Recently, I picked up the novel St. Elmo by Augusta Jane Evans. Part of me wonders whether it stands as the first harlequin romance-style novel, since it certainly has the woman-who-tames-savage-man plot. You might call it The Fifty Shades of Grey of the 19th century: this novel was the third bestselling novel of 19th century America behind Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur. However, St. Elmo has a deeper understanding of tragedy and sorrow and is far more elevated than Fifty Shades of Grey.
So elevated, in fact, that most modern Americans can’t enjoy the book. The reviews on Goodreads revealed a common note of frustration with the Ciceronian periods, les belles lettres, and Classical and Medieval allusions. They put down the book rather than subject themselves to being tortured by someone with a Classical education for over 450 pages. That Americans are not given the same education as their ancestors places a barrier to enjoying the works of Western Civilization. And so, fewer and fewer people read Classic novels.
As far as superhero movies go, Logan does not fit the usual mold. The villain is not someone with superpowers. The action happens in everyday settings. Sections of cities do not collapse into rubble. The good guys are not flawless paragons of virtue. That last bit especially describes the disillusioned, alcoholic, and suicidal Wolverine, who tends to go by his real name of Logan in this picture.
The plot begins with Logan working as a chauffer on both sides of the Mexican border in order to pay for the aged Dr. Xavier’s medicine. Along with Logan, the X-man Caliban helps to keep Dr. Xavier in hiding: the authorities are looking for him because they fear lest Xavier lose control of his powers and cause the demise of untold millions.
The Catholic News Service offers some great help when deciding on a movie to watch. It essentially rates movies according to how well they adhere to decency and morality. I admit that I’m more likely to follow their recommendations when it comes to crassness and sex than violence. For example, I noted that they rated London has Fallen an O for “Morally Offensive,” but decided to watch it anyway.
In the case of Death Wish, I was surprised to find that not only was the remake rated O, but so were the original five movies starring Charles Bronson. This surprised me about as much as finding out that The Outlaw Josey Wales was rated O. In doing a little digging, I discovered that revenge and vigilantism sufficed to earn a film an O rating. Yet, the Death Wish remake does not glorify revenge and casts plenty of doubt on the righteousness of vigilantism.