1. Since I was abroad when Avengers: Endgame came out, it was obviously high on the priority list to see it after returning. I went to a Thursday late afternoon/early evening showing (and miraculously stayed awake for the whole thing: the only night I kept my eyes open past 8 p.m. all week).
I didn’t like the movie as much as I think I was supposed to. I will admit that one of the things I like most about Marvel movies is the humor, and, as with Infinity War, there wasn’t nearly as much humor in this movie as in, say, Thor: Ragnarok. But beyond the minimal joke-making (which is a personal preference), I had a couple fundamental problems with the plot of the movie (presented below in white text that you’ll need to highlight to see to protect you from spoilers).
I need to get this out of the way to start: I’m on Thanos’s side, and I think he’s the real good guy here, not the Avengers. Maybe he’s not a good guy in the traditional, wholly-pure-with-no-bad-qualities sense, but–and I said this when I left Infinity War–I really believe his heart was in the right place with the snap. He saw a problem with overpopulation and found a way to solve that problem in the most humane way possible. As we learn from what Spider-Man says towards the end of Endgame, being dusted wasn’t a painful or excruciating experience. It was just a thing that happened, and then half of life was gone. Sure, that’s not so great for the people left behind, but as far as wiping out populations goes, that’s about as good of a way as it could happen. No pain, no suffering, no starvation, no horrible illness, no gruesome murders: they were just gone, like that *snaps* (pun moderately intended).
Of course, this belief that Thanos was in the right is based on the assumption that his fundamental argument–the universe is overpopulated–is objectively true. If the universe’s overpopulation is his subjective opinion–if people are not actually running out of resources necessary for survival–that changes things. But since no one ever seemed to argue against his belief (at least not that I remember), I’m operating as if that’s true.
Ok, now that we’ve established that Thanos was in the right, I would like to voice three other complaints (two connected and one not-connected).
Complaint #1: There is no way–NO. WAY.–that all of humanity would still be in shambles FIVE WHOLE YEARS after the snap. I absolutely reject that premise. We as a species are far more resilient than that. Would people still mourn the loss of those they loved? Absolutely. But to the point of being completely unable to function? To the point where wreckage caused by the snap would still be sitting in the parking lot of Citi Field five yeras later?! Absolutely not. I realize that complaining about unrealistic scenarios in superhero movies might be a little ridiculous, but I stand by my complaint. Unrealistic scenarios in superhero movies are usually due to superpowers and/or being in space, not how humans function as a species.
Complaint #2: I also COMPLETELY reject the premise that the Avengers did good by bringing back all those who had been dusted. In fact, I think that was more harmful than dusting all of them in the first place. CAN YOU IMAGINE if the world’s population doubled in an INSTANT?! That would be so destructive. Sure, it’s nice to see your loved ones again. But, in theory–see complaint #1–the world should have adjusted to the new normal by the time everyone came back. If Thanos thought overpopulation was a problem initially, I’m sure it was NOTHING compared to what would happen if the entire population instantly doubled! They should have left well alone and used their superpowers to get people back on their feet after the dusting, not look for a way to go back in time to undo something that probably was for the greater good in the first place.
Complaint #3: I think it is LUDICROUS that the entire end of the movie was a sobfest over Iron Man (who, for the record, is one of my favorite Avengers! I was definitely crying in the theater during his funeral!) while Black Widow got NOTHING but a couple of minutes of Avenger angst. If she hadn’t sacrificed herself so Hawkeye could get the Soul Stone, Iron Man wouldn’t have been able to snap (thus sacrificing himself) in the first place!!!!!! If we’re going to celebrate all the dusted being brought back to life–which I think we shouldn’t, but since the movie thinks we should, let’s just go with that–she absolutely deserved the same level of pomp and circumstance that Iron Man got. She’s the real hero here, and I will not hear otherwise. JUSTICE FOR BLACK WIDOW.
2. I’m getting a little ahead of myself in the Europe timeline, but I saw this article in the New York Times Morning Briefing on Monday and HAD to comment on it now, since I planned on commenting on the topic later on anyway.
The article is about Duolingo and its extremely limited usefulness as a tool for learning language, and I could not agree more. While the article author has a 500-day streak on Duolingo, I am the proud owner of a 970-day streak – a 970-day streak that should be a 1,223-day streak in my opinion, because I lost my streak in August 2016 over a streak freeze fail. The point is, I started using Duolingo to learn Dutch on January 1, 2016, and have done at least one Dutch lesson every day (except one or two) since then. Even if I only spent five minutes per day on these lessons, that would add up to 6,115 minutes, or 101.92 hours, at this point. If you use my college language classes as a metric for “time spent learning a language” (an imperfect metric, admittedly, but the best one I can come up with easily), a student with perfect attendance would get 2,400 minutes (40 hours) of language instruction in one semester. If that’s the case, I’ve then taken approximately two and a half full semesters of Dutch by now.
The point is, I’ve spent a lot of time learning Dutch on Duolingo: enough time that you’d think I’d be at least moderately capable of handling myself in the Netherlands, right? Or basically capable?
WRONG. I was BLOWN AWAY by how utterly incapable I was of using Dutch in the Netherlands. I could do next to nothing other than say, “Twee” (pronounced tway) when asking for a table at a restaurant (“twee” is “two” in Dutch) and offer up feeble “Dank u wel”s (“thank you”s) when given something – food, silverware, an entrance ticket, my passport back at the airport, etc.
Duolingo did help me understand some basics of Dutch pronunciation, and while it was moderately helpful to know how to pronounce words, it didn’t really do much for me when I didn’t know what the word meant in in the first place, how to use it in a sentence, or how to put together a sentence at all. Sure, I knew more Dutch than I would’ve known if I never did Duolingo. But I didn’t know enough to even come close to getting by after three full years–three full calendar years, plus a quarter!–of using the app daily. That’s a pretty poor review on the usefulness of the system, if you ask me.
3. You will all be happy to know, based on my post last Friday, that I did indeed get tickets to see the Jonas Brothers when they go on tour later this year. Based on the schedules of my concert-attending buddies, I actually opted for tickets to the Grand Rapids show rather than the Chicago show, but I think that’ll be better anyway. Van Andel has literally half the capacity of the United Center, so I’m thinking that’ll make for a more intimate concert experience than I’d have at the UC. Plus, Van Andel was where I saw the Jonas Brothers (and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus) for the Best of Both Worlds Tour in 2007, so it feels appropriate to see them there again. This time, though, I’m paying for my own ticket (rather than my parents paying), so I could get as good of seats as I wanted 😀 Aisle seats on the floor, here we come! If they use the center aisle at any point during the show and I get a high five from Joe, I will sob like a baby. #noshame