April 29, 2011

Superman . . . Because I Just Had to Say SOMETHING . . .

Back in the late '70's and the early years of my life, this was Superman. It wasn't until I grew up that I understood how cynical things were in that time and that part of what made Superman and Star Wars, as movies, successful was the earnestness of optimism.

So there's a whole lot of talk about Superman renouncing his American citizenship. It's funny -- I was just thinking about how Superman really represents the best of America. He's an immigrant, he believes in good and evil, he believes in using his powers for good, and he's okay looking like a square doing it.

And he stands for "the American way", which is, simply put: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

And now he's saying:

Followed up with this:

Now, I read the story in question. It's an okay story. Superman decides to give up the "American citizenship" because a Middle East government took his participation in a peace rally as an endorsement of the American government in the peace movement. So Supes decides to give up his citizenship to avoid things like that in the future, with his reasoning in the above panel.

In other words, Superman is now a citizen of the world. And the truth is this: Superman, in the stories he inhabits and also in the real world, is a symbol. A symbol of "truth" and "justice" and the "American way". Remember when, in Superman Returns, they didn't say "and the American way"?

This is nothing new.

This says nothing about the symbol Superman has become. It says everything about the people in charge of the symbol.

The same could be said about America. America is a symbol, but what America actually is says more about the people in charge of the symbol than the ideal the symbol represents. The American dream, the American ideal -- these are good things. It's the people who make it look bad.

Anyway, the American way isn't enough? I guess it depends on what you see as the American way. Corporate greed? Political corruption?

Or "truth" and "justice"?

America's not perfect. But the things America stands for? They are ideas worth standing for. Maybe not if you're from Krypton, I guess . . .

~ Ben

PS -- The fact that this is causing a stir, does that mean that comics are still relevent?

PPS -- Is Clark Kent retaining his citizenship? That changes the story a bit if he does, don't you think?

1 comment:

Cafe Vienna said...

Very interesting blog post. I grew up with Superman as well. His character worked for the times of Cold War and I think could work for our modern times as well. The point of him being an immigrant is a very interesting one.

The last film was however very disappointing. So I made a story board of how Superman could work in nowadays society.

Here is the link: