Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Persuasive Argument

One of the reasons I'm a fan of Black Superheroes is because I identify with heroes that look like me, especially those that have to deal with issues relatively unique to being Black. It's not my only reason but it is the first one that generally comes to mind. I'm also interested in intelligent discourse on the why there should be more and better representation of us in comics and superhero movies. I'm especially interested in any reasonable call to action to effect change in this area. To that end I'll share this video I found on youtube. Let me know what you think.


jrichard said...

I think the argument is sound (or at least, I agree with it), but the analysis falls flat.

If we indeed make gods in our own image, that explains why two Jewish creators made a Jewish archetype for their hero. By day, he wears glasses and is meek. By night (in the original rendition), he becomes powerful in ways that Jews living in the early 20th century America wished they could be.

Of course, Superman was Christianized in the 1950s, because the creators who inherited the character formed a character after what they associated with ultimate power.

The reason I being this up is that the Superman logo critiques in the video did not appear until the 1960s (I think, in any event it was not present in the 1930s and 1940s). Superman was certainly impervious during that time as well.

That's not to invalidate the argument, but to add in more context.

I suspect the original superheroes, depicted in the drawings in Egypt, were black.

But in our culture, the one that created superheroes, we were not racially sensitive (being generous, we were, in fact, outright racist, and our media reflects these attitudes). We created gods in our own image, and those in power co-opt the images that could grant power influence to other groups.

So again, I am a tremendous fan of Black superheroes, and I agree with the need for better representation and for more positive role models. But one could spin parts of this particular analysis to argue for more white heroes, more Jewish heroes, more female heroes, etc.

If only I had any artistic talent, I might take the author up on his offer. :-)

But I appreciate the opportunity to discuss.

jrichard said...

Ugh. I meant to say that American culture produced the comic book, not superheroes (which, depending on how you define the term, may or may not be accurate).