***“Blatant Insubordination” is a regular column published at Primary Ignition by Rob Siebert, editor and Fanboy Wonder. The views expressed here are his, and do not reflect those of the staff of Primary Ignition.***
Let’s get this out of the way first: Primary Ignition is not a political web site. It never has been, and probably never will be. But you can’t get into this whole Superman/US Citizenship thing without dipping your toe in that pool. Rest assured that I’m not intending to blast or change anyone’s political beliefs, because that’s not what PI is about. What you’re reading is simply my take on the situation, and mine alone. After all this citizenship controversy has passed, we’ll all get back our regularly scheduled fanboy fantasy/art goodness. With that in mind…
In a backup story in Action Comics #900, Superman declared his intention to renounce his US citizenship. The premise of the issue is that the US government is mad at the Man of Steel for flying into an Iranian anti-government demonstration, and simply hovered near the ground as an act of civil disobedience. When the American government gets angry at him for doing so, he says the following…
He goes on to say that being from another planet, it’s easier for him to see the bigger picture, and he’s been thinking too small.
Obviously, Superman is a fictional character. But still, this is a pretty big deal. How do I know? Because my MOM thinks it is. My mom knows next to nothing about comic books or superheroes. In fact, she thinks they all kind of look the same (Yeah, I don’t know where she got that one…). But when I asked her about this Superman/citizenship thing, she said something to the effect of: “Well, Superman is supposed to be the all-American hero, isn’t he? That’s a pretty big deal!” Mother knows best I suppose…
When this news initially broke, a lot of folks were up in arms about it. But for me, the best ones are always the people who have no idea what they’re talking about, and are simply looking for something America-related to rant and rave about. You also have your folks who are simply ignorant. Over at slog.thestranger.com, I found these little gems…
- “I will never buy another Marvel comic again.”
- “They will have him come out of the closet next.”
- “Stan Lee is a well known Illuminati member and DC comics is rife with occult symbolism.”
- “The real reason Superman is renouncing his US citizenship is because he just found out Obama actually IS a US citizen.”
- “He is EVIL LOOKING and who would ever BUY that comic book? YUCK, an AMERICAN who doesn’t want to be an American? Can you pass these out in Mexico, please?”
Meanwhile, Cal Thomas over at Fox News wrote that “The occasional big (for comic book readers) word and a left-wing plot are what make me think someone has hijacked Superman…The real Superman would never abandon America.”
GOP Activist Angie Meyer wrote: ”Besides being riddled with a blatant lack of patriotism, and respect for our country, Superman’s current creators are belittling the United States as a whole.”
Strong words, even if some of them ARE from people with no clue what they’re saying. By the way Cal Thomas, you can go drown in a colostomy bag. Oops, is colostomy too big a word for a comic book reader?
Citizen or not, Superman IS an American icon. He’s come to represent values that we like to think represent the best America has to offer. He’s been called the ultimate immigrant, having been rocketed here from a distant world, and using his new life to become a cultural idol. During the ’40s, Superman (along with Batman, Captain America, and various other characters) were essentially used as American war propaganda, punching out Nazis and the “evil Japanese,” and telling readers to buy war bonds. When America entered the space race with the Russians, Superman flew into the stars to conquer monsters from beyond. His history parallels our history, his values are what our values should be.
But let’s take a look at those values. The catchphrase is: “Truth, Justice and the American way.” But it’s more than that. It’s also, courage, strength, freedom, standing up for the things you believe in, etc. Are any of this values strictly American, either in origin or execution? No. These are HUMAN values. Superman is a character that everyone can look up to and aspire to be like. Was he created in America? Yes. But his message is universal.
Personally, I didn’t even know Superman WAS an American citizen. I assume his alter ego Clark Kent is. But I always figured he was someone that the American government simply accepted as part of the country, based on the good deeds he had done. It’s a bit hard to imagine Big Blue taking a citizenship exam…
“Alright Superman, you have one hour.”
“Well played, sir, well played.”
Still, the move was ballsy. In writing this story, David Goyer, and the execs at DC Comics are essentially defying the perception that Superman is a strictly American hero. They HAD to know this was going to ruffle some feathers. To that extent, I’m wondering why out of 96-pages, this story was only given nine. Heck, THIS could have been the feature! So why downplay it? Because of the controversy involved? Screw that! If you’re going to do this, don’t hide it in the background! Man up and put it out there so people can see it! They obviously found it anyway.
The fact is, so many of the people who are fussing over this don’t REALLY care about whether Superman is an American citizen. Let’s be honest, it’s not even real. It’s just something Goyer pulled out of a hat to tell a story. These same people would probably cry foul if Spongebob renounced his citizenship. This is just something that DC did to generate buzz over Superman. The fact that people are pointing to this issue and saying: “You SEE! America’s being destroyed! Our core values are eroding because this fictional character isn’t an American citizen!” inadvertently plays right into their hands.
Personally, I think all this uproar over Superman “not being American anymore” illuminates a value that’s extremely prominent in American society today, but that no one wants to talk about: Greed. Go to Google right now, and type in “Superman, America.” These are some of the headlines that pop up:
- “DC Comics turns Superman against the USA”
- “Superman becomes a super-rebel – and scourge of American right”
- Superman loses faith in the ‘American way
Why are so many people so insecure about this? Why does Superman have to be strictly OURS? He’s not saying: “I’m renouncing my American citizenship so I can move to Iran.” What he’s saying is: “It’s time to dedicate myself to something bigger than just one country.” And whether we’d like to admit it or not, there ARE things in this world bigger than America. I don’t say that as a flag-burning freedom hater. I say that as a proud American myself. From a government standpoint, we’ve never been afraid to reach across the ocean to help other countries. We got involved in World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, and overthrew a dictator in Iraq. In essence, that’s what the Superman character is doing now.
I can’t remember what issue it was, but when I was a kid, I read a story where Lana Lang said to Clark Kent: “You can’t belong to one woman, Clark. Superman belongs to the world.” But “belonging to the world” doesn’t make Superman anti-American. In fact, ideally it makes him more American than ever, regardless of what a theoretical government document would have to say. He still reflects the values we’re supposed to hold dear. In fact, just a few pages later, Brian Stelfreeze has a two-page spread documenting the evolution of Superman since his inception, and in his final incarnation, he’s holding an American flag.
Just get over it, people.
Front page image from newsrealbog.com.