Monday, August 11, 2014

Hanna keeps strange company

I find Hanna's de facto classification on IMDB amusing. According to the "people who liked this" they "also liked" five James Bond movies, Mission Impossible, the A-Team and the Hunt for Red October. Kudos to those who "also liked" Spider-Man. Hanna is not a spy movie. It's a superhero movie.

I don't mean a ridiculously over-the-top superhero like Superman, the Hulk or Captain Ugly American, but one of the better ones like Batman or the X-Men, those heroes closer in proportion to the world around them, vulnerable and limited by the shortcomings of their personalities. Hanna would intrigue Magneto. She's a post-human, a Homo superior, an uber... whatever the german word for "pixie" is.

The physical "supersoldier" side of things is just a pretext for various action sequences, quite the same high-kicking Hollywood martial theatrics you'd see in any spy/action movie. Of course, the real point is Hanna's cold-bloodedness, her inhuman lack of emotion, right? Yet we've all seen entirely too many movies praising human irrationality, making a villain or prop of the inhumanly detached. Hanna is not Dr. Moreau or Spock. She is not a wind-up toy. She is a good heroine for the same reason Hannibal Lecter was such an excellent villain in '91. They're funhouse reflections of each other, two forks of the same path.

Pop culture teaches us the propriety of emotional susceptibility, the virtues of love, piety, family, humbleness, marriage, altruism and everything else to make the individual incapable of resisting the tide of animal social interdependence. Yet what of those minds comparatively free of such weaknesses? We are taught to fear the cold-blooded through that unstoppable Hollywood effluvium of stone-faced psychopathic villains dispatched by the grunting all-too-human hero in his quest to get the girl and return the status quo (minute 50 for evil henchmen, 80 for the mad scientist.) If Hanna truly were in line with James Bond and the A-Team, Hanna herself could not have been the main character.

But what if a decreased or otherwise atypical emotional response is not a guarantee of sadism? What if psychopathy is not as dirty a word as we've been led to believe? What if the overwhelming stream of pop-psychology is, perish the thought, wrong? What if those who do not automatically smile in response to a smile are simply more... free?

Free to choose. To decide.
An inhuman concept, indeed.

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