Saturday was May 9th. Victory Day. The day that the Nazi’s officially surrendered. Making me reflect on the world that was left behind in 1945. Leaving so much in ruin, so much depleted it still left an idealism and a bright sense of hope. I mean even though Winston Churchill had seen them through the long years of war he was voted down as PM to insure the forward momentum of the change they believed to have won, to keep them from falling back into the old school class divide. That’s where peoples heads and hopes were: class equality. The U.N. was established for just that; keeping a global equilibrium of peace and social neutrality.
Reflecting on this idealistic time my mind naturally went to Captain America. He was frozen in 1945. He was not “alive” and/or aware of the paranoia that came with the cold war, the suspicious reasoning that new liberal politics were fascist, socialistic and communistic and therefore bad. This way of liberal thinking, the way he thought and believed could make you the enemy. This helped shift things back into old thinking and neo-conservatism. The insular home bubble that was created with Reaganomics, traitor hunting, and wire taping, tipping the favor back in the direction of the rich and powerful. The new class divide as well as social, gender, religious and racial divide. The change from the idealism of neutral class and social equality to the idealism of the nuclear family.
It’s always made me mad that it seems in the modern writings as well as on-screen versions of Captain America/Steve Rogers he always seems to have reemerged in the present with the mindset of a man from the 50’s as opposed to the early 40’s. He always seems to have this wide-eyed innocence of a sheltered idealism, when if you were to take his true “time experience” it would be a very dark, turbulent and violent one. He grew up in his formative years amongst the Great Depression living and belonging to a very poor family. He experienced the lowest class divide. He also experienced the horrors first hand of the war. He became Captain America because he believed in human, social and class equality. He fought for these “new world” ideals. During the war, where he was sex, race, class it made no difference. It was about survival. It was about living and/or dying for a better tomorrow. One where this could be the reality without the war.
This is the depth that seems unexplored. Choosing instead to have him wave at a t.v. projection, or gasp at a mini skirt. it’s forgotten that he was/is a very open-minded individual when it came to individuality, science, exploration, invention etc. What would shock him would be the government, the politics, the new “liberal” and Conservatives. Going from a war, from the brink of promise to wake up to a world where it seems the same fight is being fought. The same trials, prejudices, and basic human rights that seem day-to-day battles. That would be his shock. A shock many don’t take the time to realize or put themselves in the place of. Even if you take the original “Wake up call” in ’62 that was still almost 20 years passed. Camelot era politics.
A basic meat and potatoes, mama’s apple pie American guy is not the Steve Rogers that would awaken. He did not know the world where that All American Boy stereotype came from. He did not know or live that stereotype. Instead we take the war as the Fantasy that the 1950s painted. The Great American War! We forget why it was great. It wasn’t because we won or that we came and saved the day, no… it was what was won. it was the “new world” ideals. Humanity working together to save humanity and the idea that we could come together, different backgrounds, different beliefs, different homelands we could come together as a front to fight for those very differences and maybe exist after the smoke cleared to live as a united front standing unified as a reminder that we all have one basic thing in common, one basic ideal; that is to live.
Well the smoke cleared and Captain woke up to our reality. I wish people would remember that. If not just for the simple fact that it would make for the more interesting story/character telling that I know Steve Rogers to be capable of.