A DC Comics artist announced that recent decisions by the venerable comic book company to wokify its iconic hero were causing him to quit in protest. “I’m finishing out my contract with DC. I’m tired of this shit, I’m tired of them ruining these characters; they don’t have a right to do this,” said colorist Gabe Eltaeb during a recent podcast. “What really pissed me off was [changing Superman’s credo] to “truth, justice, and a better world,” Eltaeb added. “Fuck that! It was Truth, Justice, and the American way! My Grandpa almost died in World War II; we don’t have a right to destroy shit that people died for to give [to] us. It’s a bunch of fucking nonsense!”
What do you really think, Gabe? First, you should know what you’re quitting about: the new slogan is “Fighting for Truth, Justice, and a better world.” And the company obviously has a right to change the big guy’s slogan to whatever they want to. But yes, “the American way” has been sent to the ash heap of history.
Over at Fox News, they were freaking out, as usual. Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo said on a Sunday talking heads show that DC Comics altering Superman’s motto to eliminate fighting for “the American Way” was a “disservice to fans.” “Now you have a multinational corporation, D.C. Comics, that decided it would rather politically grandstand and build foreign markets than respect their character and the audience that built him. You don’t need Kryptonite to kill Superman when you have D.C. Comics doing a great job. This is a huge disservice to fans and I’m waiting for Superman to turn up in a red costume and we will just call him Super Person. Lex Luthor should send DC Comics a thank-you card for sidelining and killing Superman.”
“This is clearly a distortion and a disservice to anyone who loved Superman that read the comic books and watched those movies,” Arroyo told “The Big Sunday Show.” “Remember, this was about an alien from another planet, a dying planet that comes and lands in the heartland of America and embodies the American ideals of freedom, justice. He wears red, white and blue for goodness sake!”
There were two recent developments in the DC Comics universe that provoked all the angst: the longtime publisher of Superman comics, changed Superman’s 80-year-old slogan from fighting for “truth, justice, and the American way” to “truth, justice and a better tomorrow,” and also revealed that the younger version of Superman, the son of Lois Lane and Clark Kent, is bi-sexual, and was drawn kissing a guy.
OK, the last one is obviously blatant pandering, but what about the motto?
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…
Is there anything wrong with DC making the Superman motto change?
Here’s how Jim Lee, DC’s chief creative officer and publisher, justified it: “To better reflect the storylines that we are telling across DC and to honor Superman’s incredible legacy over 80 years of building a better world, Superman’s motto is evolving,” Recent storytelling has Supe battling climate change and police being mean to illegal immigrants, among other things.
I have a lot of thoughts on this one, but for once I’m going to hold my fire until you weigh in. (Not to bias you, but resident CNN idiot Brian Stelter thinks the change is wonderful.)
54 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Superman Ethics”
Sure they can change the motto and we no longer have to buy the comics. Superman battled bad guys not the good guys. He stood for law and order and truth; not propaganda. The motto could have been written by the purveyors of truth located in communist China. I for one prefer the quintessential American Way over the ideals of a false utopian world.
Full disclosure. I love Superman. Since I was a kid, no fictional character has ever supplanted the Man of Steel in my heart. I’ve met several actors from various Superman television shows and films, I’ve been to the Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL many times. His goodness, his sense of justice, his love for his adopted home, who wouldn’t cheer Superman?
I haven’t read Superman comics in years, though. I can’t keep up with the post-crisis (1980’s revamp) universe and I wouldn’t be able to wrap my mind around Lois Lane and Clark Kent being married anyway. I watched one episode of the new TV series “Superman and Lois” before quitting in annoyance.
Clearly their motivation is more leftist indoctrination. Climate change and illegal immigration are becoming bulwarks of the left and, if Superman battles on behalf of that type of activism, the way he battled the Klan back in the day, it carries weight. Making John Kent bisexual is pure pandering.
But changing the motto is a kick in the face to American ideals. Superman is an American hero. This is another attempt to downgrade American ideals in the minds of readers. A better world? What’s that? It’s not a world we can all agree on, that’s for sure. Instead of fighting the Klan, he will fight so-called White Nationalists who protest CRT at school board meetings. A better world in the mind of a woke corporation is not something I want Superman taking a part in creating. That’s unethical.
Arroyo(“He wears red, white and blue for goodness sake!”)
? He wears red blue and yellow… not red white and blue.
Or is this another one of those internet phenomenons where people supposedly see different colors when looking at the same thing on a screen.
Thank you. This bothered me too. He’s a colorist who works on Superman comics, and he doesn’t know what the uniform looks like? Or is there some classic version of the outfit that included white? I don’t recall one.
No, although early on the chest shield might have included black.
I suppose we can let the market decide. I’m a reconstructed comics geek, who hasn’t read comics with any regularity in decades, but who can still appreciate the movies, animated features, etc. I’m ok with the characters getting tweaked and the occasional reboot, but comics are supposed to be fun and a place you go to escape from the issues of the world, not one where you get your face pressed into them even harder.
P.S., there was an animated film fairly recently called “Justice League: the New Frontier,” in which the heroes join forces in the 1950s to battle a major Big Bad called The Centre. Although the film comes down strongly against over-trusting a secretive government, Superman also makes a rousing speech about coming together and doing this “not the Republican way, not the Democrat way, but the American way,” before they set out to battle this menace. It’s easy in this setting to get behind the idea that we’re all in this together so everyone must do what he can do best. It’s not as easy to get behind the woke ideology, which is STRONGLY disputed. That said, I came to be in what is called the Silver Age of comics, transitioning into the Bronze Age, still concentrating on heroes, but with the return of SOME darker plot elements. My idea of fun as a kid, while chowing on Chips Ahoy and milk after school, was seeing Superman team up with some other hero in a standalone sci-fi or fantasy adventure in “DC Comics Presents,” with an update of what had happened to some lesser-known Golden Age hero as an 8-page backup feature. I didn’t want an anvil-dropping story about Racism Is Bad, much less about Black Lives Matter, and really that’s not what the medium was supposed to be about. Seems like we’ve gone from “let kids be kids” to “indoctrinate them while they’re kids.”
We can’t let this thread go without this.
I watched the Superman TV show when I was a kid. I remember the scene where the bad guy unloads his revolver into Superman’s chest while Superman stood there with no effect. Then when the bad guy realized the gun was empty he throws the gun at Superman and Superman ducks.
Let’s see if I can find it…
George Reeves was the BEST. I always laughed at the gunman. If the dude can stand there and take bullets, why do you think hitting him with the gun is going to work?
Mrs. OB’s first crush was (and remains?) George Reeves, black men’s stockings and wing tips and all.
And maybe there’s a good Hollywood/TMZ story here! Do you suppose Jimmy Olsen and Superman were really shacking up together? Jimmy sure had eyes for Superman. And what about Batman and Robin? A little pederasty going on there? I think these story lines should be explored going forward.
In fact, Jack Larson, who played Jimmy in “The Adventures of Superman” was gay. He and Reeves were good friends, but there was nothing between them (for Mrs. OB’s sake).
Of course, Jimmy himself was straight.
I wish I could say your tongue-in-cheek suggestions won’t someday come to fruition, though.
I suspect gay guys have been joking about this sort of thing since they were teenagers.
Maybe Lois was Superman’s beard? Kind of like Della Street for Perry? Hah!
I see what you did there. I doubt many fans know about Raymond Burr – more than know about Jack Larson, less than know about Robert Reed, far less than know about Liberace.
The amazing thing is that everybody didn’t ALWAYS know about Liberace.
Have you read this classic story? Lois having sex with Clark was NOT a wise move.
I’ve….never heard of this. Oh, my.
Once read, it cannot be unread….
Shame on them! Him, an alien …. and an illegal one, to boot!
Larry Niven is such a sharp writer. I’m just rereading Lucifer’s Hammer now and it’s as relevant as ever.
Loved that story when it was first anthologized. Niven has a very fertile sense of humor, as demonstrated in his Known Space series. As well, if you like classic sf, I heartily recommend The Flying Sorceror by Niven and David Gerrold. My college suitemates and I chortled over that book for hours on end.
And, of course, David Gerrold is …
Gerrold is “The Trouble with Tribbles” in an all-time favorite comic episode, among all genres. Even earlier, my first meeting with this champion of imagination was in 1977, in book form (Moonstar Odyssey), wherein children are born of no particular sex and mingle freely together learning about themselves and others, but when they begin adolescence must choose to be either male or female for the rest of their lives.
I wasn’t asking who he is, I was elliptically alluding to what he is as it seemed relevant context for the post and comments. I just didn’t want it to be too much like throwing it in people’s faces.
The fact that George Reeves and Christopher Reeve played Supie and Steve Reeves was the original Hercules in the movies is a weird coincidence, and causes all of their last names to be mixxed up regularly.
One of my pet peeves, in fact. Just like it’s “Star Trek”, not “Star Track”, “Star Wars” and not “Star War” and, no, they are not the same thing.
The similarities between the names also leads people to erroneously believe that they were related.
Bad guys threw their empty revolvers in westerns of the era as well. I think it was the gun fight equivalent of boxing’s throwing in the towel. Or indicative of continuing defiance.
More like a gesture of disgust with himself, or at the weapon for not doing what it was supposed to do. Any which way, it’s irrational thinking … that’s what happens in a temper tantrum.
“If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” George Orwell, 1984
Propaganda, that’s what Orwell was talking about.
Superman’s motto change; “Truth, Justice, and the American way” vs “Truth, Justice, and a better world”.
“Is there anything wrong with DC making the Superman motto change?”
In keeping with what I wrote yesterday that “our society and culture has dramatically changed in the 21st century” I’m going to approach this from a changing cultural viewpoint.
Looking at Superman as a idealisticº cultural icon¹ (that’s what the character is) the answer to the question “is there anything wrong with DC making the Superman motto change” has to be no. The fact that they are changing the motto is signature significant, in that this single act is so remarkable that it has predictive and analytical value showing us how much our culture has actually changed and the act should not be dismissed as statistically insignificant. The Superman comic strip and its motto had an underlying theme that was pure propaganda² and that was to promote the American way of life as good, a huge cross section of our culture has moved away from that idealistic view of America and it’s inevitable that as the culture shifts away from American idealism that new propaganda will replace the old. Out with the old, in with the new.
SPECIAL NOTE: I think it’s very significant that we’re this invested in the motto of a comic strip character that was literally the purveyor of idealistic American propaganda.
All that said…
Those of us that are doing our part, however insignificant it may be, to fight the irrational cultural changes we see as destructive to the American way of life view this motto change in a very different way. This motto change is another representation of how this cultural shift is replacing the very soul of the American way of life and all that that entails with totalitarianism. It’s a significant cultural nail in the coffin! From our point of view we are the ones fighting the good fight and the ones trying to shift our culture are the enemy of the people. This motto change is effectively ripping the cultural heart out of America and showing us that we are becoming very alone in our resistance.
Here are a few other relevant quotes….
The United States of America is in the midst of a full blown ongoing culture war³ to fundamentally shift the United States of America towards totalitarianisms and those of us that are trying to maintain the status quo of the once great culture that built the United States and the freedoms therein are rapidly dwindling in numbers. This cultural war came boldly out of the shadows when candidate Barack Obama formally called the movement to action in 2008 with words like “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”. Tell me truthfully, how does everyone like the result of Obama’s calling this culture war to action?
ºIdealistic: characterized by idealism; unrealistically aiming for perfection.
¹Cultural Icon: a person or an artifact that is identified by members of a culture as representative of that culture.
²Propaganda: information used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.
³Culture War: a conflict between groups with different ideals, beliefs, philosophies, etc.
It’s a shame they have to crap over Superman to make him more global. It feels like this move is one of things, where the writers do it for the sake of brownie points from other artists, and don’t care about fans or whatnot, because those jerks will buy anything thing you give them. Since we are talking about artistic expression here, I would say this motto change is wrong, because it sucks. Based on what Superman is into nowadays, the motto should be “Rightthink, Social Justice, and the Democratic Party Way, featuring The Sqaud.” I would at least give the writers credit being for proud leftist partisans who aren’t ashamed of who they are.
I think it’s another thing that’s getting blown out of proportion. People change, companies change, stories change. If a story isn’t to your liking, then don’t buy it. If a company’s changes aren’t to your liking, try a different company’s products. Still, I don’t agree with the slogan change, but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with DC changing the slogan.
Actually, there is nothing distinctively American about those colours. Nearly all countries’ flags that date back before the discovery of coal tar dyes use those colours, because they were then the only reasonably durable ones that could easily be fixed*. There are exceptions, of course.
* Obviously Superman would have had no trouble with using red, white and yellow, not only because he is Superman but also because his was an adoptive world that had coal tar dyes and yet later ones.
I’ve seen frequent versions of S’s costume that are red, blue and yellow (in the field were the S appears on his chest.) Where’s the white?
The white is in the material quoted, which I did to provide context and not as an endorsement.
BB to the rescue:
Shouldn’t he (or they) be re-named “Fabulous Person?”
“Fabulous” meaning, by etymology, imaginary. Watch it, OB! Next thing, you’ll be saying Santa Claus isn’t real.
To the extent that I care at all about Superman, which hasn’t been a lot in over half a century, I’m actually rather ambivalent about this.
Indeed, I rather think we’re about to see a test case of the dictum attributed to P.T. Barnum: that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
Taking a step back from jingoistic propaganda is hardly an embrace of totalitarianism. The line apparently was introduced during WWII, and the most famous (to me, at least) iteration is the one linked by Steve-O: the TV show which aired in the Cold War era. We don’t live in those worlds anymore. And certainly the folks who run the franchise have the right to do what they want. (New Coke, anyone?) Similarly, consumers can go elsewhere, and the colorist who resigned in protest is free both to do so and indeed to grandstand about it.
On the other hand, I go back to my debate team days and remember that the presumption always rests with the status quo. Is there a significant reason to make the change? Not that I can see.
More importantly, the literary/dramatic critic in me doesn’t like the new slogan’s scansion. 😉
Is there anything wrong with making the change? Sure. Is there a concomitant upside? Maybe. Would I have done it? Also maybe, but probably not.
I agree with all of this.
I think that we are rapidly falling into a trap, and that it’s in our best interests not to take the bait.
A million years ago, Back in the Trump days, I made the point that the left was driving itself insane in opposition to Trump, and that their heavy-breathing, crazy-eyed panic response to literally everything was destroying their credibility. Was everything an emergency? Was nothing an emergency? If you treat the administration telling activists not to tweet using the EPA’s official Twitter account with the same manic response as you treat Trump appointing someone actively suing the EPA as head of the EPA, then I have no conception under God in how serious you believe any given situation is, because one of those was OBVIOUSLY more important than the other.
This….. This is bait. Artistic endeavors have always skewed left, and the left has gotten more and more militant about forcing their politics into mediums like comics. As I’ve said… A million times… Comics have always been political. Superman punched Hitler, it was controversial at the time, yada yada yada. But there was an effort to make the politics internally consistent with the universes they operate in. Comics have lost that. Case in point:
“I don’t mind politics in comics. They’ve always been there, it would be really hard to pull them out, they generally make the stories better. But they need to be there naturally and not shoehorned. Example below: In the DC universe, there are literally millions of Planet B’s. That panel didn’t attempt to frame what climate politics would mean for DC’s earth, it just copy-pasted current arguments onto the page.
Hell… Earth was Superman’s “Planet B”, and the destruction of Krypton has huge climate change parallels. It’s not hard to make these connections, but current authors are too lazy to make them, and it makes comics worse.”
Nevermind the absolute absurdity of any green-hair-dyed activist being ripped like that.
But I can’t get angry about this. The toddlers have taken over the daycare in the world of comics. The internet was already killing printed comics, and pandering to a subset of geek culture that doesn’t actually buy things isn’t going to save them. They are only as relevant as we let them be. We only hear about this when they do something to provoke a response, and it provokes a response. There are better things to care about.
Is it dumb? Sure. Does it offend people that care about the medium? Probably. Do you care about the medium outside of then it appears in headlines?
Don’t take the bait. Don’t give them relevance. Preserve your capacity to care for something that actually matters.
I’m beginning to think “this is silly” is going to be my default response. I think that was my response to the woman writing about “OK culture.” Go fly a kite, sweetie.
Who has ever heard of quantum mechanics justice?
Or evolution justice?
Or string theorty justice?
Or Fermat’s Last Theorem justice?
Why were there never any school strikes for Fermat’s Last Theorem?
Is there ANYTHING wrong with it? Yes.
Apparently, the slogan has changed over the years in various media. The American Way was added in the 40’s, dropped out in the 50’s and came back in the 60’s. However, the American Way has apparently been left out again since the 90’s. I think I read that the show, Lois and Clark, dropped it and it has not been used since then.
So, what is wrong with the announcement is that it appears to make a big deal out of nothing. So, why make the announcement? Attention. It is a form of pandering, virtue-signaling, whatever.
What else is wrong? “A better tomorrow.” What is that? Thanos sought a better tomorrow by eliminating half of all life in the universe. Would eliminating the heads of all oppressive governments create a better tomorrow? What about a world ruled by Superman? Would that be a better tomorrow?
Or does a Better Tomorrow really mean that he fights for “Truth, Justice and The Right Side of History”?
I’m a purist, so I don’t like changes that aren’t in line with the original character’s core. For example, I wouldn’t like a “Wonder Man.” There’s no reason to change race or gender because doing so just looks desperate to me. Look how woke we are. Look at all of this good we are dong. Blah blah. If you want to create a new character, go for it, but don’t modify old ones.
As with many media questions, the answer is that the copyright period has to be reduced so that it matches the patent period. By all means, look for a better world, but let it compete with a Superman who promotes the American way.
Everything created in the 20th Century should be public domain now.
It’s all Mickey Mouse’s fault.
DC, Marvel, CGI, etc have overtaken the entertainment business. On a transcontinental flight, I was hard-pressed to find a movie that had real human beings, dealing with real human problems, expressing real human emotions. The best I could find was “Funny Girl” with Barbra Streisand before she became a political hack. Gone are the days of entertainment that mine the height and depths of humanity.
Recall that Martin Scorcese inflamed the comic fans by pronouncing the super-hero movies as junk.There are occasional exceptions: “Logan” was a decent super-hero version of “Shane,” but “Shane” was much better.
Superhero movies can be good movies, but they also have to be first and foremost superhero movies. I’ll posit that Batman at its silliest (Batman and Robin, or more recently Return of the Caped Crusader) are better superhero movies than half of the recent Marvel fare. I’m not saying that dark superhero movies are bad, but there must be some ray of sunshine and hope, that good will triumph over evil and that this is world worth fighting for. I think The Dark Knight played this well with the ferries sub-plot.
Imagine all the internet ink that will be spilled in 75 years about how DC is changing Superman’s “Better Tomorrow” slogan for a new one. Let’s face it, we humans don’t suffer change very well, but change to us is just the world the future will grow up in.
I have to believe this slogan change is somehow related to the length of a copyright and that “Truth Justice and the American Way” is about to hit it’s expiration date. Then again, name any other comic book character and tell me their slogan. Beyond “Wakanda Forever!” which really is new to me, I don’t remember a slogan for many others.
Maybe something for “The Shadow” and “Only the Shadow knows the fear in the hearts of men” or something… Is “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” a slogan or a personality trait? It’s how he wants to be seen and maybe his mantra to live by, but a slogan?
I dunno. I think it’s all about copyright and needing to keep things fresh to be able to say “this version of superman is still under copyright”.
It’s not change that we lowly humans don’t like. It’s being force-fed stuff that we don’t want to eat (like Brussels sprouts, which I loathe with every ounce of my being!). I get that I can choose to read DC comic books. In fact, I love “Calvin and Hobbes” but the author/artist never ventured into politics. It was a nice respite from the nonsense. “Superman” is iconic and DC bowing to leftist propaganda just doesn’t pass the smell test.