by Dean Cain
DC Comics recently revealed that in an upcoming issue titled “Superman: Son of Kal-El,” the son of Lois Lane and Clark Kent would be bisexual, and that he’s going to fight “real-world problems” such as climate change, that he’ll protest the deportation of refugees, and date a “hacktivist.”
What exactly is a “hacktivist”? Isn’t hacking illegal? Is Superman supporting criminal activity? It’s a chore to keep up with all the different iterations of the current superheroes, but DC Comics is calling it a “bold new direction” for the character. I see nothing “bold” about it.
I say they’re jumping on the bandwagon, but they’re fighting the wrong issues. There is a clear agenda here. It’s globalist, it’s anti-America, but it’s not bold and it’s not brave.
Robin, Batman’s famed red-headed sidekick, came out as bisexual recently, and honestly, who is shocked about that one? The new Captain America is gay. The character of Alex (my daughter in the live-action series “Supergirl”) was lesbian. A gay or bisexual superhero is not groundbreaking in 2021. It’s banal. I have zero issue with that. I’m all for inclusiveness and acceptance and tolerance. It might be more interesting, however, if they created new characters instead of retrofitting the identity of existing ones.
“Brave” would have been to do some of this 30 years ago. Or to depict Superman, or Jon Kent, fighting for the rights of LGBT people in Iran where they’ll throw you off a building for the “offense” of even being suspected of homosexuality. And why doesn’t Superman fight the injustices that created the refugees whose deportation he’s protesting? Digging deep into those issues — that would be brave. That would be informative. I’d read that comic book.
“Bold” would be fighting for the rights of Afghan women to attend school and be able to live free and go to work, and fighting for the right for boys to not be raped by men under the supposedly newly enlightened Taliban.
There is genuine evil in the world. Actual corruption and government tyranny. Plenty of real-world things to fight against. Like people being put into Chinese concentration camps because of their religion. Or human trafficking — honest-to-God slavery — taking place all over the world today. It exists. Right now, and in our own hemisphere. Drug cartels trafficking people across the border, sexually molesting young women. Brave and bold would be to tackle those issues and shine a light into that darkness. I’d love to see the character doing that. I’d read that, too.
“Truth, Justice, and the American Way” is no longer the catchphrase of Superman. The new phrase? “Truth, Justice, and a Better World.” Okay, I’ll buy that, but what’s the vision that accompanies this more expansive view of social justice? What would make for a better world? Socialism? Communism? Forced equality?
To me, a better world is one in which people have more freedom and independence. Protection from government overreach and corruption. Safety and security. In a word, the idea of America. A government of the people, by the people, and for the people – concepts laid out by our Founding Fathers during the creation of the United States of America.
No, America is not perfect. We are constantly striving for a more perfect union, but I believe it’s self-evident that ours is the most free and fair and most equitable country — with the most opportunity — in the history of the world. That’s why so many people are desperately making their way here, through all manner of hardships, from all corners of the globe.
Yet, the cool thing right now is to bash America. But I wonder if most of the people who do so have really traveled and spent real time in other countries — dealing with other governments to see what the rest of the world is like. I have, and most of the world is nothing like America. Most of the rest of the world lacks our individual freedom, our equality of opportunity, our right to compete in open markets, and, yes, the ability to attain material success. We shouldn’t apologize for any of it. We should revel in these values, which have attracted waves of new immigrants to our shores every year.
In 1938, DC Comics (then called Action Comics) unveiled the story of unique immigrant, a baby from a dying planet who, as an adult, devotes his life to fighting crime, righting wrongs, and defending honest government. This is not hyperbole. In the very first Superman strip, our hero ends up in the U.S. Capitol where he interrupts a corrupt bargain between a lobbyist and a lawmaker. This, after convincing the governor to spare an innocent woman about to be executed for a murder she didn’t commit, roughing up a wife beater, and (of course) saving the life of Lois Lane. Superman was a fast worker.
What makes America great isn’t our government, and it certainly isn’t an increasingly authoritative “nanny state.” Instead, it’s our commitment to freedom and our traditions of self-reliance. Of course, we should acknowledge the shortcomings of our history and strive to live up to our creed, but we live in a country made great despite Big Government and career politicians, not because of them. As Ronald Reagan said, “Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.”
As for the cultural gatekeepers busily rethinking which of our national heroes — or iconic superheroes, for that matter — belong on pedestals, I’d say this: Inclusiveness is healthy, but tinkering with the sexuality or political outlook of fictional heroes does not necessarily improve their character. Here, after all, was the initial description of the man from Krypton: “Superman, champion of the oppressed. The physical marvel who had sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need!”
That’s a hard mantra to improve on, in my view, and is quintessentially American — it champions both strength and compassion.
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