Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Alan Moore Thinks Superheroes Have Gone Stale

I think I agree.

From the Guardian piece:

"I've had some distancing thoughts about them recently. I've come to the conclusion that what superheroes might be – in their current incarnation, at least – is a symbol of American reluctance to involve themselves in any kind of conflict without massive tactical superiority," Moore said. "I think this is the same whether you have the advantage of carpet bombing from altitude or if you come from the planet Krypton as a baby and have increased powers in Earth's lower gravity."

The graphic novelist said that, when he was a child, superheroes represented "a wellspring of the imagination". "Superman had a dog in a cape! He had a city in a bottle! It was wonderful stuff for a seven-year-old boy to think about," Moore explained. "But I suspect that a lot of superheroes now are basically about the unfair fight. You know: people wouldn't bully me if I could turn into the Hulk."

We live in a world that longs for saints and supermen. Forget the fact that all of the real good work gets done piecemeal fashion by people who go home tired and smelly after a long day at the office or the factory and still find time to help their kid with homework or play a board game. People want theater. We vote for stuff that tickles our lizard brain. George Bush was a terrible president, but he was also terribly exciting. Even though we elected a responsible and moderate (and thoughtful, and measured, and conscientious, and...etc.) president this time around, you can hear your neighbors getting restless. A person can't live on C-Span alone, you know. Every now and then you've got to treat yourself to some Dancing With The Stars!

I'm over superheroes too. When it comes to saints, I'm with Orwell: They should always be judged guilty until they're proved innocent. Give me a pencil pushing diplomat, a coffee soaked professor, a working person with creaky knees, or a baggy eyed doctor any day over The Incredible Hulk, Superman, or George W. Bush.

I guarantee you my team will get way more accomplished than yours, and with far fewer casualties.


the elegant ape said...

Never been the same since the john byrne/chris clairemont xmen.

Willie Y said...

It's the common folks that keep the wheels turning. Now a days super heros just screw things up.

Spencer Troxell said...

Willie: Here's what a person named 'McCamy Taylor' said about this piece over at The Daily Kos:

"...All the super heroes from now on will come to us from Asian. China, Korea, Japan----they show no sign of tiring of the "One man against many" theme. If you consider the differences between eastern and western culture you can see why. In the west, rugged individualism has been practically dogma. If a man is true enough to himself, he can battle all odds and get anything done. However, in recent years, folks in the west have begun to realize that "can't we all just get along" may be a better solution to the many problems that ail us in the modern world.

In the east, on the other hand, conformity has long been the rule. Therefore Buddhism---and manga---attempts to free the individual by telling him "Do what is right even when society tells you to do wrong." Yeah, I know this sounds like last week's meatloaf to Americans. But it is some pretty radical thinking for a part of the world that blamed the victims of mercury poisoning for their own suffering (their demands for clean water were going to mess up the economy for the rest of Japan!) The Japanese did not learn to question authority until the 1960s. And we are just now learning that rugged individualism does not solve all of life's problems.

Not sure about the foreign policy angle, though. Most Americans could care less about folks in other nations. 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths mean nothing to them compared to 1000 Americans. We are as arrogant as ever.

Remember that "The Brave Little Tailor" is still the most popular of all three story archetypes in the US (the other two are "Boy Meets Girl" and "The Man Who Learned Better"). I think we will see our Supes come in different styles. More women, more oppressed, more orphans who have dragged themselves up from misery. Less WASP males--unless the WASP males are gay. It should be about time for gay superheroes to appear on the scene."

Elegant: I was a big fan of that era of the X-Men when I was in high school.

Steppenwolf said...

I always thought super heroes were all about American pre-eminence, power and values. Superman even dressed like a flag. There’s nothing new in that, we in Scotland have William Wallace and Rob Roy, their mythology is just as fictional as Superman's. Many of our cultural totems carry a subtext that says ‘our country is greatest’ and that’s true of every country. Naturally.

Spencer Troxell said...

I think it's interesting that we've gone so far with the antiheroes in this country that now old fashioned standard bearing heroes like Superman seem radical.