Comment Of The Day (#3) On “Ethics Quiz: Superman Ethics”

Curmie adds a characteristically restrained and nuanced reaction to testerday’s surprisingly provocative Thics Alarms quiz asking DC Comics changing Superman’s mission statement by substituting “a better tomorrow” for “the American way.” Here is his Comment of the Day, the third of four, to “Ethics Quiz: Superman Ethics.” (I hate the scansion too, Curmie.)


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.

One thought on “Comment Of The Day (#3) On “Ethics Quiz: Superman Ethics”

  1. The change annoys me now much more than it would have then. I remember it only vaguely: like any child, I didn’t like changes I couldn’t understand. “The American Way” was, obviously, whatever we had been doing in the past was dandy (WWII had worked out just fine, hadn’t it?), what we were doing in the present was “every day in every way ….,” and so it would be tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, forever, amen.

    “A better tomorrow” strikes me now as being more insidious than not, saying that “there is a better way than the American way, in fact, there is no more American way, but some other way ….tomorrow, sometime.” Not today, not now. Past erased; present stalled; future unknown. Sound familiar?

    I find that presumptuous, simple-minded and cowardly in the way that progressives want “America” to be, to flatten all individuality and separate all people into nameless, thoughtless groups who need to be renamed and given new ideas: “a better way tomorrow.” Never today. Betty White could’ve gotten away with a slogan like that; not Superman.

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