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At some point we need to bring back the conversation about selling out. In an empire governed by capitalism and greed, artists have a responsibility for their creative output. Which is why it’s so distressing to wake up after watching Nomadland to see its creative lead the latest talent the Marvel universe wants to absorb.

I don’t know Chloe Zhao’s politics, but I know that making a sweet tale of how brutal the economics of an empire are to people seems a little less honest if the next week you sign on to make a movie that directly contributes to literally everything that Nomadland created an existential antagonist out of.

It’s not only that Marvel movies are bad and predictable, it’s that they are propaganda pieces for massive military and absolute force as future social models of America. It’s 20 fucking movies convincing people that the future lies in abstract, hyper-powered private/public missile launch systems on a person’s back. It’s the idea that we can drop a bomb on whoever the fuck we want as long as a black man is flying the cool-looking plane (and it’s a bonus if the bomber is gay).

Then there’s the real-world side of things, where the idea of managed tent-pole creative universes whose intentions are all designed by committee and approved by a board of directors—I mean, pushing that toward scaling up to the future is equally nauseating.

Like, there’s in a country obsessed with ‘accountability’ and being ‘woke,’ it shocks me how many ‘artists’ seem to get away with just direct contributions to the nightmare of empirical propaganda that is something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe; passive entertainment whose structural universe is dystopic as fuck, and hope lies only ever in war.

It’s kind of the Green Day effect, where between them and blink-182, through the mid-late 90s the music industry was able to dissolve any threat that was posed by the leftist ideas and ethos that had eventually got Nirvana to where it was; Kurt had killed himself and the punk aesthetic could be absorbed into culture by way of individualism instead of social critique, making a perfectly benign market out of it. (Punk, in turn, took a pretty right-wing turn through the 2000s, and the ‘individualist marketing’ aesthetic pervaded and emo kids—punks with absolutely no societal grievances outside of their own desires—were everywhere.)

This is no different. Marvel movies are the perfect way to both negate the artistic impact of people associated with them, while also promoting absolutely abhorrent messages regarding war and state to a shockingly willing public. This is liberalism in giving you a ‘choice’: our version of art, or no at at all. This is dangerous, and if we’re talking accountability, the MCU and the liberals who support it should be put on the spot as well. I really hope that more in entertainment will have the guts of Scorcese in the future to clap back at it all.

I guess, to me, the talent doesn’t need to go to Marvel movies. A good actor or director will still be able to make money with other films, and it’s not like there’s any great writing to perform in these heavily green-screened, designed movies. These are inherently anti-art, completely pro-industry, and it’s always just shocking to see how that just doesn’t create any sense of reservation to so many… and yet we still wonder why game show hosts and celebrities get elected to office.


Colin Smith is an interdisciplinary artist & art director living & working in Los Angeles. His assembly-based work focuses on human nature and its relationship to media, language, time, and systems of control.

For more information, social links, as well as various writings on practice & theory, visit the about page.

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