So, I am back at it. Had this little thing where I got married a few weeks ago, you know, no big deal. Just kidding, it was an excellent “deal.”
Now, here is what I am thinking about.
It seems to me, as I think back on my time in Shaun Treat’s class (http://rhetoricsuperhero.wordpress.com), that the mid-1980’s saw some serious questioning of the superhero genre of comic books. The works of men such as Frank Miller and Alan Moore twisted and distorted the superhero in acts that appear to be last gasps and hurrahs for the genre that, perhaps for them, seem to have run its course. But it didn’t. It’s still around and stronger than ever. It seems as if they have missed the real question: why won’t they go away.
Superman has not died, well, not in the real world. In fact, no matter his stature of comic book relevance, the character continues to remain. He has become iconic; he has transcended the medium because he taps into something deeper.
My friend Carljoe Javier noted this in a Facebook status I agree with. He pointed out that
“Renowned writer Dennis O’ Neil says, ‘Lots and lots of people, myself included, were originally drawn to superheroes because something was not right with their lives.’ I believe the draw of superheroes lies in the superheroes’ struggles to fight obstacles that are seemingly insurmountable. We find things that are so bad about our lives that we cannot imagine how we could overcome them, and we find inspiration to fight and struggle because if Superman can save Metropolis, if Batman can save Gotham, if Spider-Man can save New York, if the Fantastic Four can save the multiverse, then surely I can overcome the obstacle in my life.”
In many ways I agree with this and I think it represents an adequate answer to why heroes, all kinds of heroes, and particularly superheroes continue to fascinate and captivate our attention – especially in times when the world around us appears to be fraught with perils.
What is it about Superman that makes him so appealing? It is because he performs tasks that inspire us to emulate him, not in terms of superpowers, but rather in abilities to help others, to be honest, and more. He is a rhetorical model. He is a persuasive agent who helps communicate abstract ideas via symbolic action within comic books. However, unlike comic books, the ideas that Superman helps communicate are engrained in the American identity.
This is what my dissertation will aim to explore.
So, keep an eye out for Prospectus, version 5.0…