Let’s get a few things out of the way, right off the bat.
This is not me being jingoistic. I do not subscribe to the ‘America, Love It or Leave It’ philosophy.
This is not me agreeing, except in the most broad terms, with certain news sources and media personalities. In many ways, they are a big part of the problems facing this nation.
This is not me trying to jump onto a controversy, manufactured or otherwise, in order to increase listenership, readership, or any other kind of publicity.
This is about the destruction of an American icon in the name of greater profits and publicity. Something that, left or right, natural born or migrant, American or other nationality, can all agree is the complete antithesis of Superman.
If you are just waking up from a coma, Action Comics #900 has hit the stands. It is a milestone in comics not just in it’s numerological sense, but also in a more philosophically vital sense. This is the issue where Superman renounces his US citizenship.
Of course, as the current creative team would like to kick John Byrne’s ‘natural born citizen because of the birthing chamber’ bit of canon to the curb, Superman is an alien. Yet, he has always been a symbol for America. Acceptance for others. Respect for those who may be different than you. Those with great power using it towards the good of society. Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Only, it’s that last bit that DC Comics feels needs to go in order to boost sales globally.
What is the American Way? For better or for worse, it is up to each person, American or otherwise, to decide for themselves what those two words mean. For myself, and hopefully many more rational and moderate people, it means the one of the most famous, and seemingly most ignored by some, sentence from the American Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. It is the belief that we are stronger as a society when we respect each other and compromise for the common good. It is a belief that those with gifts have a responsibility to use those gifts to better themselves as well as society; that the strong should help the weak, should the ask for aid, to become stronger in their own right.
What is wrong with these ideals? Why is it so unmarketable to believe and stand for those ideas? It is not the core that Superman evolved into in the Golden and Silver Age that is unmarketable, but what many see as ‘The American Way’ today. For over 200 years, America was seen as the guiding light and promise of freedom and tolerance. If today, that is no longer the case, I submit that the fault lies not in the promise, but that we American have slowly failed to uphold that promise.
I love my country; I’m proud of my country. Yet I see the flaws in it and the widening divide as mutual respect is lessening in our national debate. Xenophobia is on an upswing cycle, as it is from time to time. But these things can and will be overcome. It won’t be an easy struggle to bring civility back and once again become the guiding light and promise we once were, but it is worth the effort. And the last thing we need is for a symbol as great as Superman to walk away from that struggle. Of course, DC will have us believe that Superman is just expanding his own directive to try and do more good; that he is (understandably) tired of being a political tool. This is so much nonsense on so many levels.
First of all, over the 70+ years of publication, Superman is an indelible icon of America, every bit as important as the Statue of Liberty or the Liberty Bell. Even though he is a fictional character, divorcing Superman from America is the same as divorcing those historic symbols from America.
Second, even Superman saying saying that he is no longer an American in order to be used as a political tool, doesn’t mean that he won’t be still used as a political tool. As we are already seeing, Superman walking away is being used by certain pundits to further their own goals. And these goals are far from the ideals that Superman represents. All this is doing is stripping Superman’s ability to argue against these people.
Third, as some people have already pointed out, this whole stunt is predicated on the idea that with Superman no longer being an American, kids in Europe, Japan, and other places will all of a sudden say ‘Hey, Superman was a douche when he was an American, but now he’s awesome!’
Fourth, and most disturbing to me, is that it turns Superman, epitome of idealism, into a hypocrite. Is Clark Kent going to renounce his citizenship as well? Will Clark stop writing articles that can be construed as politically biased in any way (i.e. ‘a tool of the liberal media’)? Will Clark pay his taxes to support a US Government that he dosen’t agree with?
In so many ways, Superman is a representation of all that is good and right about the potential of America. Both are at their best wen they act as the elder statesman or brother figure; not controlling, manipulating, or domineering others into their philosophy, but leading by example and holding true to their principals. Superman walking away doesn’t solve any of the problems that are causing this crisis; it only makes them worse. America needs the symbol of Superman more than ever to show us how great we can be if we try. Instead he will be used to strengthen the ideals that are an anathema to him.
This is literally the straw that broke the camel’s back here. Although I’m sure I will get lumped in with people and organizations that I do not agree with ideologically, I am going to be boycotting all DC and Warner Brothers productions until this situation is resolved. I’ll also be boycotting all products advertised through Warner Brothers media. No Green Lantern film. No Harry Potter. No Cartoon Network. No CNN (I’ll be using MSNBC to balance out Fox). No reviews of any of the films or shows. If you agree with the points I’ve made and feel the same, I encourage you to join in the boycott and make your voice heard. If you don’t agree, that’s fine, I respect your opinion. After all, isn’t that really the American Way?
Categories: Announcements, comics