beccaelizabeth (beccaelizabeth) wrote,

Freedom vs accountability

I'm reading a long fic and Stark just gave Fury a 'suck it, boss' speech, after smashing through a SHIELD base and kidnapping/freeing someone, where the punchline was the Avengers are going independent
as long as they do less damage than the Chitauri they can do as they damn well please because the world needs them.

I stalled right there, because that? That is a supervillain origin speech. And I don't think the fic knows it.

Whatever one's problems with SHIELD may be, they do represent one flawed yet legal authority. They're in theory part of the whole 'rule of law' thing of which civilisation is so fond. And this fic is set right after Avengers the first, so the whole HYDRA thing isn't even a glimmer to the characters yet. As far as anyone knows, SHIELD are acting within the boundaries set for them by democratic processes. If one believes those boundaries are in the wrong place, that's a system problem you really need to address via your representatives. And if one thinks they have overstepped those bounds, then in a reasonable system there are these things called 'lawyers'. Rule of law means we sit down and yell at each other, or stand up and discuss quietly, or anything verbal in between.

Saying instead that you're going to break someone else's property open and take who and what you want, and they're going to put up with it because they need you?

That's saying that you've got the shield, you've got the armour, and hey, you've got the horse too, but chivalry can suck it because the world needs you.

That's privilege in the purest old school form of might makes right.

Because if you're at least a measurable improvement on an alien invasion fleet, hey, the world needs you.

I'm stalling so hard on this concept it's making me remember every time I've ever run out of patience for the whole superhero concept.

Though as previously mentioned, that is not a superhero. That's a supervillain with pretensions.

And lets face it, if Stark is going to break, there's a coin flip chance he'll break that way. World domination because he can do it so much better than the next guy. Rule us all to keep us safe. Perfectly plausible.

But he knows that and got fed up at himself and did that little press conference that changed his life, you know, the one that goes 'I saw that I had become part of a system that is comfortable with zero-accountability.' He's team accountability now.

And I get the impression the fic just thinks that by throwing SHIELD out he's been reasonable in the face of mean Fury telling lies.

Pretty sure reasonable would be not returning his calls. Telling him you're no longer subject to rule of law or lawful authority is, you know, excessive.

I mean this is basically the exact pitch HYDRA make, give up because you need us to protect you from the even worse things.

And yeah, then Cap throws out lawful authority because they're evil.
The movie gave him an epic scale ticking clock of a reason to not do that through channels.
And then gave Natasha this exact argument about consequences, that they wouldn't suffer any because You Need Us.

Which is basically the superhero way.

But I find myself really not keen on it.

I mean, there's a lot of argue to be made about what should happen to whistleblowers, specifically, and it's pretty shit that they get locked up for forever if they tell on the powerful.


I feel there's less argument about people who shoot people and blow stuff up?

I mean, it seems to me a more powerful story if the heroes do that and go to jail for it. Like, it's not a heroic death at the end of a fight story, it's the heroic restoration of the rule of law by cleaning it up then submitting oneself to it.

A world that needs superheroes so much they'll let them smash all the things is a world with some pretty major problems, many of them now superheroes.

And yeah, sometimes it's as clear as aliens pouring through a portal or a robot overlord crashing a flying city, so someone's got to do something. The story really pumps up the contrast so you can't exactly argue for pacifism. Diplomatic solutions don't work when you don't even know the enemy exists or acknowledge their sentience/sapience/rights.

Not cool. Don't think there's RL equivalents. Not pretty ones, anyways.

But as I understand it the whole law and courts and trials thing is there to see if the actions taken were reasonable, proportionate, vaguely legal. So why shouldn't a superhero be subject to those same processes of law?

... the usual comic book answer is their utter corruption, but if the story stops there it's pushing a morally bankrupt rule by titans that I want no part of.

... so basically I just sat down and wrote out which side of the superhero civil war I'd be on.

Accountability is a necessary prerequisite of civilisation.

Freedom's necessary too, but not to the extent you can stand there and go You Can't Make Me over laws about if you're allowed to hit people and never answer for it.

Bad laws need fixing, but bringing down civilisation and letting rip with the might-makes-right is not the way to do it.

(ugh, okay, so my Chaotic Neutral tendencies are all D-:< right now)

Bad law needs fixing, bad systems need protesting, bad regimes even need replacing, but people just standing there saying they're outside of law and beyond judgement because they've got the biggest weapons? Are the problem. Never the solution.

... why am I reading superhero stories if...

xposted from Dreamwidth here. comment count unavailable comments. Reply there
Tags: marvel, meta
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.