Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Jeanne Wolf interviewed the writers of the new Superman movie and asked them why "truth, justice and the American way" was changed to "truth, justice and ... all that stuff."

The response that Mike Dougherty and Dan Harris gave Wolf was that Superman is not American.

Mike: "When it comes to the American way, that's tricky."
Dan: "I don't think 'the American way' means what it meant in 1945."
Mike: "He's not just for Metropolis, and not just for America."
Dan: "He's an alien, from Krypton; he has come to Earth to be kind of a savior for this world, not our country … And he has no papers."
Mike: "What would happen with the immigration laws we have now?"
Dan: "I'd like to see someone kick him out!"

Director Bryan Singer admits that when they made the revision to the legendary slogan, they did have the international market in mind. Which means American audiences might like to hear those words more than foreign ticket buyers. As far as the filmmakers are concerned, Superman is for all the world. And that world includes a lot of cash.

What's wrong with reasserting that Superman is an American? After all, the audience is not dumb. Clark Kent works in America; presumably pays his taxes before April 15, votes on election day and serves jury duty. He doesn't speak the Queen's English. If Clark Kent lived in Belgium he'd be spending his time writing white papers, if he lived in France he'd be protesting for the 35 hour work week. Instead, he is an American who doesn't wait around for the government to do the saving, he takes it upon himself to help his neighbors. Ony in America could an outsider like Superman forge his own identity yet be accepted at the same time.

Hollywood filmmakers have become embarrassed to be Americans. The movie industry used to be proud in exporting our national ideals and values. But, Hollywood no longer wants to be associated with "America".

The "American way", according to Hollywood, has now become a grotesque beast that plagues the planet Earth. Hollywood buys into a myth that the United States is out of touch with the rest of the world due to the political bent of America's elected government officials and the nation's response to the most devastating terrorist attacks in our history. The "American way" in Hollywood's eye is now represented by a fascist syndication that sanctions torture in military prisons, encourages the destruction of the air we breathe, wiretaps your grandmother's phone calls, monitors where you spend your money, cracks down on televised profanity and enables "Jesus freaks" to turn the world upside down. It is the myth and caricature of what America has become that has made Hollywood the very paranoid and delusional center of influence that it accused the rest of the nation of becoming.

There is something about a notion of an "American way" that now shames Hollywood writers. There are very few movies made anymore about the heroism of our military personnel. We no longer see Hollywood movies in which characters pray or go to church services. The only remarkable screen protagonists we have left are the men wearing tights and capes. Superheroes are a distinctly American creation (leave it to the French to come up with the super bureaucrat) -a reflection of what we all wish we could be if we were better people - but Hollywood denizens wish to deny the American in all of us.


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