By RazzaTazz 10 Comments
There is a story circulating throughout Canadian press recently about Jeffrey Baldwin. The story of this kid is a tragedy, as he was starved to death by his neglectful grandparents, locked in a room with little other than his own body waste. The one thing which brought some solace to this young boy was Superman. From a young age he was said to be a huge fan, and used to try to jump off of chairs to try to copy the hero's flying. After word of this tragedy began to spread, some people thought that it would be fitting to create a memorial for the boy, as a statement that child abuse is not ok. An Ottawa area man decided to combine the two together, that despite his tragedy, that Jeffrey might live on as a hero, being dressed like one, but DC said no.
“For a variety of legal reasons, we are not able to accede to the request, nor many other incredibly worthy projects that come to our attention" - these were the words that DC used, but in them and in the reaction there is something telling about the company. Some might argue that it is their copyrighted material, and should be controlled by them in a way which they deem to be the most responsible. This is a valid point and one which shapes a lot of decisions by companies, but there is something deeper here. The Ottawa man with the plan, Todd Boyce also said that DC does not want their characters associated with child abuse, which is also a fair explanation. There is a bigger problem here, at least as I see it, and that is the duplicitous nature of the comics, or to put that another way, DC wants us to make believe that there is a world where heroes exist, but in the real world they can get away with acting a little bit like villains. The morals of a character like Superman would not allow the character to do something like this - even most anti-heroes as they are written have a soft spot for such stuff - but the morals when it comes to the business executives are missing. The real hero for the executives and the legal team is the bottom line, and the morals needed to get there are non-existent.
And so this reaction to the tragedy of a small boy is maybe why the comic companies continue to battle as sales reach lows. It is maybe not because the medium is "outdated" or "silly" as are two of the common complaints about it, but perhaps only because the vision of those behind the books does not match the morals of the heroes within. If you can answer the question honestly of whether Superman would allow this and then compare it to the decision of the company, it is evident that there is a divide, and so our comics are just marketed to us on values which make us gullible, because the companies don't hold the values themselves.