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Author Topic: Holy Superheroes  (Read 17891 times)
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nightwing
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« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2005, 03:25:38 PM »

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Actaully the *traditional* Western played fast and loose with this turning the likes of Billy the Kid into heroes and the Earps into villians. While the Earps got a better shake in 1946 many 'villains' of old west history were still (and many still are) being portraid as heroes.


In a way, you're making my point for me, though.  There was a time America's myth-makers gave good traits to bad men to make them palatable to audiences.   Now they give bad traits to heroes to make them more "believable."  You could argue that the movie version of Billy the Kid is in direct contradiction to the historical record, but hey people paid to see an entertainment not a documentary.  The point is somebody realized that without making him "nicer" he'd never fly as a hero.

Whether the Earps were heroes or not depends on which side you're on.  It can be argued -- with lots of corroborative evidence -- that they were little better than a rival gang to the Clanton's "cow-boys".  The fact that Virgil and Wyatt had badges didn't really count for much...what went on in Tombstone was pretty much analogous to the "Bloods" and "Crips" of modern-day LA...a turf war.  Wyatt, for instance, tracked down Curly Bill Brocius and gut-shot him in an act of retaliation for shooting Virgil...hardly a defensible piece of "police work", that.

But again, Hollywood saw the bare bones of a good story and re-cast it in terms of good and evil because -- at least once upon a time -- we needed to believe there was a difference between the two.  Is that a bad thing?  Well maybe if you get all your "history" from the movies, but not necessarily if you just take away a re-affirmation that good men can triumph sometimes.

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Well considering the Western had been chugging along for well on to 50 years by that itme it could be the genre had simply reached the end of its lifespan and thanks in part to Star Wars/Star Trek the Scifi genre took its place.


Well, comics have been around longer than that, and competition from video games, etc may be a factor in *their* decline.  But I don't think we can discount their abandonment of the youth audience as a factor, either.  

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Yes, but in World War II you had the US firebombing of hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians, Japanese-Americans interred on American soil without due process, and for years after that cross-burnings, lynchings, and other not-so niceties.
   


Except for the most part the US govenment helped keep a lit on such things. And if you tried to bring up such unpleasenties during the war you could have risked treason charges and after the was there was old Republican Sen Joe Macarthy and his House on Unamerican Activities Commity to stomp on your sorry head. Many people who would have brought such images to the screen were blacklisted and had to write and make movies under assumed names.


The government can only "keep a lid" on so much.  It was no mystery to American citizens what had happened to their Japanese neighbors in WWII; they knew full well they'd been hauled off to camps.  The difference is that we hadn't yet entered the culture of self-doubt and self-loathing that has dominated this nation since the 60s.  You can certainly argue that back then we were arrogant and uncompassionate to the plight of others, but I'd argue that constant introspection and knee-jerk criticism of all our actions, in our society or in our government, hasn't improved us much as a nation.  All it's done is sapped our will to do better and our belief that better things can even be done.  Just look at how few people even bother to vote anymore...we've largeley given up and come to expect the worst from ourselves and our leaders.  And for me, that trickles right down to having "heroes" with feet of clay.  If we can't even fashion our comic book superheroes -- a patently ridiculous and juvenile concept from square one, anyway -- as paragons of virtue, then we've lost something, in my book.

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I think the problem is that we woke up to the fact that mythic heroes had flaws that various forces had tried to cover up despite the truth sometimes being better. I ask you which is better - the idea of some perfect man becoming President of this nation or of a man who failed at nearly everything he did and was at one point was even suicidal but overcame everything and became President and strove to hold the nation together.

The first is the mythic Lincoln while the second is a far more realistic picture of the man. I ask you who is the more inspiring version?


To a young child, the mythic Lincoln is more inspiring, no question.  To an adult, maybe the "real" one.  Again, that's my point: Superman and Batman and the like used to be constructed as pure-hearted heroes for children.  Now they're not.  Which is fine for the 30-year-old comics fan living in his parent's basement, but what's left for the kids?

And anyway the truly "mythic" heroes are the fictional ones.  Nobody suddenly "discovered" that Superman and Batman had "flaws" and a weak moral compass...they are make-believe characters who do and say only what writers make them do and say.

Do I want a white-washed version of JFK to be passed off as the real deal? No.  But that's history...in order to learn from it, we have to see it warts and all.  Myth-making is something else entirely.  I want my heroes to be pure.  If we're supposed to believe a guy came from another galaxy looking exactly like us, that he can fly and deflect bullets, that he can fool his closest friends with a cheap pair of glasses and that he would wear his underwear on the outside of his pants, I don't think it's too much more of a stretch to accept that he's a fine person with a strong moral center. Nothing is more hilarious to me than a comic book fan praising Spider-Man, the X-Men or Batman as somehow "realistic."  If they really think those books bear any resemblance to the real world...even in their current forms...then they need professional help.
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Maximara
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« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2005, 07:37:20 PM »

Quote from: "nightwing"
And anyway the truly "mythic" heroes are the fictional ones.  Nobody suddenly "discovered" that Superman and Batman had "flaws" and a weak moral compass...they are make-believe characters who do and say only what writers make them do and say.


Except throughout the stories there was a flaw with the moral compass they were given. When I read the comics when I was a kid I often wondered why Superman would blunder into situations where a little use of his powers and some good old fasion common sence would have saved him a lot of grief. Then you have the stories where Lois or Lara would get superpower and instead of encouraging them to use their powers to help people he lets them behave like jerks and even called Lara a 'hussy' in one story. You don't need to be an adult to know right off the bat Superman's moral compass is shot to blazes. When Krypton tech entered the picture things really went south as his is a man who is just sitting on tech that could feed millions, prevent weather cause nature diaster and on and on the list went. You didn't need writers to tell you Superman's moral compass was off in la la land  - any kid with a moderate degree of smarts knew it right away.
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nightwing
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« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2005, 08:55:04 PM »

Dude, you need to check out this website:

http://www.superdickery.com/

Assuming, of course, that you don't run it!  Cheesy The webmaster obviously shares your view of Superman's less-than-sterling behavior in "The Good Old Days."
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Maximara
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« Reply #19 on: June 10, 2005, 01:03:42 AM »

Quote from: "nightwing"
Dude, you need to check out this website:

http://www.superdickery.com/

Assuming, of course, that you don't run it!  Cheesy The webmaster obviously shares your view of Superman's less-than-sterling behavior in "The Good Old Days."


Well I am not the author of this site but while a little over the top it does kind of prove my point. The Superman we think existed in the Golden and Silver ages has been largely influenced by the selected reprints that have been made.

To be fair to Superman though you will note that majority of these were in the 'spin off' books of Lois Lane or Jimmy Olsen rather than Superman or Action. The Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen (and sadly Supergirl later on) books tended to go for one shot 'shock' stories that didn't really make that much sense given the way the characters behaved in Superman or Action. As for World's Finest, that book was so majorly messed up that the editors had to create a whole Earth (Earth-B) to deal with all the fubared stories that came out of it.

Superman and Action books had some real stinkers too though. How about the one there somehow Superman has been turned into Terra Man (you know the 1880 cowboy who ran around on the space Pegasus.) and his brilliant plan to flush out the real Terra man is to commit crimes so the real deal will show up to stop this pretender. Looks like Sups chucked out the old moral compass in that story.
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Maximara
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« Reply #20 on: June 10, 2005, 02:34:25 AM »

Quote from: "Genis Vell"
Killing the villains is NOT the solution.


I agree. Just wich the writers of the Batman movies had realized that rather than killing off Batman's major villians off as they went along. By the four film we really didn't have that much left.

But my point is that we can not the fact that the 'pure true blue' image of the Silver and Bronze age is largely an after the fact myth. Sure by the Code the characters had to behave a certain way but even then their moral compasses tended to go haywire. Superman would sometime play somewhat  cruel games with his friend's emotions or allow them to make total idiots of themselves. Of course that his pal Jimmy Olson was a weirdness magnet not to mention at times a bigger idiot than Sailor Moon it might have been Kal-El's way of dealing with the stress.
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« Reply #21 on: June 10, 2005, 02:45:53 AM »

Quote from: "Maximara"
You don't need to be an adult to know right off the bat Superman's moral compass is shot to blazes. When Krypton tech entered the picture things really went south as his is a man who is just sitting on tech that could feed millions, prevent weather cause nature diaster and on and on the list went. You didn't need writers to tell you Superman's moral compass was off in la la land  - any kid with a moderate degree of smarts knew it right away.


But, do you need to be an adult to realize that so called intelligent species have an incredible amount of ambition, tendency to self actualization, and a knack for not equally distributing advancements in social systems or technology?

Would so called Kryptonian science save the world?  Hardly, they had a flawed society themselves, even in the Silver Age, they had conflict and strife...

So I thought that writers were merely venturing plots in a flawed universe, one where all species are selfish and flawed and none could really solve the isssue of "human" conflict...

But a super hero would try...
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« Reply #22 on: June 10, 2005, 07:26:37 PM »

Quote from: "MatterEaterLad"
Quote from: "Maximara"
You don't need to be an adult to know right off the bat Superman's moral compass is shot to blazes. When Krypton tech entered the picture things really went south as his is a man who is just sitting on tech that could feed millions, prevent weather cause nature diaster and on and on the list went. You didn't need writers to tell you Superman's moral compass was off in la la land  - any kid with a moderate degree of smarts knew it right away.


But, do you need to be an adult to realize that so called intelligent species have an incredible amount of ambition, tendency to self actualization, and a knack for not equally distributing advancements in social systems or technology?

Would so called Kryptonian science save the world?  Hardly, they had a flawed society themselves, even in the Silver Age, they had conflict and strife...


I never said it was save the world but it certain would have made the world a better place. Weather control alone would save millionos of live not to mention money but Superman happily sits on this technology. Also there were the time Superman acted like a full fledged jerk; hardly the one representing the idea of him being the 'the big blue Boy Scout.' Then you had the problem of Superman being Stupidman so you would have a crime story that lasted more than 4 pages.

Also it was during the Silver age that Luthor changed from simply being evil to being another world's hero (even giving up his freedom to help  them), having a family but still having this warped streak that had him come to earth to commit crimes and maybe kill Superman while he was at it.
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« Reply #23 on: June 10, 2005, 11:49:47 PM »

Quote from: "Maximara"
I never said it was save the world but it certain would have made the world a better place. Weather control alone would save millionos of live not to mention money but Superman happily sits on this technology. Also there were the time Superman acted like a full fledged jerk; hardly the one representing the idea of him being the 'the big blue Boy Scout.' Then you had the problem of Superman being Stupidman so you would have a crime story that lasted more than 4 pages.

Also it was during the Silver age that Luthor changed from simply being evil to being another world's hero (even giving up his freedom to help  them), having a family but still having this warped streak that had him come to earth to commit crimes and maybe kill Superman while he was at it.


Well, maybe the fault is as much that the 1950s-60s mind set was that technology could create a utopia...weather control alters ecosystems that are just as critical to overall global dynamics...even increased human survival introduces massive problems with overpopulation...

I remember my Golden Handbook to Amphibians and Reptiles saying "amphibians and reptiles are fascinating, and while interesting -- if they should all disappear it would not make much difference one way or the other"...

You don't have to be an environmentalist to know that is simple minded...
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