Meet my Betta, Alpha

My son went crazy over fish last week. He’s spent the last 8 days finding everything he can about fish and sharks (had a brief shark phase when he was around 4). He researched what the best fish would be to own as a new fish owner, and he learned everything he had to do before he even asked me if he could have one. We talked about it, and today he got his first fish.

A betta:

betta

Me: “what will you name him?”

Son: “I’m not sure yet, I’m going to watch him for a while before I decide. But his temporary name is Alpha.”

Me: “Alpha?”

Son: “Yeah. You know…. my Betta, Alpha.”

…It’s my 10yr old’s world. I only live in it.

cartoonbetta

The End of a Decade No One Wants to Talk About

I haven’t taken to commenting here on everything in the news like I used to with my blogging.  The main reason is that I just don’t have the time anymore (I used to sit in an office all day bored out of my mind – so blogging was crucial just for sanity’s sake).  The second reason is that I find myself not quite able to stand thinking too much about what’s in the news these days.  My capacity for righteous anger has dwindled quite a bit in the last couple of years.  I don’t think I’m more cynical – but perhaps more resigned.  This may not be a good thing, and I try to temper it by exposing myself as often as possible to people who inspire me.  But this week may also trigger a bit more for me because my son is 10 1/2 years old and the context of this week’s news simultaneously makes me think about his first decade of life.

This week has been especially bristling for two reasons: The Steubenville Verdict and Ten Years Since The Invasion.

The Lingering Stench of Rape Culture

On Steubenville, I have once again felt the weight of sadness and anger a how our deeply ingrained rape culture can excessively comment on the plight of the perpetrators and criticize the victim.  John Scalzi’s post on the issue covers it as clearly as I would want to – and much better than any actual news outlet has bothered.

Relevant:kidnapI want my son to grow up in a culture that teaches boys and men not to rape.  Not one that says “girls, you better behave or you might get raped!”

My son is 10 1/2 years old, and he has been exposed to feminist and progressive parents his whole life – but more and more, his learning environment is the world around him, not just us, inside his home.  …Primarily, the world around him ONLINE.  How I manage to guide him in his online life has become more of a priority than I ever dreamed ten years ago.  Where he gets his worldview will be largely influenced by his exposure to what he sees and learns online.  His generation will grow up straddling two worlds: the digital and the physical.  And they will have to make choice after choice how to code switch and translate one to the other and back again.  Our ability as GenX parents, whose exposure to an online life arrived after we were out of puberty, to judge the quality rather than quantity of time spent in both worlds will be particularly crucial to our kids.  They aren’t growing up in a clearly compartmentalized world, where they live in the physical world so many hours a day and then have limited access to the digital world.  They are constantly exposed simultaneously to both.  Their access to both will only get easier as they grow up.  Thus, the need to be able to make healthy choices about both.

And a huge part of those healthy choices need to be about how boys learn to to be human beings that don’t expect it’s their world and girls just live in it at their pleasure.  Girls have to learn a whole new set of skills to establish their own humanity and independence as well.  Steubenville has reminded me that this small town shit where football rules and you can live in satisfied bigotry and misogynistic superiority your entire life still exists. But I have the opportunity to raise my son to want no part of it.

The Anniversary.

Most days, ten years would seem like a long, LONG time ago.  But it doesn’t anymore.  I was 31 on the day we attacked and invaded Iraq. I was still a very new mom and the invasion affected that part of me profoundly.  This was what I posted on my blog that day:

Wednesday, March 19, 2003
      ( 6:44 PM )

Mama Solidarity
Please light a candle and say a prayer for all the Mamas in Baghdad and all the rest of Iraq tonight (and in these next days) who are trying to figure out how to protect their children. I can’t even imagine the kind of terrorized fear that Mamas and children (and the Daddies too) must be feeling right now, waiting for the invasion, knowing it’s coming. I feel so responsible and I feel so helpless. May you and your babies be safe and unharmed…and may grace and comfort be in your hearts. The rest of us Mamas are praying for you.

I entered that week in a daze that I’m sure thousands of other Americans felt: how did we let this happen?  We KNEW Bush was lying.  We KNEW this was wrong.  We were in the streets by tens of thousands… and before the invasion, MILLIONS around the world were in the streets.  Yet nothing seemed to be able to stop it.  So that feeling of helplessness, mixed with guilt, mixed with anger, mixed with fear for our own troops and the innocent, helpless people of Iraq, just warred within us and all around us while our own country started a horrible, horrible war.

IRAQ-US-WAR-MASSIVE RE-CROPIt’s sometimes hard to think back and remember how it all felt, and yet at the same time, it is still so near the surface.  Possibly because no one has ever been held accountable for this travesty of global injustice.  Not the architects of the invasion: Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rice.  Not the media giants who went along, not questioning.  Not the political actors who worked to silence the truth tellers like Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. Not the military industrial complex that made billions of dollars in profit by harming our own soldiers.  Not the Wall Street bankers who began a years-long campaign to short-sell this country right into the crapper.  None of them.

My son spent the first eight years of his life attending anti-war protests.  He was still in the womb at his first one (we were among the few who also protested the invasion of Afghanistan.  I am curious as to why it is so popular to be for THAT invasion.  As if it is so much more justifiable to bomb and invade an entire country for the actions of an independent group sheltered by a bunch of tribal dictators.  If the 9/11 bombers had been from Portland, and some of the City Council had sheltered them or given them a way to get away secretly, would the government have been justified in blowing the hell out of all of us who live here?  According to our brand new foreign policy in 2002, evidently they would have).  He got to ride in the stroller the first years – he graduated to the Red Wagon after a while.  And eventually he walked along side me.  I feel grateful that he has grown up in a city where this kind of behavior is not only acceptable but expected of the general population.  He has grown up in a community with kids his age who have followed exactly the same anti-authoritarian path.

My son at his 4th anti-war protest.  He carried his own signs by this point.

My son at his 4th anti-war protest. He carried his own signs by this point.

There are a lot of children in the United States who are my son’s age – well a few months younger than my son.  He was born just ahead of the 9/11 Baby Boomlet (there was evidently a LOT of end-of-the-world-sex going on that horrible September).  That means there are tens of thousands of ten-year-olds in this country right now who are as old as the anniversary of this invasion.  The country in which they spent their childhood was one that has produced a generation of wounded veterans, both in body and spirit.  It’s a country which is the biggest aggressor in the world.  It is a country in which their parents are struggling economically more than their grandparents ever had to.  It’s a country in which their education will cost more than it ever has, where they are more likely to be hungry or in poverty than ever before, and where their government is more broken than ever before.

This ten year anniversary is not just a reminder of the devastation we  have wreaked upon Iraq.  It’s a reminder of the devastation we have wreaked upon ourselves.  And maybe that’s the real reason why nobody really wants to remember.

"An Owie to One is an Owie to All"- Mama's Little Activist -

“An Owie to One is an Owie to All”
– Mama’s Little Activist –

1984: Good Times in the Cold War

I saw two movies this week that took me back a bit to my Cold War Childhood.  We GenXers don’t talk a lot about growing up under the black cloud of Imminent Nuclear Destruction, but it shaped our formative years.  The government and media did everything they could to remind us that we were doomed – DOOMED – by using everything from Nuclear Bomb Drills in school (no shit, we had to get under our desks, similar to the Earthquake Drill except even in the 4th grade we didn’t bother since we were pretty sure if the bombs were coming, our desks weren’t going to help) to forcing us to watch THE DAY AFTER.  This was an interminable mini series on tv (well, it was 2 hrs long, but it seemed Dayafter1interminable) that was extremely controversial because, according to news commentators, it might not be super awesome to traumatize our youth with images of people with their skin peeling off after the Soviets dropped nukes across the Heartland – yet, everyone should watch it so they know what we’re in for!  We were actually warned not to watch it alone. But we should watch it.  To be prepared. Seriously.

qbert1820

The Machine of My Teenage Victory

To help us distract ourselves from our inevitable destruction at the hands of the Soviet Union, there were, thank Atari, video game arcades.  Which brings me to the first movie I watched this week that reminded me of my youth.  I thoroughly enjoyed Wreck It Ralph.  It was cute, sentimental, and lovely to watch the 8-bit memories float in front of me.  It had a redeeming end and a sweet plot.  But most of all, it had the greatest cameo ever: Q*bert!  This brought back so many fabulous memories.  Particularly, though, it was that one week in April 1984 when I gloriously held the position of High Scorer on the Q*bert in the Pearlridge Mall.  Yes, you heard me right: HIGH SCORE ON Q*BERT.    You might have thought that the year after Thriller was released would be a let down.  But no.  April. 1984. High Score on Q*bert.  It was a good month.  It was also a good month for another reason.  I turned 13 that month. I became… a teenager.

Which brings me to the second movie I saw this week that reminded me of those halcyon days of abject nuclear terror and group shame when one missed a step in the Thriller dance.  Red Dawn.  I didn’t go see this one when it came out in the theater because I was dubious.  How could the iconic triumphal film of my formative Cold War Youth ever be adequately remade?  But now that it’s out on cable, I was tempted by the little voice in my head that reminded me how much better the Total Recall remake was than the original (come ON, Colin Farrel vs. Schwarzenegger? Don’t cross me on this one.).  But Red Dawn?  How do you translate a film built completely on the premise that the Cold War becomes Hot (the very event of which we were at that moment in time deathly afraid) into one that is relevant in 2012?  I was willing to give it a try.  Because just watching the new one reminded me of that summer of 1984 when the original was released.

The best – absolute BEST – thing about the original Red Dawn was that it was the very first movie released with a PG-13 rating.  And when it came out in the summer of 1984, I was goddamned THIRTEEN YEARS OLD.

ClintYesNow that I’ve seen the new one, I find I’m not as offended as I thought I’d be.  I’m glad that it was different enough that the original masterpiece was truly preserved.  It had a good cast (I’ll get to that in a minute).  The only reason the invasion was more implausible this time around is that we really aren’t living in a time of tangible fear of invasion. The key to the original is that we actually believed it could happen.  We weren’t even living in a time of tangible fear of invasion 10 years ago when George W. Bush told us we were.  In our 2012 version, it isn’t nuclear war that paralyzes the United States but an EMP that knocks out both coasts prior to the invasion.  Probably the plot was best summed up in the first half hour of the film when Matty utters, “North Korea?  That doesn’t make any sense.”

The modern Wolverines

The modern Wolverines

Our modern day Red Dawn takes place in Spokane, WA (in my Pacific Northwest neck of the woods.)  Why the North Koreans would just parachute into populated Spokane neighborhoods seems odd, since I can pretty much guarantee that every household in Spokane has at least six hunting rifles at the ready, not to mention a very well equipped militia population sprinkled in the surrounding mileage of Spokane.  Anyhooooo, a main change in the character build-up is that Jed, the oldest brother, has military training in our modern version, which is helpful.  Also all the kids have the advantage of years of Call of Duty and Halo practice… which isn’t really an advantage after all, evidently.

The Original Wolverines

The Original Wolverines

I thought Chris Hemsworth made a good Jed in his new incarnation because it was different enough (no one could do a repeat of what I think was Patrick Swayze’s finest performance ever –and DON’T argue Roadhouse, that’s in a class of its own).  And I was impressed with Josh-from-Drake-and-Josh’s Matty (wow has he lost some pounds!). The original Matty was Charlie Sheen, whose portrayal was not as intense as his brother’s portrayal of Two-Bit the year before in The Outsiders (also with Patrick Swayze as the older brother – it was that kind of decade.  We all needed Patrick Swayze as our older brother just to get through).

hugh-jackman-wolverine

The ACTUAL Wolverine

My 1984 heartthrob, however, was C. Thomas Howell (omg, I had ALL the TeenBeat magazine that he was on the cover!), who played the tragic Robert.  In our modern version, Peeta Mellark plays Robert and is not so tragic this time around (possibly because he is distracted by the fact he will have to run straight from his fight with the North Koreans into another fucked up live action game with Katniss in a matter of months).  And while Peeta/Robert’s “Wolverines!” call in the iconic scene was okay, nothing could match the original Robert’s war cry in my mind.

WolverinesTWOIt was gratifying to see the Wolverines gain some multicultural dimension, and the girls, though not as badass as pre-nose-job-Jennifer-Grey, weren’t awful.  There were more explosions of course, and instead of an Air Force pilot, the Wolverines come across three Marines from the Free Zone.  I thought it was a little wimpy that they avoided the tragic way Robert originally dealt with Daryl … in this one Daryl is more self-sacrificial.  But then, we can’t tarnish The Peeta.

At one point, the Wolverines rob a Subway shop for food and it struck me as a little odd that people were still going to eat at a Subway during a North Korean occupation.  But it’s Spokane, so who can say. Of course, when they listen to “Radio Free America” the music is CCR – because, what other music are you going to play during a counterinsurgency?  In perhaps a nod to 1984, or perhaps just a nod to reality, the North Koreans aren’t actually very good at their jobs, so the Russian Special Forces have to come in to try to get the Wolverines.  It made me wonder if we just didn’t want to deal with the fallout of having to admit it’s actually going to be the Chinese who get us… not via the invasion route, but probably more the “uh dude, you owe me money” route.

In the end, I missed the symbolism of the Partisan Rock and the ode to the children who saved the world during World War III, but maybe we just needed that more obvious reassurance back then.

WolverineRock1984 – it didn’t turn out to be as horrible as George Orwell predicted…. though that whole Newspeak thing really worked well for Reagan.  It was a sacred year.  It was the year the Macintosh personal computer was first available to American consumers.  It was the year Michael Jackson’s hair spontaneously combusted during the filming of a Pepsi commercial.  It was the year Lionel Ritchie sang “All Night Long” at the Closing Ceremonies at the Los Angeles Summer Olympics (oh by the way, OJ Simpson carried the torch that year).  It was also the year of the Bhopal disaster, the famine in Ethiopia, and Bernie Goetz’s vigilante shootings. It was the year the CIA first introduced crack cocaine into the streets of Los Angeles (hmmm…coincidence that was where the Olympics were that year?) in what we would later learn was an alternate funding stream for their fun little venture with the Contras in Nicaragua at the behest of a guy named Oliver North.

But we didn’t know any of that yet.  We didn’t know the next year would bring something called Perestroika.  We didn’t know that within five years, the terror we lived with our entire childhood would be suddenly gone… so anti-climatically that we still regret we ever watched THE DAY AFTER.  And certainly it was a pretty major let down that the Cold War was not won with the drama and honor that we believed it would be after watching Red Dawn that glorious summer of 1984.

I don’t feel like we’ll have too much trouble with the North Koreans in the end either.

red-dawn-remake-set-photos-1

DC Comics: Superman Would Be Very Disappointed

Things are starting to unravel at DC Comics… well, maybe only just a little.1stSuperman

But the unsurprising consequences of Orson Scott Card’s ascension as writer for the new Adventures of Superman have now begun in earnest.  Today it was reported that Chris Sprouse, the illustrator who was assigned to Card’s first Superman story, has now withdrawn from the project.

According to USA Today, Sprouse said:

“The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with…”

The problem is the controversy surrounding Card’s anti-gay stance.  Let’s be real, it’s not so much his “stance” as it is his very loud activist leadership against the equal rights of Gay Americans.  As I wrote last week, Card stands for everything Superman is against.  Sprouse didn’t make any specific comments regarding Card himself, but his refusal to work with him on Superman is a pretty large statement itself.

It’s harder and harder to justify DC Comics’ decision here.  Will it be more difficult for other devoted Superman illustrators to work with an author who represents the opposite of their hero’s values? Does DC really want to alienate thousands of fans and readers by continuing on this path?

The controversy will probably get DC lots of sales for Card’s first story, but at what cost to the legacy of Superman? 

The Super Symbol

An Open Letter to the President on the Occasion of his Mixed Metaphors

Today:

“I can’t do a Jedi mind meld on the Congressional Republicans” — President Barack Obama

no, no, no...

no, no, no…

Dear President Obama:

You can either do a VULCAN mind meld or a JEDI mind trick.  They are not the same thing.

SW-v-ST

Either way, you might as well not waste energy with the Dark Side.  You have violated the Prime Directive so many times by now anyway with no results.

… and by this point what you ACTUALLY need is just one good Space Cowboy to deal with those dumbasses.  Captain Mal to Congress:

captnmal

In conclusion – Mind Meld, Mind Trick – whichever.  You were re-elected in a landslide for a reason. Be the Jedi you were meant to be.

obama-lightsaber-02Sincerely,

Teachacari

 

A Handy Socratic Dialogue About Sequestration (or, WTF is going ON with our ridiculous government?)

TeachaCari explains Sequestration to her former students:

20130224_sequester_cartoon

Put your seatbelts on, this is gonna be FUN!

“Teachacari, what IS Sequestration?”

It is a really dumb name given to an action that SHOULD have been called “We Don’t Want to Govern so We’re Gonna Fuck Things up More.” It is what is called in political science terms a “poison pill” – something destined to not be enacted because it’s so bad. The idea was concocted in 2011 when Congress didn’t want to raise the debt limit, in order to keep a stalemate from happening again, they put into place the worst possible of WORST scenarios that would kick in if they didn’t get their job done and make a budget by March 1, 2013. This would be an across-the-board cut that would hit the most painful parts of the operating budget of the US government. It would be like trying to motivate yourself to get your essay written by midnight or else your roommate would be obligated to start chopping your fingers off one by one. Obviously, they would NEEEVVVVEEERRRR let that worse, possibly worst, thing happen, so it’s all good!” Tomorrow, the worst possible thing happens.

IceCube
“Teachacari, they are only cutting 2% of the federal budget. Surely that’s not so bad!”

2% of the AVAILABLE federal budget. There are parts of the federal budget that are separately protected, and where MOST of the federal budget lies: social security, medicare, etc. Including Congress. Congress’ pay is protected in the actual Constitution. So solving this whole problem by kicking them the fuck out and using their salaries (which is all our shared fantasy, and we know it) to balance the budget isn’t actually an option. So when you take away all the parts of the budget that can’t be messed with, you’re left with what is called “discretionary spending” — which is the leftover part that actually runs the government and the country (remember this, from your fabulously insightful high school government class?). So it’s actually closer to over 10% of the discretionary budget that will get cut — and the departments have no say in HOW to cut it — they actually have to chop the same percentage out of all parts of their budgets – which will hurt like hell.

stormtrooper
“Well, teachacari, you’re just making it sound all frightening and shit. It’s just the federal government – and we need a smaller government anyway.”

That may be true, however: making a smaller government by hacksawing off vital functioning parts of it, instead of making it more EFFICIENT with thoughtful cuts that take into account the long term needs of the country, is sort of like saying it’s easier to deal with that wound on your forearm by just chopping your arm off at the elbow. Your arm will be smaller, so less hassle to deal with and less spaces to get a wound next time!


“I don’t really give a shit, Teachacari, I just do my own thing so government doesn’t affect me anyway.”

That will be fun for you. If the cuts take full affect, which it will likely take about 3-6 weeks for that to happen, here are a few things that will happen:

The FDA will have to cancel thousands of meat inspections. This means meat processing stops in some plants. This means less distribution and availability of meat. Prices skyrocket and there are shortages. But, I guess you could just eat less meat. And less everything, since all food production prices will eventually be affected.

The FAA will have to limit airport tower time. This will mean furloughing workers and flight delays and cancellations across the country, which will disrupt travel, business and other cascading schedules. But, I guess you could just plan not to be affected by that… by not going anywhere.

Tens of thousands of federal workers will lose up to 20% of their salaries until the end of the fiscal year (September ) by having to take non-paid furlough days. This will mean they may not make their rent or mortgage payments, and they certainly won’t be buying consumer goods. This means if you work in retail or service industries, YOUR job may be affected because your employer won’t be making the same revenue, especially in communities with a high number of civilian government workers. But, maybe you can just try to ignore that too because, fuck them.

Thousands of teachers (approx 30,000) could be laid off for next school year because federal assistance to state education budgets will stop. In addition, thousands more aides and money that goes to help students with disabilities will end. Head Start will stop for about 70,000 kids. And food aid to women and children (WIC) will end for thousands more. But who cares, you’re not in school anymore. You got your K-12 education already, and you’re not on WIC, so let them fend for themselves!

In the end, you can probably survive and still not give a shit about what happens to those people or the economy. Unless you buy into the idea that we’re all in this together and that the general welfare of the country will eventually be something that helps or hinders you, depending on how healthy it is. Those are just a few examples of the cascading effect of what will happen in the weeks following Sequestration. There may not be a sudden scream of agony from the economy because it won’t all happen at once. But in the next few months, if nothing is done to stop it, not only is the government facing ANOTHER one of its self-imposed “fiscal cliff” and debt limit standoffs, but the reverberating effects of THIS self-imposed fiasco will be taking full foothold in the economy and every day people’s lives.

10inrain
“Teachacari, how the fuck did we get a government that behaves this way after almost 300 years of practice?”

My political philosophy answer: As James Madison warned us over 200 years ago, the reason you need a balancing, self-accountable government was to avoid the splits and conflict that would inevitably come from the formation of factions amongst the diverse regions of the country. In order to maintain that balanced self-accountability in a central government, you must depend upon the civic virtue of the country’s citizens who exercise what deTocqueville later called “enlightened self interest” to elect representatives who will seek to find that balance and govern in the interest of the general welfare of all the people while maintaining their individual rights. Not such an easy task. And one made even harder when you make only short term decisions and take no account of the future. Our civic virtue is in badly need of repair.

James Madison IS DISAPPOINT.

James Madison is DISAPPOINT.

My history answer: There has never been some magical, halcyon era when we didn’t have corruption in our national government, or where all sides got along fabulously and sang show tunes together in the lunch cafeteria. There have ALWAYS been corporate-backed legislators and, since Andrew Jackson, there have always been industry-based business people in charge of executive departments. It doesn’t matter what party the president or legislature is. So we are not dealing with something that cannot be overcome when it comes to the various individual gripes we have with this government. Those things have been successfully and progressively dealt with before and we have history to prove that it can be done. But, the thing is, we have NEVER had a body in Congress that makes up a significant amount of the majority in the House and a debilitating minority in the Senate who have the goal to ACTUALLY DESTROY GOVERNMENT. These people ran campaigns on promises to bring government to a standstill. To stop the work of a representative democracy, all in the name of bringing a federal government they disapproved of to its knees. And here’s the clincher: PEOPLE ELECTED THEM.

morans

My teachery answer: You can be cynical and decide you just don’t want the government anymore because it’s too corrupt for you and nothing will fix it. It’s been on a path to this sort of thing for years now, so let it die. If that’s the case, then tomorrow will be a nice way for you to toast that inevitability. If you’d rather NOT have things go down that way, then GET OFF YOUR ASS AND CALL YOUR MEMBER OF CONGRESS AND SENATOR and let them know that they may not have to take a furlough day this year because of Sequestration like thousands of their constituents will, but you know a damned good way of furloughing them forever in 2014.

Engage

/lecture

Teachacari out.

Superman and Orson Scott Card: These Two Are Not Like Each Other.

1stSupermanAs most Superman fans know by now, DC Comics has announced that Orson Scott Card will be writing the new series, “Adventures of Superman.”  The backlash began immediately.  For good reason, in my opinion.  There is always a question in these cases of whether good artistic work can be separated from its artist, author, musician, etc.  Art is a terribly personal work that becomes publicly shared (if the artist wants to share it).  Authors write from a place of belief and imagination.  That’s not to say they can’t write about things outside of their own personal experiences (at least I hope Stephen King didn’t have a killer car or fight with a rabid dog …).  But when it comes to a figure like Superman, who is – at his essence – the Hero who fights for ALL and who believes ALL deserve justice – devoted readers take that identity seriously.  I do, at least.

I have never been a fan of Card – though I know many, many sci fi fans who LOVE Enders Game.  I just actually don’t like his writing style.  But when I learned about his beliefs and political activism, I didn’t even try reading any of his books anymore.  Card is not only an outspoken opponent of equal marriage, he actually is one of the leaders of the anti-equal marriage movement is outspokenly homophobic.  He has espoused other incredibly bigoted positions, and I find his views to be crass and proto-Limbaugh.

I read the authors I read because I enjoy how they write.  But I admit, what they espouse in public can have a huge impact on me because who they are is often very reflected in what they write.  That’s why I read sci fi authors like Connie Willis, Sheri Tepper, Ursula LeGuin, and, of course, John Scalzi.  In fact, I found Scalzi’s sci fi writing after I’d been reading his blog, drawn to it by entries like his incredible 2005 “Being Poor.” I loved The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and its companions as a kid, but when I read them again as an adult, they were so skewed by Lewis’ religious beliefs, I couldn’t even finish them.  But that’s just me.  Lots of authors have beliefs I disagree with, and I would always defend their right to write whatever they want to write.  I don’t have to read it.  Everyone has their own approach to how they read the fiction, or sci fi, or comics they love.

But Superman is different. 

The Super Symbol

As Glen Whedon said on NPR this week:

Superman is not just a superhero. He’s the superhero. He created the very concept of the superhero, and everything that’s touched on that concept for the past 75 years — we are talking vast swaths of popular culture — exists because of him. Regardless of how you feel about Superman and superheroes, you can’t deny the cultural impact the character has made, and continues to make.

The entire point of Superman is that he stands up for the downtrodden and the oppressed.  He does not stand for injustice or inequality.  He defends the very people to whom Orson Scott Card publicly wants to deny equality.  It’s an interesting dilemma.

Oliver Sava gives him the benefit of the doubt:

It’s an editor’s obligation to make sure that the writer doesn’t let personal opinions affect the established voice of the character, and it’s unlikely that Superman is going to take on a new mission terrorizing gay weddings under Card’s pen. (Although considering DC’s current DC editorial regime, I may have just spoiled the first issue of “Adventures of Superman.”)

But I find I have to agree with Whedon again,

But when we do see [Superman] for the very first time, these are the first words that appear directly below, the first epithet applied to this newly-minted creation as it was unleashed upon the world:

Champion of the Oppressed.

There it is, coded into his creative DNA from the very beginning: He fights for the little guy.

And that’s why this bugs me, and why I’m not the least bit curious about what Card’s Superman might be like.

DC Comics has handed the keys to the “Champion of the Oppressed” to a guy who has dedicated himself to oppress me, and my partner, and millions of people like us. It represents a fundamental misread of who the character is, and what he means.

championofopprosssed

As an alternative, David Gerrold (writer of every sci fi thing you’ve ever heard of, including “The Trouble With Tribbles”), has offered to provide some balance:

Perhaps you could balance that decision by hiring an openly gay writer to draft a Superman story for a future issue.  I hereby volunteer. …

I have some very good ideas that I think would work well for the series. I’d like the opportunity to write for you the very best Superman story ever.

Superman isn’t just any character.  Superman belongs to us.  He belongs to every kid who ever needed to believe that there was a truly good being out there who would use his superpowers to look out just for that kid.  He has always responded to current events in a way that stands up for true equity and justice.  He can’t simply ignore where America is now.

Orson Scott Card has a history in comics, he no doubt can author some great comic story lines.  But can Card write a true Superman — a hero that believes in the opposite of what the author himself believes?

Sava is right – the first “Adventures of Superman” will sell big time – because nothing sells better than a controversy.  But that’s not a good reason to tie the essence of who Superman is to an author that would never agree with Superman’s true nature.

Superman always tells us that we can do better.  I think DC Comics could have done better.

superman