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When I started this video I thought it was just going to be about a tweet...the fact that it became about how a tweet about villains outlines that the thing we're angry about is kinda that heroes don't turn into villains, and that the villainy was being advocated for on a platform where people don't seem to be getting any better at understanding inspires villainy was a pretty big surprise...

Also, what is most interesting to me about these tweets is not that they were tweeted, again, I think they are fine takes...I think what's interesting is how much traction they got...how many likes and retweets and how much conversation they created, and how that conversation was never less extreme than the original tweet, always more extreme.

Anyway, have a good day.

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Good morning John.

I was listening to the Ezra Klein show this week and he and his guests were talking about twitter. And they said a thing that I have said to you and you have disagreed with me about.

That twitter is both indispensable and dystopian. If true, of course that would be very bad news so let's walk through the argument.

It's dystopic because it's a room without walls where everyone is always required to be performing for everyone else and it's a platform for human communication in which there is no space for careful, thoughtful, de-escalating conversation.

It's indispensable because it's where a lot of culture is being created right now especially if you are in the political or journalist spaces and those people are people who create a lot of culture.

It's also indispensable because so many important unifying powerful conversations and ideas have started there, though those conversations are often prevented from having a lot of nuance because of the culture and structure of the platform.

And I'm gonna dive into this through a very specific and seemingly uninteresting example.

These two tweets about super-villains which both did very well. Pause the video to read them. 

Here's the thing about a villain: it works best if they have motivations that the audience can understand.

There are a bunch of different ways to do that. In the Carl books the antagonist is mostly just trying to matter, which is largely the same as one of the main motivations of the protagonist- and that's a fun dynamic!

You can also have a villain that is motivated by hurt: they've been humiliated, their identity has been destroyed.  Now some villains just enjoy chaos, but I'd actually argue that this is about power.

Chaos is something they're forcing on other people often because they lacked agency at some other point in their lives, but now they want to have that control, and the ultimate manifestation of that is like world domination. 

But among those other ways one way is to have the villain care about something that is a real problem, or at least something that the audience sees as a real problem. And then they have a super simplistic way of how to solve that problem that is very villainy.

Poison Ivy is right that humans are doing significant harm to the planet, she is wrong that killing a bunch of individual CEO's can solve a systemic problem.  Gotham's institutions are definitely corrupt, Bane wants to solve that problem by blowing everything up I guess.

There are a lot of things to learn from this trope. But, the discourse on Twitter was that either one of two things. The people telling the stories want the people who are watching to be less concerned about the problems and be more concerned about policing the tactics used to fix the problems.

That was the original pitch but some of the response was well actually they are trying to make people with left wing values into villains so that people will think "ah Posion Ivy eco-terrorist people who care about the environment are bad."

That second thing doesn't make sense because villains are often motivated by right wing values. And nobody looks at Bane and thinks "ah the Batman movie is trying to teach us that people who fight corruption are actually bad people."

But the original idea that we are focusing more on the tactics used to fix the problems than on the problems themselves I think that's a perfectly legitimate point. I just think it's not the only point and that it's over simplified in order to make the point and also to make people angrier than they otherwise would be. 

Because ultimately the goal that the writers of the movie have isn't to change society, it's to sell movie tickets.
Or whatever it is we do now.

They're just trying to figure out how to write a broadly appealing story that will make 300 million dollars. But if you're gonna look for lessons, I think there are others that are also being implicitly taught here.

Like for example that systemic problems are the exact problems that individuals are very bad at solving.  Superman could solve a whole lot of problems if he just declared himself the emperor of the Earth.

But that's not just contrary of our ideas of what is good and right, it is also actually evil.  The Avengers should not be the government. That would be dystopic.

They are good at punching, not leading.  And thinking, if I were the one individual with all of the power I would use it to single handedly force the world into the shape that I believe it should be- that's a villainous thought. We have it, but it's villainous.

It's also kind of a Twitter thought. Of course these stories are simple. They are epic battles that have to take place in less than three hours.

And yes of course we learn from them. And it's important to analyze what people learn from them. But if the question is why don't the heroes in the movies solve big problems, there are a lot of answers to that question. 

One answer could be Disney's trying to make leftists look like villains.  One could be Disney is just generally trying to manufacture consent.

But you could take a middle road and say Disney is trying to sell movie tickets.  Or you could take a sympathetic view and say that the lesson to learn here is that heroes can't solve these problems. Only we can. John, I'll see you on Tuesday.