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“Logan”: a great Obama era movie

Logan movie poster

Dir. James Mangold
Starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, others
20th Century Fox
R, 137 minutes, 2017

reviewed March 6, 2017

Mild spoiler alert

Filming of “Logan” began a day before now-President Donald Trump won the Indiana primary in May. This reviewer isn’t 100% sure if that’s just a coincidence or not. The script was mostly done many months before then, however.

Those who have been anticipating “Logan” for a long time may be somewhat familiar with the timeline there. “Logan” is a great movie if viewers understand it was made during former deporter-in-chief Obama’s presidency and when many were predicting a Trump defeat and considered a Clinton victory probable. Some may remember the first “Logan” trailer was released a few weeks before Trump won the presidency, a result many still find hard to understand.

With those who perceive or think “Logan” was intended as allegory about the United States under Trump, the movie may be misleading. “Logan” shows black, brown and yellow people, including Spanish-speakers, running to Canada for safety instead of staying in the States, where they are hunted. This may evoke stories about moving to Canada if Trump were to win, and the Democratic Party’s supposedly being more friendly to non-whites and migrants. Of course, Euro-Amerikans shouldn’t be discouraged too much from leaving North America. People who think AmeriKKKa would have been better under the Democrats, and may have difficulty imagining how “Logan” would have made sense during a Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders presidency, are just going to fuck things up even more, though. Even now, illusions about Democrats are contributing to the development of fascism as well as causing problems in international struggle against the United $tates. They are slowing the development of nationalist struggles of Chican@ and New Afrikan nation people. When there was a Democratic U.S. president, clinging to Amerikan identity should still have been unattractive to oppressed nation people and others. Now, viewing Democrats, and their dirty tricks involving police/spy agency power, positively is leading to patriotism, jingoism, militarism, and war. In a country like the United $nakes, there are basically just exploiters struggling for more control over the power and wealth of a rich country; the undemocratic use of power against elites (a struggle represented in some mutant/superhero movies) in such a country is a downward spiral uniting people for repression and for more power and loot to divvy up.

In other ways, “Logan” doesn’t look good. I tried to enjoy the fact that a brown Spanish-speaking child kicks so much Amerikan ass in this movie. At one point, though, the movie raises the idea of a Mexicana running away from an abusive husband and needing an Amerikan’s help. The beginning of the movie is set in the El Paso–Ciudad Juárez area, which is portrayed as this dangerous borderland lacking security but where Amerikan females flash breasts instead of paying drivers tips. If this reviewer remembers correctly, “Logan” raises the idea of females being impregnated against their will (to produce mutants) and killed. In any case, i was reminded of Ciudad Juárez femicides. According to “Logan,” there are both party-going white females who still need limo rides in the area and groups of brown male lumpens who go around stealing rims and don’t know when to stop getting their ass beat. “Logan” adds to a pattern of evidence suggesting Amerikans are OK with helping or letting in some migrants if stories of rape, domestic abuse, fleeing “gangs,” humyn rights abuses etc. are involved. Nevermind that U.S. exploitation, wars and hegemony are involved in the violence and stalled progress in the Third World. Amerikans exploit and kill people so they can welcome some refugees and some economic migrants and pat themselves on the back; it would be better to have fewer CIA, Pentagon, U.S. State Department and Treasury operations in the first place. “Logan” might seem to depict gender privilege of Amerikan females relative to people whose bodies are used for experiments – which is relevant to a real history of Amerikans’ using children and non-whites in experiments – but the movie focuses on a small group of nefarious individuals.

Logan (Hugh Jackman) does have a problem with “Okies” harassing a black family. “Okies” seems to mean something like rural whites or white settlers in the context. But there is little in “Logan” that would offend white Amerikan liberals, particularly middle-class people living in cities. “Logan” does critique its own violence at a few points, but the emphasis is on how individuals relate to immediate violence they directly caused. The Amerikan viewer may go from watching such a movie to being more supportive of the use of drones, robots, and computer programs for guiding military operations.

“Logan” is ironically an adult, R-rated comic book movie with child characters who kill. This is a non-comedic movie with much gore but little comedic relief. What child mutants do in previous “X-Men” movies looks like magic tricks or tame in comparison. Many children will still see “Logan” in one way or another. In terms of the gender/patriarchal dimension of things and addressing the social aspect of children’s oppression, the idea that biologically based powers of some kind are needed to overcome adults could be limiting. Some of the children seem like little adults with martial arts training. They have innate powers other children don’t have and so seem more like adults to begin with in physical terms. Even if most children got physical enhancements of some kind and martial arts training one day in the real non-comic-book world, there might still be oppression of children. “Logan” interestingly shows children using different kinds of technology some might think are beyond most young children’s ability, but even if some such things, including information and communications technology, evened the playing field somewhat, it would still be possible for adults to oppress children because of remaining differences and an accumulation of power.

“Logan” is just a movie, but children’s oppression is a serious topic that warrants more attention in contexts such as understanding how U.S. hegemony isn’t going to end child abuse even internally. It is interesting that older teens who look like adults don’t play as much of a role in “Logan” as they do in previous “X-Men” movies and, at the same time, young children help each other. Most of the child mutants are little older than the others. Of course, for most of the movie, Hugh Jackman plays the role of an adult savior protecting the special child. But most of the adult mutants, including Logan and Professor X, are relatively weak in “Logan.” The movie raises the idea that oppressive paternalistic adults are unnecessary when a group of children who are only slightly older, more knowledgeable etc. than others can help each other in a supportive society. ◊

“A Maoist review of “Midnight Special” (2016),” 2016 May.

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