Superman is boring.
Ask any comic book fan – or any average person, for that matter – and chances are they’ll tell you they don’t think much of the Man of Steel. There might be some nostalgiac fondness for the character, but most people gravitate toward the dark and brooding Batman, who has come to personify bad-assery at DC Comics in the same indomitable way Wolverine has at Marvel.
Superman is dull. He’s a Boy Scout. He’s too powerful. He’s married. Clark is a marshmallow. He is (as so many girls told me in high school and college) too nice. And because of that, when people think about Superman (if they think about him at all), it’s often with something approaching disdain.
Which makes it all the more interesting that while people may not give much thought to Superman, EVERYONE still has an opinion about him. And while his “coolness” or his relevance or his appeal might be called into question, most people have very clear ideas about what Superman is and what he isn’t, as well as what ideals the character represents. As I’ve mentioned before, Superman is a personification of humanity’s best qualities, a character who’s greatest ability is the power to inspire.
So it really shouldn’t have been a surprise that when DC announced it hired Orson Scott Card to write the first story for the publisher’s new, digital-first issue of Adventures of Superman, people lost their shit. Card, the acclaimed writer of the sci-fi classic Ender’s Game, has spent the last few years building a well-deserved reputation for being a virulently homophobic ass. Beyond the usual, disgusting rhetoric one might expect, Card also sits on the board for the National Organization for Marriage - essentially a hate-group that wants to promote marriage for everyone but gay folks. Most notoriously, Card was quoted as saying that, if the United States government passed any legislation allowing marriage for gay couples, he ” … will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage …”
Card’s hate speech, his active participation in an effort to restrict and deny the rights of fellow citizens – of fellow human beings – is well-documented. And he’s got every right to it. We cannot rattle our sabers in the fight for free speech and then try to squash it when someone says something horrible and poisonous. Card is a homophobic ass, and he’s got the freedom to be a homophobic ass. And by the same token, DC can hire anyone they want, even if he or she is a homophobic ass. That is their right, as well.
Luckily, it is my right (and the right of anyone who disagrees with what is, let’s face it, a terrible hiring decision by DC) to refuse to buy anything written by Card. We can spend – or not spend – our money and time however we choose. Personally, I choose not to support something written by someone whose views are so destructive and hateful, and which I find repugnant. I won’t be buying the first couple of issues of Adventures of Superman when it launches in April. I’d encourage other comic book fans to do the same. It’s a small statement, and one DC will no doubt ignore the way they’ve ignored a growing petition and public outcry, but it’s one I feel good about.
And for the record, it’s not censorship, no matter what reactionary Card apologists say. No one is saying DC can’t publish the comic, or that anyone can’t buy it. Refusing to buy it – or sell it, as some comic book stores have said they’ll do – doesn’t equal censorship. It’s a consumer choice, and I’ll be choosing to spend my money elsewhere. Will I start picking up issues once Card is off the book? Maybe. Will I buy a print collection that includes Card’s story? No. Again, it’s about choice, and I choose not to support the work of a bigoted hate-monger.
Because, as others have noted, Superman isn’t about hate. Truth. Justice. An “American Way” that reflects fairness, opportunity and the pursuit of happiness for all. That’s what Superman is about.
And that’s something everyone knows.
Some friends of mine have also spoken out on this, and I’d encourage you to take the time to read what they’ve got to say. Go check out:
And Wired also had a good, all-emcompassing piece on the Card controversy.)