A Lesson on Empathy from the first X Men Movie

I was watching the first ever X-Men movie and it was nice. The one that started them all… the film franchise anyway.

But I’m not here to talk about the franchise (because that post would be too long) I’m here to talk about something that got me thinking when I was watching the movie.

So when you’re watching it you think that the villain is Senator Kelly but it is not. He is the victim but how is he the victim? He hates mutants and wants them to be registered and doesn’t trust them in schools… he’s a jerk.

But then Mystique and Toad kidnap him and then Magneto activates his mutation and he becomes a mutant, a weird mutant at that. I mean what was he? Was he water or was he elastic? Was the water his body just disintegrating? I’ve never gotten that.

Anyway he goes through all that. He escapes Magneto and gets to Xavier and his school.

Now when he gets there it’s noted that Xavier’s school was the only safe place he thought he could go. He couldn’t go to his friends or allies because they would hate him and mistreat him.

And then when he’s talking to Storm he realises the errors of his ways and he sees that mutants aren’t so bad, they’re just human with a little extra. He realises he hated them because he didn’t understand them and tells Ororo that he is one less person for her to fear.

At that moment I was like, wait? Now you get it? Now you see what you were saying was trash? What?

But it makes sense. Sometimes people only understand the struggles of another group when they are put in their shoes.

I remember there’s this old ad and there’s a person in the ad saying hate speech towards different minority groups and a bystander is agreeing with him. Then another person comes along and questions the bystander. Then the hate speech guy says something against free masons and the bystander is like, “Hey but there’s nothing wrong with free masons! I’m a free mason. Why is he against us?” And the logic man is like, “You see how it feels now? Hate is not the answer…” And he goes on (I can’t remember all of it).

That moment in the movie reminds me of the ad. Some people really can’t empathise unless they’ve been through it themselves.

It’s fitting that X-Men had this lesson as the x-men represent the persecuted minorities of our world. They’re an allegory for minorities and how minorities are treated, whether it be people of colour or people within the LGBT+ community.

That’s one of the reasons I like x-men as through the comics, cartoons and the films we’re able to explore these themes and explore how to solve discrimination.

Xavier is like, humans can be won over with reason and logic and patience. However Magneto thinks they can never be won over, they will always be against them or someone will always be against them. And you know what in the end Magneto is always proven right. For the most part people are always against them even though the x-men are useful to society. Isn’t that sad?

It’s also sad that Magneto becomes what he hates but I’ll talk about him later.

So yeah, empathy. Do you agree that with some people they can only empathise if they’ve been through it? How do we combat that? It’s not like we can make people go through every struggle on earth so that they can relate.

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