    -YoYo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey YoYo, thank you!! I mainly have to change my titles from being the name of the comic to something else because I often go on a bit of a tangent but I am glad you like them 🙂 You are right when it is a societal problem it is really hard to get everyone to accept their responsibility or part to play in a larger system, I guess a bit like Kamala struggles with deciding to stick with her local issues than tackling a greater system as a whole or from an outsider position. I defintiely agree, especially coming straight off the back of Superman, that maybe the stark contrast of him to Kamala may have meant we were more critical on Kamala’s mistakes and it was a nice reminder of how broad the genre of comics/superheroes can be.

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  5. Hey, great post!
    In the begining, I agreed with what you said about about Kamala being ‘dumb’. I found her really naive and it bothered me at first. When she truly believed that Zoey was being kind, I really couldn’t fathom how she could possibly believe that someone like that would be genuine.

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