Friday, June 16, 2006

My Left-behind Doll

I recently saw this old toy of mine at my parents house. He's been through a lot since those days when I would hold his waist and do the sound of rushing water (shhHHUUuuu...) while running around the house looking for bullets that needed to be shot at an impermeable chest.

Now in his cripplage and disuse he only reminds me of the things I used to think about him when I was 4 years old:

How can I get my hair to do that forehead curl thing? (next to Larry Hagman on I dream of genie I thought Superman had the best hair.)

Why does he need underwear both inside and outside his suit?

He's looking healthy now. he was so fat back in the 50s.

I think he's worth at least 7 million. (but the Steve Austin doll did have an eye-piece and skin that rolled off his arm and accessories like a powerup tent and the 1970s equivalent of USB cables.

Apparently at some point I also thought he'd be much more comfortable getting out of that tacky jumpsuit - I'm not sure if it's more homoerotic to like him in the suit or out of it.

Then when i saw the movie with Christopher Reeve my life gained a new quest: finding out what the "S" on his chest stands for. Because he had it when he was on Krypton and he wasn't Superman then. I refuse to admit that this was a continuity error. And it seems cheap to say that they all had letters on their chest and he just happened to get the one that would one day work well for his new name. But then it's also just as cheap to imagine that way out on Krypton they had a battery of symbols that just happened to coincide with Latinate typography. It's just like the difficulty all science fiction has with changing paradigms of communication or society. All speech sounds are English speech sounds (only the more dangerous species are allowed to use sounds different from ours [clicks and other implosives, voiced gutturals, laryngealization (or creaky voice)]) all accents of native speakers are either British or American and the more resonant voices are the more trustworthy. Perhaps the most resonant villain is Darth Vader - but his resonance is falsely produced.

But for now I'll just grant that Superman is such a hero precisely because of this nexus of appropriate characteristics. He's the guy who can help us that we want to help us. He'll do the job the way we want it done - with the style we like to see in action. With a mid-American accent wearing the two pigments on our flag.

It's the power of bigoted nationalism.

You can only sing our national anthem if you can sing it in our (unofficial) national language.


  1. And that is why S-man will always be a hero, but never God.

    I am Captain of the Not God Police Squad, and S-man is guilty in the first degree. Steven Pinker is also Not God. I know a lot of people who are Not God. But I don't know Steven Pinker. We just have him under closer surveillance. Paul Wolfowitz. Not God. George Clooney. Not God.

    I always feel much better after I've added a few names to the list. Paula Poundstone. Not God. Kyle Broflovski. Not God. Ann Coulter. Not God. Little Debbie. Not God, but heavenly.

    Oh, the list goes on and on.

  2. you know jeff - your first sentence could be read 2 ways.

    i'm curious about pinker being the second person you mention. seeing him on the 'not god' list leads me towards concluding that you think it's necessary because either pinker or others have claimed that he is god.

    i thought he was just an easy to read linguist from the chomskyan school. perhaps he's guilty by association.

  3. I think it was Travolta, in a Tarantine rant, in Swordfish who observes that Superman is the only hero whose alter ego is the disguise, where others, like Batman, can live a life that isn't a lie to others.

    Granted there are others, Peter Parker, who also hide their "true" identity, but a fun observation nonetheless.

  4. however daniel, peter parker has just revealed his identity because of the new law passed that all superheroes must register as deadly weapons (much to captain america's dismay).

    then there is the x-men premise - that their powers must be hidden. so when we see their mutant powers we see them as they are.

    and of course david/bruce banner disguises more than just his identity. he hides his existence.


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