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Tuesday, November 24, 2020 

Aubrey Sitterson hijacks the visions for Superman, for the sake of promoting his far-left ideologies

Polygon published a self-indulgent commentary by the dreadful leftist writer Sitterson, where he lectures everybody on what Superman was about in the Golden Age, all for the sake of promoting his SJW-themed Beef Brothers comic. What follows is filled with plenty of slapdash moments:
Whether in comics or film, television or video games, most contemporary superheroes maintain a consistent moral code: liberty within rigidly defined boundaries, outside of which punitive violence is necessary and justified. In 2020, superheroes are less interested in improving the world than in defending the status quo, neatly aligning them with the right-wing politicians to which executives and board members donate as well as the toothless corporate liberalism their companies espouse.
So straight out of the gate, he's got anti-conservative biases to offer up, signaling he believes that, despite the left-leaning politics of executives at conglomerates - the very same ones who've enabled political abuse at Marvel and DC - corporations' contributors are inherently right-wing. Though I will say Isaac Perlmutter is one decidedly faux-conservative who allowed Marvel to sink as far as they have to date, instead of proving he had what it took to minimize the damage. Sitterson sure knows how to insult people's intellects. Besides, there may have once been a time when superheroes were written carrying a more consistent moral code, but that's all changed years ago. I'd argue it was around 9-11 that clear morals began getting thrown to the winds, as too many leftists in entertainment let their obsessions with scapegoating conservatives get the better of them. And it hasn't changed much since.
Judging from the current landscape, it’s easy to assume that superheroes have never been anything more than corporate-owned supercops, reactionary power fantasies cloaked in liberal signifiers. But that generalization obscures the truth: Superheroes used to be about helping and protecting people, not the systems and hierarchies holding them down.
Well that's because leftists like Sitterson would rather obscure history than embrace it, all because there's only so many non-PC moments in the past that don't meet their twisted standards today. That said, even today's corporate owned comics aren't exactly abandoning the idea of defending innocents from criminals in the streets. What is apparent is that, because of the leftists in charge now, they're determined to claim it's all a failure of the right, and never the left. And a lot of leftists don't seem to read older material starring superheroes, or built on adventure themes, unless it's to find something they can exploit to further their agendas.
Though heavily concealed over the course of generations, that radical, anarchic strain has been a part of the superhero genre since its beginnings, with Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s 1938 creation of Superman. As originally envisioned, the character was a far cry from the gleaming piece of intellectual property we know today; Superman was a populist champion, pushing back against predatory criminals, corrupt politicians, and greedy landlords.
But no matter the personal politics of Siegel/Shuster, it wasn't heavy handed like the outwardly blatant displays of bias you see today. The advantage at the time was that, at least till the turn of the century, most writers maintained subtlety as an approach, so that, even if you didn't agree with their liberal values in every way, you didn't feel you were being hammered at every turn and lectured to as has sadly become the case in modern times. The earliest example of a writer who tragically infiltrated the industry and forced political lecturing of the absurd kind into comicdom would have to be Gerard Jones, who was imprisoned 2 years ago for illegally storing child pornography on his home computer equipment. I've since researched a lot of the books he wrote, and reevaluated much of his past portfolio, concluding he was one of the worst things to happen to the industry that never even tried to put a stop to his offensive actions behind the scenes.

Something Sitterson appears oblivious to is that a corrupt politician Superman dealt with in the first story was involved in selling weapons to warmongers in south American countries, and tried to pull a similar stunt by forcing the US to declare war on Europe wholesale, which would've made them do exactly what the Nazis did soon after. In other words, weapons sold behind the scenes for prolonging wars, rather than ending them by making clear distinctions between who's good or evil.

And where does Sitterson get off claiming early superhero comics embraced anarchy? By that definition, you'd think superheroes were below vandalizing innocent people's businesses, as took place in NYC over the past few months when BLM rioters tore up Manhattan's commercial streets. Where does he even get the idea what he considers acceptable was "heavily concealed" when it wasn't even there? What Sitterson said is offensive and risks harming the reputation of comicdom. It's also offensive to victims of Kristallnacht. The Polygon piece becomes more Orwellian with the following:
Like all superheroes, Superman was of and for his time. The character’s creators had lived through the Great Depression, witnessing the catastrophic failures of U.S. economic and political systems firsthand. Siegel and Shuster had watched working class people — like their Jewish immigrant parents — bear the brunt of those failures, while the country’s robber barons remained as wealthy and powerful as ever. Just as significantly, as children, they had also seen a potential alternative to a nation ruled by the rich: the successful socialist worker’s revolution that led to the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1923.
Oh my god. He's normalizing communism? Does this mean all the lives lost to Lenin/Stalin/Zedong's machinations were literally justified? So now it's clear. Sitterson wrote this item as an assault on capitalism, the very belief system that lets him make money off of some of the wrestling stories he's written, and would've let him do the same with GI Joe, if he'd kept his manners. He ignores that "nazi" is actually an acronym for "National Socialists" if we were talking about the situation in Germany in the early 20th century, and doesn't consider that many of Siegel and Shuster's Jewish brethren were victims of the very ideology the Nazi party was built upon, to say nothing of communism as practiced in eastern Europe. If Sitterson's trying to say communism as practiced in the USSR and China was nowhere near as bad as Germany's, that too would be sorely mistaken.

Recalling Sitterson once worked as an editor for Marvel, I can only wonder if this means he detests the anti-communist stories written by Stan Lee during the Silver Age. DC also had their own metaphors for communism turning up (the supervillain Sonar was something like that when he debuted in Green Lantern at the time), and Sitterson probably considers them just as invalid, tragically enough.

And when Sitterson turns to mentioning Wonder Woman, he blows it big time too:
This was the cultural milieu from which emerged not only Superman, but the rest of the first wave of superheroes. Rivaling Superman in popularity was C.C. Beck and Bill Parker’s Captain Marvel (now Shazam), who combined the original superhero’s populist appeal with a fantastical childlike whimsy. Meanwhile, William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter’s Wonder Woman was a profoundly radical character, one Marston — a polyamorous psychologist and self-help author — used to explore feminist ideas that wouldn’t become mainstream until decades afterward.
What does he mean? Man-hating and Orwellian anti-sex propaganda? Because for one thing, Golden Age WW was far from man-hating propaganda, seeing as goddess Diana fell in love with a mortal man, USAF Colonel Steve Trevor, and took the identity of a woman who wanted to get married, Diana Prince, when she was looking for a way to integrate with society while keeping her ID secret. I guess Sitterson's so blinded by his own radical socialism, he can't even admit the way he dumbed down presentation of the women in his brief GI Joe run was only so insulting to the intellect. Yes, tell us all about it, please. Today's feminism, whether or not its followers attended the WW movie 3 years ago, rejects much of what made Marston and Peter's creation so admired in the past. It's not even clear Marston actually was polyamorous (Update: he had 2 children by both wife Elizabeth and mistress Olive Byrne. It's been too long since I'd last done research on this, so my knowledge got rusty.) What's certainly clear is Sitterson wants to lecture everybody about what he considers the "real" picture, and Polygon's editors couldn't be happier to host him.
But for all the working-class, egalitarian populism on display, early superheroes also featured a reactionary impulse, most clearly displayed in Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s Batman. The powerful benefactor who uses his wealth to save the poor from themselves grew to become one of the genre’s most enduring archetypes, as exemplified by weapons manufacturer Iron Man and monarch Black Panther.
Sounds like somebody wants to claim Batman as an icon only to be embraced by - who else? - the left. Because of course, it's unacceptable Bruce Wayne should be admired by the right for anything he represents, Chuck Dixon's notable 90s run notwithstanding. Wayne's parents were wealthy medical experts, gunned down by a small time thug later revealed to be Joe Chill (at least until political correctness in the 90s saw to it this would be jettisoned circa Zero Hour for a vision where the culprit was never found), and Sitterson wants it to look as though Batman was entirely shaped by visions of leftism? How very touching indeed. He doesn't even consider that Kane made a lot of bank on Batman's successes over the years till his death at the turn of the century (Finger died earlier in 1974), which wasn't exactly following the playbook Sitterson goes by with his socialist embrace. Why, there's even suggestions Sitterson is making Lee out to look like he was wealthier than he actually began in life:
The difference between Kirby and Lee was stark. Kirby grew up in the rough tenements of New York City’s Lower East Side, a neighborhood that housed recent Jewish immigrants, many of whom worked in factories owned by more well-to-do Jewish families of the Upper West Side, where Lee was raised. In comics, Kirby continued to experience the travails of the working class, grinding out countless characters and stories of which he held no ownership. Meanwhile, Lee was management; at the tender age of 19, he became the editor of Marvel’s precursor Timely Comics, which was owned by Lee’s cousin-in-law Martin Goodman. For Kirby, life was a struggle to elevate himself while beset on all sides by oppressive and exploitive systems; in the 1970s, his populist, egalitarian leanings would be given free expression in his magnum opus, the interlocking DC series comprising his “Fourth World” storyline. But for Lee, the system was working as intended, a meritocracy that led not only to him editing an entire line of comics, but writing many of them and taking an amount of credit that remains heavily debated today.
Excuse me? From the history notes I've read about Lee's life, he was born in Manhattan in the West End borough, with a father who'd worke as a dress cutter, but even after the Great Depression, he didn't get enough work, and at one point, the family lived in a Bronx apartment where Lee and his brother Larry shared the same single bedroom while his parents slept on a folding couch. And Lee did not become an editor in an instant. His first job was as an assistant writer at most, and when he was appointed editor at nearly 19, it was an an interim-based role. It was only later on he actually became EIC, a job which he kept in some way or other until 1972, when he ascended publisher's role. Sitterson makes it sound like Lee belonged to a far better economic status than Kirby, no matter what the status of his own family proper, and like he was literally the product of nepotism, even though today's nepotism differs from that of yesteryear, when family owned businesses could employ relatives. I guess this is the most telling hint what Sitterson really thinks of Lee, even as he's made clear from his past politics he's got a condescending view of Kirby's own creations too, like Capt. America. Which could explain why Sitterson's talk of meritocracy sounds only so suspect. Including the following:
...With the triumph of post-war liberalism, Kirby’s working-class point of view was subjugated to Lee’s post-war middle-class sensibilities; there was no longer any room for radical, populist heroes.
What a funny thing to say coming from a socialist like Sitterson. He makes it sound like nothing was radical about Lee's creations when they came about, let alone populist. But it gets worse:
Superheroes’ standard operating procedures became liberal ideals by fascist means, enacted within and in defense of established structures. [...]
Boy, this is even weirder, coming from a liberal. Very weird. Or is a man who insulted victims of 9-11 trying to virtue-signal by saying yesterday's liberalism was literally different from what he's espousing now? Needless to say, it's insulting to the intellect how he perpetuates the propaganda that superheroes are no different from totalitarians like European fascists/communists. What, did superheroes of yesteryear go around molesting innocent women and children and using racial slurs? Did they go around committing murder? What's particularly offensive about smearing superhero creations as "fascists" in their conduct is that it makes their Jewish creators by extension out to look no better than the socialist totalitarians they fell victim to over time. Sitterson continues with the following bafflers, which look like an attack on Reagan, and oddly enough make Clinton out to seem no different:
With their anarchic populist strain sequestered away and their idealistic faith in hierarchies of business and government shattered, there was nothing left to animate superheroes but rules for the sake of rules and the violence necessary to enforce them. Nowhere is this clearer than in a pair of seminal works: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. The comics are shockingly different; while Miller indulged in superheroes’ fascist elements, Moore & Gibbons issued an anarchic broadside against the genre’s authoritarianism. Both works, however, hold up a mirror to Reagan’s anti-worker, tough-on-crime, austerity politics and, significantly, the nihilism that comes with the acknowledgement that the only truly inviolable law is might makes right.

In the 1990s, that nihilism was joined by gleeful fatalism. With Bill Clinton’s Democratic party embracing the neoliberal politics of Reagan, superheroes, like much of the country, acknowledged that there was no other option but the way things are. The mere potential for transformational, revolutionary, populist politics was stomped out of the genre, as superheroes became meaner, more violent, and more authoritarian in their defense of the status quo.

This trend has continued into the present day. While many Marvel and DC superheroes have shed the outward signifiers of violent, fatalistic nihilism in favor of optimism and hopefulness, it’s nothing more than a costume. Superheroes, their stories, and the assumptions they’re predicated upon remain rooted in authoritarian impulses and nigh-fascist logic; contemporary superheroes dedicate themselves to protecting oppressive hierarchies from people, not the other way around. Perhaps this should come as no real surprise, as Marvel and DC are owned by two of America’s biggest media conglomerates, Disney and AT&T, respectively.
If this is supposed to imply costumes symbolize violence, rather than ideology and personality, I'm not impressed (and costumes, like masks were usually meant to conceal actual identities back in the day, so what's his stupid point?). Besides, a guy who espoused revolting visions like he did back in 2017 isn't particularly qualified to complain about violence, assuming he is, and he's been pretty much espousing certain anti-sex propaganda, as seen when he waters down the physique of some ladies in GI Joe, while introducing an overweight woman in a disastrous spinoff that lasted barely 3 issues (and he clearly doesn't know enough about military requirements that you be physically fit, proving that, if he's advocating "realism", selectively or otherwise, he's not being very honest about it). If you have a problem with violence, it's advisable not to have the same with the concept of sex appeal, and if sex is a problem, it should really be whenever children are sexualized, which is abominable. It's not really true that optimism's been reembraced again in either DC or Marvel's universes either, since Batman's been disturbingly eclipsing Superman's popularity for more than a decade, and some time ago, Bullseye stabbed Heimdall to death. Even creator-owned (and sometimes crowdfunded) comics can be fixated too often on cultures of violence. These are telling examples of how, despite Sitterson's jumbled claim to the contrary, violence in itself is still considered acceptable marketing for entertainment. When he gets around to discussing his new indie comic, he says:
Out of that desire sprang Tyrell and my aspirational, leftist superhero comic BEEF BROS. Our bodybuilder heroes, Huey and Ajax Beef, base their actions not on the mandates of oppressive hierarchies of government and business, but rather, on a simple, foundational truth that many of us learned as children: If you can help someone, you do it. But as uncontroversial as that maxim appears, when taken to its extreme — as Huey and Ajax take everything — it puts the Beef Bros in conflict with the entirety of modern, capitalist society, from cruel cops and greedy landlords to corrupt governments and omnipotent corporations.
And here it looked confusingly like he was criticizing certain leftists like Clinton before. A man who engineered the Oslo accords that led to jihadist horrors in the middle east, whose policies on economy reeked more of a propaganda strategy now employed in China, and even disarmed military bases. Actually, what's laughable is the notion these would only be leftist concerns. Yes, there have been scummy landlords in the past, and it wouldn't be wise to assume it's impossible today, but if a landlord does try to take advantage of tenants, wouldn't that be closer to a socialist stealing tactic? Plus, does he believe greedy landlords are all automatically right-leaning? That would be flawed too. Same with corrupt cops, governments and corporations. Not to mention that if Sitterson's trying to crowdfund this comic, he's actually embracing - surprise! - capitalism. The holes in logic are big enough for a herd of elephants to stroll through.

I can only conclude Sitterson is somebody who's disillusioned with mainstream comics for all the wrong reasons, and it makes little difference that the people minding the store today, much like him, are far-leftists who, despite suggestions to the contrary, are keeping on with the political propaganda, which is still noticeable at Marvel too under C.B. Cebulski, if the recent New Warriors embarrassment serves as an indicator. Alas, Sitterson can't reevaluate his own socialist leanings and realize that leftists can be the greedy landlords he allegedly complains about, and are doing just that today at corporations, all in order to espouse the same ideologies as his. Honestly, if this is how Sitterson feels, maybe he should change his profession. Mainly because, if he whitewashes communism, he doesn't belong in comicdom.

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Marston lived together with two women at the same time and had children with both of them. Polyamory us sounds like the right label for them.

Thanks, I added a note to reflect that.

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