- Posted by Johanna on January 25, 2007 at 9:37 pm
- Category: Meta
I keep coming back to “Many Creators have/had Absent Father Figures”. Because while it explains nothing, it explains so much. Even the most face-value, Freudian interpretation, where only the emotionally stunted need adolescent power fantasies, and only the most broken among them would dedicate their lives to the medium. (OK, genre.) That only begs the question as to why superhero iconography seems to resonate with the (presumably less broken) public at large.
I had been working on a hypothesis of the Absent Father not as a metaphor but as a physical fact. Superman is created in 1938, after a decade of Depression fathers had left to find work. Supers rose to their height during the War, when fathers were overseas, and collapsed pretty quickly in the 50s when they returned, and as previously young men became fathers themselves. Another spike in the 60s, Korea or Viet-Nam? And how much of Toby Maguire’s success is due to Geek Chic, and how much is Gulf War I? The numbers are vague and imprecise, but there is more there than not.
But then I was reading Newsweek (hey, I am allowed) and they were looking at the current popularity of the Nativity story. They focused on the usual suspects, but they also looked at Joseph. He was ignored in the Gospels, but Newsweek was looking at 1st century Jewish views on family. They pointed out how in the 12th century (Rise of the Popes?), the Church turned to Joseph as the Ideal Father, willing to raise a child he knew was not his own.
The biggest story we have, the myth that is the cornerstone of Western Civilization, is a tale of an Absent Father. It explains so much, it explains nothing.
And the counterpoint is, at least for gender politics, what is your story? Boys get to be the saviour, with powers far beyond those of mortal men, though our fathers are ultimately distant. But what do women get? Nothing more than the two Marys, the Mother/Whore dichotomy? Does Manga have power over (for?) women not in its diversity, but in its Orient-ation? (The conflict of Oriental and Occidental has often been framed in terms of gender, with the Rational Male West facing off against the Inscrutable, Slippery, Duplicitous, FEMALE East.)
Me again. David doesn’t have answers so much as questions, but I’ve always enjoyed this kind of free form, free association exploration. I wrote a Superman piece for Kryptonian Cybernet way way back that worked similarly … I should look for that.