Soldiers’ Inventories by Thom Atkinson, for the Telegraph Magazine.
editor: Great series of British soldiers’ equipment from different wars and battles through British history & up to the present. See the original story on the Telegraph website, an interview on Creative Review, & full series of images on ThomAtkinson.com.
Steve name me one time between Basic and going into the ice that you actually followed orders. ONE. TIME.
I have feelings about this. I’m supposed to be doing work, but its hard, so I’m gonna explain them instead. Right from the start of CA:TFA we see that Steve really specifically wants to be a soldier. He knows there’s all sorts of various ways to support the war effort, but not, specifically he wants to fight on the front lines.
But Steve is never a particularly good soldier, in fact, he very specifically isn’t a good soldier. Steve is a good man not a perfect soldier. Steve NEVER has any success when he tries his hand at being a regular soldier, or even a supersoldier. In CA:TFA he ends up working with the Howling Commandos, almost entirely outside of the regular military structure and that’s when he manages all the serious heroics and really lives up to his potential. In Avengers at the beginning he tries to be a good soldier for a while and tries to follow Fury’s orders, but for the first half of the movie Steve is lost and miserable and visibly hiding behind his USO Tour “Captain America” persona. But its only when he goes off on his own, breaks into store rooms and steals Fury’s proto-type tesseract weapons, that he really gets anything done (before that he gets batted about by Loki and sort of wanders about at loose ends), and he doesn’t really get back into a leadership role and really become actual Captain America again, until he steals a quinn jet with Natasha and Clint.
And despite that, in CA:WS he’s back at Shield, trying to be ‘the greatest soldier in history’ and ‘follow orders’, and… not doing that at all…
So where does Steve’s abortive fascination with being a good soldier come from?
Partly I think its an expression of his very obvious depression. I’ve seen about umpteen criticisms of Steve’s ‘we have our orders’ line to Tony in Avengers but I think that the fact its out of character is the point. Steve is miserable, and lost, he doesn’t know what makes him happy, he doesn’t know what he wants to do with himself so he follows Nick Fury’s orders, because he has given up.
But also I think that even though Steve doesn’t really want to be the sort of person who follows orders, he to a certain extent wants to want it, sort of as the equivalent of a very bright girl who plays dumb in class because she’s been told no one likes smart girls. The good soldier is very much the model of ideal masculine success that Steve would have grown up with but wouldn’t have ever been able to achieve
Which is ironic given that the ideal male icon most of the cast of the Avengers probably grew up with… is Captain America.
I think it’s more that for all Steve is willing to be a disobedient shit when his orders conflict with his conscience, he does best when he’s got structure. What he really, deeply needs, his basic prerequisite for not feeling like he’s at a loose end, is to serve as part of something that’s bigger than himself. Something with a purpose. He’s acutely aware that large institutions are fallible and he’s first in line to challenge their flaws when need be, but he’s still first and foremost a team player.
The way I read him in Avengers is—okay, he’s isolated, disoriented, alone and adrift in the modern world and not sure he has anything to contribute to it, and he’s handed A Chance. He’s skeptical of it and whether he can be relevant to it at all, but still. A task, a team, a meaningful purpose—saving the world, even! Except the team is a motley assemblage (heh) of disorganized assholes who don’t want to play ball. All his lines about “we have orders” come off as increasingly desperate pleas of “GUYS, CAN WE PLEASE STAY ON TOPIC” ”COME ON, GUYS, WE’VE GOT SHIT TO DO” “TONY, ARE YOU ACTIVELY TRYING TO TANK OUR CHANCES OF EVER WORKING AS A TEAM OR WHAT.” And he is so zeroed in on the task at hand that he doesn’t stop to think critically about the big picture or the agenda of the people who’ve assigned the task until Bruce and Tony have pointed out that something smells funny. Which I don’t think is general blind trust in authority, more like a combination of lack of frame of reference (which crops up again in the form of his doubts in CA:TWS—is it SHIELD, or is it his difficulty adjusting to the modern world? SPOILERS: IT’S SHIELD) and a priority list where questioning authority has taken the backseat to “a task! a team! a chance to do something useful and beat the crap out of tyrannical assholes!” Steve is most likely to defy authority when authority is pointlessly preventing him from making himself useful.
Basically, yes, Whedon’s characterization work in Avengers is wobbly and he’s way too eager to pass off “principled, self-sacrificing team player (military flavor)” as “good obedient soldier” because it’s a convenient character shorthand and source of friction in an ensemble piece with lots of balls in the air. But it’s mostly a problem of emphasis, not wildly OOC behavior, and by and large I think his characterization in Avengers is internally consistent with both TFA and TWS. (Leaving aside the separate problem of Whedon sacrificing characterization for snappy one-liners, because… well, it’s a problem.)
I agree with the latter commentary, and I also kind of feel like fandom takes the “Steve breaks all the rules!” idea and runs with it to a point where it’s way beyond his actual, canonical characterization (more so in meta than in fic, usually). I get why, because it’s a reaction against the “Steve is a joyless rule follower” characterization, which is even more OOC. And obviously there are a bunch of different takes on Steve out there, and they’re all just as valid as my take on him.
But I really don’t think Steve wants to disobey orders or likes it when he has to. I’m pretty sure that Steve’s ideal for himself is someone who is polite and good, who is nice to the neighbors, who pays his taxes on time and serves his country well and capably when he has to, who basically does all the right and proper things, and is a fine upstanding example of manhood according to the society in which he grew up.
The problem is that he’s too damn good to actually BE good, is the best way I can put it — because the world is broken, and he keeps running into situations where the law is wrong, or the orders are wrong, and so he does the right thing, the moral thing. But on some level I don’t really think Steve grasps that this is (mostly) a virtue rather than a character flaw — he still thinks of himself as someone who COULD be, who SHOULD be a good, well-behaved citizen and a fine soldier, if he could just stop running into all these damn EXCEPTIONS. Basically I don’t think Steve is willing to accept that the two things (good soldier vs. good man) have to be in conflict; he wants to live in a world where he can be both, except because he’s in a terribly flawed and broken world, he keeps having to choose one over the other.
Steve is most likely to defy authority when authority is pointlessly preventing him from making himself useful.
EXACTLY. It’s not that Steve runs around just looking for orders to break. It’s that he breaks the orders which needlessly prevent him from following his conscience. Bear in mind that in CA:TFA, after he ran off to rescue Bucky et al, he didn’t just, say, keep going and form his own rogue squad of mercenaries. He brought them back and then turned himself in for punishment. Steve isn’t an anarchist and he isn’t (much of) a revolutionary, except under very specific, very personal circumstances (destroying the Hydra-infested SHIELD in CA:TWS).
Steve is Lawful Good; it’s just that when the two come into conflict, the “good” part trumps the “lawful” part (as it does in all properly done Lawful Good characters).
Uniforms vs. Disguises
you know the old saying
Is there anything a natural 20 can’t do?
This is a poster idea I developed to show off the amazingness of tabletop rpgs.
"You attempt to pickpocket the man, but accidentally pull down his pants instead."
"You reach out to push the orc off the bridge, but instead lightly caress his back. He is uncomfortable."
"You try to stab the guard, but you stab your crotch instead. Roll fortitude."
"You say your name is Bob and not Jim. Your lie is misinterpreted and they now believe you are a serial killer."
"You swing your axe, but it slips from your fingers and sails across the room."
"In an attempt to dodge the incoming arrows, you jump into the swarm.”
"You bull rush the enemy but miss and jump off of the cliff."
"You try to land on your feet but you land on your sword instead."
"While providing first aid, your hand slips and you stab him in the heart. He dies instantly."
I CANT BREATHE
“The movie is about…as he struggles to find an identity in the modern world, his old life is slipping away - is hanging on by a thread. Peggy doesn’t remember him… and she’ll be dead soon. She’s the last remnant of his past. And Sam happens to find his way into his life, so now he’s slowly meeting a new friend, he’s gaining a trust with Widow…so the movie is about a journey for him as he finds new elements in the modern world to emotionally attach himself to. The cruel twist is that, the Winter Soldier shows up…and it’s like the past punching him in the face.” — Joe Russo [x]
Such a lovely visual representation of Steve’s past/present loved ones, his whole moving-on process … awww babies. These movies hit my happy spots so hard.
Estately publishes study on nostalgia for the 1980’s
Alaskans had to line up in downtown Anchorage in the 1980s to use the single phone that dialed out to the rest of the Lower 48. I myself am a product of southern California 80s culture, but I have a feeling during that time, Alaskans may have been left out in the cold. ravenstolethesun?
Haha omg what??
We had phones in the 80s…even in the 70s (mostly)
The 80s DID suck in Alaska (Anchorage and Fairbanks especially) pretty bad tho, because what we did have was lots of left over out-of-work pipeline workers, cheap, quickly built neighborhoods that more or less fell apart after the construction companies blew town, and a crazy overabundance of strip clubs and bars.
I really cant complain too much…I went to college (at UAF) on the super low interest, half forgiven student loans that were offered to in-state kids at that time, thanks to oil money
You know, I don’t think I realized ‘til right now that the ’80s were really different in Alaska compared to the rest of the country. I mean, for me obviously it was just … how things were? But when you look at the kind of ’80s nostalgia that you get elsewhere, people seem to look back on the ’80s as a time of general prosperity and silly fashion and fun pop music and cable TV — a turnaround from the more gritty, blighted ’70s.
But in Alaska, it was exactly the opposite — the ’80s (especially in Anchorage) were grim and industrial and depressing. It wasn’t, like, Mad Max world, but it was the bust stage of an economic boom cycle: crime, lots of people scraping by at low-income jobs, ugly gray concrete buildings and Atco trailers and trash everywhere. A lot of the people I know who were adults in the ’80s, whether they accidentally got stuck in Alaska when the jobs went away and couldn’t afford to leave, or loved it and really wanted to stay, have incredibly eclectic resumes from that period, including a widely varied and oddball assortment of jobs. (My dad was variously a real estate agent, cab driver, draftsman, small business owner, Army Corps of Engineers rural building site inspector, and advertising salesman for a UHF TV station. My family knew one lady who worked as a stripper and construction worker, at the same time …)
But there were telephones. (Not us, personally, out at the cabin. But they existed! Some rural people even had ‘em, by way of radio telephone antennas. We had exactly one household in Alexander Creek that had a radio telephone, and they used to charge people $5 per call to call Anchorage on it.)
Thank you, ladies. Interesting insight. To clarify, I didn’t mean that phones didn’t exist in Alaska, just that to call Outside (Lower 48), there was a phone near the 4th Avenue Theatre that allowed one to dial out. Maybe this was a way to cut down on long-distance costs from one’s home, if there was a way to do so.
I was also told that Tudor Road was unpaved in the 80s. And look at it now, in the heart of the city.
I don’t remember if Tudor was paved or not, but the whole midtown area was largely vacant lots and swamp. The only things that were there to speak of (well, the only things I remember being there) were the Sears mall, Carrs, some unmemorable strip malls and the “new” library. It’s always weird to me to go back and have all those new and shiny chain restaurants, B&N, Walmart, etc. …
But now I’m trying to remember how long distance calling worked! I guess I assume it must have been like anywhere (long distance in homes, coin-op at pay phones), but I have no recollections whatsoever of EVER talking to my grandparents in Oklahoma on the telephone, even though you’d think we would have, if it was possible. Maybe I just don’t remember it. ravenstolethesun?
*Shrugs* I didnt actually HAVE out of state relatives, so…???? I do(vaguely) remember calls that were made when someone or another was traveling out of state though. Hey..do you remember that old bush radio station messaging thing by the way? Where people without phone service sent their families news over the radio? I cant remember its name
Sorry @oosik!! Not only did we miunderstand the phone thing, but now your stuck with two lifelong Alaskans hogging the heck out of your post!
I also think that calling people on the phone all the time just wasn’t nearly as much of a cultural thing back in those days as it is now.
The radio messaging service - yes! There were two of them, and maybe more, but Northwinds and Bush Pipeline were the ones we listened to and used. Prior to my parents’ divorce, my dad worked in town while we (mom & kids) were generally out at the cabin, so he’d send messages via radio messaging service to let us know when he was sending care packages on the weekly mailplane, or coming out to the creek for a few days off.
(Also seconding the apologies to oosik … and anyone else who is now having to wade through reminiscing Alaskans on their dash!)
A really interesting answer to a question on Quora, from Andrew MacKenzie. Quora is sometimes weird about making you log in to read things, but I think this link will work.
The answer describes several areas where written and spoken French are different, and it’s worth reading in full, but I want to focus on discourse configuration. Here’s the first bit of what MacKenzie says about it:
Written French word order is based on argument structure, i.e. the role the nouns play in the verb’s action: Subject verb object. In spoken French, however, word order is much more dependent on discourse structure—- the role the nouns play in the speech context.
In English we can move things around for this kind of reason, but it isn’t common. For instance, to show contrast, we can put objects before subjects:
(4) , I like. Tea, I don’t.
This displacement is accompanied by a sharp change in intonation—- the contrasted item gets emphasized.
We can also set nouns apart as topics (this is called topicalization)
(5) Your brother, he can run a mile in five minutes!
Again, in English this isn’t common. And in written French, it isn’t common either. But in spoken French, it’s the normal way to make a sentence.
(4 again) Le café, j’adore. Le thé, moins
(5 again) Ton frère, il peut courir un km six en cinq minutes!
In spoken French, it’s also common to put several nouns in front. Note that with topicalization (5) you have to have a pronoun in the sentence that refers to any arguments that you’ve topicalized. One sentence that I remember well:
(6) Moi, les flics, je les aime pas.
I don’t like cops [Lit: Me, cops, I don’t like ‘em]
The use of nous, on for “we” is common, too, if you’re interested in syntax-semantic mismatches (on is 3rd singular morphologically)
(7) Nous, on va au ciné ce soir.
We’re going to the tonight [Lit: Us, one is going to the movies tonight]
It’s also normal to put things after the sentence. This is usually done to emphasize the last constituent, notably the predicate. The emphasized part is pronounced with more loudness and higher pitch.
(8) Il est con, ton frère.
Your brother’s a jerk. [Lit: He’s a jerk, your brother ]
The next one was some advice from my mother-in-law
(9) Faut en boire, du café, le matin.
You have to drink coffee in the mornings
[Lit: have-to some drink, coffee, the morning ]
He mentions that he can’t speak for Belgium or Canada, but as a fluent second-language French speaker living in Montreal, I can definitely say that discourse configuration is very common here, and I hadn’t actually realized it was quite so common in France.
I also get the sense that it’s more acceptable to drop the object in contexts where you definitely can’t do so in English. For example,
(10) Je peux goûter?
Can I try some? [Lit.I can taste? ]
I could also just not be hearing the objects though, since the /l/ is often deleted in casual speech for the object pronouns le, la, l’, les, which makes them almost inaudible. Any French speakers from anywhere want to weigh in?