Posts Tagged ‘corporate greed’

SUPERHEROES™: The Never Ending Bullshit – Truth, Justice and Corporate Greed Part 3

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Corporate Greed: There was a time when there was such a thing as the American Dream. It was predicated on the idea that if you worked hard, lived a good life  and saved your money you will achieve success. The American Dream manifested itself  differently in comic books where it was represented in the very beginning of the industry by downtrodden sons of immigrants during the Great Depression. Their vision was that of the meek attaining tremendous powers and using them to protect and serve their community. Their creations, which launched a genre known as superheroes, represented “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”

The recent PBS documentary Superheroes: The Never Ending Battle did a wonderful job bringing attention to these idealistic virtues of superheroes and comic books. What it neglected to do, however,  was show that superheroes of today also represent the continued victimization of their creators and their families and have become the iconic representation of Corporate Greed as the two monolithic media corporations Time/Warner and Disney, the parent companies of DC and Marvel respectively, seek to control, dominate, and protect their intellectual properties. They do this by the use of Draconian creator contracts, militant trademark enforcement of not just their characters but the word superhero itself, and by putting a stranglehold on the markets where other comics are sold and distributed.

This is what I see as the greatest failure of the documentary. That it supposedly represents superheroes as being a significant part of our culture. That superheroes are the modern American mythology. That superheroes represent Truth Justice and the American Way. That Superheroes are everywhere consumed by the imaginations of everyone. The documentary fails because it focuses solely on the superheroes represented by Marvel and DC and consequently  becomes a tool that empowers their domination and control of the entire genre.

Corporations are quickly corralling us all into a culture that is dictated by them. There was a time when culture would influence decisions made by a corporation but now media has such a firm embrace on our cultural psyche that they can manipulate our every whim. As corporations like Time/Warner and Disney seek to control trademark ownership of public domain characters from every fable, myth, legend, story and comic book they have a lock on each and every one of us that goes much deeper than our pocketbook. They control the extent our imaginations and the marketability of our creativity, personally and as a culture.

Superheroes were born from comic books for one reason. No other medium besides comics gives any person the opportunity to create so vividly a story that is so fantastic and so unimaginable about a person with incredible superpowers and their adventures. Comics let us deliver that idea to an audience in a precise and visually stimulating way with very little expense.

Imagine that the images that could be drawn on a page by a poor immigrant teenager with a pencil and ink were so fantastic that it required over forty years of technological development before they could be made believable on film! Today, it costs hundreds of millions of dollars to make a superhero action film but a superhero can come alive in a comic for next to nothing. The creator of the next great superhero could be a young kid publishing that story right now for very little cost on the internet, reaching millions of people around the globe in an instant.

That is the power of comics. That is the power of unfettered culture. That is the biggest fear to these big corporations, that the next great superhero will fly right under their nose and take the world by storm and they will not own a piece of it.

So Corporate Greed does what it does best and attempts to create tunnel vision for everyone it can with documentaries like Superheroes: The Never Ending Battle. They create a new mythology that everyone is expected to believe, that the Marvel and DC superheroes are the only game in town.

If they get enough of our attention and enough of our money and can control enough of the distribution system (we are to believe there is only one real comic book distributor) maybe we won’t notice that there is a world of other comics and superheroes out there. Maybe we won’t notice that many are much more entertaining and original than the seventy-five-year-old rehash of Superman or that fifty-year-old not-so-fresh take on Spider-man.

It is our job as true fans of the medium of comics and the genre of superheroes to remain vigilant and to ensure that the wealth of accurate information about what we love is not forgotten because the true archives of the past is the fertile ground from which a fruitful future will spring regardless how much manure is spread on the dried up wasteland of lies that the corporations want us to believe.

Yes the title of the documentary got it right. When it comes to superheroes there is a never ending battle to tell the truth about the comics industry, seek justice for creators, and to not fall victim to corporate greed because what we usually get told in documentaries like this is just a pile of very pretty bullshit that panders to the big guys.

Previous links to my perspective on this documentary can be found here:

SUPERHEROES™: The Never Ending Bullshit

SUPERHEROES™: The Never Ending Bullshit – Truth, Justice and Corporate Greed Part 1

SUPERHEROES™: The Never Ending Bullshit – Truth, Justice and Corporate Greed Part 2

Making Comics Because We Want to,

Gerry Giovinco

Life Imitates Comic Art

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Susie Cagle

The Occupy Wall Street Movement is growing to monumental proportions and as it does we are paying witness to more and more conflicts between protestors and police. In Oakland the conflict hit home to those of us in the comic industry when comic artist/journalist Susie Cagle was teargassed  by Oakland Police while covering the protest as a member of the media.

Reading her account in an interview on The Daily Cross Hatch and watching Youtube videos of the conflicts arising there and elsewhere struck a sickening yet familiar chord with me that paralleled a theme used successfully in comics where the hero becomes the villain in the eyes of the public.

Since the terrible 9/11 tragedy of the the World Trade Towers in 2001, police officers along with firemen, first responders and military personnel have all been hailed as heroes. These men and women are real heroes that touch our daily lives and sacrifice their own to protect ours. Memorials, monuments and statues have been erected all across our country in towns big and small, over the last decade, paying tribute to their valor.

These same men and women are now portrayed as the villains in this unfolding drama, shown in armor, wielding weapons and battling the very innocent, unarmed people they have sworn to protect. Suddenly, they are the target of taunting, name calling and general public hatred. Sound familiar?

Spider-man was publicly painted a villain by J. Jonah Jameson, Bat Man upholds the mantle of villain in Dark Knight, The X-Men are hated for their superior mutant powers though they strive to protect the weak. Even the supers in the Incredibles are forced underground because the were presented to the public as a potential threat to society. The list of superheroes painted as villains is long.

The story is always the same. In the end it is the public that becomes the victim as it is left without its champions, its defenders, its heroes. In the comics the hero always overcomes and saves the day.  Unfortunately in real life, that is not always the case.

The Occupy Wall Street Movement has wakened America and the world to the imbalances of the haves and the have nots  but its campaign is in danger of dividing the people along our own social lines of defense.  Those officers are as much a part of the 99% as anybody. None of them are millionaires.  They are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters. Let’s not turn on them. Embrace them.  They have proven that they will put their life on the line for the public. They are our heroes.

Villainy wants the public at odds with the police and military. It is a distraction from the real issues of corporate greed and corrupt government. It is a battle that needs to be won and will need our proven heroes in order to succeed.

The heroes in comics are fictional and we all cheer when they come to the rescue. We can’t believe that they were ever forsaken. Let’s learn a lesson from our comic books and keep our focus on the real villains: The one’s with the most to gain at the expense of everyone else.

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco

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