This little frame from the most recent Superman comic has created quite the platform for discussion. My previous blog, God, Superman, and the Buckeyes, seems to be the perfect repository for much of recent big news (scandals at Ohio State, and now this??) This is right in my wheel house.
A couple of years ago I published an article examining the ways in which media portrayals of heroes are little more than an extension of the state seeking to glorify national interests and solidify patriotism in children (think G I Joe, Superman, etc.) The authors Jewett and Lawrence have done a lot of work in this regard from the perspective of American history. It seems that this latest turn in the Superman saga sparks a potential follow-up article (which if I can find some time I’ll work on some day , but here are some initial thoughts).
There is little doubt that Superman is the archetypal American “mono-myth” (a term from Jewett and Lawrence). After all, he has always fought for “truth, justice, and the American way.” Created by Siegel and Shuster in 1938, the comic had World War II and the Cold War to foment Superman in the American psyche as extension of all that is good in American foreign policy. 2011, however, is a much different time than the 40’s and 50’s. The global political landscape has changed so drastically that Superman is having to reinvent himself to make sense in today’s global world.
It will be interesting to watch the conservative backlash from this event (and to see if the comic creates a new storyline where Superman’s American citizenry is once again affirmed), and it is one of those instances where we can learn alot about people from popular culture. No doubt, the underlying impasse for many will be the presupposition that Superman’s renunciation of his American citizenship is predicated on the idea that his quest for truth and justice (and freedom?) finds him at odds with the American economic and political policies in the world.
There’s much more to come on this . . . but I wanted to throw out some initial thoughts of mine . . .