An Actual Viking Reacts to Marvel’s Female Thor

Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen blogs here about men’s mental health, viking culture and bushcraft (“viking camp”). That’s why I call him an actual Viking.

I realize that not all of you will make the time to watch this 8-minute video, so below are some highlights of the transcript. But you need to watch the video to get the full effect of the Norwegian accent, the poignant eye contact, and especially the emotion in this guy’s voice at 6:55 when he talks about “our gods. Or what we perceive as holy.”

Highlights of Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen Talking about Female Thor

“So, you want to make Thor a woman.”

[takes swig from beer bottle]

“… you people.

“Listen.  I’m OK with a female Thor.  I don’t care!  That’s only because I’m a grownup. 

“But here’s the thing.  Thor is a symbol of masculine power.  But I do suspect that … the writers … have a little bit of an agenda and they think it’s interesting to tear down that concept of masculine power.  But let me tell you, there is actually such a thing.”

[takes swig of beer]

“My ancestors, they knew how important masculine power is for our society, for the family, and for our culture.  And let me just say that you are stepping on something now that means a lot to some of us.

“So go ahead, make Thor a woman.  But just know this: if you think it’s OK to make Thor a woman, you should never again criticize anyone for ‘cultural appropriation.’

“Every day, I walk my dog among the grave mounds of my ancestors.  And my belief system is no less important than any other belief system.

“We should all lower our shoulders when it comes to our gods. Or what we perceive as holy.  I think the world would be a better place if we did.  But never again will you cry out about ‘cultural appropriation.’  Because that’s what you’re doing now, making Thor female.”

[swig of beer] [shakes head] “You people.

“So go ahead, go ahead!  I don’t care. Thor is still out there.  All around us, as a symbol of masculine power.  He is present in every healthy society, in every healthy family.

“That’s all for now. Have a wonderful day! Bye-bye.”

17 thoughts on “An Actual Viking Reacts to Marvel’s Female Thor

  1. Benjamin Ledford

    That was refreshing.

    And yeah, about that cultural appropriation thing… if what he’s saying is correct, then this isn’t just cultural appropriation, it’s cultural appropriation with the intent of undermining and subverting the culture in question. Woah.

    But now that I think about it, that sort of hostile subversive cultural appropriation goes on all the time with Christianity. In fact, that’s how Christianity is usually portrayed: either by using Christian symbols and concepts to advance ideas that undermine Christianity, or else by simply painting ugly caricatures of Christians.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. Casting a woman as Thor can’t be taken as anything but a deliberate attempt to subvert Thor. Whereas most of what gets called “cultural appropriation” is usually just innocuous borrowing, enjoying, or even honoring another culture. Branding it as a kind of theft is just another made-up social sin that is being used to punish people and control their behavior.

      Anyway. I also agree that this kind of deliberate subversion is often done with Christian symbols. Coming up, I’ll have a review of a Dan Brown movie that does exactly that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is really interesting seeing his take on it. I wouldn’t have even considered that it is cultural appropriation, but according to the cultural zeitgeist, it’s okay to rip off something if it comes from a white culture.

    I have a different reason for disliking the idea of a female Thor, however. Personally, I find it annoying when people create female characters in the name of representation but then don’t bother giving them their own unique superhero identity. In many cases (like in the upcoming CW show Batwoman), they are essentially riding on the coat tails of their male predecessor’s success. They keep screaming about representation for women and yet force us to draw comparisons between the female and male constantly. I know Female Thor is in the comics, but I think it would have been better to have her take on the persona of a norse goddess instead. Hell, why couldn’t she have become a valkyrie? That would have made more sense AND it would work with the idea of female power. Thor represents male strength. The valkyries represent feminine strength. It would have also been a much more interesting story.

    Sorry if I got a bit off topic there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your observations. I actually don’t think they are off-topic at all.

      I agree with what you say. The attempt to destroy a uniquely masculine kind of power also ends up undermining the uniqueness of women. Making Thor a woman implies that in order to be heroic or admirable, women have to do it in the same mode as Thor. Of course, the vast majority of women are not capable of this, because we were designed for something different. We are Venus, the love goddess, and Demeter, the mother. It’s really hard to be Thor during your childbearing years, let me tell you. 🙂 And thus, unfair to make that the standard.

      Although he doesn’t major on that aspect of it, I think Bjorn Andreas Bull-Hansen would agree with us. He kind of implies it when he says that Thor-like masculine power is present “in every healthy family and every healthy society.” This implies that there is a corresponding healthy feminine power.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll echo a sentiment I’ve heard frequently these past years since Marvel’s Thor first entered the MCU:

    The problem with appropriation is not so much that evil patriarchs or whatever don’t want anyone to have anything, it’s A. the double standard, and B. rather than appropating culture and heroes, everyone should have their own thing.

    I grew up with Batman as a superhero. I liked him because he was a straight white male male who cleaned up streets. That doesn’t mean I hate Static Shock as a hero for black folk.

    I grew up with Thor, too. The mythological Thor and not the cheesy comic movie version. When I got older I adopted Asatru as a religion. As your Norwegian man intimates, there’s a cheapening element.

    There’s also a component of intellectual laziness. Don’t have your own heroes, steal and change them, don’t study, cheat, and so forth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your good insights. Obviously, these are deep waters and nobody can plumb them completely, especially in a blog post.

      It’s the nature of myths and legends to get referenced, spun, combined, and embellished. In fact, if that is happening then we know the story is having a wide impact. So I think it is way too controlling and does nobody any good when we say that no one not from the culture of origin can even reference the story on pain of being considered hostile.

      At the same time, there are better and worse ways to do it. I really appreciate your point about intellectual laziness. When I think of well-done adaptations that I’ve seen, they are done from a base of knowing a lot about that mythology and culture, and from loving it, actually, because no-one who does not love it would bother to study it. Once we do study it, we might find there are several directions we could legitimately take it while still staying true to the tradition. But at least we will not be grabbing something randomly and slapping it on to our own work without knowing anything about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. Without wanting to get too political as I know those waters are fraught… My own belief regarding nativism is that there ought to be first option among indigenous peoples. That is, if collectivist groups elect to be exclusivist than this is their prerogative, regardless of ethnic backdrop. That said, to objectively proclaim all religious polymorphs are monolithically open or closed is utterly impossible to substantiate.

        This society has been very damaged by entitlement. And when one feels entitled to another person’s shared history and culture, and that further, there are rights to dictate terms than it sets an uncomfortable precedent for tension and strife. For instance, I am fascinated by Tibetan mysticism. I have several texts from that culture. I have studied their intersectionality with the Dhammapada and to a degree, the Bhagavad-Gita. There’s a lot of echoing sentiment with these and the Indo-Aryan extracted religions. But what makes them all beautiful is to a wit, the degree of separation. If I go to Tibet, I can go as a spectator, but I should not go as a trendsetter.

        You know, with that being said… I grew up in 90s America with what is called American New Age. My mother didn’t know it was called that. It is a very cosmopolitan non-system. But I always felt a black hole where my culture should have been. It was only in my late twenties that I started piecing a puzzle together.

        But you know… I’ve sperged enough. I’m making existential diatribes based on shared comic book adaptive experience… Which is a sort of delightful irony.

        I originally came here to say that I appreciate your commentary, and that I wanted to give a metaphorical tip of the hat. These talks don’t always make friends.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am sitting here laughing at myself. You’ve used so many 10-dollar words in your comment, and I’m reading it after a long, full day, and I’m not sure my brain is processing the words properly. I think we are in agreement, as far as I can tell. 😀

        “These talks don’t always make friends” … that is very true. Unfortunately the subjects that naturally interest me are also, it seems, the ones that we are most likely to get misinterpreted and crucified over. I’m sure my day will come. And I will hate it, because I’m very shy naturally. Luckily, so far, my blog has had too little traffic to attract a lot of misunderstanding and smears.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Really liked hearing his take on this!! I mean, I can’t stand the idea of flipping the gender of superheroes (and quite simply, even though I like superhero movies, I’m just not going to watch them anymore). And obviously there is a difference between feminine and masculine power- so changing the gender of Thor is a ridiculous idea. Funnily enough, it’s making the statement (as they have with so many masculinised female characters in media) that it’s not okay to simply be a women- you have to have all the traits of a man. This isn’t much of a change from that, it’s just more on the nose.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: No, Really, God IS for Everyone! – Out of Babel

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