The Boys v. Capitalism

Does THE BOYS get Capitalism right?

THE BOYS Explained… Amazon Ironically HATES Capitalism?

In this review, Jay digs deeper into what THE BOYS has to say about modern American Capitalism. What does THE BOYS have to say about Capitalism? Jay explains the key questions that the show presents about Capitalism.

YouTube Video:

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YouTube Video Transcript: “The Boys Explained – Amazon Ironically HATES Capitalism”

Did Bernie Sanders fund THE BOYS? Because… ah… It’s not a good look for Capitalism. What’s up, Story Geeks, it’s Jay Sherer, author of the time travel novel–Timeslingers–and co-host of The Story Geeks podcast.

What does THE BOYS have to say about Capitalism and greed? And does the show get it right? Let’s dig deeper!

Superheroes and Money…

A ton of heroes have been rich: Green Arrow, Tony Stark, Black Panther, Thor, Aquaman, Charles Xavier… and that’s just to name a few. Batman has literally funded the development of a different vehicle for EVERY environment known to man. Because he’s got money. Lots of money.

Money has always been a part of comic book hero lore. Not because it’s important, but because… it’s just WAY easier if heroes are filthy rich… THE BOYS takes our modern American obsession with superheroes and adds an unhealthy dose of reality–money-grubbing corporate bastards and greedy superheroes.

Capitalism is not a good look in the world of THE BOYS. But why is that?

Is Capitalism inherently evil… or is it the best we’ve got?

The Monetization of Superheroes…

It turns out the United States loves superheroes. Guilty as charged. And I’m not alone. In 2018 here in the U.S. we collectively spent over 3 BILLION dollars… on superhero movies alone.

In THE BOYS’ version of America… the same thing is true. People love superheroes. AND they want to spend their hard-earned money on them.

Fan obsession + credit cards = business opportunity.

Enter VOUGHT–a giant corporation that serves as an agency and brand management firm for superheroes. Sorta like Team 10 if Jake Paul wore a cape. 

Vought sells superheroes.

Need to protect your city? Vought will sell you a caped crusader. Need to brand your product? Just add A-Train’s image to a beer can and pay Vought the licensing fee. Vought even has their own superhero entertainment arm. How’s that even possible? Because people–customers–find VALUE in superheroes… And the Capitalist economic system represented in THE BOYS allows for superheroes to be MONETIZED.

Rampant Capitalism, completely unchecked. That’s the world of THE BOYS.

There’s a moment in the show–when Starlight joins the superhero team known as The Seven–where she asks, “Why else would you get into this other than to save the world?”

Well, Starlight, the answer is simple: MONEY.

Okay, but here’s the thing… we also know that superheroes are less effective if they don’t have RESOURCES. Vought provides sophisticated satellites that monitor crime. And they pay for cutting edge research and development… All those things cost money, right?

Is it okay if Vought MAKES money off superheroes? Good question.

THE BOYS presents us with some pretty negative views on Capitalism. But are the creator’s being fair? Should we have a negative view of Capitalism?

Capitalism and Greed…

What about Capitalism allows for the abuses of power we see in THE BOYS? Or… another way of looking at this: What’s the biggest threat to Capitalism?

Probably that private corporations would gain control of the political landscape–the justice system, the legal system… all of it: Powerful corporations that control everything with no checks and balances to restrict their influence.

And the show’s first indictment of Capitalism sets up the story. Hughie’s girlfriend dies when A-Train–a speedster–runs THROUGH her. It’s totally disgusting… Vought offers Hughie $45K in exchange for his silence. A giant corporation using its resources to bypass justice.

Got enough money? If so, the justice system can be manipulated. Granted, that’s not JUST a problem with Capitalism–bribes are a problem with any political or economic system–but Vought is a giant corporation… so, in this context, it’s a concern related to Capitalism.

And that’s not all… Vought also seeks to privatize security. Regionally, by selling superheroes as local law enforcement. And nationally, by selling superheroes to the Federal Government for national defense.

Vought is taking FULL advantage of Capitalism… But it gets even worse than that. Because it’s not just savvy business practices that generate profit. It’s something far more insidious, and the biggest weakness of Capitalism… GREED.

Gordon Gecko said, “Greed is good.” But what does greed drive Vought’s leadership to do?

  • Blackmail politicians,
  • Murder people who expose them,
  • …and push lies and deceit to fund their growth…

Oh, right, and they’re also creating superheroes by pumping kids full of superhero serum. Vought’s pushing illegal PEDs. To kids.

Individual greed is the biggest threat to Capitalism. THE BOYS does a pretty damn good job of showcasing how insidious greed can be.

The Perspective of the Show’s Creators…

I don’t know how Garth Ennis–the original creator of THE BOYS… or the people at Amazon who made this show–actually feel about Capitalism. I mean, they’re PROBABLY making money off the show, so…

I believe that it’s a writer’s job to explore truth–both in the individual human experience AND truth related to the systems that we create. One overriding truth about Capitalism is that it allows for–and some might even argue incentivizes–greed.

And when people become greedy bad things happen…

We see it all the time–here, in the real world. Corporations sidestep justice. People take advantage of others. All in the name of greed. All with the goal of making more money. It doesn’t matter if the creators of the show are pro-Capitalism or anti-Capitalism. The writer’s job is to showcase what’s happening. 

Why? So we can create BETTER systems and be BETTER people.

With Capitalism… greed is a problem. Whether we’re pro-Capitalism or anti-Capitalism, we should probably call that out.

A Broken System Managed by Broken People

THE BOYS portrays broken people doing broken things in a broken system. It’s a realistic take on the superhero genre. And it showcases an important truth:

People like you and me can get greedy. And if we do, we can take advantage of other people. And sometimes we build systems–corporations–that operate based on our personal greed–just like Vought.

My final questions for you:

  • Do you agree that THE BOYS does a pretty damn good job of showcasing the issues with modern-day Capitalism in the U.S.?
  • How do we fix those problems? Is Socialism the answer?
  • Is there a perfect economic system?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave them in the comments down below! For my answers to all the questions I’ve presented in this video, check out my FREE Patreon podcastI dig incredibly deep into the questions posed by the show.

And finally… question everything in your favorite geek stories, and always seek the Truth…

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