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Thinking about Journalism with Superman
Unformatted Document Text:  Thinking about Journalism with Superman 17 as “the Blur,” and when Clark decides to go public with his true identity, he revels in the resulting adoration until he loses all semblance of privacy and the media turn on him by branding him a public menace. 97 According to Lule, it is often the case that “familiarity breeds contempt” in the news as the media tear down heroes after putting them on a pedestal. Such tales of veneration followed by degradation uphold familiar values and reproduce the existing social order, much as journalism has been criticized for maintaining the status quo in other ways. 98 Similarly, journalism has been charged with promoting consumerism and commercialism by dint of being controlled by those whose primary concern is making a profit. 99 The news has been said to be ethnocentric in that it “judges other countries by the extent to which they live up to or imitate American practices and values,” with war-themed news such as that about Iraq especially prone to flag-waving. 100 According to Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, the press has been a propaganda organ on behalf of imperialistic American foreign policy; 101 according to James Carey and others, it has allowed public life to atrophy by promoting “a journalism of the expert and the conduit” that sees the audience as passive receptacles of information—that is, as little more than spectators. 102 For all that, there is another, more hopeful way of thinking about journalism and the American way with Superman. Michael Schudson has said of the media that “estimates of their power are frequently exaggerated. Critics look at the press and see Superman when it‟s really just Clark Kent.” 103 One might respond that Schudson was underestimating the press‟s potential to do harm or good, or conversely that the press‟s problem is that it indeed is like Clark Kent— too white-bread and mild-mannered. Nevertheless, Clark‟s strength is his “democratic ordinariness” in contrast to Superman‟s singular perfection. 104 Although in the movies Superman‟s birth father warned his son regarding human beings that “you are not one of them,”

Authors: Ehrlich, Matthew.
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Thinking about Journalism with Superman 17 
 
 
as “the Blur,” and when Clark decides to go public with his true identity, he revels in the 
resulting adoration until he loses all semblance of privacy and the media turn on him by branding 
him a public menace.
97
 According to Lule, it is often the case that “familiarity breeds contempt” 
in the news as the media tear down heroes after putting them on a pedestal. Such tales of 
veneration followed by degradation uphold familiar values and reproduce the existing social 
order, much as journalism has been criticized for maintaining the status quo in other ways.
98
 
Similarly, journalism has been charged with promoting consumerism and commercialism 
by dint of being controlled by those whose primary concern is making a profit.
99
 The news has 
been said to be ethnocentric in that it “judges other countries by the extent to which they live up 
to or imitate American practices and values,” with war-themed news such as that about Iraq 
especially prone to flag-waving.
100
 According to Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, the press 
has been a propaganda organ on behalf of imperialistic American foreign policy;
101
 according to 
James Carey and others, it has allowed public life to atrophy by promoting “a journalism of the 
expert and the conduit” that sees the audience as passive receptacles of information—that is, as 
little more than spectators.
102
 
For all that, there is another, more hopeful way of thinking about journalism and the 
American way with Superman. Michael Schudson has said of the media that “estimates of their 
power are frequently exaggerated. Critics look at the press and see Superman when it‟s really 
just Clark Kent.”
103
 One might respond that Schudson was underestimating the press‟s potential 
to do harm or good, or conversely that the press‟s problem is that it indeed is like Clark Kent—
too white-bread and mild-mannered. Nevertheless, Clark‟s strength is his “democratic 
ordinariness” in contrast to Superman‟s singular perfection.
104
 Although in the movies 
Superman‟s birth father warned his son regarding human beings that “you are not one of them,” 


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