When we are grieving, is it a good idea or a bad idea to engage with art that takes grief to be its subject? Does this help us to cope, or does it rip out whatever stitches we have managed to sew in while we try to bear an unbearable loss?
According to the "Blowing Off Steam" theory, rough humor—humor that deals with culturally sensitive issues in a way that bumps into or violates taboos—helps release people’s anxieties and stresses in a safe environment. Specifically, it is a release of sacred anxiety.
A lot of the popular culture we consume these days is produced and distributed by large studios and record companies. Should that worry us? Are doomed to mediocre music, television, and film? Or even worse: are we doomed to songs, shows, and movies that secretly serve a hegemonic propaganda machine?
Thor: Ragnarok is funny, exciting, and visually nifty. The third in a series, it's a great two-plus hours of entertainment. But it's not just entertainment; there's more in Thor philosophically than you might think of when you are caught up in the action.