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Thinking about Journalism with Superman
Unformatted Document Text:  Thinking about Journalism with Superman 2 press. The paper draws upon Superman‟s multiple incarnations over the years in comics, radio, movies, and television in the context of past research and criticism regarding the popular culture phenomenon. It also draws upon the scholarly literature that has examined the roles that objectivity, gender, power, and myth play in journalism. The purpose is to reflect critically upon journalism‟s complex and contradictory relationship to the things for which Superman has long been said to fight: “truth, justice, and the American way.” 4 Literature Review Superman has been used to think about other key aspects of American life and culture. He has been said to represent the immigrant experience, having traveled from the “old world” of Krypton to the new world of Earth before moving from rural Smallville to big-city Metropolis. 5 He has been analyzed as a symbol of Judaism given his creation by two young Jewish men (Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster) who gave him parallels with Moses, including being set adrift by his birth parents to be raised by others in a new home. 6 Likewise, Superman has been seen as a Christian symbol, as for example implied by the benediction from Superman‟s father (played by Marlon Brando in the 1978 movie) to his son “Kal-El” upon sending him to live among the people of Earth: “They can be a great people, Kal-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you—my only son.” 7 By virtue of his good deeds and ability to fly, Superman has been viewed as exemplifying democracy and freedom 8 ; by dint of his more brutish superpowers and his propensity to work outside the law, he also has been seen as representing oppression and subjugation. 9 Superman‟s relationship to journalism has received less scrutiny. One scholar has argued that he and other superheroes share a mission with journalism at its best by exposing wrongdoing and helping the needy. 10 A master‟s thesis similarly suggests that movies about Superman have

Authors: Ehrlich, Matthew.
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Thinking about Journalism with Superman 2 
 
 
press. The paper draws upon Superman‟s multiple incarnations over the years in comics, radio, 
movies, and television in the context of past research and criticism regarding the popular culture 
phenomenon. It also draws upon the scholarly literature that has examined the roles that 
objectivity, gender, power, and myth play in journalism. The purpose is to reflect critically upon 
journalism‟s complex and contradictory relationship to the things for which Superman has long 
been said to fight: “truth, justice, and the American way.”
4
 
Literature Review 
 
Superman has been used to think about other key aspects of American life and culture. 
He has been said to represent the immigrant experience, having traveled from the “old world” of 
Krypton to the new world of Earth before moving from rural Smallville to big-city Metropolis.
5
 
He has been analyzed as a symbol of Judaism given his creation by two young Jewish men (Jerry 
Siegel and Joe Shuster) who gave him parallels with Moses, including being set adrift by his 
birth parents to be raised by others in a new home.
6
 Likewise, Superman has been seen as a 
Christian symbol, as for example implied by the benediction from Superman‟s father  (played by 
Marlon Brando in the 1978 movie) to his son “Kal-El” upon sending him to live among the 
people of Earth: “They can be a great people, Kal-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to 
show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you—my only 
son.”
7
 By virtue of his good deeds and ability to fly, Superman has been viewed as exemplifying 
democracy and freedom
8
; by dint of his more brutish superpowers and his propensity to work 
outside the law, he also has been seen as representing oppression and subjugation.
9
 
 
Superman‟s relationship to journalism has received less scrutiny. One scholar has argued 
that he and other superheroes share a mission with journalism at its best by exposing wrongdoing 
and helping the needy.
10
 A master‟s thesis similarly suggests that movies about Superman have 


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