Monday, July 03, 2006

Two Different Thoughts

Once again I’m combining two unrelated thoughts under one post.

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
- Mark Twain

The Behavior of Congress for the past few weeks has been even more idiotic than usual: debating an amendment to ban flag burning, ban gay marriage, and the problem of violent video games. If you’ve been watching “The Daily Show” lately, they’ve been doing a good job of satirizing this, but I want to add my voice of disgust.

There is apparently a widespread belief in Republican circles that poverty, business regulations, health care, and environment is all the job of the private sector, and it’s the government’s responsibility to regulate what video games you buy and making sure gay people can’t get married, and protect the flag. I just don’t understand this. And I suspect the founding fathers are rolling in their graves. We don’t send these guys to Washington so they can debate about whether or not we have too much liberty. They’ve got more important things to do.

I know I’ve gone on similar rants before, but this is one thing I’ve never understood. As this old Tom Tomorrow cartoon shows, Democrats can sometimes fall into the same fallacy, but the last 6 years have been safely Republican.

Superman Returns
I saw “Superman Returns” the other night with my family.

As with any summer blockbuster movie, this has been getting more than its fair share of ink. (Imagine if we paid that much attention to what Congress was doing!) But I want to throw in my two cents.

I’ve heard a lot of talk lately from certain people about how lame Superman is: how Superman is too powerful so that his adventures not even interesting, or how he is too perfect so that he doesn’t have any of the necessary human faults necessary to sustain human interest.

There’s no doubt that Superman is outdated. You could argue that Batman is cooler because he doesn’t have any superpowers. Or you could say Spider-man is cooler because he has a lot more real life type problems. And you’d be right. But you’d be missing the point.

Superman is the closet thing we have to an American legend; an American equivalent of King Arthur or Joan of Arc or what have you. If you doubt it, just see how much name recognition Davy Crockett or Daniel Boone or whoever have overseas. But people in every country of the world recognize Superman immediately. To say Superman is the most famous comic book character ever would simply be stating the obvious.

To my mind, the Superman story is a lot like the Trojan War. The concepts behind the Trojan War became outdated centuries ago. (A ten year war over a woman?) And yet every generation feels the need to try their hand at retelling it. Remember how excited some of us got when the Troy movie came out?
Superman’s the same way. Sure his story is not 3000 years old, but 70 years is a long time for a comic book character. How many boys today have lunch boxes with “The Lone Ranger” or “Flash Gordon” or “Dick Tracy” etc.

The challenge is in reinventing this American icon for a new generation. Its also part of the fun. Sure, Superman’s godlike abilities make it hard to write a suspenseful story, but it can be done. You just have to pit him against an equally skilled villain, like Doomsday or Lobo, or Brainiac in the comic books. Or you focus on the subplots and relationships instead, like in the TV show “Lois and Clark”.

The point is it can be done. All that being said...
This new Superman movie really sucked eggs. Kevin Spacey was good as Lex Luther, but there was absolutely no plot to speak of. The ending was melodramatic, drawn out, and just symbolic enough to be pretentious. (Pretentiousness is the kiss of death for any comic book adaptation.) Matt Lind has a good post going further into some of this symbolism.
Too much of the movie revolved around Superman flying around or posing against the backdrop of dramatic music. Everyone’s glad to see Superman back on the silver screen, but there’s a limit to what the audience should have to put up with for the sake of nostalgia.

Useless Wikipedia FactThe Beatles' "Revolver" is often cited as one of the greatest albums in pop music history. In 1997 it was named the 3rd greatest album of all time in a 'Music of the Millennium' poll conducted by HMV, Channel 4, The Guardian and Classic FM. In 1998 Q magazine readers placed it at number 2, while in 2001 the TV network VH1 placed it at number 1. Revolver was also voted the best album of all time in the Virgin All Time Top 1,000 Albums . A PopMatters review described the album as "the individual members of the greatest band in the history of pop music peaking at the exact same time", while Ink Blot magazine claims it "stands at the summit of western pop music".

Link of the DayTen Lessons from the Criminalization of Dissent

Superman Returns: Movie Review (Scripted)

1 comment:

Dozer said...

I guess I will wait until Superman comes out on video to spend less money. Also, I thought it interesting how Bush and congresspeople are upset with the New York Times and other newspapers for writing about their process of tracking money in the search for terrorists, when the Bush administration supposedly approved beforehand what they wrote.