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Thinking about Journalism with Superman
Unformatted Document Text:  Thinking about Journalism with Superman 16 “a commodity, a registered trademark, which belongs to the Time Warner conglomerate.” 88 His heroic tales “affirm a form of pseudoindividualism, which disguises the actual facts of corporate power.” 89 At times he has been jingoistic, notably during World War II when animated Superman film shorts with titles such as “Japoteurs” played in cinemas. 90 Finally, Superman turns public life into a spectator sport, as implied by the famous “look—up in the sky!” opening to the 1940s Superman radio series that then carried over to television and the movies. Roger Ebert noted of Superman II (which climaxed with a spectacular public showdown between Superman and three Kryptonian supervillains) that “ordinary citizens seem to spend their days glued to the sidewalk, gazing skyward, and shouting things like `Superman is dead!‟ or `Superman has saved the world!‟” 91 According to the critical perspective on Superman, such spectacle “is endemic to advanced capitalist commodity production” and “functions to divert the masses from a critical political awareness of the day-to-day facts of power that oppress them.” 92 It masks that we live in “a super-state with prodigious powers, while as individuals we feel feeble and unable to control our own destinies.” 93 It diminishes social capital and is symptomatic of “the death of the dream of a government responsive to the collective interests and insights of average citizens.” 94 There are clear parallels between that perspective and contemporary critiques of the American press. Jack Lule has argued that journalism regularly tells mythic stories about heroes and that in today‟s news, heroism is inevitably conflated with celebrity. 95 In Superman comics, movies, and TV shows, Superman himself is a media-manufactured celebrity. The first Christopher Reeve movie shows an as-of-yet unnamed Superman dropping in (literally) on Lois Lane and giving her his first news interview; she in turn gives him his moniker via a front-page story: “I SPENT THE NIGHT WITH SUPERMAN.” 96 In Smallville, the press labels Superman

Authors: Ehrlich, Matthew.
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Thinking about Journalism with Superman 16 
 
 
“a commodity, a registered trademark, which belongs to the Time Warner conglomerate.”
88
 His 
heroic tales “affirm a form of pseudoindividualism, which disguises the actual facts of corporate 
power.”
89
 At times he has been jingoistic, notably during World War II when animated 
Superman film shorts with titles such as “Japoteurs” played in cinemas.
90
  
Finally, Superman turns public life into a spectator sport, as implied by the famous 
look—up in the sky!” opening to the 1940s Superman radio series that then carried over to 
television and the movies. Roger Ebert noted of Superman II (which climaxed with a spectacular 
public showdown between Superman and three Kryptonian supervillains) that “ordinary citizens 
seem to spend their days glued to the sidewalk, gazing skyward, and shouting things like 
`Superman is dead!‟ or `Superman has saved the world!‟”
91
 According to the critical perspective 
on Superman, such spectacle “is endemic to advanced capitalist commodity production” and 
“functions to divert the masses from a critical political awareness of the day-to-day facts of 
power that oppress them.”
92
 It masks that we live in “a super-state with prodigious powers, while 
as individuals we feel feeble and unable to control our own destinies.”
93
 It diminishes social 
capital and is symptomatic of “the death of the dream of a government responsive to the 
collective interests and insights of average citizens.”
94
 
There are clear parallels between that perspective and contemporary critiques of the 
American press. Jack Lule has argued that journalism regularly tells mythic stories about heroes 
and that in today‟s news, heroism is inevitably conflated with celebrity.
95
 In Superman comics, 
movies, and TV shows, Superman himself is a media-manufactured celebrity. The first 
Christopher Reeve movie shows an as-of-yet unnamed Superman dropping in (literally) on Lois 
Lane and giving her his first news interview; she in turn gives him his moniker via a front-page 
story: “I SPENT THE NIGHT WITH SUPERMAN.”
96
 In Smallville, the press labels Superman 


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