Posted by: johnhourihan | July 12, 2012

America died with Superman


Americans Aren’t Bulletproof Any More.

George Reeves and Christopher Reeve probably had as much to do with our ongoing national depression as anything else. I don’t mean an economical depression, I mean this countrywide funk.
My elders, and there are fewer of them each year, speak of easier, simpler times.
The lament is that politics now are meaner, the world more dangerous, religion cheaper, and the family has disintegrated since George was Superman.
For years, I have tried to wrap my brain around what has really changed that left us, as an entire country, in this negative depression where no matter what a leader says or does, he is right or wrong in our eyes based solely on his political party.
What left us as a nation without the ethics, morals and principles we used to cling to so tenaciously, and with so little allegiance to any ideal other than winning?
Why has it become possible for so much negativity to permeate our lives?
I think it is because there is no longer anyone who is bulletproof. Sure there have been new supermen, but they bring with them human vulnerabilities.
When I think back to the Formica 50’s, wearing an “I like Ike” button to St. Mary’s school, I remember the invulnerability of it all.
Sure, there were the communists and the anarchists, and wiseguys, and the Russians, but there seemed to be a bubble of sovereignty over the United States, a loving and intact family in most homes, an omnipotent God, and Superman.
The president was the leader.
You could make jokes about his golf game, but he was above the baseless accusations of greed, corruption, stupidity, and duplicity we now hear routinely.
It may have been blindly idealistic, but it gave us strength to believe that basically our politicians were, for the most part, righteous, and the president was, to the same extent, a good man.
That all changed, and for that we can thank Richard Nixon.
Sure, others before him did the same things, but he was the one who did it with such arrogance and stupidity that he displayed it for everyone to see.
And we as an American family realized our father, the leader of the free world, was as corrupt as anyone else.
I remember the feeling was the same as being called out of high school and told to pick my father up at work.
I climbed the filthy, dark wooden back stairs of Bickford Shoe and saw he wasn’t at his bed-lasting machine.
“He’s in Morris’ office,” Davey told me.
As I entered the office my heart sank.
Scrapper Jack, who had been the most invulnerable human being of my youth, was slumped over the boss’ desk, his steel-blue eyes open but glaring at the wall in pain.
He was having a heart attack.
He survived, because I forced his boss to call an ambulance, but he was never again the icon he had been.
He was now human, with human frailties.
In a lot of ways it was the same feeling I had when John Kennedy was shot and killed. With that, our country lost its last father.
The presidency was no longer protected.
Then came Nixon.
Then, on Sept. 11, 2001, our mainland became a reachable target.
The churches have even taken their tumbles from grace with a group of indecent men who besmirched a calling to decency.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the problems of the world are not the fault of George Bush, or Dick Cheney, Barrack Obama or even this pompous fool Mitt Romney as much as some might like to believe.
And they aren’t the fault of Ronald Regan or Bill Clinton either.
This depression we find ourselves in is a depression of the spirit, and it may well be causing all the rest.
For Americans, it seems, no one will ever again be invulnerable.
No one will be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
It seems no one will ever again even be adequate in our collective eyes: Not our country, not our leaders, not our clergy, not our families.
We have changed them all.
And I wonder, did our depression begin when our icons became vulnerable?
Is our problem really that everything is more mean, dangerous, cheap and evil?
Or is it just that truth and justice are no longer the American way?
Is our problem just that Superman is dead?

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Responses

  1. John,
    when are you going to wise up and just say the serenity prayer? My credo?… Deny / ignore / fantasize / … make believe / screw it all ! What the hell, lets end it quick and all vote for Romney!

    • That sure is enticing, even more so if he wants Palin for a vice president.

  2. John you are making it hard for me to go thru life as the care free happy go lucky manly child I so dilengently strive to be. The ans. to your question is yes. RIGHT?


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