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Author Topic: Evolving views...  (Read 10845 times)
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Leonardo
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« on: April 10, 2005, 04:21:25 AM »

Hello there! Just a few thoughts on Superman....

Iīm 43, and Superman was my greatest hero when I was a kid...I still remember vividly how I dreamed of growing up and being like him, at least in terms of character...so in that way the man of steel helped me become a better man...gave me a strong sense of right and wrong, and made me see I should never do harm to others, but instead protect the poor and weak...(I should explain Iīm a quite big and strong guy)...

However, when I look back at these stories, with more than 3 decades in contact with reality...well, Iīm saddened at the fact I think the Superman ideal has been lost to a great extent, both in comics and in America....while the storyline has been rewritten too many times, and thus breaking the mythlike characteristic of stability and steadiness that only Superman had, most stories are just meaningless, without showing Superman in a deeper sense, being an incarnation of the values I mentioned before...you seldom see him battling inner battles anymore, just throwing punches all around....in general, I think the Superman stories of today are more shallow, and do not explore the immense potential of his godlike nobility and courage and goodness...all he does nowadays is battle fantasy monsters....no social content, no social criticism, nothing connected to reality....just one more fantasy character.

As for America, itīs even worse...we do not understand we are fast changing from defenders of the oppressed into oppressors, misled by a bunch of oil tycoons for whom liberty and democracy are mere words. If the Superman of my childhood were alive today, he would probably be going through a conscience crisis....his beloved country waging "pre-emptive wars".....a term well-liked by Hitler and his gang of thugs.

Terrorists killed 5,000 americans....in return, we bombed two countries and have killed more than 130,000 people so far....and in Supermanīs world, not a word about it....where is my beloved America of old?
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Johnny Nevada
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2005, 10:03:32 AM »

I sympathize/agree with your sentiments on current events, but don't recall seeing many Superman stories that commented on the Vietnam War in the comics of 30+ years ago (besides a general "war is bad/wrong" sentiment, of course)...though could be wrong, not having been alive during the Vietnam war (was born the day it ended!)...

Recall that a Superman story published at the time of the WTC attacks in 2001 got in the news---for depicting Lex Luthor's corporate headquarters (a pair of twin towers) as smoldering ruins following the "Our Worlds at War" alien attack (another case of bad comic timing)...

No idea if the current DCU United States is at war in Iraq, though (esp. with Lex Luthor as president until recently already causing a divergence from real-world events); recall some JLA story they did with Superman in some sort of mentally-induced-by-J'onn J'onzz(?) dream state where he imagines dealing with an Iraq-like war launched by Luthor. Recall it mainly since it got mentioned on MSNBC's "Scarborough" show (where it was ripped apart, for purportedly expressing anti-war sentiments)...
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Gary
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2005, 09:46:17 PM »

I also agree with Leonardo's pessimistic view of the present, though I think he's being rather romantic about the past. Superman has pretty much always avoided dealing with any large-scale real-world problems. The reasons are understandable: If Supey doesn't solve the problem, then you have to explain why not, which can end up being very contrived. If he does, then it can be a slap in the face to people who have to deal with the problem in reality. "Gee, in this comic Superman put a stop to the war by capturing both leaders and making them duke it out. I don't have the power to do that, so I guess I shouldn't bother." This also gets you into Watchmen-type situations where the comic book universe becomes less and less like our own -- which is realistically what would happen, but is frowned upon as it's likely to be confusing to the casual reader. Perhaps the only good solution would be to add equal and opposite forces on the other side so that the status quo is maintained, but in this case that wouldn't be very satisfying either -- we expect Superman to win.
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Anonymous
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2005, 06:50:51 PM »

Well I have a very different view of current events, which should answer your question of why Superman comics do not currently take -- and have rarely in the past taken -- a political stand of any sort.  Whenever you choose sides, you lose half your audience.

A lot of Hollywood types are learning this lesson right now: while they're entitled to their opinions, as soon as they express them they run the risk of alienating about half the country.  Whether you're a liberal George Clooney or a conservative Dennis Miller, once you open your mouth on the issues the public will never see you the same way again.  Some may make a hero of you, others will find you an obnoxious creep.  But either way, you've just cut your existing and potential fan base roughly in half.  Or maybe more, because for every one of us on the right or left, there's probably 5 other people in the middle who are annoyed by political pronouncements on *either* side of an issue.

Whatever Superman may have come to represent to us over the years (and I think we can agree it's a lot of good things) at the end of the day he is a commercial property, and DC has no interest in undermining his popularity by turning him into a political activist.  To me, that's as it should be.

Basically Superman simply believes in America's potential for greatness and the principles of freedom and equality it was based on.  So do you and so do I.  But in the real world, people can have very serious and profound disagreements about how best to fulfill that potential and honor those principles.  Face it, nobody voted against American ideals in November, but we were split roughly in half over how to interpret and implement those ideals.

A Superman writer or artist may be firmly convinced he knows how this country ought to be run, and bully for him.  But he has no business putting his views in Superman's mouth...Superman is too important to be reduced to a mouthpiece for some second-rate Jane Fonda with an ink brush.  Trying to reduce complex, real-world issues down to simple comic book terms of right and wrong is a bad idea, and frankly we've got entirely too much of that kind of "discourse" going on in this country as it is.
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nightwing
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2005, 06:53:35 PM »

Quote
Well I have a very different view of current events, which should answer your question of why Superman comics do not currently take -- and have rarely in the past taken -- a political stand of any sort. Whenever you choose sides, you lose half your audience

....etc etc...blah blah


Sorry, I seem to have gotten myself logged out before typing the last post.  For the record, the remarks above, attributed to "Guest," are mine.
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Gary
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2005, 09:01:19 PM »

In general, I have no problem with popular entertainment that tries to make a political point. I liked most of the M*A*S*H TV series. But I agree with you that it would be wrong to use Superman that way. Maybe Jerry Siegel had a right to do that, but Superman doesn't belong to any one person, not anymore.

On the other hand, I'd much rather see Supey used to make political points than to sell Hostess Twinkies. Smiley
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Johnny Nevada
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2005, 03:59:45 AM »

I'd rather characters like Superman stayed politically neutral, as well (if I want political comics, I'll read "Doonesbury" or "This Modern World"). Though there seems to be more leeway allowed for superheroes that're less iconic than Superman to express such viewpoints (see: Green Arrow)...
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2005, 01:58:43 PM »

I think Green Arrow's a special case because he wasn't carrying his own book at the time he became a flaming liberal.

Basically I think Denny O'Neil put Ollie on the left to create some friction with Hal Jordan (representing the right) in those old issues of GL/GA.  (Personally, I don't think there was a lot of history to back up the notion that Hal was conservative, but seeing as how the GL Corps were intergalatactic "cops," I see what Denny was going for).  And since Denny was writing JLA around the same time, that characterization carried over to the team book to create more friction between Ollie and the other "cop" hero, Hawkman.  Readers seemed to like it, because it stuck even after Denny left.

The point being, had Ollie had a book of his own it would have been a lot riskier to politicize him.  But as half a yin-and-yang duo, or as the sole voice of dissent in a room full of "establishment" do-gooders, it worked.

Still and all, 30 years down the road those comics seem horribly dated, proof perhaps that "taking on the issues of the day" only guarantees you'll bore the readers of tomorrow.  The straight adventure tales of the Golden Age tend to hold up much better than the "relevant" stories of the 70s.

Anyway my point with Superman is that whatever side he takes, somebody will be disappointed.  As soon as he turns left or right, a lot of readers will go, "Crap...and I thought he believed in the things I did."  If he's managed to appeal to people on both sides of the aisle for 60 years, why blow it now?
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