There I said it.
You can curse me all you like. I don’t mind. There’s nothing you can do to change the fact that your favorite wall-crawler dies in the latest installment of the Avengers saga.
And boy oh boy, what a death it is.
I mean, young Peter Parker literally turns to dust in the arms of his de facto dad, Tony Stark, in the process scarring the souls of the countless grade schoolers who don’t know that a sequel to last year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming is already on the Marvel Studios docket and bumming out an even bigger number of Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers who never read the classic comics on which Avengers: Infinity War is based.
As in the comics, the Mad Titan of Titan — Thanos — gets ahold of all six Infinity Stones and summarily ixnays the beating hearts of half of the known universe, including Earth 616, the home of the beloved superheroes we’re all familiar with.
The details and deaths are a bit different in the movie than in the comics, but the outcome is the same. Cue Jim Carroll’s “People Who Died,” and pour out a 40 of OE on the ground … and then immediately regret it. (That stuff may taste like the slime from a slug frying on the sidewalk, but it does the trick, especially when you’ve got student loans to pay and you’re living in a town that thinks $1,000 a month for rent qualifies as affordable housing.)
Woeful stories about late-stage capitalism aside, you’ve had 27 years to read about this pivotal moment in Marvel history — and you didn’t. And for the majority of those 27 years (or less depending on your age) you’ve lived a spoiler-free existence. Until now.
So instead of bitching about the first line of this column, you should thank me for not giving the story away for nearly three frikkin’ decades. It’s not infinity, but it may as well be given the fast pace of our pop culture-obsessed society.
The point is, why is it on me — or anybody else who has already seen Avengers: Infinity War — to keep our mouths shut. We’re the true fans who saw the movie the first week it was out. We’re not fair-weather lollygaggers who were too busy to swing by one of the 4,474 screens showing the film three or four times a day.
Art is a conversation between creator and consumer, and once a work is released into the wild, we’re free to talk about it, whether it’s Infinity War or The Handmaid’s Tale or The Last Jedi or any of the number of tales were supposed to stay mum about from now until, uh, infinity. You’re either a part of the conversation or you’re a clueless rube wondering what everybody else is talking about. In this case, it’s that Spider-Man dies.
And so does Black Panther and Gamora and Bucky and Loki and Drax and Star Lord and Nick Fury and Groot and Vision and Scarlet Witch and tons of other folks.
None of it matters though. None. Of. It.
Next summer, we’ll be blessed with an as-yet untitled Avengers sequel, one that will surely see the resurrection of nearly every one of those who died with one flick of Thanos’ fingers.
Don’t blame me. Blame Dr. Strange. He says as much just before he turns to dust. (Yeah, he dies too.)
All of which brings us to last week’s White House Correspondents Dinner.
As you know, comedian Michelle Wolf was hired to host the roasting portion of the event, a truly strange gathering of sycophants, socialites, and serious Washington D.C. journalists who measure their own worth by their ability to serve as stenographers to Beltway politicos, Cabinet leakers, and Deep State Deep Throaters, who are displeased with this or that action about the administration currently in power and want to get back at that bastard who stole their red Swingline stapler.
Instead of truly being objective outsiders who watchdog Washington, they’re press club paparazzi Instagramming every selfie they take in the hallways of the Senate. To paraphrase Rick James, “Access journalism is a helluva drug.”
Looking back, it’s no wonder so many of these access-journalism junkies were so taken back by Wolf’s comments, in particular when she mercilessly mocked Sarah Sanders. After all, they clutched pearls following similar routines by Stephen Colbert and Don Imus years ago.
While the D.C. press’ role is to ostensibly serve as government truth tellers, they are an essential part of the power structure, preserving and protecting it. They are the priests and priestesses who receive the words of our lords and ladies and then spread the decrees to the masses. Without comment, of course.
Which is why they found Wolf’s set so offensive and were so quick to give up their vow of objectivity. It challenged the status quo. It cast blame around all who were there, politician and press alike, harsh words that those hobbled by decorum were reluctant to say.
The truth is, when it comes to inconsequential matters like art, in this case a silly superhero flick, or important matters, like the very workings of our government, no one should ever have to hold their tongues. Art belongs to all people, and this is a government for the people, by the people, not just a select few who decide when it’s appropriate for the rest of us to speak.
Speaking out might spoil all the plot twists, but I’d rather know if something is rotten well before we’re all sitting on a pile of rubble crying like Tony Stark after Peter Parker turns to dust.