Friday, July 31, 2009

This is a good thing

I keep finding more and more news stories with passages about Obama such as this one:

"We've found out he's not Superman," said Nora Seeley, 54, when asked what she had learned about the president during his first six months on the job. Still, she said, "things are starting to turn around."

It's no surprise that his reputation among Americans is deflating. Nothing else could have happened in the wake of his popularity upon taking office. People may come to realize that there is absolutely nothing that anyone could have done to fix everything in this short a time. I honestly have no idea how he's doing, but I see more and more local businesses hiring, and that's a good thing.

In related news, here are more of Jennifer Silverberg's photos from the Superman Celebration, this time focusing on food. Here's one from the main story, which I should have posted sooner.

Awe and Wonder.

One of the ideas Joseph Campbell is famous for is his four functions of mythology: metaphysical, cosmological, social, and gastronomic. I may have gotten that last one wrong. But why wouldn't mythology help you digest food properly?

Anyway, the metaphysical function, according to campbell, is all about demonstrating to humanity that life is worth living, that creation is a beautiful thing, and all that. Then we get Dave Gibbons, artist who drew Watchmen, most famously, but also a little Superman story called "For the Man who Has Everything." Both written by Alan Moore. In an interview he said,

"Again, my personal view is that they should make it lighter, with that sense of wonder that Superman has always had. Not to make it childish or puerile but to make it something that has a bright sense of adventure and possibility."

He's talking about what a new Superman movie should feel like. He's not the only one. The internets are awash with fans speculating, hoping, decrying, and dismissing a movie that has no script, director, actor, or even basic idea. It's interesting. Part of this is the age we live in, an age of endless discussion not only of what might be and what might have been but what should be, in everyone's own opinion.

While every work has its fanatics and devotees, I wonder if there's something in particular about Superman that makes this speculation appropriate. I won't bother linking to every quotation in which Superman is called a myth, but doesn't that status mean it's different from a lot of other "properties" out there?

It's particularly appropriate to film versions of the character. Film, more than television or comic books, has the ability to instill that sense of awe and wonder. It's bigger than life, and until a couple of decades ago it had to be viewed in something resembling, if not a religious ritual, then at least a public dream. Everyone sitting quietly in a darkened room, slightly leaned back, dazzled by images of things they previously could only imagine. Compare that to sitting at home, phone ringing, neighbors screaming, cars driving by, etc...It's why the rudeness of modern theater goers is such a sad state of affairs.

Where'd that rant come from? I don't even go to the movies more than once a year anymore.

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