June 04, 2002
Objectionable alter egos?

Ginger quotes Eve Tushnet about the origins of Spider-Man, American innoncence, and Baby Boomer self-absorption. Oh, hell, let me give you the full passage, from one of Eve's blogwatches:

Unqualified Offerings: David Broder gets spidey-smacked [...] I need to add my own rant to the Broder-bashing, because this passage promotes an idea that seriously gets (and annoys) my goat: David Broder writes, "In 1962, when the first Spider-Man comic appeared, the notion of making his alter ego a New York City kid was unobjectionable. We were an innocent country then, not yet familiar with assassinations, urban riots and terrorist attacks." I HATE this cliche. I hate how America didn't lose its innocence with slavery--or the removal of the Cherokee--or the Civil War--or the World Wars--or Hiroshima and Nagasaki--but a pretty president pulls a Lincoln and suddenly America's lost her virginity? What kind of blinkered, privileged, everything-everyone-hates-about-the-Boomers perspective is this? C'mon.
Um. Jim Henley does a fine job with smacking Broder for being incredibly prissy about Spider-Man, a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. Eve is right on with the Baby Boomer Baloney. But what I want to know is, what exactly is "objectionable" about making a superhero's alter ego a New York City kid nowadays? Who is objecting to this, and how can I best administer a cluestick to their noggins? Is there some Department of Objectionable Superhero Origins that I'm not aware of? (If so, it must be Clinton's fault. Surely this began during the prior administration.)

I've read the Broder column that Henley so neatly dismembers, and I still can't understand that line about "the notion of making his alter ego a New York City kid was unobjectionable". I can grok the concern about havoc being wrought on New York - though let's face it, if depictions of havoc-wreaking are wrong, they're wrong regardless of whether it's New York or some other place that's being stomped. I say that some depictions of havoc-wreaking are more respectful and less gratuitous than others, and I say that if we can't show ugliness and violence any more, we won't be able to adequately show heroism and goodness. In the meantime, David, here's a movie that hopefully won't offend your delicate sensibilities.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 04, 2002 to Society and cultcha