The latest in the series, X-Men: First Class covers the same thematic material as its predecessors.  The importance of TOLERANCE is stressed, but not in the classical sense of putting up with objectionable practices, nor Jerry Seinfield’s non-judgementalism (“Not that there is anything wrong with that!”).  Instead, it is the Modern Liberal notion of societal approval.  Being accepted by others is what drives Hank McCoy (Beast) to hide his mutation.

Betting one’s happiness on what others think of you is a risky proposition, as Aristotle tells us, and so McCoy’s hankering for human respect turns out to backfire on him. Raven, after some soul searching, rejects McCoy’s inclusion idea in favor of Self-acceptance. “Mutant and proud!” she proclaims. Substitute the word “Gay” for “Mutant” and you have the lesson for the day.

Yet even her Sovereign Self seems anxious with such a final account of things. She quickly flakes out and buys into Erik Lehnsherr’s (Magneto’s) version of SOCIAL DARWINISM. For Eric, the dignity of the human person is replaced with the survival of the fittest. Mutants are the next stage of evolution and their might should make right. Magneto is the series’ villain and his master morality sales pitch has repeatedly siphoned off X-Men recruits throughout the films, which makes you wonder whether Professor X’s preaching on diversity and tolerance requires a more solid ground than his choir realizes.

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Articles by Jason Joseph

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