Jun 09 2011

Should Mutants Work Within the System? A Mutant Review of X-Men: First Class

By Rachel Haywire


X-Men: First Class is primarily an exploration of mutant politics. There’s no right or wrong, because each mutant character has a detailed history that explains their views on mutant issues. The film gives a central place to the real life mutant youth ideal of “finding the others.” Many of the mutants in the film resemble 21st century intellectuals or artists.  Inside jokes are everywhere. One can view the film as a satire of humanity as a whole. We are reminded of the gay community’s struggle for civil rights and of all the countercultural types (“freaks”) hiding their true colors to blend in to society.

Is this not the world that we live in today? Momentarily putting aside the mutant powers, it appears that we cultural mutants are meant to see ourselves in this film. We start out as children who think we are the only people like us in this world until we meet others we can relate to and feel a sense of connection. Could something like X-Men actually happen? If we lived in a world where having posthuman abilities made us a different class of citizen, what would we do? Would our government fear us and want to round us up and put us into camps? Would we end up working for the (pre-post)human race as mutant slaves? Would we eliminate the human race, chanting “mutant and proud” in the streets? Any and all of this seems possible and it seems that X-Men: First Class is trying to tell this story.  It’s a reflection on the bifurcating human species both now and into the future.

So let’s deal with the mutant powers now. Are you a mutant? If so, how and why? Magneto gains his abilities from rage. His family was tortured in the holocaust and his mother murdered before his eyes.  His magnetic powers result from being forced to endure the impossible. Mystique has the power of shapeshifting because she’s insecure about her true appearance as a mutant. Even Professor X rejects her for refusing to hide it.  Should we have to hide ourselves to be accepted into society? Is it worth living a lie for the social benefits? We relate to these characters because their struggles are human.

I imagine “Mutant and Proud”  will become a popular message within mainstream culture. I await the inevitable t-shirts. I have no idea if this is a good or a bad thing. And I wonder when we will actually become mutants. In some ways, aren’t we already there? I believe — as we expand our minds toward higher levels of consciousness — we are gaining access to the mutant or superhuman mind. With technological evolution, it’s only a matter of time before the mutant transhuman becomes an unavoidable unreality. We will be able to modify our own bodies and genetics so that almost anything is possible. Here in 2011, we are already in the early stages of biohacking.

Will all humans evolve at once, or will unenhanced humans live alongside a new species? In the world of the X-Men series, there are mutants living alongside humans. I am not sure how likely this is, but it’s easy to see people down at the mall as “humans”… and I do find myself saying, “She’s another mutant” when tintroducing my friends to each other. How many times have we said, “I don’t want to deal with the humans” when referring to not wanting to go out in public?

In the context of this particular film, most of us real world mutants will tend to side with Magneto — who believes that mutants will never be accepted and that they must fight the humans.  Although Professor X tries to strike a balance (changing the system from within), it’s impossible not to be drawn into the Magneto struggle. He is the film’s focus. Indeed, I think it may have been better if they had stuck with the original idea — making this essentially a “Magneto movie.”

Mutant politics are no longer a thing of the past. We need look no further than all the diverse new Transhumanist movements. There are Transhumanists everywhere with hundreds of varied positions regarding a plethora of issues. We have created a human version of X-Men because we are excited about the next step of evolution. We are mutants in the same sense that the X-Men are humans. These are two different worlds of the same design.

All things Haywire can be found at

  • By Woody, June 9, 2011 @ 8:51 am

    Thankee Rachel. Right on.

  • By Khannea Suntzu, June 9, 2011 @ 9:58 am

    Whenever humans have power as depicted by these humans, and when humans retain the usual ‘zero sum’ leaning mindset all humans have, there will be at least five inceremental stages of mutant organizations –
    1 – idealist protagonist mutants who staunchly defend humanity, and have ties of love with normal humans, even at great oersonal risk, (hero)
    2 – mutant organizations who unionize and defend mutant interests with minimal force against human organized predation, but they will balk at sevevere violence,
    3 – mutant organizations who separate from human populations and wish to create permanent arrangements of protection, secession of human common laws and will seek their own rule systems. (rugue)
    4 – mutant organizations that will regard normal humans as a threat, and will use immediate violence when confronted in their ambitions by humans and,
    5 – mutant organizations that seek to eradicate humanity altogether. (villain)

    What we see here is not ‘mutant’ behaviour, it just human behavioir when you add a level of unaccountability and power to the mix. Examples of humans who do exactly the same are;

    1 – idealistic politicians, affluent humanitarians
    2 – typical law enforcement, the science community, corporate higher ranking,s most military higher ranking.
    3 – typical religious or political fundamentalists, reactionaries, stateless corporate entities
    4 – typical gangster syndicates
    5 – typical islamic terrorist cells, tafkir etc.

    The clue here is power. Can society tolerate minorities with unaccountable privilege and power in their midst? Just a look at how typical big city law enforcement acts and you have a nice example of a minority that regards itself as morally above common, contemptible ‘ciilians’. Far too m\Many cops have social darwinist sentiments and methods not far above the methods used by criminal organizations. The more a society is failing, the more extreme these enclaves of unaccountables become.

    I’d love to be a mutant as depicted in the X-man movies. If I could file a wish list I’d pick mutations predisposed to subtlety and hiding. I think the X-men world is very unrealistic – a real world with mutants would logically be extremely turbulent and volatile. There would be extremely complex interactions of mutants, constant fuedal confrontations between mutant gangs and human cities would be in a state of collapse very soon after. In such a word there wouldn’t be a Magneto to cause havoc – there would be a hulk here and a spiderman there, in every continent and non-stop. Plus mutations would be exceedingly diverse and unpredictable. Especially synergistic mutations, where one mutation does something with the mutation of another mutant would cause all these sort of runaway effects.

    If all this would be part of a great universe, (aliens, supernatural) it would get silly very soon. But even without (watchmen) mutants would very soon become instrumental in new power orders, almost certain organized along feudal clans and alliegiances.

    I played with these themes in the Vampire roleplaying games for a decade and the underlying mechanisns are sliced bread & butter for me, and as obvious as kindergarten

    What vexes me is that transhumanists and singularitarians can claim with dry eyes that when we get closer to any Singularity things ‘will be OK’. These people I will lanbast shamelessless as irresponsible fools. Things won;t be OK – in fact we ARE on the early hockey stick upwards slope of this unprecedented process (not seen for at least billion years in this region of the galaxy) already and the societal disparities we see are the same manifestations of human psychopaths grabbing what they can like any old supervillain.

    In my book someone with a lot of money and resources is juyst methodically corrupted into giving less and less of a damn about people less off – ‘those are just mere humans’ as magneto would see. I’d regard Magneto as depicting the same ‘love of freedom’ (the right to throw around giant metallic battleships) and ‘self-determination’ as many libertarians, republicans in the US do.

    These are just people who’d claim the power their money and status gives them, as surely as Wolverine will regard his claws as naturally his right to wield as he pleases.

    And yet this is a stalemate. Any sensible human should realize that as soon as the new knighthood gets control, they’d start instituting their own version of prima noctis again – screw who ever they fancy screwing, anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

    To be a mutant or not to be a mutant.

  • By Keith Kalvin Kobby, June 9, 2011 @ 9:58 am

    No, what will happen is that all the so called ‘mutants’ will just collect SSDI disability checks and make minor nuisances of themselves, ignored by the general population which will make a few of them hilariously chuffed.

  • By Dan Massey, June 10, 2011 @ 12:08 am

    Contrary to what appears to be “popular” opinion, I think we “mutants” already control the course of human destiny and just haven’t awakened to this truth. Simple human life is phasing out on this planet, to be replaced by transhuman life. As more literate and intelligent humans become aware of the great, rational promise of the transhuman, they will recognize themselves as members of the community. Those who fail to do so will die along with their dead ideas, which are increasingly unacceptable to any sane person.

  • By Khannea Suntzu, June 10, 2011 @ 1:19 am

    Well, and I think we are close to the total eradication of the majority of humans on this planet by the planetary control systems. Fascism is winning. I see it all around me. Human life is of no consequence any more.

    I for one have no desire to live on this failed experiment any more. Unless things change for me, pretty soon I am out of here. I’ll save me a lot of misery calling it quits.

  • By Malcolm McCluhan, June 10, 2011 @ 6:02 am

    Most people who hate on transhumanists don’t know what it is. Anybody who uses the internet is transhuman. Some advocates of the cause are no doubt young… but spirited.

    My problem with the review, which I like on the whole, is that the first people with hard core posthuman powers will probably not be outsiders and alienates. They will simply be rich.

  • By Keith Kalvin Kobby, June 10, 2011 @ 7:33 am

    transhumanism : (1) part Ayn Rand flavor libertarian fundamentalist whacko (1) part dungeons and dragons anime con bad sci fi comic book geek (1) part arrested development with malignant adolescent power fantasy unabated (1) part crank fringe science ‘futurism’ completely unleavened by the actual constraints of physics and biology and the reality of politics and economics

    shake and stir with some mind flogging psychedelic drugs and/or extremely cheap forms of occultism (ie the unfathomably dumb ‘chaos magick’) falsely label as atheist and rational and drink it until you spew incoherent nonsense about the X-men and make yourself so ridiculous that anyone outside your small internet clique almost dies laughing at the mention of your name or ridiculous assumed ‘cyberpunk’ nom de plume

  • By Malcolm McCluhan, June 10, 2011 @ 10:27 am

    1: Post a popular caricature said to represent a diverse group of people. 2: Fixate on one piece of writing that sorta kinda corresponds to caricature. 3: Ignore all evidence that other people involved don’t fit your caricature. 4: Experience smug satisfaction.

  • By R.U. Sirius, June 10, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

    Ok, this is getting too weird. All comments in this article from now on must be about something and not about someone. That goes for everybody. Anything else will be deleted.

  • By R.U. Sirius, June 11, 2011 @ 2:57 am

    I’ve eliminated a bunch of personal attack posts in this discussion, starting with one poster encouraging another poster to commit suicide, so some of the posts remaining may not follow entirely logically from what remains.

    So now.. personal flame posts from anybody about anybody will be eliminated from comments. This is not a general policy but is specific to this piece.

  • By Tom Billings, June 11, 2011 @ 5:45 am

    This may just be personal projection,…however,….It seems to me that characters in most of these “mutant superpower” stories are inversions of what we see in the autistic community, with the emphasis ultimately being the same. The most consistent self-image of people on the ASD spectrum is that of an “outsider”. Believe me, the rejection of the mutants, and even the attempts to kill them are perfect mimics for what has happened to may Aspies, including myself.

    These stories simply make it better by attributing greater power as the difference, rather than an impairment in some area that is *not* intellect usually (that won’t sell outside in the neurotypical community), and manage a happy ending,…usually.

  • By Keith Kalvin Kobby, June 11, 2011 @ 6:09 am

    Aspberger’s Syndrome isn’t even real. It is a crock of shit mythology and a (usually self diagnosed) lame excuse for the justification of ill mannered behavior and general asshole-ism. At most, it is a character defect. Real austism is brain damage, and it is _not_ superior in any way to a fully functional, undamaged brain.

  • By Keith Kalvin Kobby, June 14, 2011 @ 3:29 am

    A movie review is supposed to address the technical merits, acting skills, plot structure and overall effectiveness in the craft of a film. A movie review is not supposed to be a meandering rant that isn’t about movies and also doesn’t seem to address much of anything else at all in any coherent fashion. Go and read some of Ebert’s reviews, from that start there is a most distant possibility you might actually learn something about how to write.

  • By R.U. Sirius, June 14, 2011 @ 5:18 am

    Read J. Hoberman or Pauline Kael or Lester Bangs (music reviews) or ad infinitum. A review can be as personal as the writer wants or the editor wants.

  • By Keith Kalvin Kobby, June 13, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

    A writer of this dubious quality who owned a Y chromosome would never be published here.

  • By Keith Kalvin Kobby, June 14, 2011 @ 2:57 pm


  • By Keith Kalvin Kobby, June 18, 2011 @ 8:42 am

    Now, Amanda Palmer is quite a skilled writer, along with her other noted accomplishments including her well received and lucrative musical releases.

    She also appears to have a happy and stable relationship with Neil Gaman, also. She is a success, all around.

  • By Jessica Metaneira, July 10, 2011 @ 9:36 am

    Keith Kalvin Kobby wrote:

    “Aspberger’s Syndrome isn’t even real. It is a crock of shit mythology and a (usually self diagnosed) lame excuse for the justification of ill mannered behavior and general asshole-ism. At most, it is a character defect. Real austism is brain damage, and it is _not_ superior in any way to a fully functional, undamaged brain.”

    That is nonsense. Nonsense.

    Please go tell that to the many older people who grew up with it, who didn’t even know what was wrong with them, who went through years of difficulty and abuse and often spent their childhood simply being punished for ‘misbehaviour’ that they couldn’t help because parents and teachers didn’t know any better.

    Tell it to people of all ages who would love to not have it, who work hard at overcoming their lack of social skills and sensory processing issues but still have problems.

    Shut up and come back when you’ve gone out in the real world and learned something.

  • By Ken A., July 10, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

    Ken G., it’s become obvious Mr. KKK is one of Rachel’s many “admirers” who are so infatuated with her they must have her attention by the most schoolyard means possible. May I recommend you trace & then block his IP? Thank you.

    Speaking to the article, there is one hallmark of evolution that Prof. X represents that puts him at the true helm of his movement: despite the actions of a few, he never regards mutants as spiritually apart from humanity. He embodies the idea “There is no ‘they’.” A true step forward doesn’t include vengeance or elitism; those are the prehensile tails we must shed to achieve our collective destiny. Magneto’s hurt is not healed by his rage, and he only achieves his potential when he gets in touch with his joy and with Prof. X’s peace. We should all aspire to the same.

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