Breaking the Narrative Episode 23:Up, Up, and Away! Supermen are Disposable!


Good day on this Thanksgiving week for my fellow American readers! To get back into things I figured I might do something a little off the beaten path of what I  usually do which is break up shitty narratives made by feminists about the things we like and grant an honest criticism of something we all love: Superheroes. This is going to serve two purposes. First it’ll show feminists there are genuine ways to criticize something people enjoy without lying their asses off on it. Second it’ll grant the criticism of heroism, particularly of the supernatural variety, as a concept to help reinforce the platitudes that lead men to their deaths in the thousands.  It’s okay to enjoy hero myths, of course, as they are stories of strength and virtue. Giving models to aspire to for both men and women alike.  However there is always that dark side of things in play. Lets Hammer this In.

To begin let us start by defining the Hero Mythos.  Every hero story tends to follow the paradigms put into place by the Epic of Gilgamesh. Most likely that’s because this is the first formally recorded heroic epic. Also, Gilgamesh is the first supernatural hero to boot as he is two-thirds god and one-third man. The most that people do know about this story is his fighting and befriending of the beast-man Enkidu and the sorrow Gilgamesh endures at his friend’s tortuous death. His character evolving and going into the sunset to discover the secrets of life and death for the sake of his fallen friend. This whole story showing itself as a justification of male disposability.  This is where we get the basis of our original argument. Where we go from here is how this has evolved with our current mythologies of the comic book superhero. I don’t think we have to go into the European mythologies because the bulk of them are derived from the same basics of this story. From avarice to piety stories of superhuman beings, if you really want some stories to mull over may I suggest the chronicles of Heracles, Thor, and the concept of the threefold death.

So now how do we begin with our superhero mythologies? The Smithsonian starts with the stories of Superman and Batman. Others say its The Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro. However, these heroes in their original form have neither supernatural abilities nor a sense of loss and grief, nor do they die themselves. As such I see the first of what we can consider contemporary superheroes are The Phantom and The Shadow!  These heroes both lost something of themselves during World War I, then known as The Great War. The Shadow lost his original identity and the Phantom lost his sense of self, becoming a ghost in a sense. Most might remember these heroes from the 90s movies based around the original pulp stories, though the bulk of their history is chronicled in radio dramas, novelizations, and works that are now decades out of print. If you want to see the disposability aspect I think the best way to do so is to listen to the recreation of the original radio drama recently done by Raz0rfist – The Shadow:The Immortal Murderer! If you want, try naming each YouTuber you recognize in it. I won’t spoil it but there is a definitive show of Lamont Cranston as self-sacrificial.

These heroes have a darker basis found originally in the world of pulp fiction where people die and mortality is prevalent. In the 1940s we get the evolution towards what we know today as the superhero paradigm, the so called Golden Age of Comics where many contemporary heroes were built. This is where we bring up Superman and his father’s sacrifice to save his son and Batman with his father’s sacrifice. In every form of these stories their mothers don’t willingly sacrifice themselves to save their child. Martha Wayne was killed because she screamed and Lara-El simply resigned herself to her fate knowing there was only enough time to produce a ship for one. We could go into all the other origin stories but in this age a lot of them source from these two save for one: Wonder Woman, the first female superhero of the modern age. Not only is her origin as unoriginal as to have been derived from Greek mythology but she effectively loses NOTHING in her original story. She was created as a pure Mary Sue character for reasons of “equality” even then.

As we work along to the Silver Age and Bronze Age of comics these heroes get introduced to something new to them, the idea that they might fail. Of course, the Comics Code minimized these losses to ‘child friendly’ possibilities such as the idea that they don’t always catch the criminal, or the criminal easily breaks out, but as soon as the modern or ‘Dark Age’ of comics came about they ditched the Comics Code Authority in The Dark Knight Returns. This was the age where superheroes started dying, starting with the risk of losing Supergirl (Kara Zor-El) which brought up the Crisis of Infinite Earths. This event is ended by the ‘sacrifice’ of the second Flash, Barry Allen giving himself to the Speed Force, one of the primordial powers of the DC Universe. This wasn’t the only place where death was becoming a bigger deal among superheroes. Marvel had some heroes die as well, such as the original Captain Marvel. This combined with the Death of Superman series in the 90s was meant to be portrayed as comics ‘growing up,’ even though there have always been adult themed works as comics are a medium, not a genre. Animation and video games are the same way, mediums through which we create works  that can have an artistic value or a cultural one.

So why does this matter for this point in time? Well this might be a guess but it could potentially show us how long that our government and entertainment media have consorted with one another. It has probably been since the 1930s, considering, but it really starts to show itself beyond normal propaganda soon after the Vietnam War when the Dark Age of Comics occurs. Why would depicting beloved heroes dying in what is considered a children’s medium in self-sacrificial ways be important? Why show the consequences like this combined with resurrections of same beloved heroes?

My hypothesis on this is to reinforce male disposability. After the year 2000 this seems to have died down for three reasons. First comics weren’t as popular anymore due to the rise of Japanese Anime and most apparently video games. Secondly, those old enough to understand that these comics had the intended message of reinforcing that disposability got the opposite message of their own vulnerability and mortality. It is no wonder if you think about it as such that the modern Men’s Rights Movement in essence started in the 70’s and 80’s with the geeks of said era understanding their vulnerability so. Then once we get into the Internet Age visibility grows exponentially, so much that they need to try to demonize us before we ruin their precious war games. That leads to the third reason. They needed to shift position to attack the form of entertainment reinforcing the ‘hey how about we NOT die by the millions’ mindset that was becoming so prevalent: Vidya. I know I said a couple of articles ago that we were done with Clinton but why do you think she was so keen against video games? They robbed her of her precious war! Of course this is merely a hypothetical but a hypothetical realized by looking at multiple factors that might seem coincidental, but make quite the picture if you string it all together into one image.

As such I’m going to make an outrageous observation. I believe video games are going to and perhaps may have already saved this iteration of human civilization by pushing us to realization of concepts that the elites hate, because it means they can’t abuse the workhorse anymore. The Brexit vote, Trump election, and perhaps the start of this row of dominoes in the form of #GamerGate is what really started to wake the general populace up to the bullshit snake oil the elites have been forcing down our throats in the form of cake for generations. Or perhaps these are just the ramblings of an insane hippie father with perhaps too much to think about, or is it too little? Who knows?  Though one must admit that sometimes these combinations make too much sense. As always I suggest you do your own footwork, your own questioning of my observations and make some of your own in the comments below. Until next time please remember to Game Freely.

Alex Tinsley
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About the author

Alex Tinsley

A student of Fine Arts and Japanese culture of six years at Murray State University. Having never graduated due to difficulties with a specific teacher has gained a unique perspective upon the issues being faced by men and boys. A father of a young boy and loving husband.

<span class="dsq-postid" data-dsqidentifier="156127">2 comments</span>

  • sadly enough on tvtropes page on ‘men are the expendable gender’ before the examples is written
    “To all men and boys reading this: you are not expendable, and certainly not because of your sex or gender. Your life has value, and if you need help in any way, we here at tvtropes sincerely urge you to seek it.”
    it’s a nice message but the fact there is a necessity of this being added it’s truly a pity.

    • That is a thing, but here is what is too naive to realize, The lack of organizations that would fully denounce said disposability. I believe we are one of the few groups that do so. Though I can’t fault them for trying. Hence why this and some of my upcoming articles had to be written. Oh I’m going into some very interesting stuff ahead. Something that will REALLY piss some feminists off. Gotta love history.

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