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#563784 - 01/04/10 02:44 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Lawson]
Lawson Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
See, here is an example of where Groth loses me.

Groth: But the American mind, forever in a state of self-induced hysteria and blissful deceit, must infer Greatness from commercial success. Hence, even a mind as agile as Harlan Ellison's can be seduced into making one of the most foolish and excessive statements of his career when he tells us that Superman is a creation of literary greatness because "one of the unarguable criteria for literary greatness is universal recognition ..."

I'm OK with lamenting the commercialization of the heroic Superman character (although it's probably silly to do that, since the whole point was to sell something). I'm OK with pointing out that DC Comics and the other comics publishers put out thousands of stories about the heroic ideal while screwing everyone they can in real life. I'm OK with all of that.

But when I literally see the neighbors' kids running around and playing Superman -- when I did the same myself as a boy -- when I look forward to helping my baby boy draw his own Superman and Batman pictures and watch the cartoons with him and tie a towel around our necks so we can race around the backyard -- and whether it's ultimately ironic or not, when I consider that the message in all of these stories is to do the right thing, to help people, to be honest, to be brave -- I just don't have it in my heart to sneer at the whole thing the way Groth does.

Kids don't love Superman because they're deceived or hysterical or because he's been commercially successful (they've got no idea what the last movie grossed).

Kids love Superman because he's totally cool.

What a sad world Groth inhabits that he can't see that.

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#563785 - 01/04/10 03:07 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Lawson]
IvanJim Offline
Member

Registered: 06/16/01
Posts: 2865
Loc: Los Angeles
Lawson-

I can't help but wonder if, on some level, you haven't been drinking the Time Warner Kool-Aid (possibly slipped into your drink by Dandidiot when you weren't looking). Superman may hold some wonderful childhood memories for you, but Tony the Tiger is also cherished by kids who grew up watching the ol' pitch cat proclaiming the glory of Kellogg's Sugar frosted Flakes.

Superman was a great concept back in 1938, a figure who would bring justice and righteousness to the weak and punishment and karma to the mostly untouchable plutocrats, politicians and gangsters who preyed on the powerless. Since then he's become a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger type character that has no literary value, instead living his fictional life as a shill for advertisers.

Robin Hood is a legend. Superman is a property.



(Stay tuned for my next responses where I attack female parents, cooked apple desserts, and that overly busy starred and striped piece of cloth that gets in the way of cameras at sporting events.)

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#563786 - 01/04/10 03:18 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: IvanJim]
Lawson Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
Originally Posted By: IvanJim
I can't help but wonder if, on some level, you haven't been drinking the Time Warner Kool-Aid (possibly slipped into your drink by Dandidiot when you weren't looking). Superman may hold some wonderful childhood memories for you, but Tony the Tiger is also cherished by kids who grew up watching the ol' pitch cat proclaiming the glory of Kellogg's Sugar frosted Flakes.


I wouldn't put anything past Dan DiDio, but I assume that if he took the trouble to drug me, my ass would hurt when I woke up.

Respectfully, I disagree that Superman is the same as Tony the Tiger, although they're both licensed properties, sure.

Tony the Tiger stands for ... I dunno ... eating sugary cereal? Rolling your r's?

Thanks to a zillion comic books and cartoons and and movies and -- this is the most important part -- the adventures in children's heads these stories have inspired, Superman has become a symbol of something greater than what Time Warner holds a copyright on. You can "fly" around the backyard with your son as Superman and Superboy and never give a dime to the corporation.

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#563791 - 01/04/10 03:43 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Lawson]
IvanJim Offline
Member

Registered: 06/16/01
Posts: 2865
Loc: Los Angeles
It's true that you can, and bless your heart I believe that you can and will do just that. Most kids, though, will wind up buying oodles of Superman loot (or getting their folks to do it for them), watching a bunch of Superman cartoons and running around in official Superman underoos.

The idea of Superman is cool, as is that of Batman,Captain America, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, but the actuality of how they've been used for decades after they no longer truly served story functions makes them an impediment to creative and imaginative thinking. Kids can use anything as a launching pad for play, be it a specific concept like Superman, or a general concept such as playing cowboys and Indians, but it's the wonder of the child's imagination that makes things so incredible, not the particular guided concept that the child hangs the ideas on.

Superman as the righter of societal wrongs WAS an exciting concept. Superman who has abilities that can make all problems disappear or be easily overcome is a reassuring fable. Superman as a funnel for play is just one concept among many, and Superman the pitchman is the opposite of creativity.

Kids can turn an empty cardboard box into a dimensional portal that traverses space and time, but in reality it's still a cardboard box. Is the Superman that currently exists that much more than a cardboard box?

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#563794 - 01/04/10 04:20 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: IvanJim]
Allen Montgomery Offline
Member

Registered: 05/08/00
Posts: 7070
Originally Posted By: IvanJim
Superman is a property.

That probably won't be the case forever.
_________________________
"The trouble with being a ghost writer or artist is that you must remain anonymous without credit.
If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
Bob Kane

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#563798 - 01/04/10 04:55 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Joe Lee Offline
Member

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 12277
Originally Posted By: IvanJim
Robin Hood is a legend. Superman is a property.


Originally Posted By: Allen Montgomery
That probably won't be the case forever.


How is Robin Hood NOT a property? There sure are a lot of corporations making money from Robin Hood stuff...

There have been dozens of corporate owned versions of Robin Hood. Movies, Books, TV shows selling ads, (there is one on BBC America currently) Robin Hood DVDs, action figures, books, toys costumes, etc...

Sure no ONE entity owns Robin Hood, but that really seems to be a distinction without a difference.

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#563799 - 01/04/10 05:00 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Joe Lee]
Lawson Offline
Member

Registered: 11/11/02
Posts: 11978
Loc: Lexington, Ky.
Every time someone steals from the rich and gives to the poor, they ironically owe Disney $25.

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#563803 - 01/04/10 05:41 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Joe Lee]
IvanJim Offline
Member

Registered: 06/16/01
Posts: 2865
Loc: Los Angeles
Originally Posted By: Joe Lee
Originally Posted By: IvanJim
Robin Hood is a legend. Superman is a property.


Originally Posted By: Allen Montgomery
That probably won't be the case forever.


How is Robin Hood NOT a property? There sure are a lot of corporations making money from Robin Hood stuff...

There have been dozens of corporate owned versions of Robin Hood. Movies, Books, TV shows selling ads, (there is one on BBC America currently) Robin Hood DVDs, action figures, books, toys costumes, etc...

Sure no ONE entity owns Robin Hood, but that really seems to be a distinction without a difference.


You're not wrong that Robin Hood's a property, and if we're just talking about kids playing in the back yard there really isn't that much difference.

However, if we angle the conversation and talk about whether anyone can write, draw or publish whatever they want about Robin Hood without fear of the owners of that property squashing you down or trying to get a share of your profits, there's a big difference.

Superman is a wholly owned subsidiary. Robin Hood belongs to whoever comes up with a story they want to tell about him in whatever medium they choose to tell it in.

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#563804 - 01/04/10 08:07 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: Lawson]
Joe Lee Offline
Member

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 12277
Originally Posted By: Lawson
Every time someone steals from the rich and gives to the poor, they ironically owe Disney $25.


Only if they hum, "Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally Golly, what a day."

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#563805 - 01/04/10 08:27 PM Re: Superman as American Icon by Gary Groth [Re: IvanJim]
Joe Lee Offline
Member

Registered: 06/22/01
Posts: 12277
Originally Posted By: IvanJim
...if we angle the conversation and talk about whether anyone can write, draw or publish whatever they want about Robin Hood without fear of the owners of that property squashing you down or trying to get a share of your profits, there's a big difference.

Superman is a wholly owned subsidiary. Robin Hood belongs to whoever comes up with a story they want to tell about him in whatever medium they choose to tell it in.


I hear what you're saying but what difference does it make if one major entertainment corporation gets to own a character, like in the case of Superman, or if multiple major entertainment corporations take turns with a character, like say Robin Hood?

Seems to me the only real difference is which corporation profits because with current technology, people are free to do whatever they want with Superman right now, with some limitations to be sure. Heck, John Byrne gets paid by people all the time to draw lots of comic characters that don't appear to be in public domain. And there is a lot of fan fiction all over the web, and there are some pretty good Superman fan films on YouTube.


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