Friday, June 30, 2006

"All That Stuff"

I haven’t seen Superman Returns yet, and I’m not sure when I will, but I really want to. The trailers look great and I have great faith in Bryan Singer’s vision when it comes to these comic book movies.

But I gotta tell you about something that’s been bugging me since I first saw the trailer a couple of months ago.

That is, a sound-bite where Daily Planet chief, Perry White says, “Does he (Superman) still stand for Truth? Justice? All that stuff…?

Now, unless you’ve lived without any access to the media or pop-culture for your entire life (if so--how on earth did you even find my blog?), you know that Superman stands for “Truth, Justice and The American Way.”

This has been bothering me for a while, but I didn’t know if it was worth mentioning since I hadn’t yet seen the movie. But today I heard someone talking about it on talk radio, and so, I guess it really is an issue.

The omission of “The American Way” says much about the filmmakers. It seems they were not comfortable stating the “American Way” is an ideal worth fighting for. As we begin the 4th of July weekend, I think this is a sad commentary for many reasons.

In a Washington Post article about the topic, screenwriters Michael Dougherty and ,Dan Harris are quoted as saying they were hesitant to use the phrase “American Way” because “when people say 'American way,' they're actually talking about what the 'American way' meant back in the '40s and '50s, which was something more noble and idealistic."

Really? Do they really believe that? I thought the Hollywood elite despised the values of the 40’s and 50’s. I guess these guys are an exception. They must long for those good ol’ days back when women stayed in the kitchen and before civil rights laws! (Maybe they should rethink that position, eh?)

Politics aside, they also claim that because Superman is an alien, he’s a citizen of the world. In my view, this shows a lack of understanding of the character.

Yes, Superman is an alien: Kal-El from planet Krypton. But, more importantly, he is also Clark Kent, raised by Martha and Jonathan on a Kansas farm. This was a deliberate choice by Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. They could have had Kal-El land in New York City or San Francisco and grow up as a progressive, urbane hipster. But they did not. Superman’s entire worldview and value system were forged by his adoptive parents, in America’s heartland.

In an attempt to create a Superman film they believe will be relevant to today’s audience, the screenwriters have removed a crucial part of the hero’s character. Because they don’t believe America has any particular value in the world, they’ve decided that Superman also feels this way. I understand that the writers may lack the ability to judge that one society’s values may be better than another’s. But I don’t really get the idea of a Superman who is unable to make those moral distinctions.

As I stated before—I haven’t seen the film yet. I will. I want to. In spite of this rant, I have high expectations for the film. I only hope that Superman’s character has not been watered down, as suggested above. I saw an interview with Bryan Singer who claims that his Superman is “deeper.” Maybe it’s true, and the action in the film depicts a hero that people can still look up to. They say that actions speak louder than words. Still, words are extremely important. That’s what thoughts are made of. I wish they hadn’t changed those particular words.

Happy Birthday America!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

An Advertiser's Dream

I readily admit it.

I am extremely susceptible to suggestion. Especially when suggested in the form of some delicious foodstuff. Hence my search for Haagen-Daz Mayan Chocolate ice cream. I saw an ad for it a couple of weeks ago.

Dark chocolate and cinnamon. How could that be a bad thing?

Since then, I’ve looked in every grocery store around me to no avail. Until today! They have it at my local Gelsons. If any representatives from Vons, Ralphs or Bristol Farms are reading this, you’d do well to order some of this stuff quickly.

It’s delightful. Sigh. Look at this...


But then, if you ask my wife, this is the book on me. I’m the guy who always has to try the latest flavor, the new-fangled pasta or wacky soft drink.

Yes, I have a bottle of Coke Blak in my fridge. Haven’t tried it yet, so I’ll have to let you know.

I’m an advertiser’s dream. Show me a pretty picture and I’ll try your product. Luckily for our bank account, I watch ZERO television these days. That’s a subject for another blog, but I’ve been TV-free for about five years now. I keep up with the pop culture courtesy of Netflix. God bless them.

Part of the reason I don’t watch TV is because I become very weak in the cool glow of the cathode ray. Or whatever it is. My brain shuts off and I seem to loose motor functions when presented with television. I…can’t…move…! I’ll watch almost anything. Or nothing! Just flip them channels. Commercials are often more entertaining than the regular programming, in any case. Anyway, I just can’t seem to help trying new things. What a good consumer my mother raised!

Not all advertising works on me. I truly hate email spam and those annoying “pop up” ads that appear over many websites. Even worse, in the non-digital arena, is the mountain of trash that appears in my mailbox every day. What a waste of paper. Also, I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but in my neighborhood, a deluge of flyers are strewn on my front porch daily. I ignore these ads on principal.

But the absolute WORST thing you can do for your product (or cause) is to ring my doorbell. I don’t know why, but solicitors are truly my pet peeve. I hate them. I don’t care if you’re a kid looking for a sponsor for a school trip, a Jehovah’s Witness, the police collecting for the department’s fund drive, or a global-warming fanatic looking for a signature. If I don’t know you personally, stay away from my door. Pretty please. I would tell these people to write up their request and put it in a letter, but I already told you that I ignore junk mail. Now if they’d take out a nice, glossy, full-page magazine ad, maybe they’d get my attention.

As long as it looks delicious!

P.S. Here’s a link. Try that “flavor finder!”