|Truth, Justice, and All That Stuff|
by Joe Murray - (AgapePress)
July 19, 2006
|OES SUPERMAN STILL stand for truth, justice, and all that stuff?" asks Perry White, editor of the fictional newspaper the Daily Planet in the new movie Superman Returns. The Daily Plant, of course, is the newspaper of Metropolis and the employer of Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman.|
It's been 68 years since the boy from Krypton crashed onto the American landscape and changed American culture. During the past six decades, Superman has: found love, lost love, saved the world, administered a global disarmament, and died. All the while, the Man of Steel has always stood for "truth, justice, and the American way." This is no more.
As millions of American families pack their mini-vans and empty their wallets this summer, it is a safe bet that a good number of them will fill the seats at the local Cineplex. After the tickets are purchased, the popcorn consumed, and the unruly teenagers told to shush a time or two, odds are the movie gracing the screen will be Superman Returns. And unlike the Superman of yesterday, the modern Man of Steel has shed the stars and stripes for a chic new global persona.
Many a grade-school child who carried a lunchbox over the past five decades could recite, verbatim, Superman's creed -- i.e., the fight for "truth, justice, and the American way." Nonetheless, in a day where box office revenues know no boundaries, the writers of Superman Returns felt the need to replace "the American way," with the all inspiring phrase "all that stuff." The Hollywood Reporter explains:
"While audiences in Dubuque might bristle at Superman's newfound global agenda, patrons in Dubai likely will find the DC Comics protagonist more palatable."
Thus, we have ushered in the sale of Superman's soul for a couple of dirhams from the good citizens of Dubai.
But was the call to throw "the American way" from the train a decision based solely upon the dollar? This author thinks not. Dan Harris, one of the screenplay writers, explains that the phrase "the American way" has not only lost its way from the "super" script, but has lost its meaning altogether. Harris opines:
"So, you play the movie in a foreign country, and you say, 'What does he stand for? -- truth, justice and the American way.' I think a lot of people's opinions of what the American way means outside of this country are different from what the line actually means (in Superman lore) because they are not the same anymore ...."
Translation: "the American way" of yesterday is not "the American way" of today. As much as this author hates to admit it, Harris may be in the wrong pew, but he is in the right church.
In response to this deletion of DC dogma, many conservatives have cried foul. The focus of most current conservative critiques on the Davos dialogue of the new screenplay is misplaced. These folks, angered by the globalization of Superman, have been asking questions like: how can an American icon be prostituted in the global marketplace and what good are the terms "truth and justice" when their context is nothing more than "all that stuff?" While these are good questions, they tend to miss a more subtle, but more potent point. The question that should be asked is this -- do we really think the Man of Steel represents the modern day "American way"?
While it is true that Harris and crew may have dumped the red, white and blue for a whole lot of green, their point -- that the phrase "the American way" has a new meaning -- is painstakingly true. To borrow from another fictional resident of the Sunflower State, "we are not in Kansas any more."
In the 68 years since Superman has inspired many an American child, the culture that birthed him has been placed on life support. The God, family and country ideals that embodied "the American way" portrayed by Clark Kent have long been rejected from societal prominence.
Just look at America's societal changes that have occurred since 1938: the willful taking of a child life's is considered a constitutional choice, the Pledge of Allegiance has been put on the chopping block, "In God We Trust" is under attack, Hustler holds the same legal prominence as the Wall Street Journal, prayer is no longer welcomed at the schoolhouse, perversions are now considered lifestyle choices with participants proudly marching in city streets, nations are preemptively attacked to advance a quest for democratic hegemony, June Cleaver has been replaced by the divas of Desperate Housewives, and The Bells of Saint Mary's have been muted so Americans can better hear the ramblings of the Da Vinci Code. Would the Superman of the Golden Age stand for such ideals? Not a chance.
The America of today is a far cry from the America that welcomed a humble superhero from Kansas. Folks like Harris are correct -- the phrase "the American way" has taken on a different meaning -- and it is safe to say that Superman does not represent it. Superman is an icon that embodies all that was good about America -- he spoke to our hearts and inspired Americans that good will prevail over evil. He stood for the principle that as long as people are willing to fight for their ideals, such values could never be stripped from the public trust.
Our ideals, the conservative ideals, unlike the ideals of our counterparts, inspire a populace and provide hope and opportunity to those that adhere to them. They are the ideals of life, faith and family -- they are the ideals that defined Western culture. They are ideals that should not be weakened by the cultural kryptonite of the Left. Hence, the issue of whether Tinseltown screenplay writers insert the phrase "the American way" in a movie is immaterial. The real issue, though, is how Americans define the meaning behind the phrase "the American way." This is where the real fight resides.
Joe Murray (email@example.com) is a civil rights attorney residing in New Jersey. Murray is a former staff attorney for the American Family Association and has also served as national director of correspondence for Patrick J. Buchanan's 2000 presidential bid. Murray has been a guest on numerous radio and television talk shows, including the O'Reilly Factor.
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