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The Boys Phenomenon: The Alt Right & Cognitive Dissonance

By David T. Valentin

The Boys, a series based on writer Garth Ennis and illustrated by Darick Robertson comic books, has become a particularly mainstream piece of media in pop culture since its release on Amazon back in 2019. While the comic books are shock or simple shock-value, the tv series combines satire of the superhero genre, politics and a shit load of gore to create and incredibly poignant critique on The United States from its everyday citizens to the most powerful elite of the country.

But with the release of season three where it becomes painfully obvious to even the most oblivious of viewers that Homelander, a dark-take on Superman, is the main villain of the show, conservatives and the alt right seem to be losing their minds at the sudden “wokeness” of the show.

The turning point for these fans was the introduction of Blue Hawke, a superhero who polices the streets and over polices Black communities. After Blue Hawke brutally beats a Black man to the point the sidewalk cracks, A-Train, determined to stand for something for once, forces Blue Hawke to apologize to the community, the same community A-Train grew up in.

So, Blue Hawke gives a half-assed speech from a crumbled piece of paper in front of the community board. The scene eventually devolves into a screaming match and a fist fight where Blue Hawke screams how “all lives matter” and that “if the community weren’t so violent” he wouldn’t have to police them so much.

While maybe it could be seen as the show giving a platform to “All Lives Matter” discourse, the episode after has A-Train brutally killing Blue Hawke for his crimes and pinning Blue Hawke down as a villain, thus clearly showing where the show stands on the matter.

But it is unusual for alt right fans to be losing their minds over what they see as a “sudden shift” of politics within the show especially given the very obvious villainous actions Homelander commits throughout seasons one through three. In some instances, I guess you can argue that perhaps he might have been right about a few things, but arguing such is the same as the “well, Trump didn’t say that, but if he said that he didn’t mean it like that and if he meant it like that you’re taking it out of context...” and on and on it goes.

When people ask me about The Boys, I tell them it’s one of the best forms of satire I’ve watched so far. The most poignant quote in the whole show comes from Stormfront, a Nazi superhero who uses 4chan and alt right subreddits to grow her audience while sewing discontent and misinformation through memes.

One of the greatest critiques of The United States is in one scene where Stormfront says, “People love what I have to say. They believe in it. They just don’t like the word Nazi.” Thus highlighting The United States dark history and foundation built upon racism, far-right views and imperialistic goals that persist well into present day.

And if that’s not as obvious to fans as it should be, season three’s message and plot is quite possibly the most revolutionary and radical of every season.

By the end of season two, Houghie ends up working with congresswoman Victoria Neuman, an AOC type politician who leads the fight against supes to hold them accountable for their recklessness through the Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs. The rest of The Boys end up working alongside Houghie, albeit with less blood and guts (or so that’s what they hope for). The message seems to be clear: work within the system and those in power to fix what’s broken and change the parts that don’t work. It’s hopeful, yes, but there’s a twist: Victoria Neuman herself is a supe who’s working with the CEO of Vought, Stan Edgar, who also happens to be her foster father.

Houghie quickly realizes the whole system is rigged against them and that it’s time they stop drawing lines in the sand, hoping to take care of things better than how supes might while trying to be morally better.

The message becomes clear: the system cannot be fought against and changed in a clean and tidy way, but instead by creating enough noise that it becomes virtually impossible for elites to continue living their lives comfortably.


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