Wednesday, June 21, 2006

 

Holy Super Icon

His name means "the voice of God." He was sent to earth by his father -- for whom he was the only son -- as a savior, and according to his father, "to be a light to the human race." His mission was to overcome evil. Yet, he kept this messianic mission a secret, eventually revealing it to only his closest friends, among them a woman he loved. He performed miracles, and displayed powers far beyond those of mortal man. Ultimately, he was killed. But, he returned from the dead, in a new form. Is this a synopsis of the Gospel According to John? No. It's the story of Superman. The iconic nature of the Superman character and story is steeped in Christ imagery, an archetypical device used in other films (most famous among them, E.T. the Extraterrestrial) and also in literature (Stranger in a Strange Land, Catch-22, Slaughterhouse Five). As Superman Returns opens in just a few days, the story of Krypton's last surviving son has once again raised debate as to the symbolism of the Man of Steel. I remember watching Superman II on TV many years ago with my grandfather in the room. And as the trio of super-villains from the planet Krypton, led by General Zod, force the President of the United States to kneel before them in submission. The President says, "What I do now, I do for the people of the planet. But there is one man, who will never kneel before you." And Zod says, "Where is this man?" And the President responds, "I wish I knew." And my grandfather, watching this scene, instinctively said, "Jesus." But of course the answer was Superman. So, is Superman, in fact, Jesus? (Anyone remember that Jesus wears a Superman t-shirt in the film Godspell?) Or, since he was created by two Jewish men at a time when Adolf Hitler was slaughtering Jews, did they unconsciously mean to reflect the story of Moses, who also saved his people from slavery and death? Just this week, the gay media has even offered that Superman (who must live his life "in the closet") actually parallels the life of a homosexual. Ironically, the film's director Bryan Singer -- who is gay -- stated that Superman is the most heterosexual character in any film he's directed. Regardless. What is clear is the character is so iconographic, he transcends a particular time period or pigeon hole, thus accounting for his enduring popularity for nearly a century (or is it 20 centuries?).

Comments:
All you see wherever you look is pussies and Jesus!
(Also, there simply is no legit Christ imagery argument to be made for Catch-22. Maybe for Slaughterhouse V, and that's the kind of stretch that finds Mary's face in some cotton candy--though Vonnegut's previous book, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater does have Jesus all over it.)
Oh look, there's tunnel, you know what that means! And there's a guy coming out of the tunnel who has an important message designed to help people but they don't want to listen! You know who...oh, look it's Al Gore...message to help people...nobody listens...all hail! And when we've given Al all our frankensense, we can get down to business with that inviting dark opening he emerged from. Some call it the Queens Midtown Tunnel, but you and I know better!
 
In response to Silberg. With regard to his comment, "There simply is no legit Christ imagery argument to be made for Catch-22." I respectfully disagree. In describing Yossarian's "Night Journey" through a war-torn Rome, Joseph Heller writes: "The night was filled with horrors, and he thought he knew how Christ must have felt as he walked through the world, like a psychiatrist through a ward of nuts." Furthermore, in his essay "From Christ in Flanders to Catch-22" An Approach to War Fiction," Eric Solomon points out that the chaplain in Catch-22 sees Yossarian sitting naked in a tree(the tree of life and knowledge), alluding to Yossarian as a "new Adam," a term often associated with Christ. And further, Heller writes that Yossarian has decided to live forever even if it kills him. The immortality inference in Heller's book is paralleled in Slaughterhouse Five by the immortality Billy Pilgrim achieves through his time travel. Both characters, like Christ, emerge from a land of the dead -- for Yossarian it's Rome; for Billy, Dresden -- re-emerge into a land of the living.
 
One comment about Christ does not a book about Christ make. And I'm not even going to dignify the other (tree of life my sweet ass) nonsense. A reference to immortality also does not need to have anything to do with Jesus. And where on earth do you get this zany connection between a simple desire to be immortal (as in Yossarian's case) or to possibly being immortal (though Pilgrim lives in a closed loop where he does die)to Jesus. It's such a zany wild stretch. Again, like the people who see the virgin Mary's face in the stain in the urinal. There have been discussions of this person or that god being immortal from the start of recorded history, millenia prior to Jesus's birth and there will continue to be long after Jesus is forgotten. That one rabbi doesn't have a monopoly on all references to immortality and any attempt to say, "He used the word immortal so he must be talking about Jesus" is just silly. Is Fame about Jesus because they sing "I want to live forever?"
Honestly, is there any movie, novel, play, opera or song that ISN'T about Jesus?
 
Although I find MOMM's post interesting, I agree with 'silberg'...enough about Jesus!

But keep writing about vaginas.
 
My belief is that we are spiritual beings. Therefore art, or really anyone's life work even if is not in the creative arts, becomes a represenation of whatever spiritual beliefs are rolling around in your head. How one interprets are is viewed through the lenses of their spirituality as well. (Which clearly means MOMM has an interesting spirituality given his propensity envision vaginas.)

However, one idividual might see Jesus, another Moses and another the woodland pixie faerie if that is his/her guiding force or inner strength.

Interstingly though, MOMM might not be too far off base with this one though, as there was a NY Times movie review (6/27/06)entitled "Superman Returns to save mankind from his Sins." It goes on to draw striking parallels between Christ and superman. I have listed the link below:

http://movies2.nytimes.com/2006/06/27/movies/27supe.html?8mu
 
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