In defense of… Superman

Yup. Superman.
Believe it or not (I’m walkin’ on air), there are people who just plain don’t like Superman. Even just a quick Google search (I’m weaning myself off the use of "Google" as a verb) came up with quite a few articles:

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/vine/showthread.php?t=490695

http://blog.seattlepi.com/peoplescritic/archives/142522.asp

http://jarodrussell.livejournal.com/588082.html

and so on. Golly, I never thought something so uncompromisingly straight-arrow and hardcore good old-fashioned American like Superman could be disliked, or even hated, as the lovely powers of Internet Hyperbole will allow. I mean, Superman was created to be a perfect good, a protector, a fighter for truth, justice, and the American way, but somewhere along that American way we started giving Supes the finger and told him to bugger off, I guess.
Forgive me, I just don’t get it. I mean, he’s SUPERMAN. He’ll always be Superman. They can give him dopey electro-powers. They can give him dippy long hair. They can kill him and bring him back to life if they want to. He’s SUPERMAN, man… it’s like saying you hate candy. Or breathing.
I’m not quite sure which societal ill this is a symptom of: is it an increasingly snotty and self-centered America, that wants Superman to leave them alone, because they don’t need his help? Sorry, but if I was a window washer and was falling to my doom, I’d be okay nuzzling those impressive pecs as opposed to being street pizza. I don’t see Superman peeking in peoples windows at night and telling men they’ve got a lot to compensate for, or something. Where does this whole "demigod" brand of hate come from? Perhaps jealousy, that sounds plausible. Think about it, Superman is the ultimate boy scout: doesn’t kill, does what’s right, has godlike powers but doesn’t abuse them… come on. Look at it, folks. If you had those power, you’d abuse them. You’d abuse them to the moon. You’d abuse them to Krypton’s shattered shards and back. On top of that, he’s got these powers, and he’s just so gosh-darned nice, too. Doesn’t that just make you sick? I bet it does, and I bet you hate Superman just because he’s everything you’re not instead of gritting your teeth, growing a hair, and working to be more like him.
There’s the rub: it’s hard work. We’re becoming incredibly lazy. We see someone do a selfless good, or do good simply because it IS good, and we mock them. We snicker. We try to come up with some excuse. We do anything we can to say that somehow, doing good is not worth it, doing good is stupid because then we don’t feel jealous and guilty that WE don’t do good… because doing good is, like, hard! And, like, how am I going to listen to my new Britney Spears CD if I’ve got to go, like, HELP people? Hello?
You people like to cling to your gritty anti-heroes, to your Spider-Men and your Wolverine because they angst, and in that angst they are weak and silly, so you can laugh at them and go "ha! No one’s perfect, so why should I be?" You should try, damn you. You should try to be perfect. You should try to be as good of a person you can be. You should try to forgive your enemies, and not strike out, and not be selfish or cruel or even peripherally self-centered via your Facebook, Twitter, whatever that says just how awesome and unique you are. Wake up. You’re not awesome. You’re not even good. You have to work for that. Even a guy with heat vision knows that. No one is good and awesome, so quit deluding yourself and work towards making yourself just a little better. And if you won’t, then don’t mock those that do.
Superman is the kind of person we should all try to be: capable of destroying the world, but compassionate. I don’t care if it’s unrealistic, or if he’s hokey or hard to write… he SHOULD be hard to write. Someone who is that good, that idealistically good, should be hard for us to write because none of us will be like that. If it really bothers you that a fictional character is that good, instead of inspiring you, then you should have your head examined. Sure, Batman is a great character, but he’s also very much insane. Spider-Man’s got more issues than Sports Illustrated. Wolverine’s so screwed up they’ve re-written his life countless times. The sad truth is, most of us would wind up more like Ozymandias or Dr. Manhattan if we were given the power, or we’d tear ourselves apart from the inside like Dan Dreiberg. But just for a minute, a moment, escape into a world where someone like Superman exists, and bask in the altruism. Soak in what we should all wish for our lives, rather than this cathartic "at least it’s not me" philosophy. Put aside the idea of conquering personal demons and relish in the idea of someone who has none, someone who takes the gifts he has been given and does the right thing.
And think, but for the grace of God, we almost had THIS as Superman:


THAT’S what an "anti-hero" Superman would have looked like.
Oy gevalt.

Mr. Burton, I loved Beetlejuice, and even your Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was all right. But this… this would have been sad.
Until tomorrow, I tenderly remain,
Eric.

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