In the world of the J. J. Abrams Star Trek, Jim Kirk is a drunken lout, some reckless kid that Captain Christopher Pike hand picks from a bar to command the Enterprise based on nothing other than having known his father. What? Where the hell are they getting this from? In this new Star Trek incarnation, Kirk does not earn his commission. He is chosen by a surrogate father figure, fast-tracked through the academy, and handed a command that he is entirely unqualified for. And he’s frankly a pretty terrible captain, but that’s okay, because he’s Captain Kirk, damn it, and everything just magically works out for him. But his entire career, right down to the mythical re-programming of the Kobayashi Maru simulation, is depicted as nothing more than the actions of an irresponsible, entitled douche who can get away with whatever he wants because do you know who his dad was? Kirk’s command is based on a form of nepotism- he is a Legacy, and while there may be harder-working, more qualified Starfleet officers, Kirk happens to share Pike’s square jaw and piercing blue eyes, and everything just gets handed to him on a silver platter without him having to actually earn a damn thing. Why has Hollywood decided that what we want in a hero is someone whose quest is handed to them by some kind of father figure, along with whatever supposed “powers” that make them special?
Honestly? I think the white male audience just wants their fraternities back.
The system that has been in place for longer than anyone can remember to favour the white men of the world is finally starting to crumble. It’s no longer enough that your daddy is a senator, nowadays you’re actually expected to work for what you have. Movie heroes are made for white men who are nostalgic for the time when important careers were handed to them, no questions asked, and the only qualification needed was to be born to another white male. A rich one, preferably, who could afford an education, but didn’t need to work to get into the school he wanted because his father went there, and his father, and so on. The privileges and advantages that used to be automatic to the chosen few are being stripped away. Who doesn’t wish that they could just get drunk in a bar, get into car accidents, have sex with random people and be generally completely irresponsible, and STILL be handed the command of the Enterprise because some captain knew your father and has a "good feeling" about you? We are seeing the fantasy of every American Male, the very people who founded the idea that anyone can make it, as long as they get to cut in line. That’s why we’re seeing freak-outs every time there’s a Ghostbusters remake where the cast is women, or a Mad Max sequel with a strong female presence. We had female heroes back in the 80’s and early 90’s all the time, and no one cared, because no one felt threatened. We understood that no matter how awesome Sarah Conner or Ripley or Buffy or Elizabeth Shue were, John McClane and Rambo could still show up and kick ass because they were good at their jobs, damn it, and they EARNED it. Did they really “earn” it? Of course not, but we were still allowed to believe that they did. But now that everyone is expected to “check their privilege”, it’s becoming harder and harder not to see the assumed entitlement that has gone unquestioned until now. It’s becoming harder and harder not to smell the air. Women and black people are entering your fraternities. Soon they will be taking your jobs, and you will be expected to work just as hard as they do if you want to keep them. So you escape into a world where having a rich white daddy still means something. You vote for a man whose only qualification to be president is his inherited wealth. You desperately want to believe that there is still some value in being a Legacy. But Iron Man is on the wrong side, Peter Parker’s father never collected spiders, and Captain Kirk gained his commission through a series of promotions, every single one of which he earned by being good at his job. Heroes become heroes because of the hard choices they make, not because of the choices that are made for them because choosing is hard. You do not get to coast on unearned privilege and still be the guy who throws the ring into the volcano. You do not get to be elected to an important office that you are unqualified for, just because you’re a white male.
And this, THIS is what I find so terrifying about Trump. You see, it’s not the fact that he inherited his wealth from his father and started his business thanks to his father’s money. Having an important daddy doesn’t automatically make you unqualified- here in Canada, we elected our own Golden Boy, and that seems to be going pretty well, depending on whom you ask. No, what bothers me is that it doesn’t matter how much you point out just how unqualified for the job of President of the United States Donald is, because that is exactly why his supporters like him. We are dealing with a generation of white males who grew up being told, indirectly, that being a white male was enough. You could apply for a job against a much more qualified woman or black person or immigrant, and still be hired. But now, the women, black people, and immigrants are taking those jobs away. Your advantages are disappearing, and you have nothing to fall back on, because you never thought you’d ever need any actual qualifications. Donald gives these people hope. If someone like him can still be President over a much more qualified female candidate, then there’s still hope. And no, no one would ever admit, even to themselves, that that’s the reason, which is why we insist on spinning BS about emails that no one cares about. There’s no amount of qualification that can surmount the angry white males who want “their” country back. Remember when America was “great”? When the person who got handed command of Starfleet’s newest ship wasn’t the person who was most qualified, but the nearest white male who happened to have an “in” with the captain? Because that’s where we’re heading again. If we elect Donald Trump, all our progress will be lost, and it will be us that put him there. Yes, US. Not just the backwoods hillbillies that we want so badly to blame. Not just the Southern redneck racists and uneducated rural dwellers. No, you classist asshole, the call was coming from inside the movie theatre. We were Tyler Durden all along. We ALL go to these movies, and we all love them, because on some level, we all want to go back to a simpler time, a time when we always knew who was in charge, because he had the whitest dick. A time when no one actually had to try, because if you were a white male it was handed to you, and if you weren’t, you were getting nothing anyway. We are chugging our way along to an eventual meritocracy it turns out that we don’t really want. All of the films I’ve named here are of the wish-fulfillment genre, and it is us, we women and black people clamouring for greater representation, we intellectual liberals who appreciate the allegorical elements of our comic book movies, it is we who allowed Trump to happen. He is our wish fulfillment. He is the Great White hope who will allow us to watch our world burn.
Do you smell that? That's the air. Smoky, isn't it?