Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Great, now I have to go to Cleveland.

Gods Among Men

Another in a series of essays that compare Superman and Jesus--this time with Heracles thrown into the mix.

And here's a blog that unfavorably looks upon the comparison of Obama and Superman.

A New Site of Pilgrimage

I'm wondering how the restoration of the Siegel home in Cleveland will affect this project. The wording in this article has a religious slant, but the real reason to take a look is the photography:

Since Superman was born in Cleveland seven decades ago, visitors from around the world have made pilgrimages to what they consider holy ground. Above, the childhood home of Jerry Siegel, who, along with his friend Joe Shuster, created Superman, in the Glenville neighborhood of Cleveland.

Also from the Wall Street Journal.

Here's one from the town of Cleveland itself, so to speak, that gives actually useful information, such as the fact that the house is still a private residence, its address, and the ribbon cutting that occurred this past weekend.

It's a curious thing, the way these article are constructed. When I was writing about Prometheus, I took a look at reviews of the recent biography of Robert Oppenheimer (American Prometheus) to see the differences in the way people tell a story second or third hand. What I found was enlightening. I saw that the reviewers skewed the story of Prometheus to fit their own ideas of Oppenheimer. With these articles, the Wall Street Journal plays up the fact that Siegel's father died soon after a robbery to imply that Superman was created as a power fantasy of a fatherless teenage boy. Superman as an absent father, highlighting his role as a protector. The cleveland blog begins with references to Siegel as "lovesick," which highlights the love "triangle" with Lois Lane and, further, the fact that Siegel wanted people (especially girls) to look deeper than his nerdy exterior.

I found this same reading of Clark Kent being put forward by one of the people I interviewed at the Superman Celebration. Brian Morris, sometime contributor to TwoMorrows, saw Clark Kent as a challenge: Superman saying to the world see me for everything that I am, not just for my pledge to help you. Kent is a statement that we're all more complex, deep, and interesting that the surface would indicate.

Other interpretations abound, of course. Here's an article by Richard Roeper that includes a transcript of David Carradine's monologue about Superman from Kill Bill (the beginning is about parking meters, but it's in there, I assure you).

"Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is there's the superhero and the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man.
"Superman didn't become Superman, Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red 'S'. . . those are his clothes. What Kent wears -- the glasses, the business suit -- THAT'S the costume Superman wears.
"Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak, he's unsure of himself, he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race."


  1. Hey,
    Just thought you might want to check out my footage from the ribbon-cutting cermony:

  2. Thanks for the link, meeks. Great stuff.

  3. No problem. More coming shortly.