Original Article By John F. Trent At Bounding Into Comics
Jonathan Pageau, the host of The Symbolic World, recently decried Kevin Smith’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation Netflix show for perverting masculinity.
In the introduction of his video, Pageau details what he will be addressing, “It might seem like a very strange thing to talk about, this kids show, but I think it’s important to understand and to see one of the prime examples of a strategy that I’ve noticed in popular culture which is of course using masculinity against itself.”
He elaborated, “Using the capacity, the tendency men have to sacrifice themselves for the world in order to then use it as a trick to replace the masculine with the feminine.”
Diving into the subject of the video proper, Pageau first notes that He-Man “really is an image of hyper-masculinity.”
He then goes on to reiterate that He-Man is used to replace the masculine with the feminine. Pageau explains, “It is not surprising that that very character would be used to play out the narrative that I’ve talked about in so many of my videos which is the replacing of the masculine character, a male character with a female character.”
“Of course the female character has masculine characteristics and is supposed to be a warrior and a badass and a combatant and all of that. But nonetheless it really is a kind of stepping aside and being replaced,” he asserts.
Pageau then lists out a number of other films and TV shows where this is and has taken place, “This happened of course in the Wolverine movie (Logan). It happened in so many different instances in the past several years. And it’s also going to happen a lot more. You need to get ready for it. It was happening also in the Loki series. It is going to happen again with all these fictional characters.”
As for why they are doing this Pageau claims, “The reason why they’re doing this is very simple. It’s because this is our generation. That is those of us that are now in our 40s, we are the peak of the generation, you could say.”
He elaborates, “We have reached kind of peak influence in terms of culture and in terms of what will be the cultural narrative. The people that are my age that in their mid 40s, they are the ones who are running the show in terms of TV shows, in terms of movies, in terms of all of this. This is the generation that is now running the cultural narration.”
“And so it makes sense the battle of the cultural narrative would happen in these franchises that represent our own childhood whether it be Marvel, whether it be something as stupid as He-Man, whether it be Ghostbusters, all of these franchises are the ones that we had as children that were part of our memories and the memories that formed our perception of masculinity, our perception of storytelling. And not it is in this sphere that the battle is happening,” Pageau asserts.
Pageau then recaps the first episode of the show stating, “In the story, what happens is that the character He-Man, in the very first episode, dies. And after he dies, he is then replaced by the female warrior, I think her name is Teela. And she pairs up with the female bad guy and the entire story is about them, is about their arc, they become the main characters.”
“At the end of the series and the last episodes, what we show is we show again the main character, He-Man or Prince Adam, die in order to save the world. And this is where the game is being played,” he continues.
Pageau reiterates again, “I’ve mentioned many times that one of the strategies is gong to be to use the masculine tendency to sacrifice yourself in order to remove the masculine and so what it does is it actually leads the character up to a point which is really a messianic point, but it’s used as a trick to then toss the main character aside, the masculine character aside, and then replace him with a feminine character because the future is female.”
He continues, “And then of course there’s a bunch of gaslighting, there’s a bunch of saying, ‘No, this is not the point. That’s not the point.’ But if it only happened once or twice in a few stories and a few franchises, you could think that… Obviously that story can exist, but when it becomes a pattern, a systematic pattern then we have to look at it in a different way.”
Pageau then plays a clip of Smith explaining what happens in the first episode. The clip begins with Smith stating, “How we do it in episode one is he gives his f***ing life. He sacrifices his life. Now, you know, I’ve been accused of lying for saying that He-Man does no stepping aside. If He-Man giving his life for the entire universe is stepping aside then Tony Stark stepped aside, Jesus Christ stepped aside.”
“It’s a messianic moment and if you follow classic literature, the heroes arc, it’s where the hero has to go eventually. You have to sacrifice your life for some greater cause,” Smith says as the clip ends.
Pageau then analyzes Smith’s comments saying, “You can really see that he has understood the pattern. He understands the story pattern of the Christian knight of the Christian hero because he names Christ and Tony Stark, which was really a Christic image. He names this pattern as the one that he basically used to create his He-Man story. The one of self-sacrifice as the ultimate arc of the hero.”
He adds, “But then instead of having a resurrection instead of having a resurrection not necessarily in the character but maybe in another character, it is definitely used to toss aside the masculine character and replace him with a feminine character. Now, that’s what happens in this show.”
While Pageau notes that this pattern of storytelling and strategy is going “to get worse and get crazier,” he also sees it as an opportunity to tell better stories.
He explains, “It is also an opportunity for us who are willing and capable of telling better stories to reflip the story. To be able to present a return of the king story which will be more satisfying than the one that is presented here because it is truer to the divine pattern. It’s truer to the pattern of the return of Christ at the end of time.”
“Even in the story of Christ there is the resurrection, but there’s also the return of the king at the very end. Of the divine Logos coming to judge the living and the dead. And of course this is in a smaller way we can tell that story, like the story of Aragorn, like the story of the return of King Richard that we find in traditional stories,” he posits.
In concluding his video, Pageau explains why this perversion of masculinity and replacing masculine characters with feminine characters is a horrible thing.
He says, “This is a horrible thing not just because of feminism or whatever, but because these feminine characters are actually not feminine. These female characters are masculine and therefore it ends up being, as I’ve said many times, a diminishing of the actual feminine and the casting aside of the actual feminine because there’s no room for those characters anymore.
“And we end up having this hyper masculine world which is also inhabited by people with breasts, but are hyper masculine at the same time,” he finishes.