Monday, December 18, 2017

One Divine Hammer

This evening at The Wild Reed I share The Breeders' song "Divine Hammer," from the band's 1993 album Last Splash.

I first heard "Divine Hammer" in 1994, which was the year I relocated to the U.S. from Australia. At the time I was very much focused on living authentically as a gay man after years of being in the closet. "Divine Hammer" seemed like an appropriate, if rather risque metaphor for the type of sexual experience/relationship I was seeking. The song also reminded me of the Marvel superhero Thor, who was well known for his big, er, hammer.

I was introduced to the character of Thor via a number of Marvel comics books of the 1970s. Marvel's Thor is a superhero based on the Norse mythological deity of the same name. He is the Asgardian god of thunder and possesses the enchanted hammer Mjolnir, which grants him various superhuman attributes, including the ability of flight and weather manipulation.

Australian actor Chris Hemsworth (who is clearly the inspiration for the image at right) plays Thor in a number of Marvel Cinematic Universe films. To date these are Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Doctor Strange (2016), and Thor: Ragnarok (2017).

Interestingly, singer-songwriter Kim Deal didn't have either Thor or allusions to male genatalia in mind when she wrote "Divine Hammer." Rather, according to an interview in Rolling Stone magazine, she was exploring and questioning her religious upbringing through the song.

It's not fair that folk singers preach a happy message and the goodness of living off the land and "If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning." That doesn't exist. That's what I'm saying in "Divine Hammer." It's mainly about looking for something so hard through your life that people said was there. When I grew up and went to Sunday school, they said it was going to be really great . . . I believe everything everybody told me. And that's why I'm so pissed off now.

. . . I'm just looking for the divine hammer
One divine hammer
One divine hammer
I'm just looking for one divine hammer
I'd bang it all day

Hmm . . . I think I prefer my original interpretation which, if nothing else, leads me back to Thor . . . and another character from both Norse mythology and the Marvel universe: Loki.

In the comic books and films produced by Marvel, Loki is the adoptive brother and arch-enemy of Thor.

Tom Hiddleston portrays Loki (left) in the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe movie series produced by Marvel Studios. To date, Loki has appeared in four films in this series: Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013), and Thor: Ragnarok (2017). Hiddleston also filmed scenes for Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), but these scenes were cut.

Earlier this year Michelle Dean had a fascinating and entertaining piece in The Guardian about author Neil Gaiman and his then recently-released book that retells Norse mythology. I like what he says about Loki . . .

Gaiman’s personal sensibility is apparent in the text. His affection for Loki, for instance, shines through: “Loki is very handsome. He is plausible, convincing, likable, and far and away the most wily, subtle and shrewd of all the inhabitants of Asgard. It is a pity, then, that there is so much darkness inside him: so much anger, so much envy, so much lust.”

Gaiman attributes his love of Loki to his novelist’s eye. “You always end up fascinated by who changed, and how they change, because the engine of fiction is who are you at the beginning of the story and who are you at the end. Thor, bless his heart, has no narrative arc: he is the same person all the way through. He is not the brightest hammer in the room, but he’s good hearted, and you know he will die at the end, but he dies the same person he’s been all the way through.” In contrast, Loki is both the devil and the saviour of the gods. “Almost every story where they’re in trouble, it’s because Loki got them into it. Also, an awful lot of the time, he’s the only one smart enough to get them out of it.”

He declares “a real joy in passing these things on. It’s like being given something that belongs to humanity and polishing it and cleaning it up and putting it back out there.”

Above: What's going on here, then? . . . I'll let The Wire's Alexander Abad-Santos explain this poster, one that actually appeared outside a Shanghai cinema in 2013.

While some people wouldn't be opposed to male-on-male romp and romance between Thor and Loki in Thor: The Dark World, it is (unfortunately?) not a plot point (yet). The poster is actually a fan-made, photo-shopped image — a practice that some culture lovers, both straight and gay, do for their favorite fandoms (movies, comics, books, tv shows, boy bands etc.).

Left: The original, less homosexually romantic, Thor poster.

Of course, as has been noted previously at The Wild Reed, in the always entertaining world of fan art, many popular superheroes are often depicted as gay. I guess it just goes to show how many gay superhero fans there are out there, and how strongly they want to see themselves represented in this particular genre.

Following are a few examples of fan art that depicts Thor and Loki as gay lovers.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Season of the Witch
What the Vatican Can Learn from the X-Men
The New Superman: Not Necessarily Gay, But Definitely Queer

Related Off-site Links:
Thor: Ragnarok is Quiety the Queerest Superhero Movie Yet – Angela Watercutter (Wired, November 3, 2017).
Turns Out Marvel Cut a Gay Scene from Thor: Ragnarok – Nick Duffy (Pink News, November 1, 2017).
Valkyrie Isn't Bisexual in Thor: Ragnarok and This LGBT Erasure Is Getting Ridiculous – Eleanor Tremeer (Movie Pilot, October 26, 2017).
Thor: Ragnarok's Valkyrie Shows How Far We've Got to Go for LGBTQ Representation on the Big Screen – James Whitbrook (GizModo, November 8, 2017).
Film Review: Thor: Ragnarok – Peter Debruge (Variety, October 19, 2017).
Thor: Ragnarok Is a Hammer in the Face to the Alt-Right – John Semley (Salon, November 4, 2017)
Thor: Ragnarok Finally Does Loki Justice as a Character – Brock Wilbur (Polygon, November 2, 2017).

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