Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Puny Humans Try to Coerce Hulk! Hulk Smash!

A belated election day post from Dave's Long Box. The comments get a little silly, as some people can't avoid bloviating no matter the context. But this brings up an interesting point that I had been thinking about while brain-storming for ideas on a possible superhero-related novel: are superheroes perceived by the public as liberal or conservative in general? What kind of support do they get from the authorities and how does that change over the decades? The way I figure it, the original Golden Age heroes were all from the GI Generation, so they are likely nearly all FDR New Deal Democrats. The law looks the other way at vigilantism, or some heroes even ignore it as they fight corruption. After WWII, you have "Seduction of the Innocents," superheroes are seen as nonconformist and bad influences, so the public starts to turn against them. When the Silver Age comes around, superheroes are still mostly New Dealers, but now they are The Establishment and on the wrong end of the Cultural Revolution. Remember, most of the fighting in the '60's was between Liberals and Radicals not Liberals and Conservatives. Around this time, the Supreme Court starts taking a closer look at laws that allow vigilantes to run amok and starts excluding evidence beaten out of informants in back alleys. Some of the Silver Age heroes become more conservative, and some more radical, as the country polarizes. In fact, I can see superhero vs. sidekick Generation Gap conflict as a theme during this time. As a result, superheroes in the '70's are a bizarre mishmash and probably generally seen as old-fashioned and somewhat silly. You'd probably see sitcoms and movies routinely lampooning heroes. If there is a government superhero program in place, Jimmy Carter probably shuts it down. In fact, he probably gets blasted in 1980 for not using superheroes to rescue the Iranian Hostages. By the '80's, the Reagan Revolution hits, patriotism (not to mention brutal vigilantism) is cool, anti-vigilante laws and rulings are loosened and superheroes are again seen as part of The Establishment. You'd probably see a government-run superhero team by then, turning up publicly in places like Grenada and less publicly in Nicaragua or Afghanistan. At the turn of the Millenium, I think we'd see superheroes being criticized as male-dominated and exclusive of racial minorities. Bill Clinton would be far less likely to use government superheroes, especially after a superpowered Iran-Contra Scandal. George W. Bush, on the other, would likely make immediate use of both public and covert superhero teams. That's how I see it, anyway.

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