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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Mutant Mullahs: X-Men with a twist

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Credit Note: This entry was inspired by a post on Akram's Razor, and some of the characters listed here appear there first.

X-Men 3: The Last Stand is undoubtedly very U.S.-centric. Not a complaint, but merely an observation. It does make one wonder, though: What if we here in Malaysia had our own brand of mutants? And what form would they have? And what superpowers?

A while back, the dean of an Indonesian Islamic institute in Surabaya issued a statement that the solat tahajjud (one of those optional prayers, pretty intesely spiritual, performed in the middle of the night) could help cure cancer. Assuming this were true, it would mean that intense spirituality can actually mutate human cells. Wow! Amazing!

So, based on that premise, our local equivalent to the X-Men, which Walski dubs Mutant Mullahs, would be have to be intensely Islamic and spiritual in nature. Or think that they are intensely Islamic and spiritual... that would be enough to mutate them genes.

Obligatory Semi-Academic Note: The idea of Islamic comic book superheroes (good and bad) is not new. You can find a whole slew of them here (plus many others from various religious persuasions). The picture below, by the way, is an Islamic Mutant character from the New X-Men: Hellions #2 - her name is Sooraya Qadir, a.k.a. Dust.

All other pictures are for illustrative (and decorative) purposes only.

Image hosting by Photobucket

So with all that out of the way, presenting the Mutant Mullahs, a whole list of Malaysian Mutant Archetypes. Coming to a theater near you!! Okay, maybe not, but more likely, already around the corner, just waiting to prance upon the unsuspecting human...

Mutant Image hosting by Photobucket1. Fatwa Man
This archetype possesses the uncanny ability to churn out fatwas (religious edicts), rules and regulations governing every single day to day activity imaginable, no matter how trivial (or unnecessary in as far as the Quran is concerned). Don’t know which sock to put on first – BAAAMMM!! Fatwa Man is there to advise you. Confused about which type of music is okay to listen to – WHAMMO!! Fatwa Man will give you an edict. Mild mannered Jakim/JAWI/JAIM/JAIS/JAIxx officers by day (8:45am – 4:45pm, except on Fridays when lunch hour is longer).... oh wait, he’s Fatwa Man 24/7. Sometimes can be spotted with his shady sidekick PEDOman (see below). For added effect, his costume includes a sonic boom belt-device and a portable van der Graaf Generator.

2. The Aposthacizer
This mutant possesses the uncanny ability, through his super inner-vision thought ray, to spot and zap apostates, with a simple wave of the hand, accompanied by frothing at the mouth. And he sees apostates everywhere – which is not surprising, because anybody that doesn’t agree with his point of view is one. Contrary to popular belief, the Apostacizer is more of a class of mutant, rather than a single individual. A possible candidate to join the ranks is probably this guy, PAS Dewan Ulama Datuk Harun Taib, as reported in the newspapers yesterday. Be sure to follow the straight and narrow (very, very narrow), or else your next static electricity experience may actually be a big fat ZAPPP!!! from the Apostacizer.

SCARY Mutant Image hosting by Photobucket3. UltraMENJ
With his unique super powers, active only while online, UltraMENJ can mix and match preaching and profanity with minute precision. It’s okay to mix prostelyzing and profanity; especially when it comes to casting profane titles on people he doesn’t like or agree with, as long as it’s in God’s name. Like another famous Japanese superhero bearing a similar name, his powers can be shortlived – if flammed excessively, especially ad hominem flamming – whereupon he will ban your IP from his site. Sometimes can be spotted in drag (trust me, the picture was not created by Walski) – but only for deep cover investigative reporting purposes.

4. PEDOman
(Pedoman, which means guidance, is a long-running Islamic religious program on Malaysian TV. The re-emphasis of the word was inspired by Panda, in his many furry manifestations)
This superhero archetype has powers of special touch that only work on pre-pubescent kids. PEDOman is actually the only superhero that transcends religion, as evidenced by various news reports in the past. In fact, PEDOman is believed to be a bodiless being, manifesting different religious teachers at different times, of various faiths and fetishes. Using the clever guise of religious disciplining to exercise his special touch, PEDOman will jump from host to host to avoid capture, and is truly the most bizarre (and perverted) of the Mutant Mullah archetypes.

5. The Naysayers
The Naysayers invoke the powers of myopic super vision to say NO to anything that appears excessively worldly to them. In extreme cases, this could include television, the arts, the sciences, or any actually useful worldly vocation. Naysayers can be found in every level of society, and are rumored to be the research network for Fatwa Man. Their mission in life is to turn back the clock, negating modern life so that mankind can forever live in the bliss of the 10th century. Technology is their enemy (unless Fatwa Man says its okay), and in most extreme cases shun the devilish, unnatural light of the incandescent electric lightbulb. Gaudy flourescents are okay though, for some unknown mystical reason.

6. The Super League of JIT Warriors
This is a Mutant Mullah special interest group, whose mission is to irradicate the Malaysian earth from the dreaded, but very elusive Jangan Ikut Tuhan (‘Don’t Follow God’) or JIT movement. Elusive, because to date, no one has successfully identified even one member of the JIT movement publicly. Not one. Damn elusive buggers, them JIT people. The League’s latest Triumph (or Blush! or Victoria Secret, or whatever your lingerie brand of choice) is the busting up of the supposed JIT-sponsored Black Metal Party, on New Years Eve, at Paul’s Place. It was a bittersweet victory for the League, much like George W’s success in finding WMDs in Iraq. To date, no evidence of goat sacrifice, Satanic Bibles or desecrated Qurans could be found. Instead, the League confiscated several crates of beer, and a whole load of musical instruments, presumably to be analyzed by their crackpot team of forensic CSI-wannabes for hidden satanic symbols, or clues as to where the League may actually find the JIT movement, other than in the cryptic annals (or is it septic anals) of Mastika. It is understood that since most of the beer was of the Carlsberg™ variety, the beer has remained unconsummed, as there still is a unilateral ban on Danish beer. More on the Invisible Forces of JIT later.

7. Jabba the Newsman
(Another Panda-inspired Mutant)
This one is a specific mutant, and not an archetype, per se. With his super-myopia and uncanny knack for not seeing the forest for the trees, Jabba the Newsman, is a staunch anti-Communist. Despite the abject failure of Communism the world over, Jabba the Newsman is convinced that communism is alive and well, waiting for the right moment to pounce out of nowhere and conquer Malaysia. In the shadows of a famous Jalan Riong Baru daily, Jabba uses his arsenal of literary skillets, plus the power to hypnotically invoke the involuntary agreement of the people, to continually spew out mind-boggling verbiage to shrink the already smallish Malay mind. He is a recent addition to the ranks of the Mutant Mullahs, earning his credentials by endorsing more Islam (but only the narrow interpetation kind of Islam) in film and drama, making the already preachy genre of kosher Malay entertainment, preachier than ever. “This”, he says, “will preserve our fascist pristine way of life”. Jabba the Newsman’s powers are not to be underestimated, as he has successfully managed to convince Government of the imagined dangers of Kommunism, seemingly dead as the ideology may be. Frequently seen lurking around Finas, Jabba the Newsman is ever ready to pounce on the young and unsuspecting film maker, making the fatal mistake of trying to promote new and radical ideas to the viewing public. In contrast to his namesake in the Star Wars films, Jabba the Newsman is only slightly less attractive.

(more Mullah Mutant archetypes and Anti-archetypes in the full post)

8. Arab WannabeMan
This mutant archetype will typically infuse Arabic words (which many people don’t understand) into their dialog and writing, dress as Arab-friendly as possible (even in humid Malaysia), and believe that the way to God is to become Arab. This archetype could actually be classified as the mutant-precursor archetype, as most other archetypes typically go thru this stage of mutant development at some point (much like Gamma ray bombardment was the stimulus precursor to Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk). Arabic words make one sound more Islamic is the belief; apart from making one more unintelligable.

And finally, one Mutant Mullah to lead them all:

Batty Mutant Image hosting by Photobucket9. Tok Guru Man
(Also known in some Mutant Mullah circles as Uncle Man, Big Boss Man, or KiyaiMan)
The Head Honcho of the Mutant Mullahs. Actually, no one is absolutely sure if there even is a Head Honcho or not, as the Mutant Mullahs are frequently seen as acting without a specific direction or purpose (other than to annoy the crap out of liberals like Walski). Rumor has it that a certain political party is lobbying hard to promote one of their own Mutant Mullahs to this august (or september or november) position. Stay tuned as Walski’s C.R.A.P. (Cybernetic Remote Autonomous Para-roaches) investigate further.

Another Semi-Academic side note: Notice also that there are no female Mutant Mullah archetypes. This is not surprising because females, in the Mutant Mullah world, are only allowed support roles, and therefore rarely, if ever, can be seen on the Mutant battlefield.

AND what would superhero mutants be without their anti archetypes? So, to complete the whole scenario, here are some of the likely arch-enemy archetypes that Mutant Mullahs would typicall fight against.

Image hosting by Photobucket1. The SISterhood
Labelled by the Mutant Mullahs as dangerous, left-wing (Walski wonders how they fly), feminist, Satan-inspired females, the SISterhood’s mission in life is to right the wrongs that genrations of patriachial society conditioning has brought to Muslim women. Mutant Mullahs firmly believe that they are the “Specialist in women and other social diseases”, and therefore have the unchallengable right to determine the wellbeing of the female half of the population. Hence, having more well-educated women than men, women choosing to marry later in life (or not at all), widows and divorcees who choose to not remarry, etc. are seen as serious social problems that must be eradicated to ensure the norm of a male-dominant society. Or, as more recently witnessed, introduce miracle solutions like the misyar marriage (the SISterhood sees misyar marriages, on the other hand, as a problem in search of a solution). It is in this respect that the Mutant Mullahs see the SISterhood as their mortal enemy. Some mutants like UltraMENJs label them as being a SISterhood In Satan, in their pursuit of gender equality and better treatment.

2. Secularist Avengers
Mutant Mullahs believe that the only way to live life is in an Islamic Theocracy. No other form of government will cut it. Secularist Avengers (even Muslim ones), on the other hand, believe that what God brought forth in scripture is already a complete way life, to get closer to God (the Quran does not spell out the actual mechanics of an “Islamic State” per se as it is generally understood and practiced, merely the characteristics of a just government – the notion of Islamic statehood came a lot later after the death of the Prophet Muhammad), and therefore religion and statehood can be two coexisting but separate entities – one for the individual or collective soul, and the other as a means of governing the people – provided, of course, the state exercises fairness and equality. The Secularist Avengers are the usual targets of the Apostacizers, the Mutant Mullahs’ hitmen. “To be secularist”, say the Apostacizers, “is to be an apostate”. We can only surmise that God spoke to the Apostacizers Himself at some point, granting them the power to create apostates. The most recent Mutant Mullah attack on the Secularist Avengers was in Penang, last May, leading to the disruption of a forum discussing the supremacy of the Malaysian Constitution.

3. The Invisible Forces of JIT
The elusive enemy of the Mutant Mullahs. So elusive that the Mutant Mullahs frequently use other innocent bystanders as the convenient and visible agents of JIT (see Mutant Mullah archetype #6). The only evidence of JIT’s existence is in the secret files, deep in the top secret archives of the Mutant Mullahood, which are occassionally leaked out through the popular Malay language investigative pulp fiction master piece (of shit) periodical, Mastika. Mastika’s exposes, however, expose a lot, but say very little.Image hosting by Photobucket Mutant Mullahs see JIT as so horrifically dangerous, that the very mention of them gives the Mutant Mullahs the JITters, a phenomenon where they see JIT in anything not by-the-book Islamic. The Invisible Forces of JIT allegedly use Black Metal Movement (an equally elusive group), or Javanese migrant workers, as the means to foray into mainstream society. Any form of loud, obnoxious, non-Siti/Mawi friendly kind of music can be arbitrarily classified as Black Metal, and therefore the Mutant Mullahs see JIT as unseen, yet ubiquitous. Like the air we breathe, as it were. And so the battle rages on.

4. The Evil Liberals
Western style democracy and equal rights, proclaim the Mutant Mullahs, are un-Islamic. They believe that God put the Mutant Mullahs on His earth to be Judge, Jury and Executioner, on His behalf. Therefore, the Evil Liberals fall into an archetype the Mutant Mullahs detest. When God’s scripture are too liberal in certain areas, the Mutant Mullahs will use other sources to justify a more tyranical “Islamic” way of life. “Life”, they say, “should remain the way it was back in the good ‘ol 10th century.” Life, it seems, back then was also pretty cheap. So, what to do with a thief? “Cut his hand(s) off!” say the Mutant Mullahs. This, of course, will render the thief a handicapped member of society, probably with the inability to do an honest day’s work ever again, and become a burden to society (in a best-case scenario). Or worse, to sustain himself, the one-handed ex-thief resorts to theivery, again, and then gets his other hand cut off, rendering him totally worthless to society. But nevermind, because the Mutant Mullahs have done the deed on God’s behalf. The Evil Liberal will protest and ask, “Wait a minute – doesn’t scripture say to cut (as in mark, not cut off) the thief’s hand, as a mark of shame?” The Mutant Mullahs will usually sic the Apostacizer unto the Evil Liberal at this point, condemning him/her to Hell. Again, on God’s behalf. The Evil of Liberalism, once again, put to rest. Tyranny reigns supreme (minus Diana Ross).

And finally, the motherlode source of evil that typifies the Anti-Mutant Mullah archetype; the source of all that’s rotten in this world; the one, the only,

5. The West
Seen by the Mutant Mullahs as the mystical source of everything that’s wrong in this world, The West is usually the convenient blame basket. Although, it’s always occured to Walski, the West in relation to What? You see, The West is simply a 90-degree point on the compass, in relation to the Magnetic North. So, a reference point has to be specified before The West makes any sense. In any case, to not digress too far, The West is the mother of all that’s evil and the power axis for the Anti-Mutant Mullahs. Incest? Blame The West. Earthquakes, blame The West – in a very roundabout indirect way – but it’s The West’s fault all the same. War in Iraq? blame The West – well, okay, this one has some validity, as the U.S. does sit to the West of Malaysia. But the U.S. is also technically closer to home if you blame The East instead. But, no, it’s definitely the fault of The West. Evil has a name, and it is The West (of wherever you want it to be).

Lo and Behold! (Hi and I’m Walski!) A brand new Malaysian breed of Mutant superhero archetypes, and their corresponding Anti-archetypes, all neatly bundled in one longish post. The challenge now is to bring this to the big screen. But it would first have to pass through the sanitary non-perosak minda yardstick (meterstick, in metric) of Jabba the Newsman. Which will be a big, gooey challenge. And Amir Muhammad’s too busy getting his life back on track (Damn! Damn! Damn!)

And so, boys and girls, while we wait for the impossible to happen, all Walski can say is:

Long Live The Mutant Mullahs! May they succeed in their neverending struggle for Half-Truths, Injustice, and the 10th Century Way.
(and the hope that the Mutant Mullahs understand the meaning of satire... look it up, dumbass...)