As always, another Friday brings another installment of the Yak of the Week Awards, dedicated to honoring the two-legged Yaks among us – the ones whose actions, ways and means demonstrate, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what it means to be equidistant from Truth and Reality. And all that stuff.
This week we proudly bestow the Yak of the Week Award for Truth, Justice and The American Way to Warner Brothers Pictures for its new film, Superman Returns – in which they prove that even Superman’s time-honored credo…isn’t.
It’s a bird…it’s a plane….it’s more below the fold….
In an action which clearly demonstrates what Hollywood film companies seem to think of Truth, Justice and Continuity, Warner Brothers decided that the “new” Superman should abandon his his 74 year-old pursuit of “Truth, Justice and The American Way” in favor of the Egg-Shenesque “Truth, Justice and All That Stuff” (Six Demon Bag Not Included). (Statistically, 46% of you got that. The rest don’t know Burton.)
Their reasoning? “The world is a different place” than it was when Superman first landed from Krypton. He’s no longer an American Hero – he’s an “international hero” (I didn’t know IHOP served sandwiches).
According to the film’s writers, “The American Way” is a “loaded and antiquated” expression. (But a flying man in tights and a cape is modern…[deleted snarky comment about San Francisco]). Concerned about what “the American way” might mean to audiences around the world, as well as the fact that the concept has “changed” since the 1930s when Superman took flight and movie audiences might not understand what Superman meant by the words, the writers decided to scrap the concept altogether – replacing it with the much more specific and identifiable “All that stuff.”
Let’s be realistic here. The movie is about Superman. An American Hero. Of course he fights for “The American Way,” – it’s who he is and what identifies him – at home and abroad.
There’s hardly a man, woman or child alive in the United States who’s not familiar with the concept – and probably relatively few who don’t associate this paragon of superherodom (I know, it’s not a word. Sue me.) with “Truth, Justice and The American Way.” I doubt any foreign viewer would disparage him as a xenophobe – and he can be everyone’s hero without having to surrender his nationality at the ticket booth.
Which is why changing the concept identifies the film so clearly with the concept of the two-legged Yak. The writers (and by extension, the producers and film company that put its name on the final product) became so committed to their version of “Truth” that they were willing to compromise Reality (and The American Way…) to bring it to fruition. They failed to realize that audiences may not be willing to accept a Superman who rejects his roots – for reasons which demonstrate only too clearly that modern movie audiences do still understand the concept Superman was talking about.
Superman’s call for Truth, Justice and The American Way represented the highest virtues of the superhero – the qualities to which regular people once aspired (and many still do). The American Way included truth and justice, but also freedom and the righting of wrongs. It meant the Natural Law concepts of Right prevailing over Wrong, Honesty over Obfuscation and the obligation of the strong to defend the weak. It meant the very Truth and Justice which preceded it.
To replace this powerful, understood Truth with the indeterminate (and I daresay effeminate) “All that stuff” is to emasculate perhaps the strongest symbol of the American Male-as-Hero. To render Superman but another indeterminate message in a stream of white noise and celluloid. It is the Kryptonite which even an American Icon cannot withstand.
For proving that Truth and Justice get lost in political correctness,
For attempting to de-super an American cultural hero,
For demonstrating that a fictional character can understand Truth better than a Hollywood executive,
and for reminding me why I will always prefer the book to the movie:
Congratulations, Yak of the Week.
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