This, a Comment of the Day by Humble Talent, is the 4th of four fascinating and varied Comments of the Day that arrived quickly after I posted the ethics quiz about the evolving Superman mission statement. Now he’s not fighting for “the American way,” but for ” a “better tomorrow,” which is even more vague than “the American way.” (Consider the positions the far Left advocacy group People for the American Way has promoted.)
The four neatly explain why I made this episode in the culture wars (or was it?) an ethics quiz in the first place. I am pulled to both polls: the “Why should we care about the updating of a motto that is as corny as it comes relating to a comic book character whose importance is historical rather than current when it will have no effect on anything?” reaction, expressed in varying ways by Curmie and Humble, and the “This is part of the death of a thousand cuts being inflicted upon national pride and American exceptionalism by those who don’t like what the United States of America stands for and want to reject the Founders’ vision and the values that have served this nation and its citizens so well” response, represented here in differing shades by A.M. Golden and Steve Witherspoon (and in an upcoming Comment of the Day on Steve’s comment by Steve-O-in NJ).
My analysis is that yes, sometimes, as Dr. Freud would have said if he was a Superman fan, a comic book slogan is just a comic book slogan. I am fairly certain that’s how the soulless DC Comics honchos look at it; that’s how they have looked at everything else. “Gee, how can we get some more publicity and compete with Marvel comics, which everyone thinks is cooler? Let’s kill Superman! Let’s put him in a black and gray costume! Let’s make Ma and Pa Kent young again! Let’s have Superman fight Batman, as ridiculous as that is. Let’s make Superman’s son gay! Let’s make Lois mutate into a Squid-Woman!”
OK, they haven’t done that yet, but I wouldn’t put it past them. Superman’s mission was arguably the last remaining part of his classic intro that wasn’t already retired as outdated. “Faster than a speeding bullet…more powerful than a locomotive…able to leap tall buildings at a single bound”—that one’s great and nostalgic, but I haven’t seen a trace of it in decades. The same goes for the wonderful, “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s SUPERMAN!” At least Superman’s motto is surviving in some form…not that I care. I watched the first Christopher Reeve “Superman” movie and admired the funky, “He can fly!” poetic section as a brave innovation, but the climax where Supie reversed time by making the world spin backwards was one of the most insulting things I’ve ever had rammed into my eyes by a major film, and that was the end of movies with Superman in them for me. And yet…
As I have discussed on Ethics Alarms before, there is a crucial difference between introducing something new and changing something. When a company (or a government) changes something that is already in place, it signals, intentionally or not, that what was in place was wrong, and had to be replaced. That may not be the intent, but that is what it does. The effect may be subliminal, but the change also can be exploited by those who believe that what what has been removed was wrong. It’s a victory for them.
I will give the international corporation that owns the copyright to Superman the benefit of the doubt and assume that its decision was based solely on seeking better penetration in international markets and pandering to the young, who are more likely to assume “a better tomorrow” means defeating climate change, ending “social injustice,” achieving world peace and generally making John Lennon’s twaddle come true. That’s good old fashioned capitalism, as well as classic marketing: appeal to the idiots out there, because their money is as good as anyone else’s.
However, at a time in our history where the foundations of American values are under coordinated attack and the public’s appreciation of its nation’s immense contributions to humanity and the world is being undermined, the symbolic import of stripping fighting for “the American way” from an American hero’s goals should not be ignored, and cannot be credibly denied. DC has allied its iconic character with those who want to dishonor Thomas Jefferson, replace the National Anthem and cripple the Bill of Rights. That’s how it will be seen, and perception, in this case, is reality. The United States needs all the allies of liberty it can get, and that means this is no time for Superman to go woke.
The change was irresponsible and disloyal.
That’s where I come out on the quiz. Now here is Humble Talent’s answer, his Comment of the Day on “Ethics Quiz: Superman Ethics”:
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:
….[about which I tweeted] “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…. 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.