Monday, July 17, 2006

Superman Returns

TaSin and I went to see Superman Returns. I mistakenly thought it was Batman Returns or something like that. It wasn’t until I was reading the story’s introduction and trying to figure out where Morgan Freeman’s name was in the credits that it dawned on me that the film was going to be a lot different than I expected because though I remember Superman from the comics and afternoon TV, I hadn’t seen any Superman films, never read a comic book and remember vaguely the original actor suffering a riding accident and being paralyzed. So I’m sitting there and well…I started to analyze the film.

My mind only operates in the revolutionary mode…I see in black and white.

My daughter told me to turn off the analysis, and I really tried to sit there and let the fable of white supremacy wash over me, but hell…I couldn’t help myself, the parallels were so obvious, especially when Superman appeared so flawless, so perfect even in his mission which was to save the world.

In this episode he’d been gone on a quest for too long, evil steeping while he was away and was now ready to pour. His lady, Lois Lane, was so pissed with him, she wrote this Pulitzer Prize winning scathing feature entitled: “Why the World Doesn’t Need a Super Hero” or something like that.

Superman as God

Deep blue eyes, his father someone unearthly, his woman, well he doesn’t really have a woman, just a vessel he conceives a son. And so the story continues – the Jesus story as painted by Michelangelo all over again.

The ®2006 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. artist’s updated depiction of this on-screen god has blue eyes, his dark hair always in place…even his lift-offs are perfect…and despite his weakness he cares about humanity more than his life.

Yes, there is the obligory death scene and return to life. Hum…I think he even tries to walk on water, but that’s another story. Isn’t it? No, the son of god is capable of this too.

Why does the world need a superman? Well, for one if he exists then our responsibility to save ourselves is eliminated. If this savior looks like the dominant culture then our insecurities are reinforced, and Bush & Co. rule! If superman is the savior then God is not a part of our community. Therefore, we are powerless.

This might not be a Pulitzer Prize winning syllogism, but you get my drift.

I wanted to believe all those who believe in superman are super wimps, yet, the superman idea is so attractive, and so not could the minds of the innocents escape unscathed?

As Superman flew through the air, both he and his nemesis Clark Kent airbrushed and computer-enhanced to perfection, all I could do is sit back and watch the story unfold. Transported to another world where Black people appear on the news but not in any significant roles in the film I thought, if only this were make-believe.

I tried to watch with an open mind but had reservations about the subliminal effects of such blatant white supremacist propaganda. There were no African people in the newsroom at the Daily Globe where Superman’s alias worked nor were there were heroes or heroines who looked like my people there covering events, shaping public opinion. The only non-white characters were victims.

Then when it came out that Lois Lane had a son, guess whose son he was? The immaculate conception all over again…or was it? That aspect of the story remains unexplored, but as the absentee dad departs once again he tells Lois that he’s always around—

Just like god, right? Ready to drop in for a quickie?

Art: TaSin Sabir "Imagine Superman as a Blackman;" concept Wanda Sabir


At 8:28 AM, Blogger General Lee James said...

First and foremost, I hope that you went to a matinee screening. For the most part, I avoid these comic-turned-blockbusters for the reasons you listed. Besides the fact that they either water down the characters (i.e. Spawn-1997, the only Black super "hero" who has made the transition to the big screen) or they rely solely on special effects and sappy ass love stories.

The only Black heros Hollywood seems comfortable with our the macked out ladies man with platforms with goldfish in theme or the foxy brown, bad ass Black woman who can seduce a man with a single glance. It is much easier to downplay our existence and to portray themselves as the saviors of the universe, once again justifying white supremacy. Like Marcus Garvey said, we need our own heroes, saints and leaders.

How about Superbrother and Supersister? Off top we already have the athletic prowess, but lets make the brother a doctor and the sister an engineer. Both can fly, knock down walls, x-ray vision, the whole nine. The proverbial kryptonite would be some BS bling-bling. Well, that would allow them to be defeated by your average commercial rapper. Lets find another weakness. Each other. No, they're super. A regular brother couldn't take a strong sister while the sister couldn't submit to her superman; not that she should. How about the only weakness they have is their Black love for one another, but that is their biggest strength.

Yeah, you should pay to see that movie. And Lois Lane is really Superwoman in disguise. So we have an engineer/journalist and doctor/journalist, who care about humanity. I'd say let them fly around saving little white kids, but that is too much like service. We've been saving these folks for too long. They'll have to learn on their own someday.

But as far as the return of Superman, the original is still symbolic of the consequences of a god-complex. If Superman came to the town, he'd get jacked for his cape. And let him touch down in a city that starts with an "S," somebody would be rocking that. Besides, I think Shaq is a better version of superman.

Black Superman or Superbrother would need some bigger speedos too. In the words of the Sugarhill Gang, "He may be very sexy or even cute, but he looks like a sucka in a blue and red suit/you need a man with finesse, and his whole name across his chest"

SUPERBROTHER to the rescue

At 10:17 PM, Blogger honglien123 said...

I thought that the Superman movie wasn't half bad as a continuation of the previous Superman movies and you bring up a lot of points that I did not really stop and think about while I watched the movie. However, times have changed the Superman world a bit. For example, in the 90s Superman was played by a hapa actor named Dean Cain in the Lois and Clark series and on Smallville, Clark Kent's best friend was a wholesome black teenager and his unrequited love interest is a half asian girl. Perhaps the big movie producers haven't caught onto the fact that large cities tend to have lots of minorities, however, rest assured, apparantly the small screen realizes that Superman needed some color.

That said, I think sometimes, that as minorities, we don't allow ourselves to just take things at face value, or it's very hard not to react to the lack of represenation of our race in the media. We forget that movies like Superman (which was originally written by two Jewish teenagers) are made for an audience that is primarily white and male and that maybe, they're only looking to have fun and not think too deeply about a popcorn movie. I'm not saying that we shouldn't fight for more representation, but we should acknowledge that times have changed a bit. Case in point, one of the most successful comic-book movie series in recent years has been the Blade trilogy, and while the X-men movies forgot all about Psylocke and Jubilee (the Asian characters), they certainly remembered to include Storm (the African one). Like Science Fiction, comics have tended to be written by young white men. I wonder how we as minorities would react when these young white men write characters that are minorities. Would we criticize them for being too PC and unrealistic if the character was black and successful and too powerful (ie War Machine and Green Lantern)? Would we say that they're too stereotypical if by some defect they became too violent and aggressive? The key would seem to be to have a black writer write black superhero stories, but by following that line of thinking, are we saying that a white writer is incapable of effectively writing a black character and vice versa?


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