Hulking out. Störung, Ausnahmefall und Normalisierung

Niels Werber


Self-descriptions of society aim at giving a picture of the significant whole of our culture. Since every one of these images creates a sense of society and leaves out a lot of social textures at the same time, each hides blind spots and each is contingent, omitting alternative tableaus as well as forgotten and suppressed details, which do not fit as proper parts in the whole represented. It is worthwhile to look for these blind spots, and these are observable, if one compares alternative formulas of self-description. Mass media are proliferating diverse versions of formulas of self-description, and often these versions differ from expectable academic portraits of society. Therefore, popular media can offer important insights into the situation our society believes to live in. In the case of the Hulk- and Avengers-movies, this situation is interpreted as permanent disruption or perpetual state of exception. Current academic concepts of disruption or exception fail to describe what happens in these blockbuster movies. The society that surrounds the Marvel-super-heroes has changed dramatically. In analogy to Dr. Bruce Banner, who uncontrollably transforms himself into the incredible Hulk, the society described in the Hulk- and Avengers-movies is hulking-out as well, changing back more and more rarely, until finally it stays constantly in an “irregular” mode. The paper explores the self-description-formulas of society, which are negotiated in these movies.