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Monday, July 03, 2006

Going with the Man of Steel Theme

Conservatives seem to have their tights in a wad over, of all things, Bryan Singer's new Superman movie.

Kid Various has heard Sean Hannity railing about how in the new film, Superman fights for "truth, justice...and all that stuff." OK. That's pretty lame. It's lame on two levels:

  1. It's lame because in today's environment, we can't even bring ourselves to say "the American Way of Life" unless it's delivered in an ironic context. Back in the 50's, immediately post WWII, there was no lack of moral clarity. The American Way of Life - meaning capitalism, social mobility and individual liberty, was just assumed to be the great triumph of humankind. Sadly, no more. But we're not going to get around that any time soon.
  2. It's lame also because it's such an integral part of the characterization. Like all good myths, each incarnation of the character brings something new to the mythos. "Faster than a speeding bullet?" NOT from the comics, but rather the Max Fleischer cartoons from the 40's. Like "Truth, Justice and the American Way" is from the Adventures of Superman with George Reeves. Corrupting that is like making James Bond say "I'll have a frozen margarita... no salt." It just doesn't pay proper respect to the mythos.

Kid Various also has heard conservative talk show hosts complaining that Superman has gone all metrosexual and sensitive. One host was talking about the "Sissy-fication" of Superman - which the Kid parsed as the "Sisyphication of Superman." Which caused him to wonder - "what's this guy talking about? Superman is an optimistic hero, not a nihilistic one like, say, The Punisher (I SAID PUT IT IN THE HAPPY BOX!!!) He certainly believes in progress and an ultimate good, his actions are never understood to be largely futile..."

Kid Various is bringing way too much brain power to this argument.

In any case, Instapundit today linked to a good post on TCS Daily about the parallels between Superman and the United States of America that points out that Kal-El, much as he would like to, cannot put down the burden of being Superman any more than the U.S. can disavow its own power.
Superman has learned this lesson before. Remember Superman II? Superman relinquishes his power in order to be with Lois Lane -- yet, by the movie's end, he has to reclaim his power in order to defend her and the rest of the planet from super villains whom no one else can stop. He cannot simply declare victory and repair to his Fortress of Solitude. He must forsake happiness to execute those duties that only he can perform. And it is that sacrifice that makes him a hero.
And so as we stand on the brink of the 230th anniversary of the event which ushered in a new way to be human, it behooves us to take some time to ponder just why we fight for truth, justice and the American Way.


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