Spidey, almost a man
The latest Spiderman is a prequel. It takes place before Tobey Maquire’s character burst on the scene ten years ago.
Andrew Garfield plays Peter Parker, a nerdy high school student who gets bit by a genetically modified spider, develops superhuman powers, causes the male authority figures in his life to suffer tragic consequences, and still has all the major hormonal imbalances of a normal teen-ager. You don’t have to be much of a Freudian to fully appreciate our Peter killing his father over and over and saving the final embrace of the film for his surrogate mother, Aunt May, played by Sally Field.
Even though it’s light on plot and not as dangerous as the earlier version, there’s more than enough adolescent existential angst to satisfy the male fear of commitment and self-indulgent alienation. Peter can’t commit to a lasting emotional relationship because he’s not in control of his body—is it the hormones or the genetically modified spider-thing? It’s hard to know. But in any case young men can identify.
There were moments in Spiderman when you thought you could hear Frankie Valli sing,
Dawn, go away I'm no good for you
Oh Dawn go away, back where you belong
Girl we can't change the places
where we were born
Before you say that you want me
I want you to think what your family would say
think what you're throwing away
Now think what the future would be
with a poor boy like me
[repeat 5 times] Dawn, go away I'm no good for you
But, like all great comic book literature, there’s a serious side to all this fooling around. The major conflict is between the good genetically modified Spiderman and the evil genetically modified Dr. Curt Connors who becomes a giant lizard. It would be easy to rush to judgment and conclude we shouldn’t mess around with genetically modified organisms—we could end up like a giant lizard—but then we see how much fun Peter Parker is having and we think maybe we should take a walk on the wild side.
This doesn’t do much to help the campaign last year of Occupy Wall Street that took on the dangers of genetically modified organisms being used by Monsanto. The OWS-Maui group lined the Pi’ilani Highway, and a guy dressed as a giant ear of corn was chased up and down the roadway by four guys in white lab coats trying to inject him with fish scales. The island of Maui is home to most of Monsanto’s experiments in genetic engineering.
And OWS-Maui sang:
Occupy Babylon, tear it down
Occupy Babylon, tear it down.
Monsanto wants to mess with my food
Stand up and tell them that’s no good
They want to feed me the G M O’s
Stand up and tell them “No, No, No!
But, thanks to the film for bringing up the question of the ethics of genetically modified foods, and the precautionary principle of “First, do no harm,” Now, perhaps, we should start to take it seriously.