Rape is a Horrible Crime, And…

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Every time I listen to/ read the stories of rape survivors, it’s usually their cultural, sociological, legal, or religious setting that MAKES it more emotionally devastating, and as such, is considered the worst crime in the world.

But upon realizing this… it occurred to me that’s it’s really each of US that makes it into what is is.

Just about every other crime where an attack/violation/exploitation/threat of violence/coercion occurs… doesn’t have this much bullsh*t attached.

Do you SEE what I’m getting at here? It’s OUR faults.

WE turn it into the worst thing in the world, and in doing so, inflict the worst thing in the world to the victims of this crime!

Then in making the perpetrators guilty of the worst crime in the world, nobody can objectively or compassionately examine why it happens, thereby leaving the reasons unexamined by anyone doesn’t think of them as not quite human, or by someone who is not out for blood. And letting it go on, and on, and on… unabated.

Don’t you get it!?

We’re WORSE than rapists!

Superman: A Requiem of Steel

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Introduction

Superman created the precedent and template for the concept of “superhero” in 1938. Over time, he had developed into an American institution, a symbol, and a myth. To many, he is a kind face printed on children’s tightey-whiteys, a symbol of power, an inspirational, benevolent figure hovering in the skies that we are expected to “look up in the sky” toward.

But he is beyond many people’s reach. He is an untouchable, “unrelatable,” perfect demigod that no compelling story can be told with.

“Batman is way cooler.” I held this opinion for a while. He was the basic, pitiful Freudian childhood trauma that many more people can readily identify with, despite his questionable methods, vengefulness, and aristocracy.

As my reading of the DC Universe increased, however, my understanding of the heroes who stood alongside him did as well. I became “acquainted” with other heroes, and then realized Batman was not the world’s greatest superhero. Superman was.

I did not make this decision out of some elitist entitlement he procured from being the first or “most powerful” (he is not the most powerful by long shot), but because of the human being that is often overlooked in favor of the myth, legend, costume, smile, poses, powers, nationality, extraterritoriality, cape, and symbol. He is a super man. I wanted to make this abundantly clear to the reader.

DISCUSSION

Superman, despite his alien nature, is one of the most normal, emotionally well adjusted, and levelheaded of modern superheroes. His initial creation in 1938 saw him actively dealing with relevant issues of his time, like worker exploitation, domestic abuse, and mob violence (Ayoub, 2010). However, as times and editorial direction changed his battles grew more epic, dangerous, and large scale. His essentially human tale of individual potential, unrequited love, longing for acceptance, and anonymity is often overshadowed in the minds of the general public. (Darowski, 2008)

The Creators

Clark Kent’s love life was very evocative of his creator’s own longings. The Golden Age Clark Kent was depicted as a stuttering, cowardly, and extremely longing in his infatuation with Lois, whereas his behavior as Superman toward the admiring was a few snarls short of being brisk (Darowski). This was without a doubt, a self-indulgent, but very relatable, reversal of the situation. Jerry Siegel Admitted: “I had crushes on several attractive girls who either didn’t know I existed or didn’t care I existed,” he said. “It occurred to me: what if I had something going for me, like jumping over buildings or throwing cars around or something like that?” (Robert, 1996).

The Lois and Clark dynamic as been filtered throughout generations and writers. “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” portrayed two young, sexy, smart people who would melt in each others arms once their defenses fell, and Superman’s modern comic-book canon features a married Lois with full knowledge and access to his secret identity (Darowski).

 

The Death Of Superman

Ironically, Superman’s comic book writing team had to put off Lois and Clark’s wedding for a whole year to coincide with the tv show’s wedding, and the (in)famous “Death of Superman” storyline was to fill that gap (Timm, 2007). “The news that Superman is about to die has provoked anger and surprise, … from people who haven’t read his comic book adventures in decades(New York Times, 1992). Comic shops across the country had lines forming out of the door to buy Superman #75 (Bailey, 2002).

My initial search results almost contained at least one mention of this media sensation. Even completely unrelated news tried to jump on the potential deeper meaning of the event (Frank, 1992). He died defending Metropolis from the rampaging monster known only as Doomsday after a long drawn out fight across the country that ended at Metropolis (Jurgens, 1992). Though the story was emotionally resonant, his actual means of death reflected the increasing demand for dangerous physicality and alien, non-societal threats on the part of Superman (Timm).  The success of the story was also an indicator of how ingrained and valuable the character had become on America’s (and perhaps the world’s) collective consciousness.

Ironically the All-Star Superman was a non-canonical, but critically acclaimed storyline that exaggerated his powers, while killing him the process. The story of Superman’s epic trails his quickly risen to become one the most touching, celebrated Superman stories ever told, despite his newfound invulnerability to kryptonite and being able to lift several quintillion tons (Morrison, 2011). He had reached myth status (Rubin, 2006), and like many myths, would soon be time for him to be raised from the dead (Zinn, 1993).

 

Powers And Abilities

The audience is divided on whether Superman’s powers are inspirational (Kriegel, 2006), or a barrier to compassion on the part of the reader or critic. His powers have proven difficult to elicit a sense of peril from one whose main power is essentially the “lack of danger.” His apparent, Silver Age tendency to “juggle planets” is the most re-occurring criticism. (New York Times)

Keep in mind that Kryptonite of many shapes and colors was available in copious amounts in the Silver Age of comics (Niven, 1971). His powers in the right circumstances may allow Superman to be the ultimate power fantasy on the part of the audience. (Darowski). Grant Morrison suggested that Superman’s powers might serve to simply exaggerate his humanity and trails and triumphs that result from it.

When Superman walks his dog, Krypto, he may do it across the moon, “but he’s still walking the dog.” (2011)

Relevance

The issue of Superman’s relevance comes up from his critics (Frank). His power levels are often cited as a barrier suspense or peril, and his moral uprightness does not allow for as much dilemma as for more morally compromised heroes. Many even assert he does not even risk his life by engaging in super heroics (New York Times).

Superman’s more altruistic motives do not generate as much pity as Batman’s motives (Grossman, 2004). Not only this, but his mythic status and expectations put pressure on his current stories (Jennings, 2009). He is a difficult sell.

Heroic Ideal

As the heroic ideal changes, so does Superman. In his early days, Superman was very belligerent, threatening, and socially active (Ayoub). However, this changed as new writers came on board after the creators left the title (Darowski). Hegel might attribute this to gradual cohesion of different identities (Darkowski). Though he initially had no such problem, writers have taken extra steps to make sure he’s “humanized” especially after the 1980s (New York Times, 1992).

The Movie

Before his death in 1992, the 1978 Superman The Movie directed by Richard Donner and starring Christopher Reeve became a cherished a collective memory of the Superman myth unfolding that is to this day. In the introduction of Superman: Secret Origin (Johns & Frank, 2010), David S. Goyer admitted he waited several hours when he was 11 to secure tickets to opening night. After the movie, David resolved to one-day make comic book movies.

Goyer grew up to co-write Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. In 2010, Goyer was selected to write the reboot of the Superman film franchise. However, the sequels were less than stellar (Frank).  His likeness has become synonymous with Superman in the minds of many (Kriegel), so much so that artist Gary Frank may oft use his likeness in his artwork (Frank, 2010).

Reeve even played a pivotal role in the series, Smallville up until his death (Kate, 2005).

In 2008, Donner joined forces with his apprentice, the prominent superstar writer, Geoff Johns, on a story arc entitled Last Son. The story served to incorporate several film elements into the modern DC Universe canon, but introduced Superman’s adopted Kryptonian son, aptly named “Christopher Kent.”

Audience

Despite all of this, flaws have been more easily found in praiseworthy figures in recent times, despite their ever-presence (Niebuhr, 1921). In the intro to the Secret Origin (Johns), Goyer said stated, “He’s not someone the reader can readily identify with.” However, the idea of Superman that has taken the most hits, not the character himself (Grossman).

His death put several dents in the notion of the character’s infallibility in our collective consciousness, and even they agreed that he’d be more interesting upon his resurrection (New York Times).

Conclusion

The author of this paper believes Superman to be one of the most human, emotionally well-adjusted superheroes. However, his history belies the critiques, but underscore them with more uncomfortable humanity. The audience’s apparent preference for tragedy and moral degradation of the hero may say something about the reader’s presupposed relationship between himself and a fictional (superhero) character.

This presupposition may yet be satisfied by the Golden Age Superman’s overtly threatening tendencies as well as decreased power levels (his ability to leap tall buildings was the limit to his “flight” powers, initially). Grant Morrison has described the original as an “angry socialist.” But this is not to say the modern Superman lacks the potential for a compelling arc in light of the increased power and level-headedness.

“They were always wrong. Superman‘s greatest vulnerability isn’t from some meteor rock. It is from something far more human…
…his heart.”
–Batman (Loeb, 2005)

Our seemingly collective, American resistance to recognizing shared humanity, especially in its most stellar manifestation, speaks volumes of our readiness to discriminate outsiders.

Kara Zor-El: “You’re their champion. Bigger than life. No wonder the eyeglasses work– nobody would look for you dressed like them!”
Clark Kent: “Kara… There’s no them. It’s just us. (Loeb)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

(1992, October 4). When Superman Gets Boring. New York Times. p. 16. Retrieved from EBSCOhost..

Ayoub, N. C. (2010). Superman’s Staying Power. Chronicle of Higher Education, 56(23), B16. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Darowski, Joseph J. (2008). It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s .. synthesis: superman, clark kent, and hegel’s dialectic. Journal of Comic Art, 10(1), 461-470.

Enger, P. T. (2010). In Pineda R. (Ed.), The mediated hero: Superman in the post 9/11 era. United States — Texas: Communication. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/854508180?accountid=8483

FRANK, R. (1992, November 22). Term Limit for the Man of Steel: Yes, It’s Time for Him to Go. New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved from EBSCOhost..

Frisby, E. (1979). Nietzsche’s influence on the superman in science fiction literature. United States — Florida: The Florida State University. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/302900803?accountid=8483

GAUDIOSI, J. (2010). THE COMIC CONNECTION. Computer Graphics World, 33(10), 22-26. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Grossman, L., Lofaro, L., & Ressner, J. (2004). The Problem with SUPERMAN. Time, 163(20), 70-72. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Jennings, J. S. (2009). Understanding superheroes: Scholarship, superman, and the synthesis of an emerging criticism. United States — Arkansas: University of Arkansas. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304845434?accountid=8483

Jessica, S. (n.d). ‘Science of Superman’ breaks down his strengths. USA Today. Retrieved from EBSCOhost..

Johns, G., Donner, R., & Kubert, A. (2008). Superman: Last son. New York: DC Comics.

Johns, G., Frank, G., Sibal, J., Anderson, B., & Wands, S. (2010). Superman: Secret origin. New York, N.Y: DC Comics.

KATE, A. (2005, February 23). The Past Catches Up With a Future Superman. New York Times. p. 3. Retrieved from EBSCOhost..

Kirk, A. J. (2009). In Gray J. (Ed.), “Sometimes you’ll feel like an outcast”: Using superman to interrogate the closet. United States — Illinois: Speech Communication. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304996382?accountid=8483

Kriegel, L. (2006). Superman’s Shoulders: On the Healing Power of Illusion. In , Southwest Review (pp. 258-267). Southern Methodist University. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Liu, S., Page, B., Timm, B., McDuffie, D., LaPaglia, A., Asner, E., Denton, J., … Warner Bros. Entertainment. (2011). All-star Superman. Burbank, Calif.: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Loeb, J., Turner, M., & Steigerwald, P. (2005). Superman, Batman: Supergirl. New York, NY: DC Comics.

Niebuhr, R. R. (1921). Heroes and Hero Worship. Nation, 112(2903), 293-294. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

ROBERT McG. THOMAS, J. r. (1996, January 31). Jerry Siegel, Superman’s Creator, Dies at 81. New York Times. p. 6. Retrieved from EBSCOhost..

Rubin, L., & Livesay, H. (2006). Look, up in the sky! Using superheroes in play therapy. International Journal of Play Therapy, 15(1), 117-133. doi:10.1037/h0088911

Sternlieb, J. L. (2006). Review of: It’s a Bird… Families, Systems, & Health, 24(3), 353-354. doi:10.1037/1091-7527.24.3.353

Timm, B., Capizzi, D., Montgomery, L., Vietti, B., Baldwin, A., Heche, A., Marsters, J., … Warner Home Video (Firm). (2007). Superman: Doomsday. Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video.

Zinn, L. (1993). IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE — IT’S A RESURRECTION. BusinessWeek, (3314), 40. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

No End in Sight

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I believe in a lot of things, but the last thing I’ll ever believe is that there will be an end to belief. There are no endings. Sure I will stop writing this essay. You will stop reading this essay. But some day, neither of us will be reading or writing, but it won’t be the end of reading or writing. It’s a recurring theme in most religious and spiritual sects that the ethereal aspect of humanity will continue living in spite if its body’s decay. If you are not spiritual, the ideas, culture, and history being passed on that won’t die like we do. Even if you’re some depraved Freudian who believes none of the above will necessarily survive, at least your genes and organic matter will survive in some way to maintain future life.

Whatever seems to end, there is a force at work behind it that will last longer. The recursion stretches infinitely. A good example of recursion is holding a mirror in front of another mirror or looking closely at a box of “Land O’ Lakes”. More pertinently, this paragraph may soon end, but the paper will keep going. This paper may eventually run out of words, but the author will write more. The author may grow tired of writing, but his works will continue to inspire. He may write until his death, but the ideas gave the words meaning will persist. The readership may lose interest in the truth, but the reality will be despite what its observers think of it.

I’m a moral objectivist. For every wrong decision, there is a right one. A few views on right and wrong deal with things revolving around other things, like planets, moons, and stars. Is what is morally right revolve around what we think, or must what we think revolve around what is right? The latter is called relativism.

If heavenly bodies were sentient, moving in whatever way seemed okay at the time. Imagine how zany and erratic the universe would be. They would be more like electrons zipping around protons than planets around a star. I don’t think this question should ever sink into the “you believe that, and I’ll believe this” cliché. The sun didn’t revolve around the earth because people thought it did. But imagine sentient planets moving in an orderly fashion because we live on one? They aren’t, but it wouldn’t negate the integrity of the choice that they move one way instead of another. The earth moving like an electron would be disastrous. That’s how the universe would work if that were the case. How things could and would work under certain circumstances are ever present.

I stated earlier “for every wrong decision, there is a right one.”   The decisions never end, but the sentence about them ended with “right one.” Ending on a good note, even though there are still more things to be said. Even if our heroes maintained a successful, fulfilling marriage and lived “happily ever after”, it’s not “the end” by the narrator’s own admission. The events must have played out for his statement to be true, but we don’t see them. This is especially true if this dream marriage included children in the equation, not to mention the eventual funeral. What is the consequence of their lives on the one closest to them? As you can see, “The End” is merely a statement of “narrative cut-off point.” No autobiographer’s life ends on the last page of his or her book.

Don’t think it pessimistic that I say, “There are no happy endings.” It means there are no bad endings either, just happy times and sad times. I watched To Kill A Mockingbird and thought there would be a sad ending after a series of events resulting in tragedy. But the play did not end at that moment, the play went on, and the curtains closed with smiles across the characters faces. It didn’t negate the unpleasant turn of events that transpired before, but on the other side, a sad finish doesn’t negate any joyous events. It put’s Romeo and Juliet in a whole new light, doesn’t it?

“To Be Continued” is the state of the universe. It will go on without you or me. It’s not a cop-out; it’s honesty. Our appreciation of literature demands a sense of finality, but that sense will ultimately be an illusion. The TRUE cop out satisfy’s how people want to see the world, where the truth brazenly challenges it. That’s probably another reason why I love superhero comics so much. Even if a character is retroactively removed from existence, they STILL made a difference, especially in future writer’s minds.

If you’ve read or seen V for Vendetta by Alan Moore, then you may be familiar with the quote, “Beneath this mask is more than flesh. There’s an idea. And ideas are bulletproof.” It’s true that things only change rather than die. It only feels like death because we attach our emotional well being on how things are at a time. If the law of change applies to everything including ideas, then there is no need to panic if you failed to write down a now forgotten, really cool idea. It will inevitably spring up somewhere else.

There was an essay that was a prelude to this one. An “aborted” rough draft, if you will. You’ll probably never read him. He was shorter than this one. He lacked focus. He didn’t know what he would amount to, if anything. But his incomplete existence carried weight in the world, and the lives of the few it touched. This “I Believe” essay wouldn’t be the same as it is today if it wasn’t for him. He gave this piece something it can assuredly say it believes in. It will not be forgotten, even if the file is deleted, and the only tangible copy is shredded.