Must There Be An “American Way”?
For me, I always thought that “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” was a bit redundant. At least, I hoped that it was, because that implied that the American Way didn’t actually include truth and justice. As it turns out, the phrase wasn’t even original to the character. Remember the introduction to the Fleischer Superman cartoons of the 40s?
Heard it? Never-ending Battle for Truth and Justice… but no American Way. Same with The Adventures Of Superman radio show, which started with:
Look! Up in the sky!
It’s a bird!
It’s a plane!
“Yes, it’s Superman–strange visitor from the planet Krypton who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can leap tall buildings in a single bound, race a speeding bullet to its target, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great Metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth and justice.”
And this was during World War II, not exactly a time short on American patriotism.
It wasn’t until 1952 that the TV series gave us:
Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! (“Look! Up in the sky!” “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!” “It’s Superman!”)… Yes, it’s Superman … strange visitor from another planet, who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men! Superman … who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way! And now, another exciting episode, in The Adventures of Superman!
Why was “the American Way” phrase added? Probably for the same reason that the words “under God” started showing up in the Pledge of Allegiance around the same time– it was supposed to help fight communism.
Considering this issue shipped the same day Barack Obama had to take extraordinary steps to prove that he was born in this country to the same sort of people who are now braying that Superman has betrayed them, I cannot help but be a bit confused. The fictional character is a real American citizen, and the President of the United States isn’t?
Of course, Superman really wasn’t born in the United States. (He really wasn’t born at all, but play along with me here.) If you asked Superman to produce a birth certificate, he couldn’t– hell, the Kents lied to get Clark one.
Now, whether DC made a good storytelling choice here– that’s for the next article.
- Superman’s new citizenship status unleashes Fox News (comicsbeat.com)
- Superman Dustup? (zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com)
- YAWN: Superman to renounce American citizenship. Big deal. Who says he’s a citizen anyway? Who’s… (pajamasmedia.com)
- Superman renounces American citizenship (doubleplusundead.com)
- Cue Outrage: Superman To Renounce U.S. Citizenship In New Comic (mediaite.com)
- Superman Defies God, USA in Action Comics’ Landmark 900th Issue (wired.com)
- Superman Renounces His U.S. Citizenship (geekologie.com)